Germantown Academy has won the last 13 Inter-Ac girls' basketball championships. Some observers say that string could be in jeopardy this season, with as many as five teams having a shot at the title.

In addition to the Patriots, they are Episcopal Academy, Notre Dame, Springside, and Penn Charter.

GA coach Sherri Retif, who has directed all those league-championship squads, will look to the Patriots' depth to keep the streak going. Among her key returnees are senior guard Jaryn Garner, junior forwards Kiernan McCloskey and Olivia Gorman, junior point guard Dempsey Cooper, and junior guards Fran Sweeney and Natalie Toner.

Garner, signed to play for Virginia, averaged 10 points as the Patriots (23-5) won the Pennsylvania Independent Schools tournament and the Inter-Ac last season. McCloskey, the team leader in rebounding, is weighing scholarship offers from several colleges.

The team will miss post player Angela Upright for several weeks of the season while she recovers from anterior cruciate ligament surgery, but is expected to have Cooper for the start of the season. She also was injured.

Notre Dame and Episcopal might provide Germantown Academy its biggest battle for the top spot.

Episcopal, which handed GA its only league loss last season, will look to 6-2 junior Megan Quinn and junior guard Meghan Hubley to lead its bid. Sophomore Sarah Abbonizio will give Episcopal a boost when she returns from ACL surgery. The Churchmen's record last season, 16-10, was their best in several years, said coach Chuck Simmonds, who is in his eighth season.

Coach Marybeth McNichol will count on perennially strong guard play to lead Notre Dame. Juniors Megan McGurk (point guard) and Kathleen Fitzpatrick fill that bill deftly. Both are drawing Division I interest. Fitzpatrick is an excellent three-point shooter.

Springside, which finished 14-12, has a new coach in Steve Purcell.

Penn Charter also has a new coach, Dave Bass. He succeeded Diana Caramanico in June. A 1988 graduate of Penn Charter, he won three league titles in 10 years as coach at Abington Friends. He lost one of the Quakers' top players when Brianna Butler transferred to a school in Brooklyn.

- Don Beideman