PRESEASON GIRLS' BASKETBALL
Last season's final rankings in parentheses.
1. Rancocas Valley (30-2). The Red Devils return five letter winners from a team that advanced to the Tournament of Champions final in 2013. Replacing graduated point guard Brianna Logan won't be easy. But senior forward Lauren Moses, the reigning Inquirer player of the year in South Jersey girls' basketball, is one of the state's truly dominant players. Senior guard Dominique Ward is a physically gifted, versatile athlete and one of the few high school girls' players anywhere with enough ups to dunk a basketball. And she's only 5-foot-11.
2. Gloucester Catholic (26-3). It's hard to find a flaw in the Rams' roster. Six-foot sophomore forward Mary Gedaka is very quickly becoming one of the scariest post players in the state. After 30 days, she will be joined by 5-11 junior forward Kennedi Thompson, a transfer who was one of Clearview's top players last season. The two will give the Rams a frontcourt most teams simply will not be able to stop. The two are paired with a backcourt laced with sharpshooters. Senior point guard Becky Pund is the team's floor general and one of a host of Rams specializing in playing tough defense and draining three-pointers.
3. Washington Township (23-7). The Minutemaids' heart and soul again will be feisty identical-twin guards Kylie (13.8 ppg last season) and Kelly Giedemann (13.5). The senior twins led Washington Township to sectional Group 4 titles in their first three seasons. They are complemented by two other returning starters, including senior forward Jess Monte, who averaged nine rebounds last season.
4. Winslow Township (14-13). Winslow is led by two 6-0, senior Division I recruits. Forward Jada Matthews (George Washington) averaged 16.3 points, 9 rebounds, and 3.7 assists as a junior. Forward Jocelynne Jones averaged 15.7 points and 8.7 rebounds. Few teams can match up with Winslow's size and athleticism.
5. Woodrow Wilson (16-9). Senior guard Chanelle Perry, a Clemson recruit, has been one of the most consistent and productive players in the area since her freshman year. In a banner junior season, she scored her 1,000th point and averaged more than 22 points. A host of solid players will support her this season, including junior forward Lyayshia Stevens and senior guard Shanayah Allen.
6. Lenape (24-3). Lenape fields one of the area's deepest teams. Five letter-winners return, including senior forward Alexis Sears, who recently committed to the University of Delaware. At 6-2, Sears is nimble and will be one of the area's best all-around players.
7. Shawnee (19-5). Junior forward Nikola Williams, daughter of ex-Phillies closer Mitch Williams, provided an attitude that was infectious for Shawnee last season. She also happens to be a supremely talented player, averaging a team-leading 16.5 points as a sophomore. She is complemented by seniors Taylor Ryan and Olivia Askin, both returning starters, and a host of other varsity players back.
8. Timber Creek (13-14). Timber Creek returns almost everyone after a strong postseason run in which it lost the South Jersey Group 3 final to eventual state champion Ocean City. Budding star Brittany Martin led the team in scoring, averaging 15 points. Martin, a junior guard, is one of several strong returning players. Also among them are senior guard Amanda Riiff, 6-2 junior center Joie Brittingham, and senior forward Desiree Furbert.
9. Lower Cape May (18-10). Lauren Holden is the top returning guard in the Cape-Atlantic League. A 5-5 junior, Holden already has committed to Fordham, she averaged 18 points as a sophomore, and she should only improve this season. A solid supporting cast around Holden should make for a solid season for Lower Cape May.
10. Haddon Heights (15-12). After 30 days, the Garnets will welcome 6-2 center Tyler Raysor with open arms. The Rhode Island recruit, a transfer from Trenton Catholic, will make the Garnets one of the area's most complete teams. But they will be solid even in her absence. Senior guard Nadja Riggs is an aggressive, dynamic scorer and will lead a tough team.
- Chris Melchiorre