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Central League girls' preview

The Central League has voted to hold postseason basketball playoffs no matter how the regular season finishes, a change from previous policy that appears to have made coaches happy.

Under the former policy, if a team went undefeated during the regular league season, it was declared champion and no postseason playoffs were held. If there was no undefeated team, playoffs were held for the four teams with the best records.

The undefeated policy was unpopular because teams finishing second, third, and fourth could be shut out of postseason play.

Under the new policy, if there is an undefeated team, it would get a bye in the first round of the playoffs and face the winner of a game between the second- and third-place teams for the postseason crown. If there is no undefeated team, the four teams with the best records in the 12-team, two-division league would engage in a playoff.

"I know I'm glad they changed it," said Garnet Valley coach Joe Woods, whose fourth-place team (15-8, 11-5) was shut out of a playoff opportunity last season because Lower Merion finished unbeaten (16-0) in the regular season.

After the Aces, the next five teams, Radnor (11-5), Springfield (13-3), Garnet Valley, Haverford (10-6), and Upper Darby (11-5) were separated by three games.

This season, Woods is hoping that seasoned players Mary Koscinski, Coley Ricci, and Allyson Heavens can help the Jaguars make the playoffs.

Springfield coach Kim Smith thinks her team has a good shot at the playoffs, too, with virtually everyone back from last season. Her top returnees are point guard Olivia Kane, Tori Gross (5-11), Alex Toplawski (6-0) and Meghan Dickinson.

"We should be in the mix," said Smith, who is in her 18th season.

Although Lower Merion lost a number of players to graduation, the Aces are always in the mix. Coach Lauren Pellicane has a knack for making them competitive.

Haverford and Conestoga could be factors, too. The Pioneers were young last season.

- Don Beideman