If the Inter-Academic League coaches were to put together a traveling all-star squad of five players, they might be tempted to overlook the height factor and assemble an all-guard lineup.
This season, the league features four Division I-bound backcourt players in Germantown Academy's Jesse Carey and Maggie Lucas, Notre Dame's Devon Kane and Springside's Katie Rutan.
The fifth guard? Either Notre Dame junior Meghan McCullough or Penn Charter sophomore Aleesha Powell, a finalist for Inquirer rookie-of-the-year honors last season, would nicely round out the team.
Carey, a 5-foot-10 senior point guard, and Lucas, a 5-8 junior wing sniper, last season helped the Caroline Doty-less Patriots to a 22-8 overall record and a 10th consecutive Inter-Ac championship.
Carey is a floor leader with terrific court vision. Headed for Villanova, she averaged 10.7 points, five assists, four rebounds and three steals a game last season. Lucas, orally committed to Penn State, has a lethal outside shot and solid pull-up jumper. She produced 19.5 points, four steals and three rebounds per outing in 2007-08.
"That's one of the best backcourts, in my opinion, in the country," Brian Morris, Springside's second-year coach, said. "Together, they do so many things well."
Carey, a two-time captain, is ranked among the top 100 players in the Class of 2009 by HoopGurlz.com. "She's always poised and confident," Germantown Academy coach Sherri Retif said.
Of Lucas, a top-20 player in the Class of 2010, according to HoopGurlz.com, Retif said, "She's not just a scorer for us. She's really stepped up her defensive game."
The 5-8 Kane, a classic slasher and strong finisher around the basket, missed all but Notre Dame's final six games last year because of a torn right anterior cruciate ligament.
"It was frustrating not being out there," said Kane, who will join Carey at Villanova next season. "I felt helpless when we lost games. It's good to be back."
Kane, a 17-year-old from Springfield, Delaware County, stopped playing with a brace a couple of months ago. "I feel like I'm at 100 percent now," she said. "I didn't feel fully back to my old self until near the end of September."
Said Notre Dame coach Mary Beth McNichol of the senior: "She looks better than ever. I'm pleasantly surprised."
Kane chose Villanova over Louisville, St. Joseph's and Mount St. Mary's (Md.), among others. Her father, Jim, played baseball for the Wildcats. Her uncle, Pat, is also a 'Nova grad.
Just as the Irish did with Kane most of last season, Springside sorely missed the services of Rutan. The 5-8 senior wing guard and Xavier recruit missed all of 2007-08 with a shooting-hand wrist injury.
Like Lucas, Rutan is a deadly shooter from beyond the arc. "She's more than just a pure scorer, though," Morris said. "With deceiving speed, she can score off the dribble, take the ball to the basket and get fouled."
In addition to her school of choice, Rutan visited Virginia, Boston College, George Mason and Florida. "Academically, Xavier reminds me a lot of Springside," she said. "It's a small-school atmosphere. I think that will help me succeed in the classroom."