S.J. girls' basketball preseason top 10
Team Last season 1. Gloucester Catholic 27-2 Despite graduating the dynamic duo of guard Maggie McIntyre and forward Mary Gedaka, Gloucester Catholic enters this year as the area's No. 1 team by a wide margin. The transfer of point guard Azana Baines from Highland means the Rams will feature arguabl
Team Last season
1. Gloucester Catholic 27-2
Despite graduating the dynamic duo of guard Maggie McIntyre and forward Mary Gedaka, Gloucester Catholic enters this year as the area's No. 1 team by a wide margin. The transfer of point guard Azana Baines from Highland means the Rams will feature arguably the state's best underclassman to complement a host of all-South Jersey-caliber seniors. Senior forwards Dani Sanderlin and Tenisha Pressley and senior guard Naiyana Sabb are returning starters and the backbone of South Jersey's most talented team.
2. Rancocas Valley 23-6
All five starters return for a deep and balanced Red Devils team. Senior point guard Jonise Ledbetter is one of the fastest players in South Jersey and a floor general capable of optimizing teammates. That includes junior guard Lauren Lewis, who already has 103 career three-pointers, and forward Katie McShae, who led the team with 12 points per game as a junior. The Red Devils advanced to the South Jersey Group 4 semifinals last season and are the early favorite this year.
3. Camden Catholic 24-5
The Irish must replace a trio of guards - Taiah Thornton, Julia Braungart and Sierra Taylor - who were among the most talented in recent South Jersey history. All three are playing college basketball. The spotlight this season moves to Camden Catholic's front court. Junior center Brittany Garner is back after missing last season with a knee injury. She averaged 16 points and 11 rebounds in a sensational freshman season. Junior forward Katie Deutsch averaged 8 points and 5 rebounds last season. and sophomore forward Eliana Santana averaged 9 points and six rebounds.
4. Haddonfield 25-5
A year after advancing to the South Jersey Group 2 championship game, Haddonfield again looks like a contender for sectional and Colonial Conference titles. The Bulldogs graduated star player Taylor Sehdev but return plenty of experience. Six-foot senior forward CC Mooney should carry the load on offense after averaging 12.8 points last season and proving to be lethal from beyond the arc. Senior guard Meghan Smart is athletic and quick and a force on both ends of the court.
5. Haddon Heights 23-8
The Garnets return the bulk of their production from a team that won the Colonial Conference Liberty Division and South Jersey Group 1 titles last season. Ashley Reynolds is back after leading the team in scoring at 16.8 points per game as a junior. Also returning are point guard Alex Pease, one of South Jersey's top all-around athletes in any sport. Haddon Heights returns seven varsity players on a team that is again the favorite in South Jersey Group 1.
6. Ocean City 25-5
Always among South Jersey's most competitive teams, coach Paul Baruffi said this might be his most athletic team in years. The Red Raiders feature four senior starters led by guards Grace Sacco, who averaged 7.6 points and 4.6 rebounds last season, and Alexis Paone, who averaged 7.6 points. Ocean City won the South Jersey Group 3 last season and is poised for another run at the title.
7. Haddon Township 18-10
Last season, the Hawks featured five new starters and still managed to win 18 games and advance to the South Jersey Group 1 semifinals. With the bulk of their production back, and a star emerging in junior guard Grace Marshall, who led the team in scoring with 13.2 points per game last season, the Hawks should take another step forward this season.
8. Lenape 31-3
Lenape returns just two starters from a team that won the Group 4 state championship and broke the South Jersey record for wins in a season. But those two starters are both impact players. Guard Kendall Keyes is likely to build off a season in which she drained 50 three-pointers. Senior Shane Holmes is in her third year as a starter and averaged 5.3 points per game last season. A young but talented group of newcomers should keep Lenape among the area's top teams.
9. Clearview 11-15
The inside-out combo of senior guard Jordan Harbaugh and junior forward Elaina Hansen shined last season and places Clearview among the favorites in the Tri-County Conference this season. Hansen averaged 13.2 points and 10 rebounds last season. Harbaugh averaged 11.8 points and has 128 career three pointers.
10. Cherokee 23-5
Senior forward Isabella Therien is the only returning starter for a team that advanced to last year's South Jersey Group 4 finals. Veteran coach Ron Powell will look for the star forward - an early candidate for player of the year - to set an example on a team that features just two other players, junior guards Lyndsay Craig and Katie Cummiskey, with varsity experience.
- Chris Melchiorre