National Division. Last season, one of the best races was in the Olympic Conference National Division, where Bishop Eustace and Camden Catholic shared the title after splitting with each other in the regular season.
Camden Catholic is led by senior center Serifat Junaid, who averaged 11 points, nine rebounds and four blocked shots. Junior guard Nicole Angelo averaged eight points, five assists and two steals. Other veterans are junior guard/forward Caitlin Brostrand, the team's best defensive player and junior forward/center Addy Crenny, who averaged six points and four rebounds.
Eustace, the defending South Jersey Non-Public B champion, has one of the best inside-outside combinations in 6-3 senior Jackie Schluth and 5-3 point guard Ashley Margraf.
Five key letter-winners include 6-4 junior Hope Phillips, 5-9 senior Angela Grous, 5-4 sophomore Alyssa Cirucci, 5-10 senior Ashley Parrish and 5-7 sophomore Jackie Brown.
New Camden coach Jonathan Taylor welcomes an experienced group, led by 5-9 Hofstra recruit Annie Payton (21.8 points per game). Lynette Payton, a 6-0 sophomore and sister of Annie, is another projected starter. Briana Richmond-Peters, a 5-9 fourth-year starter, averaged 10 points last season. Other key players include 5-4 senior Sha-maine Rudolph, 5-8 senior Diamonique Carr and 5-7 senior Jasmine Inge.
With three returning starters, Paul VI looks for improvement. Back are 5-4 senior Kerri Weber, 6-0 sophomore Adrianne Small and 5-9 senior Kelsey Bezila. Sophomore guard Maya Presson moves up from the JV to help the backcourt, while junior forward Steph McDonnell will be a key frontcourt performer for the Eagles.
Woodrow Wilson will receive a boost from the return of 5-7 senior Ivory James, who missed all but one game last season with a knee injury. Two returning starters are 5-9 junior Janaye Sims and 5-10 junior Shanice Maynard.
American Division. Eastern is the defending American Division champion, so the Vikings start out as the slight favorite, although some would assign that role to Cherokee. Meanwhile, nobody should discount Cherry Hill East, Lenape and Washington Township.
Eastern is led by returning Inquirer South Jersey player of the year Genevieve Okoro, a 6-1 senior who averaged 20.9 points. Kerri Aiken, a 6-0 senior and all-South Jersey soccer player, averaged 7.2 points. Two other starters are 5-7 senior Dana Graziano (5.3 ppg.) and 5-9 senior Nia Blevina (3.7 ppg.).
Cherokee returns four starters, led by 6-0 senior Monica Roeder (14 ppg.), 6-2 senior Tiffany Turner (11 ppg., 9 rebounds), 5-11 senior Courtney Escudero (12 ppg.) and 5-8 senior point guard Amanda Franks.
Cherry Hill East is another contender. Marie Bosvert, a 5-10 junior, averaged a team-high 13.9 points. Two other returning starters are 5-9 senior Genevieve Boisvert (Marie's sister) and 5-6 senior guard Kim Regan.
Senior guard Kyra Holiday, a third-year starter, is recovering from a broken ankle and her exact return isn't known.
Junior Brittany Muniz will run the point while 5-9 senior Sara Gurkin, a key reserve last season, is expected to be a starter. Junior forward Michelle Onu and junior guard Lillian Chuckweze provide depth.
Lenape will always be a threat with senior guard Christina Foggie, an Inquirer first-team all-South Jersey choice who averaged 23.8 points. Other key veterans include junior guard/forward Moira Anthony, junior forward Advia Campbell, junior guard Kayla Toomer, and sophomore forward Briana Wylie.
Washington Township will remain competitive despite just one returning starter, 5-10 senior Ashley Giedemann (13.3 ppg., 8 rpg.). Returning letter winners include 5-7 senior Jessica Rohach, 5-8 Gianna DiPietro and junior point guard Ashley Hawkins.
The key for the Minutemaids are two post players, 6-2 junior Kelsey Brown and 6-0 freshman Maureen Fleming.
Pennsauken will get a lift from 5-7 senior guard/forward Courtney Evans, a transfer from Philadelphia's Prep Charter. The Indians also return two starters - sophomore guards Taciana Paris and Vanessa Neal. Sophomore forward Lati Stafford and senior guard Vanasha Green, will also contribute to a very quick Pennsauken team.
Patriot Division. Defending Patriot Division champion Seneca won't relinquish its title easily. The Golden Eagles return two starters, 6-2 senior Chelsea Grover and 5-7 senior Ashleigh Ferrell. Grover, a University of Maryland Baltimore County recruit, averaged 11.7 points while Ferrell averaged 8 points.
Two other players with varsity experience are 5-2 junior Melissa Giunta and 5-11 sophomore Brittany Snow. Among the top newcomers are Kristy Connor, a 5-9 junior who was the leading JV scorer, and 5-7 freshman Molly Garthwaite.
Timber Creek was runner-up last season to Seneca, and the Chargers will make a serious run at the title. The four returning starters are 5-9 junior Jasmine Martin, 5-5 junior Alexis Riff, 5-9 Lauren Alwan, and 5-7 senior Jasmine Washington. Briana Williams, a 5-10 junior transfer from West Deptford, and 5-10 junior Sierra Peters are key frontcourt performers.
After reaching the South Jersey Group 3 semifinals, Shawnee may take a step back due to several key losses to graduation. Erin Molina, a 5-10 sophomore, is the lone returning starter. Sophomore guard Julie Kessler, junior forward Marina Mestres, junior guard Kristen Kocher, senior guard Stephanie Jeffery, sophomore forward Rice Fazio, senior forward Danni Buonacore, and junior guards Katelyn Lang and Ashley Bradley will all be looking to make their mark on this relatively inexperienced team.
Winslow Township returns four starters, so improvement is likely. Back are 6-1 senior Chardae Ducille, 5-8 senior Danielle Forest, 5-7 senior Shamira Weaver, and 5-5 junior Miah Dozier. A key returning letter-winner is 5-8 junior Geneva McCoy.
Triton first-year coach Richard Cooper, who was a men's assistant last season at Gloucester County College, welcomes four starters, headed by senior point guard Kristi Twardziak.
Deja Bullock, a 6-0 freshman, is expected to make an immediate impact.
First-year Cherry Hill West coach Dan Butler has an experienced group led by 5-10 senior Katy Bender, 5-7 junior Taylor Klevenz, 5-8 senior Lauren Quinn, 5-10 senior Lea Ann Still, and 5-3 junior Lisa Kosteleski.
- Marc Narducci