American Division. Ocean City (27-3) has just one returning starter from a team that won the Cape-Atlantic League championship as well as the South Jersey Group 3 title last season. Veteran coach Paul Baruffi is taking the situation in stride.

"We're young, but not bad," said Baruffi, who will start a senior, three sophomores, and a freshman.

Veteran senior guard Kelsey Boylan wasn't expected to score much last season as a point guard, but now Emily Gillian will take over that role. Baruffi figures that Boylan, an excellent athlete, can pump in 15 to 20 points a game and possibly lead the Red Raiders to another American Division 2 title.

Tianna Cannon can shoot, rebound, and steal a basketball. Cannon, a 5-foot-10 guard/forward, last season averaged 18 points and 12.2 rebounds per game. The four-year starter also stole the ball 69 times in 24 games.

Atlantic City (14-10) lacks a true post player and doesn't have the height it did in the past. However, there aren't many trees in the division.

"We'll make up for that [lack of height] with quickness and aggressive guard play," said coach Laurie Carter, who led the Vikings to the American 1 title last season.

Alicia Cox at 5-4 is not expected to be a rebounder; however, the junior guard is so quick in the low-post area that she led Vineland (16-11) with more than 200 boards last season.

Cox will be joined by three other starters that made it to the South Jersey Group 4 quarterfinal, where they lost to Cherokee, 64-62. The Fighting Clan finished third in American 1 behind Atlantic City and Absegami.

Senior point guard Jasmine Lewis, 6-0 junior center Shavonne Davis, and sophomore forward Ardena Moses have returned. Junior guard Kyra Lunsford, a transfer from Sacred Heart, was waiting for her transcript to be sent to Vineland so she could join the starting five.

Absegami (13-13) has all five starters back and second-year coach Meghan Tracey hopes to guide the Braves from second in Division 1 to first place.

Senior guards Kelsey Wilson, Arlene Craig and Amira Anderson are joined by junior forward Alexis Brooks and 5-10 sophomore center McKenzie Wimberg on a team that is short on size but long on talent.

Gina DiDomenico is the only returning starter for Egg Harbor Township (11-13), which is rebuilding. The junior guard last season averaged nine points and three steals per game.

National Division. Holy Spirit (24-5) hasn't lost a National 1 crown in nine seasons and will be going for its 10th this season with four returning varsity players, two letter-winners and a bench that goes nine to 10 deep.

Guards Joanna Persiano, Taneshia Mobley, and Sarah Marakos and forward Dana Reimers helped to lead the Lions to the Non-Public South A final, where they lost to St. John Vianney, 58-28.

"We're knocking on the door and trying to break through," said Middle Township coach John Leahy about his team's desire to wrest the National 1 crown from perennial champ Holy Spirit. The Panthers (21-7) go 10 deep with three starters and four letter-winners who played lots of minutes that took them to the South Jersey Group 2 final, where they lost to Haddon Township, 38-35.

Senior guards Stephanie Fowler and Erin Kelly, and senior center Megan Russ are the main part of the wrecking ball that could break down the door this season.

Sacred Heart (24-5) won its seventh consecutive National 2 title last season and was the Non-Public South B runner-up. The Lions have one full-time and one part-time starter from last season. However, they are supported by a cast of junior varsity players who had a 17-1 record.

A starter since her sophomore year, senior guard Leah Braidi brings big-game experience. She shot 42 percent from the field last season, during which she averaged 5.1 points and 3.9 rebounds per game in a non-shooting role. Ally Ferucci is now a full-time point guard.

St. Joseph's Jade Howard saw lots of action in the low-post area last season. The 5-11 forward/center averaged 11.8 points and 10 rebounds a game.

Howard, a junior, joins seniors Molly Spadero, Melissa Senese and Natasha Tonia to form the nucleus of a team that goes eight deep.

Wildwood Catholic (10-16) has four players who started last season and team depth that should move it up in the National 2. Guards Chrissy Casiello, Emily Whissel and Angela Mathis are seniors and forward Laura Martin is a junior.

Buena (6-16), which placed next-to-last in the National 1, is aiming for a .500-or-better season with seven seniors: Lydia Wilson, Danielle Walter, Genesis Phillips, Christianna Mata, Chelsea Hill, Elizabeth Mason, and Nrenae Johnson.

- Bill Iezzi