Bringing back the Catholic League's most valuable player would be big news for Bonner-Prendergast in any year.
But there's something about Alyssa Monaghan that makes that piece of information reverberate well past Drexel Hill: She's still only a junior.
Coach Tom Stewart calls the 5-foot-5 guard "the whole package."
"She can handle it, she can shoot, she's good under pressure, she plays defense, and she knows the game," Stewart said. "Point guard in the Catholic League is so important, and that's what she is."
Monaghan, an early St. Joseph's commit who averaged 18 points, six assists, and four steals last season, might not need to carry as heavy a load this season. The Pandas, who last season made their state-tournament debut and beat rival Archbishop Carroll for the first time in more than a decade, have a much-improved surrounding cast.
Shalina Miller, a 6-2 junior center, transferred from Lansdale Catholic. Princess Clemons is an athletic, 5-8 transfer from Chester. They should slot in nicely with returning players Sarah Monaghan, who has a good shooting touch, and Amber Ballinger.
"It's different this year because we have a legitimate post player," Stewart said. "When you can go inside-outside, that helps a lot. . . . We're not just stuck with Alyssa trying to score."
Neumann-Goretti is another young improving team that could challenge the league's traditional hierarchy.
The Saints bring back much of their core, including 5-11 senior forward/center Tanesha Sutton. Via transfer, they added junior guard Ciani Cryor and junior forward A.J. Timber, who previously played for Public League power Prep Charter.
The Saints have plenty of height in 6-9 sophomore center Felicia Aiyeotan and 6-0 forward Ella Awobajo.
Defending champion Cardinal O'Hara graduated four starters, including a Division I player in 6-1 forward Shanice Johnson. Coach Linus McGinty sees opportunity in the exodus.
"Some of the kids didn't get to play a whole lot last year," McGinty said. "A lot of times, that's a real strong motivation."
Senior guard Mia Farmer, headed to George Washington, and senior Rachel Guy will lead the Lions. Guy, who tore an ACL in the state tournament last season, is ahead of schedule and practicing.
Archbishop Wood coach Jim Ricci has taken a leave of absence for the season because of an illness in his family. John Gallagher, Ricci's longtime assistant, will take over.
Junior forward Aubree Brown, a Drexel recruit, and guard Jess Kaminski are key returners for the Vikings, whose three-season state-championship streak was snapped last winter.
Archbishop Carroll will have to fill the gigantic sneakers of Sarah Curran, now at Drexel. Carroll won 95 games, two league titles, and a state championship during her four years.
- Tim McManus