Patriot Division. Haddon Township is the defending champion, and the Hawks won't relinquish that title easily. Coach Tom Mulligan welcomes back five starters. In addition, Haddon Township moves from Group 2 to Group 1, where the Hawks should be serious contenders.

Leading the way is Jess Brown, a 5-foot-9 senior who can play either guard or the small forward position. Brown averaged 14.5 points per game in earning first-team all-Patriot honors.

Another first-team selection was Hawks senior guard/forward Jess Donaldson, while senior forward/center Katie Getzinger was a second-team choice.

Other starters back for the Hawks are senior guard Kelsey McCullough and junior guard Sarah DeCinque.

The Paulsboro Red Raiders are expected to be Haddon Township's main challenger in the Patriot and should be a factor in Group 1.

Last season, Paulsboro went 20-8 and advanced to the South Jersey Group 1 final. The Red Raiders return four starters.

Lavon Childress, a 5-11 senior, averaged 18 points and 13 rebounds in earning first-team all-Patriot Division honors. Junior guard Tiaja Harrold (14.6 ppg.) was a second-team all-conference pick. The other returning starters are 5-9 senior DiShaun Rone (5 ppg.) and 5-6 junior Tia Scott (6.1 ppg.).

The Woodbury Thundering Herd appear to be improved with the addition of Megan Fox, a 5-8 senior transfer from Deptford. Senior guard Dominique Sellers is a second-team all-conference guard.

A pair of 6-0 sophomores, Cassidy Swanson and Danesha Triplett, provide frontcourt depth.

The Lindenwold Lions graduated nine seniors and don't even have any returning letter-winners. Senior point guard Claudia Rucocco moves up from the junior varsity, while junior forward Taylor Foxworth is a transfer from Paul VI expected to be a key performer.

The Audubon Green Wave seek improvement with five returning staters. Senior Alex Gravinese averaged 13 points and four steals and was a first-team all-conferene player. Junior Tyler Frankowski averged eight points and nine rebounds. Other returning starters are seniors Sarah Cox, Sam DeCecco and Devon Coyle.

Liberty Division. Sterling has one of the most experienced and talented teams in South Jersey, which is why the Silver Knights have begun the year as The Inquirer's No. 1-ranked team.

Senior guards Monica Burch (11.8 ppg.) and Kylie O'Donnell (11.2 ppg.) were first-team all-conference players. Tanae Lewis, a 6-1 senior (7.1 ppg. 7.8 rpg.) was a second-team choice, while 6-1 senior Rachel Hodge (5.9 ppg., 5.0 rpg.) is an inside defensive presence.

Also back is sophomore guard-forward Anyssa Sanchez (7.0 ppg., 4.0 rpg.) along with sophomore guard Tyra Satchell, who could either start or be the first player off the bench. Adding to the guard depth is 5-6 junior Erica Hoffmann, 5-5 junior guard Gwen Smith and 5-10 freshman forward Jenna Scully.

The Haddonfield Bulldogs shared the Colonial Liberty title with Sterling last year, but they return just one starter, 5-10 senior Alex Marshall. Last year, Marshall averaged 6 points and 9 rebounds per game.

Maddie Kiep, a 5-11 junior, was a key reserve last year. Among the players who played mainly on the junior varsity are 5-9 junior Cat Senopoulos, 5-9 senior Lauren Fell and 6-1 senior Erin Brogan.

After a 10-14 season there is optimism that West Deptford can get to around the .500 level. The Eagles return five starters – senior guard Lauren Boegly, senior guard/forwards Kelly Brewster and Tina D'Aiutolo, junior forward Megan Kirschling and junior guard Danielle McKeown.

The Collingswood Panthers hope the regular season is better than the off-season, when they lost three players for the year due to knee injuries during the fall. The three are seniors Nadirah Robinson and Anna Foote and sophomore Courtney Carsillo. Robinson averaged 19.3 points.

That leaves just two returning starters, sophomore point guard Ellie O'Neill and senior forward Beth Labar. Two juniors, 5-8 Erica Witherbee and 5-6 Stephanie Fultano, along with 5-6 sophomores Morgan Worthington and Alexis Sommers, are expected to be key rotation players.

The Haddon Heights Garnets graduated all five starters, so this looks to be a rebuilding season. There are only three seniors on the team - guards Shannon Gormley, Noel Higgs and Brielle Rolon - who didn't play last season. Sophomore guard Taylor Nichols is the player with the most experience.

The Overbrook Rams' main experience comes from two seniors, 5-11 Keanna Ross and 5-7 Eboni Reid, both returning starters. A number of young players will receive playing time. A player of the future is Autumn Price, a 5-5 freshman point guard who would have been a starter but will miss the season due to a knee injury, according to coach Jim Puderbach.

   - Marc Narducci