A look at the girls’ basketball conferences
Here is a brief look at each girls' basketball division in South Jersey.
Here is a brief look at each girls' basketball division in South Jersey:
Burlington Liberty. Rancocas Valley is The Inquirer's preseason No. 1 South Jersey team. Can the Red Devils be No. 1 in the Burlington County Liberty Division? (Defending champion Trenton Catholic isn't part of The Inquirer's seven-county South Jersey Top 10.)
Rancocas Valley has an experienced team led by senior Natalya Lee (11.9 ppg.), an Inquirer first-team all-South Jersey guard, and 6-foot-2 sophomore Lauren Moses (11.9 ppg.), a third-team choice. The Red Devils will make a run for the title.
Burlington Patriot. Holy Cross and Willingboro are the favorites, but Delran, which shared the title with Holy Cross, will be formidable. Holy Cross is led by 5-11 senior Monmouth recruit Amanda Offenback (11.7 ppg.), sophomore point guard Alliya Butts (11.7), and the Jeune sisters, 5-11 freshman Aliyah and 5-9 sophomore Ashley (9.2).
Willingboro returns Inquirer second-team all-South Jersey selection Micahya Owens, a junior forward who averaged 18.3 points. Senior guard Nola Henry, a Massachusetts signee, has transferred back to Willingboro after playing the last two years at Trenton Catholic.
Delran is led by 5-8 senior Taylor Umbrell (12.1 ppg.)
Burlington Freedom. This was a senior-dominated league last season. Cochampions Pemberton and New Egypt were hit hard by graduation. So the race should be wide open. New Egypt, with point guard Cortney Natalicchio, will be a threat.
Florence is among the many contenders, led by two experienced juniors: point guard Naomi Granville-Watkins and forward Heather Horner.
Olympic American. Defending champion Cherry Hill East was hit hard by graduation. Washington Township won the South Jersey Group 4 title and is among the division favorites with the dynamic sophomore backcourt of twins Kylie Giedemann (11.8 ppg.) and Kelly Giedemann (11).
Lenape, with new coach Rob Hummell, is a team to watch. Brianna Wylie, a 5-11 senior who averaged 13.3 points, is the leader for Lenape.
Eastern will be competitive, but after graduating six seniors, the Vikings won't be listed as a preseason contender. They will be paced by junior forward Danielle Genay. Cherokee must replace its entire starting lineup.
Olympic National. Defending champion Seneca will be difficult to unseat, led by two first-team all-conference 5-11 forwards: Brittany Snow, a Stony Brook recruit who averaged 18.2 points and 10 rebounds, and Johanna Metzger (10 ppg., 6 rpg.).
Camden Catholic will be young, but with senior point guard Nicole Angelo (12.2 ppg.) leading a team with an impressive sophomore class, the Irish will be extremely competitive. Paul VI is a sleeper, especially when four transfers become eligible after sitting out the mandatory 30 days because of NJSIAA rules. The best of the transfers is sophomore wing player Jada Matthews, who averaged 15.3 points last season for Winslow Township. Bishop Eustace and Woodrow Wilson are among the other teams to watch.
Olympic Patriot. Timber Creek is the defending champion and will contend, but must replace Inquirer South Jersey Player of the Year Jasmine Martin, now at Quinnipiac.
A team to watch is Pennsauken, which returns four starters, led by senior point guard Vanessa Neal, a Niagara recruit. The other returning starters are senior guards Tanel Lewis and Dominique Roberts and senior forward Lati Stafford.
Shawnee and Winslow Township are among the other teams to watch.
Colonial Liberty. Once again, it appears to be a battle between longtime rivals Sterling and Haddonfield for the top spot. Both teams suffered key graduation losses, but each has enough to contend.
Sterling is led by forward Anyssa Sanchez. Senior point guard Catherine Senopoulos will direct the Haddonfield attack.
Colonial Patriot. Haddon Township is the defending champion, and even though Inquirer third-team all-South Jersey guard Sara DeCinque is the lone returning starter, the Hawks will be a major contender. Senior Kelly Roche, injured for the first part of last season, came on strong and adds experience to a team that could have as many as four freshmen in the rotation.
Paulsboro, led by dangerous point guard Tiaja Harrold, and Audubon are other expected contenders.
Tri-County Royal. Delsea went unbeaten in division play, and the Crusaders are a major contender with one of the top players in the division, 5-10 senior Tori Levari, along with point guard Dominique Hassinger.
Clearview, with junior guard Sara Kramer, and Williamstown also should contend. Williamstown might have the deepest team, which includes 5-6 senior Danya Fyffe, sophomore point guard Taylor Walker, and 5-9 senior Denisha Green.
Tri-County Diamond. Gloucester Catholic was unbeaten in the division last season, and the Rams remain the favorite despite graduating three starters. Back for coach Lisa Gedaka are 6-1 senior Nicole Fallon (10 ppg., 6 rpg.) and senior Allison Murphy (4 ppg., 5 rpg.).
Glassboro, Penns Grove, and Woodstown should field competitive teams, but it will be difficult to unseat the Rams.
Tri-County Classic. Gloucester won the division last season and advanced to the South Jersey Group 1 final before falling, 47-46, to Haddon Township in overtime. Despite key graduation losses, the Lions again will be major contenders in the Classic.
Senior guard Johanna James is a third-year starter, and junior guard Kathleen Velez is the other returning starter. Coach Sean Gorman is among the best in South Jersey and will have the Lions ready to contend, with Salem expected to provide the most resistance.
Cape-Atlantic American. The Cape is going from two conferences to three divisions. In the large-enrollment American, Holy Spirit is the favorite despite not having a single returning starter. This is a young team with just one projected senior starter, 5-9 Jaymie McClain. Two juniors - 6-0 Gina Lewis and point guard Val Garofalo - will be the offensive leaders.
Egg Harbor Township, which should be good with point guard Salena Santiago; Atlantic City; and Mainland are considered the other main contenders in what is expected to be a balanced division.
Cape-Atlantic National. Perennial South Jersey Group 3 contender Ocean City is the favorite. Julia Duggan, a 6-2 junior, averaged 14 points and 10 rebounds. Her sister Emily, a 6-0 senior, averaged eight points and eight rebounds. Two other returning starters are guards Emily Gillian and Reilly Larkin.
Middle Township also will contend. Sophomore point guard Lauryn Fields, a transfer from Cape May Tech, is a key addition. Our Lady of Mercy, with two juniors newcomers - 6-0 Ruta Vetra from Latvia and 6-5 Mariya Rubina from the Ukraine - appears to be a serious contender.
Cape-Atlantic United. Sacred Heart is the team to beat, led by 5-6 senior Brittany Harden, a first-team all-conference selection, and 5-7 junior Mandy Buirch, a second-team choice. Kennedy Jones, a 6-2 sophomore transfer from Holy Spirit, will bolster the frontcourt.
Another major contender is Cedar Creek, led by 6-0 junior Kristine Miller, a first-team all-conference selection. Quadruplets Morgan, Mikila, Monique, and Mercina Stefanski are four more reasons why the Pirates are a contender for the division and in South Jersey Group 1.