Adding size. Cardinal O'Hara girls' coach Linus McGinty received an early Christmas present in sophomore Shanice Johnson, a 6-foot transfer from now-closed Cardinal Dougherty. She will join a solid group of experienced hands this season.
"She's a good jump shooter, she can post up, and she can rebound," McGinty said. "She's got size."
To go along with her up front, McGinty has Marissa Manning and Carly Hazinsky, two 6-0 seniors. Manning was a second-team all-Catholic League choice last season. Hazinsky has committed to Philadelphia University.
In the backcourt, McGinty can go to Nicole Daly, strong-shooting Lia DiSciascio, and sophomore McKenzie Rule. Rule started at point guard as a freshman.
The Lions finished 17-8 last season, losing to Central Dauphin in the second round of the PIAA Class AAAA playoffs.
Holiday travels. Archbishop Ryan, coming off the best season in the school's history, plans to do some traveling over the holidays. The Ragdolls will take part in a tournament from Dec. 27-31 in Fort Myers, Fla., where they'll be joined by St. Basil and Lower Merion.
"We're trying to play all over against some good competition," coach Jackie Hartzell said.
Hartzell guided the team to a 22-9 record and the runner-up spot in the PIAA Class AAAA tourney. The Ragdolls bowed to two-time champion Mount Lebanon in the finals, 70-43.
"I want to give the girls - they're a great group - something special," Hartzell said. This will the third year for a holiday trip for Ryan.
Ryan lost four of five starters from last season. The most experienced players returning are seniors Brittany Woods, Rachel Kelly, and Nymira Nelson, along with junior point guard Megan Wolf. Both Woods and Kelly are listed at 5-11.
Strong foundation. La Salle lost versatile wing guard Troy Hockaday to graduation, but returns five tested seniors: 6-0 combo guard Eddie Mitchell, 6-4 forward Joe Brown, 6-9 center Steve Collins, 5-10 guard Mike Poncia, and 6-5 forward/center Brennan Woods.
The Rider-bound Mitchell, averaging about 11 points, was a first-team all-Catholic League Red Division selection. Brown was also pivotal in the Explorers' drive to a 20-6 record and a PIAA District 12 Class AAAA championship.
Guard-oriented Cahillites. In addition to 6-8, 210-pound forward Fortunat "Junior" Kangudi, the Roman Catholic boys will lean heavily on their stable of guards, headed by junior Montana Mayfield, sophomore Britton Lee, and senior Dennis Regan.
Also in the backcourt mix are two talented rookies: 6-2 wing guard Shep Garner and 5-9 point guard Rip Engle.
Regan was a do-everything type in football. "We want to give him some time to get his legs back," Roman coach Chris McNesby said.
- Don Beideman
and Rick O'Brien