Coach John Miller said he expects the same "cast of characters" to vie for the league title, which means his Mount St. Joseph squad again could battle St. Basil and Villa Maria for the top spot.

If the Magic are to repeat as league champs, they'll have to do so without their two leading scorers from last season. Steph Smith and Mary Jo Horgan have graduated, leaving the Mount with a rotation headed by senior guard Bridget Higgins.

"Certainly, those two very fine players are going to be missed," said Miller, whose team also captured the District 1 Class AAAA title. ". . . We just need to compensate. Every high school team graduates players. It's part of the deal."

Villa Maria will be led by junior guard Lisa Mirarchi, who averaged 14 points and four assists in the team's run to the District 1 Class AAA title. The 5-foot-6 Mirarchi will fill the void left by the graduation of point guard Brooke Angelos.

"I think she's terrific," Miller said. "She really came on like a gangbuster, and as the season progressed, I think she got even better. And she's only a junior."

St. Basil lost six seniors to graduation, including guard Jacqui Thompson and forward Jill Lynch. But the team is expecting the return of senior point guard Erin Fennigham, who is coming off three ACL injuries.

She hasn't played since her sophomore season, and coach Terry Mancini said she has been cleared to scrimmage with the team and should be ready to play by the first week of the season.

Mancini said, along with being physically healthy, Fennigham will need to conquer the mental aspect of recovering from the series of injuries.

"She looks incredible right now," Mancini said. "Great story, real good kid. She's courageous and has passion for the game. . . . She's stronger and quicker than she was."

- Matt Breen