Young and injured. A number of nagging injuries hampered the preseason workouts of the Lower Merion girls' team. With a young squad, that's not what coach Lauren Pellicane needed.

"We haven't had 10 players at practice since the first day of practice," Pellicane said.

The Aces lost four senior starters who were keys to Lower Merion's run to the elite eight in the PIAA Class AAAA playoffs last season. The Central League champs (26-4 overall) fell to Cardinal O'Hara, the eventual state runner-up.

The Aces, who open tomorrow night with Harrisburg, the host school in the Lady Cougar Tournament, will be counting heavily on junior point guard Sheba Hall and 6-foot senior forward Rekik "Kiki" Worku this season.

"Sheba's very quick. I think she's one of the best defenders in the Central League," Pellicane said.

Worku, a three-year starter is capable of a double-double any night, Pellicane said.

The coach said the Aces' stiffest competition could come from Springfield (Delco) and Radnor.

Eyeing turnaround. The Ridley boys suffered their first losing season under 10-year coach Keith Heinrichs last season. They finished 4-18.

Heinrichs has a number of players back, including Cameron Gunter, a senior and one of the top players in the league. The 6-8 Gunter averaged 13 points a game and is headed to Penn.

"We're a young team," Heinrichs said. "We have to learn how to win again."

Green Raiders football quarterback Colin Masterson is also being counted on, but the coach will have to do without him when the Green Raiders open tomorrow night against West Chester Henderson. That's because the football team will play La Salle on Saturday afternoon in the state semifinals.

Freedman back. Mention Central League girls' basketball, and the name of Kelyn Freedman is sure to come up. The 5-9 Freedman averaged 19.1 points a game last season as Radnor posted a 17-7 record. She is also a lacrosse player for the Red Raiders and plans to play for Georgetown after graduation.

The Red Raiders are also counting on two other two-sport standouts: Point guard Jesse Cunio made the Central League all-league soccer team, and Allison Heath is a lacrosse player who is headed to Monmouth.

New coaches. Ridley and Strath Haven have new girls' coaches. Sharon Footy, who played for Springfield (Delco), is the Green Raiders' coach. She served as an assistant to Kim Smith at Springfield, then later was the head coach at Penncrest. Janet Battineri has taken over at Ridley.

- Don Beideman