Prep girls basketball: Trojans team to beat in CAAC Blue

Prep girls basketball: Trojans team to beat in CAAC Blue

News

Prep girls basketball: Trojans team to beat in CAAC Blue

By

CAAC BLUE

Coaches’ predictions: 1. East Lansing, 2. Grand Ledge, 3. Holt, 4. Okemos, 5. Jackson, 6. Eastern, 7. Everett, 8. Sexton

League’s top players: Piper Tucker (East Lansing), Hannah Orwat (Grand Ledge), Lindsay Orwat (Grand Ledge), Tara Lierman (Holt), Nina Foster (Everett)

EASTERN

Last season: 1-20, 1-13 (8th place)

Coach: Diana Mendez (3rd season)

Returning players: Aliyah Owens (5-9 sr. G/F), Kalay Carter (5-10 so. F)

Other contributors: Precious Melton (5-5 jr. G), Sabreea Carson-Pops (5-10 so. F/C), Kasidee Rainger (5-5 sr. G)

Outlook: After winning only one game last season, the Quakers should be much improved. They lost only one senior to graduation and return six letterwinners including all-league honorable mention guard Owens.

EAST LANSING

Last season: 21-5, 14-0 (1st place)

Coach: Rob Smith (11th season)

Returning players: Piper Tucker (6-0 sr. G), Grace Whelan (6-2 sr. C), Meechi Thompson (5-5 jr. G), Kelcie Haizlip (6-2 sr. C), Taylor Gordon (5-5 sr. G), Kadijah Kalo (5-7 sr. F), Kennedy Marker (6-1 sr. F), Renee Hoekstra (5-10 sr. F).

Other contributors: Danni Hanson (5-11 fr. F), Zoe Morse (5-5 fr. G).

Outlook: East Lansing became only the second public school in Michigan tournament history to win six consecutive regional titles last March. (Leland is the other.) They have also won 59 straight conference games and nine consecutive league titles. With honorable mention all-stater Tucker and all-leaguer Thompson among six other returning seniors, the Trojans are experienced and deep. They are clearly the team to beat in the CAAC Blue and are capable of a long tournament run.

EVERETT

Last season: 5-16, 4-10 (6th place)

Coach: Elizabeth Ballinger (1st season)

Returning players: Nina Foster (5-11 jr. G), Azalea Miller (5-4 jr. G), Starr Allen (5-11 sr. F), Deanna Martin (5-4 sr. G), Regine Thompson (6-0 sr. F)

Other contributor: Victoria Guardiola (5-8 fr. G)

Outlook: The Vikings return all-league guard Foster and three seniors who should help the team improve upon last season’s sixth-place finish. First-year coach Ballinger believes the Vikings will be very quick and is looking for a few key younger players to contribute.

GRAND LEDGE

Last season: 15-6, 11-3 (2nd place)

Coach: David Jones (4th season)

Returning players: Hannah Orwat (5-8 jr. G), Lindsay Orwat (5-8 jr. G), Cori Crocker (6-3 so. C)

Other contributors: Lauren Bachert (5-6 jr. G), Sophie Guzman (5-5 So. G), Codi Drake (6-1 jr. F)

Outlook: The Comets boast three of the top players in the area in all-league juniors Lindsay and Hannah Orwat and Crocker, and return six of their top eight players from last year’s squad that won 15 games. Crocker, in fact, is attracting significant interest from NCAA Division I colleges. Grand Ledge could push East Lansing for the CAAC Blue title.

HOLT

Last season: 15-9, 10-4 (3rd place)

Coach: Doug Harkema (19th season)

Returning players: Sherye Bradley (5-6 sr. G), N’Dezha Robinson (5-5 sr. G), Tara Lierman (5-7 so. G), Emma Sluiter (6-0 jr. F), Rylie Stiles (6-1 so. F/C)

Other contributors: Kamrin Reed (5-7 fr. G), Khadeja Anthony (5-8 jr. F)

Outlook: The Rams are relatively young and are led by all-area honorable mention sophomore Lierman. Stiles also started as a freshman and joins seniors Bradley and Robinson as Holt aims for another top-three finish in the Blue and a sixth consecutive district title.

OKEMOS

Last season: 6-15, 6-8 (5th place)

Coach: Tyler Hursey (3rd season)

Returning players: Kristelle Yewah (5-8 jr. G), Vanessa Nigg (5-6 so. G), Erica Tooker (5-7 sr. F), Kourtney Scott (5-8 sr. G)

Other contributors: Kaylee Gonzales (5-8 sr. G), Natalie Wallace (5-10 sr. G), Caitlin Catt (5-11 sr. F), Elle Nichols (5-7 jr. G), Olivia Sherman (5-8 jr. F)

Outlook: With five returning seniors and three juniors, including all-league honorable mention Yewah, Okemos will rely on experience and depth to compete with the upper echelon of the CAAC Blue. A challenging non-league schedule will give the Chiefs an early indication of how competitive they should be in the conference.

SEXTON

Last season: 2-19, 2-12 (7th place)

Coach: Steven Jackson (1st season)

Returning players: Danette Stewart (5-9 sr. F), Andrea Koenigsknecht (5-5 jr. G)

Other contributors: Taylor Harris (5-8 sr. G), Sydney Morrell (5-5 fr. G)

Outlook: The Big Reds return only a few experienced players from a squad that won only two games last season. However, Steven Jackson – who has coached a dozen years previously — feels Sexton has some promising talent that will help this athletic group to compete every game despite its youthfulness.

CAAC RED

Coaches’ predictions: 1. DeWitt, 2. Haslett, 3. St. Johns, 4. Ionia, 5. Fowlerville, 6. Owosso

League’s top players: Makenna Ott (Haslett), Kaylee Schmitt (DeWitt), Sarah Trosko (Haslett), Sarah Swartz (Ionia), Taylor Bovee (Ionia), Kallie Allen (Fowlerville)

DEWITT

Last season: 17-5, 9-1 (1st place)

Coach: Bill McCullen (17th season)

Returning players: Kaylee Schmitt (6-3 sr. G), Lexi Banaszak (5-9 jr. F), Claudia Reid (5-6 so. G), Hannah Stoll (5-11 jr. F), Natalie Knauf (5-6 jr. G)

Other contributors: Amanda Kendrick (5-9 sr. F), Kaylie Stripling (5-5 sr. G), Abby Nakfoor (5-10 so. F), Maria Moss (5-5 so.

Outlook: The Panthers lost four starters to graduation but return all-league center Schmitt and honorable mention Banaszak from a squad that tied with St. Johns for the CAAC Red title. Coach McCullen feels his underclassmen gained valuable experience last season and if the team can overcome several preseason injuries should again finish at or near the top of the conference.

FOWLERVILLE

Last season: 2-19, 0-10 (6th place)

Coach: Lorraine Ross (2nd season)

Returning players: Kallie Allen (5-9 sr. F), Hannah Hammond (5-5 jr. G), Kaleigh Callahan (5-5 sr. F), Angie Williams (5-4 sr. G).

Other contributors: Randi Buell (5-4 sr. G), Megan Christoson (5-5 sr. F), Molly Bishop (5-7 jr. F), Samantha Black (5-7 jr. G/F).

Outlook: The Gladiators return five starters including four-time all-league forward Allen. Though Fowlerville went winless in the conference last season, the Gladiators are a veteran group with seven seniors and five juniors on the roster. They could move up a spot or two in the league this season.

HASLETT

Last season: 14-8, 6-4 (3rd place)

Coach: Bob Currier (4th season)

Returning players: Makenna Ott (5-9 so. G), Sarah Trosko (5-9 so. F), Kenzie DeCook (5-7 so.), Adrianna Stolickers (5-8 so.), Alysia Little (5-7 sr.)

Other contributors: Heather Holton (6-1 jr.), Jenna Johnston (5-7 sr.), Tasha Bolda (5-5 sr.), Maria Kronner (6-1, jr.)

Outlook: The Vikings boast three of the league’s top players, including all-area sophomore Ott, all-league junior Trosko and honorable mention sophomore DeCook. Despite several preseason injuries, Haslett returns every player from last season and though still very young is talented enough to compete for the CAAC Red title.

IONIA

Last season: 9-13, 4-6 (4th place)

Coach: Andrew Barr (11th season)

Returning players: Taylor Bovee (5-8 jr. G), Sarah Swartz (5-9 jr. G/F), Erika Ketchum (5-9 sr. F), Anna Riccius (5-9 so. F)

Other contributors: Megan Nickell (5-3 sr. G), Meagen Ciganick (5-8 jr. F), Joanna Miller (5-4 jr. G), Kendra Nickell (5-3 sr. G)

Outlook: The Bulldogs are led by all-league guards Bovee and Swartz and return eight players from last year’s squad that reached the district finals before falling to then-undefeated Portland. However, Ionia may be hard-pressed to climb over league powers DeWitt, Haslett and St. Johns.

OWOSSO

Last season: 7-14, 2-8 (5th place)

Coach: Devon Burzynski (5th season)

Returning players: Amanda Leftwich (5-6 sr. G), Chelsea Michalec (5-3 sr. G), Jordan Bannan (jr. G)

Other contributor: Kendall Mallory (jr. G)

Outlook: The Trojans will rely on senior guards Leftwich and Michalec to help them remain competitive in the tough CAAC Red. Despite losing several key starters to graduation, coach Burzynski sees a hard-working group that will battle every game.

ST. JOHNS

Last season: 17-4. 9-1 (1st place)

Coach: Mark Lasceski (17th season)

Returning players: Claire Whitford (5-8 jr. G), Tori Henning (5-8 jr. G), Teanna VanHorn (5-8 jr. G), Megan Feldpausch (5-9 sr. G)

Other contributors: Bailey Weber (5-8 jr. G), Chloe Waszak (5-7 so. G), Katie Maloney (5-8 so. F), Ellie Kebler (5-7 so. G), Challis Karasek (5-9 jr. F)

Outlook: The Redwings lost seven seniors to graduation, including Dream Team and all-state special mention forward Jordyn Nurenberg. This year’s group is very young with only one senior and expecting a repeat as league co-champions may be unrealistic. However, coach Lasceski feels if the team continues to work hard and improves game-to-game, the potential is there for another good season.

CAAC GOLD

Coaches’ predictions: 1. Eaton Rapids, 2. Waverly, 3. Charlotte, 4. Jackson Northwest, 5. Mason, 6. Jackson Lumen Christi, 7. Parma Jackson County Western

League’s top players: Victoria Milton (Waverly), Allie Dittmer (Eaton Rapids), Breanna Mobley (Waverly), Alyssa Brumbaugh (Charlotte), Ayren Parrish (Charlotte)

CHARLOTTE

Last season: 9-12, 3-7 (4th place)

Coach: Lisa Hoyt (3rd season)

Returning players: Alyssa Brumbaugh (5-3 sr. G), Ayren Parrish (5-5 jr. G), Hannah Smith (5-8 jr. F), Tori Royale (5-7 sr. F)

Other contributors: Lucy Sare (5-4 jr. G), Annie Keenan (5-5 jr. G)

Outlook: The duo of all-area guards Brumbaugh and Parrish (honorable mention) will attempt to lift the Orioles in the standings of the top-heavy CAAC Gold. Coach Hoyt also sees help coming from a strong group of underclassmen with size inside including 5-8 forward Hannah Smith.

EATON RAPIDS

Last season: 20-4, 8-2 (2nd place)

Coach: Willis Whitmyer (14th season)

Returning players: Allie Dittmer (6-1 jr. C), Bailey Baker (5-11 jr. F), Kathryn Mills (5-11 jr. F), Emily Reinecke (5-10 jr. G), Megan Dassance (5-6 jr. G)

Other contributor: Bianca Cavazos (5-8 sr. G)

Outlook: The Greyhounds return the majority of their roster, including all-state special mention and Dream Team member Dittmer. Eaton Rapids will again be strong in the post with all-league honorable mention Baker and junior forward Mills pounding the boards with Dittmer. The Greyhounds could top last season’s 20-win performance and should battle Waverly for the CAAC Gold title.

MASON

Last season: 7-14, 3-7 (4th place)

Coach: Scott Shattuck (13th season)

Returning players: Emily Somerville (so. G), Gabby Trudell (sr. C), Maycee Robinson (sr. F), Mona Hinamonu (sr. F), Jay Bard (so. G)

Other contributors: Alix Blair (jr. F), Brooke Beaune (jr. F)

Outlook: The Bulldogs will start three seniors with two sophomores as they look to improve upon last season’s fourth-place finish.

WAVERLY

Last season: 10-0, 21-1 (1st place)

Coach: Dan Carr (1st season)

Returning players: Victoria Milton (5-6 sr. G), Breanna Mobley (6-1 so. F)

Other contributor: Rachael Rienstra (5-10 jr. F)

Outlook: The Warriors will rely on LSJ player of the year and all-state special mention point guard Milton and all-area honorable mention forward Mobley as they attempt to repeat as league champions. The rest of the team, however, is relatively young and coach Carr feels a few of them will have to contribute if Waverly hopes to approach last season’s 21-1 record. The Warriors will be tested early with a demanding nonconference schedule.

CAAC WHITE

Coaches’ predictions: 1. Portland, 2. Corunna, 3. Williamston, 4. Lakewood, 5. Lansing Catholic, 6. Stockbridge

League’s top players: Emily Kutch (Lakewood), Payton Birchmeier (Corunna), Kelsey Spitzley (Portland), Nikki Green (Portland), Tara Hall (Stockbridge)

CORUNNA

Last season: 17-7, 5-5 (4th place)

Coach: Ron Birchmeier (2nd season)

Returning players: Payton Birchmeier (6-1 jr. G/F/C), Lauren Ruess (5-5 jr. G)

Other contributors: Sam Lawcock (5-8 sr. G/F), Nichole Numerich (5-8 sr. G/F), Maddie Turner (5-9 jr. F)

Outlook: After a 17-win season that saw the the Cavaliers reach the regional finals, Corunna will enter this season with a young but experienced squad. All-area honorable mention junior Birchmeier will team with junior guard Ruess and senior forwards Lawcock and Numerich to form the nucleus of a team that could compete for the CAAC White title.

LAKEWOOD

Last season: 9-12, 5-5 (4th place)

Coach: Denny Frost (2nd season)

Returning players: Emily Kutch (6-0 sr. G/F), Brooke Wieland (5-7 sr. G), Ellie Reynolds (5-3 sr. G)

Outlook: The Vikings’ hopes of improving upon last year’s fourth-place finish will ride with all-area honorable mention guard Kutch (who has signed with Northwood) and fellow seniors Wieland and Reynolds. The rest of the squad is young, and coach Frost feels they will have to step up quickly if Lakewood hopes to compete in the tough CAAC White.

LANSING CATHOLIC

Last season: 12-9, 7-3 (2nd place)

Coach: Joe Springer (7th season)

Returning player: Maria Repichowski (5-9 so. C)

Other contributors: Annie Fata (sr. F), Kasey Jacobs (sr. F), Kayla Cascarilla (sr. G), Katie McInnis (sr. F)

Outlook: Though Lansing Catholic returns five seniors and four juniors, only Repichowski has much playing experience at the varsity level. According to coach Springer this will likely be a rebuilding year for the Cougars.

PORTLAND

Last season: 23-1, 10-0 (1st place)

Coach: Ray Kimball (9th season)

Returning players: Kelsey Spitzley (5-10 sr. G), Nikki Green (5-7 sr. G), Allie Grys (5-9 jr. F), Allison Russell (5-9 jr. F), Madison Adams (5-2 jr. G), Katie Blake (5-10 jr. F)

Other contributors: Madison King (5-6 sr. G), Whitney Hoppes (5-6 sr. F), Ariel Davids (5-6 jr. F)

Outlook: The Raiders will be hard-pressed to match last year’s 23-win season, which ended with a loss to Class B runner-up Grand Rapids Catholic Central in the regional finals. However, there is still enough returning talent for Portland to make another strong run at the league title. The Raiders will be led by all-area honorable mention Spitzley (who has signed with NAIA Aquinas in Grand Rapids) and all-league honorable mention Green. Additional experience will come from senior Madison King, who transfers in from Lakewood, and juniors Russell and Adams. In short, Portland is still the team to beat in the CAAC White.

STOCKBRIDGE

Last season: 13-8, 10-2 (2nd place in SMAA)

Coach: Katherine Kuzma (1st season)

Returning players: Tara Hall (5-10 jr. C/F), Kelsey Crocket (5-11 jr. F/G), Breanna Taylor (5-9 jr. G), Brianna Baldridge (5-5 sr. G), Audra Goodlock (5-9 sr. G/F)

Other contributors: Barb Lance (5-9 sr. F), Melody Theut (5-6 sr. G), Sarah Rickerd (5-9 jr. G)

Outlook: After a second-place finish in the SMAA last season, the Panthers join the CAAC White. Juniors Tara Hall (2nd team all-SMAA) and Kelsey Crockett (honorable mention) return to lead a relatively young group under the tutelage of first-year coach Kuzma.

WILLIAMSTON

Last season: 7-14, 3-7 (5th place)

Coach: Pete Cool (6th season)

Returning players: Laura Rosekrans (5-7 sr. F), Tara Harris (5-6 sr. G), Sarah Schultz (5-8 so. G), Emily Nemeth (5-8 sr. G), Georgia Gregoricka (5-6 sr. G)

Other contributor: Kortney Smith (5-11 sr. C)

Outlook: The Hornets return four seniors, including all-league honorable mentions Rosekrans and Schultz. Smith also returns after not playing last year. Coach Cool likes the leadership and chemistry of his team and hopes those qualities help Williamston improve upon last year’s fifth-place finish.

CMAC

Coaches’ predictions: 1. Portland St. Patrick, 2. Pewamo-Westphalia, 3. Laingsburg, 4. Fulton, 5. Bath, 6. Fowler, 7. Dansville, 8. Saranac, 9. Potterville

League’s top players: Madison Dingman (Laingsburg), Victoria Hedemark (Dansville), Madison Smith (P-W), Joanna Klein (P-W), Anna Bosworth (St. Patrick), Sadie Guernsey (Saranac)

BATH

Last season: 14-9, 11-7 (5th place)

Coach: Chris Rypstra (2nd season)

Returning players: Nicole Wahrer (6-0 sr. F), Krista Kinsey (5-11 sr. C), Cassie DeDoes (5-7 jr. G), Amie Pumfrey (5-4 sr. G), Logan Wilkins (5-9 sr. F/G)

Other contributors: Allison Goward (5-4 jr. G), Morgan Romel (5-9 jr. F)

Outlook: The Bees have five experienced players returning along with an athletic group of underclassmen. The team has some size in the middle with seniors Wahrer and Kinsey but must find a way to replace the loss of their top two scorers from last season. The Bees might be challenged to top last year’s 14 wins.

DANSVILLE

Last season: 7-14, 6-12 (6th place)

Coach: Eric Ream (2nd season)

Returning players: Victoria Hedemark (5-8 so. G), Victoria Fletcher (5-8 sr. G), Hailey Mays (5-5 jr. G)

Other contributors: Hannah Powers (5-5 so. G), Amanda Arbuckle (5-7 so. G)

Outlook: The Aggies lost six seniors to graduation and will see at least three sophomores getting significant playing time, including all-league honorable mention point guard Hedemark. Fletcher is the only senior on the team.

FOWLER

Last season: 5-16, 5-13 (9th place)

Coach: Nathan Goerge (3rd season)

Returning players: Kelsie Feldpausch (5-6 jr. F), Breann Klein (5-1 sr. G), Savanah Feldpausch (5-2 jr. G), Kara Schafer (5-2 so. G)

Other contributors: Savannah Baker (5-4 sr. F), Danielle Goerge (5-4 sr. G)

Outlook: The Eagles will be playing some underclassmen with a good deal of experience, including juniors Savanah and Kelsie Feldpausch. The latter made all-league honorable mention along with Schafer. Improving upon last season’s ninth-place finish seems feasible

FULTON

Last season: 8-13, 6-12 (6th place)

Coach: Chad Walden (2nd season)

Returning players: Ashlee Davis (5-6 sr. G), Alyse Schneider (5-6 sr. G), Gabi Seida (5-9 jr. F/C), Hannah Baker (5-7 jr. F), Amanda Madden (5-5 jr. G)

Other contributors: Monica Tabor (5-5 jr. G), Jaclyn Kjergaard (5-6 jr. F)

Outlook: The Pirates bring back some talent from last season’s eight-win squad. Second team all-league point guard Davis, who missed the latter half of the season due to injury, will join Schneider and Seida, both of whom were all-league honorable mention selections. The team will stress defense, claims second-year coach Chad Walden, and the Pirates are aiming to top .500 in league play.

LAINGSBURG

Last season: 18-4, 15-3 (1st place)

Coach: Doug Hurst (1st season)

Returning players: Madison Dingman (5-11 sr. F), Quince Mitchell (5-8 sr. G/F), Jordyn Rouse (5-4 sr. G), Sara Hurst (5-5 so. G)

Other contributors: Brooke Dingman (5-10 jr.), Jalynn Mitchell (5-8 so.)

Outlook: The Wolfpack saw three key players graduate from last season’s CMAC championship squad and that could make repeating difficult. However, the team still has several key starters returning, including second team all-league forward Dingman and senior guard Mitchell. They bring valuable leadership to a young team that figures to battle Pewamo-Westphalia and Portland St. Patrick for the title.

PEWAMO-WESTPHALIA

Last season: 17-7, 13-5 (3rd place)

Coach: Steve Eklund (4th season)

Returning players: Brooke Lewis (5-6 sr. G), Joanna Klein (5-6 sr. G), Madison Smith (5-11 sr. C), Marlena Klein (5-10 jr. F), Kylee Schneider (5-8 sr. G)

Other contributor: Hannah Bengel (5-5 jr. G)

Outlook: All five starters return for the district champion Pirates, who finished with 17 wins. Four of those starters are seniors, including second-team all-leaguers Klein and Smith and honorable mention point guard Lewis. The CMAC title is well within the range of this veteran squad.

PORTLAND ST. PATRICK

Last season: 19-7, 12-6 (4th place)

Coach: Al Schrauben (28th season)

Returning players: Courtney Dixon (6-0 sr. C), Anna Bosworth (5-7 sr. F), Jennifer Bosworth (5-6 sr. G), Elle Lehman (5-7 sr. F), Danielle Simon (5-8 jr. G), Riley Smith (5-5 so. G), Tori Goodrich (5-6 sr. F)

Other contributors: Annie Mackowiak (5-6 sr. F), Amber Wieber (5-8 jr. F), Amy Wieber (5-8 jr. F), Marin Pline (5-6 sr. F)

Outlook: Despite a fourth-place finish in the conference last season, the Shamrocks rolled all the way to the Class D state semifinals before being ousted by eventual champion Waterford Our Lady Of The Lakes. Center Sidney Hill graduated, but the Shamrocks are again loaded with talent. There are seven seniors on the squad, including second team all-leaguer Anna Bosworth and honorable mention selections Courtney Dixon and Jennifer Bosworth. Add to that group all-area honorable mention junior guard Danielle Simon, and it’s easy to see why St. Patrick is the CMAC favorite.

POTTERVILLE

Last season: 7-14, 6-12 (6th place)

Coach: Jay Harkness (5th season)

Returning players: Lauren Coffman (5-10 sr. C/F), Taylor Reed (5-9 sr. F), Ryanne Deo (5-10 sr. C)

Other contributors: Logan Marsh (5-7 so. G), Hailey Metzmaker (5-9 so. F), Justice Britten (5-1 fr. G), Taryn Hayes (5-5 fr. F/G)

Outlook: The Vikings have a veteran frontcourt headed by all-league honorable mention center Coffman. Seniors Reed and Deo (who’s recovering from an ACL injury) also bring size and leadership but the backcourt is very young and lacks experience.

SARANAC

Last season: 1-20, 1-17 (10th place)

Coach: Dean Gage (6th season)

Returning players: Sadie Guernsey (6-0 jr. C), Kaylee Hardy (5-8 so. F), Betsy Simpson (5-10 sr. F), Morgan Allen (5-4 sr. G)

Other contributors: Chelsey Lazrus (5-4 sr. G), Kendal Seiler (5-8 jr. F), Sydnie Cooper (5-6 jr. F), Sydney Gage (5-4 so. G), Josie Manion (5-10 fr. F)

Outlook: Though the Redskins managed to win only one game last season, they do return second team all-league center Guernsey and honorable mention forward Hardy. Saranac should clearly be an improved team but how much remains to be seen in the top-heavy CMAC.

MSAC

Coaches’ predictions: 1. Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart, 2. Carson City-Crystal, 3. Blanchard Montabella, 4. Vestaburg, 5. Ashley, 6. Coleman

League’s top players: Mikayla Duflo (Carson City), Sara Hansen (Sacred Heart), Sarah Miller (Montabella), Erica Hansen (Sacred Heart)

ASHLEY

Last season: 5-15, 2-6 (4th place)

Coach: Steve Hardman (1st season)

Returning players: Katie Surdock (5-6 sr. G), Meggan Andrews (5-7 so. F), Brooke Stopjik (5-6 sr. F)

Other contributors: Jenna Gross (5-7 jr. G), Sammy Dunlap (5-4 so. G), Katie Fabus (5-7 so. G)

Outlook: The Bears will strive to improve upon last season’s fourth-place finish, though that could be easier said than done with the addition of Carson City-Crystal to the league. Ashley will field a young squad with all-league honorable mention guard Surdock and forward Stopjik the only seniors.

CARSON CITY-CRYSTAL

Last season: 18-5, 15-3 (1st place in CMAC)

Coach: Larry Farmer (3rd season)

Returning players: Emily Ward (5-8 sr. F), Hailey Geister (5-9 sr. F), Mackenzie Geister (5-9 jr. F), Tori Christiansen (5-8 jr. F), Mikayla Duflo (5-4 so. G)

Other contributors: Tia Jolls (5-6 so. F), Kali Donahue (5-4 sr. G)

Outlook: Carson City-Crystal joins the MSAC after sharing the CMAC title with Laingsburg last season. The Eagles return most of their district championship squad, including all-area honorable mention sophomore guard Duflo. Forwards Hailey and Mackenzie Geister were both all-league honorable mention selections and join Christiansen and Ward to form a formidable frontcourt. The Eagles could push perennial power Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart for the league title.

GAC BLUE

Coaches’ predictions: 1. New Lothrop, 2. Flint Hamady, 3. Burton Bendle, 4. Genesee, 5. Webberville, 6. Morrice, 7. Burton Atherton, 8. Dryden, 9. Burton Bentley, 10. Byron

League’s top players: Jaqueline Simpson (Bendle), Laken Hammon (Genesee), Chelsea Wesley (Morrice), Brittany and Emily Severne (New Lothrop)

MORRICE

Last season: 13-8, 11-6 (3rd place)

Coach: Kris Smith (7th season)

Returning players: Chelsea Wesley (5-6 sr. G), Tiffany Warner (6-0 sr. C), Sam Miller (5-0 sr. G)

Other contributors: Courtney Wolf (5-7 so. F), Krysta Smith (5-4 so. G), Maddie Munro (5-4 jr. G), Averi Munro (5-6 fr. F)

Outlook: All-area point guard Wesley will team with fellow seniors Warner and Miller to lead the Orioles in the always-tough GAC Blue. The squad is relatively young but returns six players with varsity experience. Coach Smith needs eight wins to pass hall of fame coach Jim Lemiere for second place in career victories for girls basketball at Morrice.

WEBBERVILLE

Last season: 7-14, 7-11 (7th place)

Coach: Kris Tennant (4th season)

Returning players: Lynsey Hitchcock (5-9 sr. F), Kelsei Hull (5-10 sr. F), Amanda Crandall (5-0 sr. G), Jackie Bedwell (5-9 sr. C), Bailey Perkins (5-5 sr. F), Sammie Driver (5-7 jr. G), Brooke Scifers (5-8 jr. F), Kayla Crandall (5-7 so. F), Emily Nelson (5-5 so. F)

Outlook: The Spartans have their entire team back, including five seniors. Despite playing in the very tough GAC Blue, Webberville is optimistic about exceeding last season’s seventh-place finish. Hitchcock and Hull are the team leaders and were team Co-MVPs last year.

GAC RED

Last season’s final standings: 1. Goodrich, 2. Lake Fenton, 3. Montrose, 4. Flint Beecher, 5. Durand, 6. Otisville Lakeville, 7. Perry, 8. Mount Morris

PERRY

Last season: 9-13, 0-10 (6th place in CAAC White)

Coach: Dawn Crim (3rd season)

Returning players: Allison Middleton (5-11 sr. C), Chasity Potter (5-9 so. F)

Other contributors: Lindsay Crim (5-7 fr. G), Kelsey Finch (5-10 fr. G/F)

Outlook: The Ramblers join the GAC Red, which boasts none other than defending Class B state champion Goodrich. Though Perry went winless in the CAAC White last season, it did win nine games overall — most coming against teams from the GAC Red. The Ramblers are young; they will start a sophomore and two freshmen. Consequently, this will likely be a rebuilding season for coach Crim and her squad.

KVA

Last season’s final standings: 1. Olivet, 2. Parchment, 3. Delton Kellogg, 4. Kalamazoo Christian, 5. Galesburg-Augusta, 6. Kalamazoo Hackett Catholic, 7. Schoolcraft, 8. Battle Creek Pennfield, 9. Maple Valley, 10. Constantine

OLIVET

Last season: 16-5, 16-2 (1st place)

Coach: Rob Fleming (5th season)

Returning players: Kelsey Fraley (5-6 sr. G), Haley Walkowski (5-6 jr. G), Allison Kirk (5-11 sr. F), Aleena Janousek (5-11 so. F), Kiley Ploehn (5-7 jr. F), Kelsey Walkowski (5-7 jr. G)

Outlook: Defending champ Olivet returns only two seniors from last season’s 16-win squad but one of them is all-league junior guard Walkowski. Other veterans include seniors Fraley and Kirk, who will try to help their younger teammates adapt to the varsity level of competition. Parchment and Delton Kellogg would appear to be the Eagles’ main obstacles to repeating as league champions.

MAPLE VALLEY

Last season: 4-17, 3-15 (9th place)

Coach: Landon Wilkes (11th season)

Returning players: Timara Burd (5-4 sr. G), Hanna Kyle (5-5 jr. G), Emily Burkett (5-9 sr. F), McKailey Bodenmuller (5-8 sr. C), Maggie Semrau (5-4 sr. G), Alivia Johncock (5-5 sr. G), Alexis Lamance (5-6 sr. F)

Other contributors: Olivia Ricketts (5-8 so. F), Marissa Pierce (5-3 jr. G), Jacey Wood (5-5 jr. F)

Outlook: The Lions won only four games last season, but have six seniors and three juniors returning including all-league honorable mention guard Burd. The KVA has three teams that won 18 or more games last season so the team’s ceiling may be somewhere in the middle of the standings.

TVC CENTRAL

Coaches’ predictions: 1. Freeland, 2. Midland Bullock Creek, 3. Shepherd, 4. Hemlock, 5. Ovid-Elsie, 6. Saginaw Swan Valley, 7. Alma, 8. Chesaning

League’s top players: Tori Jankoska (Freeland), Tara Padgett (Freeland), Hallie Nieman (Bullock Creek), Maddy Seeley (Alma)

ALMA

Last season: 6-14, 3-10 (7th place)

Coach: Jennie IntVeld (2nd season)

Returning players: Maddy Seeley (5-8 jr. G), Aundria Fell (5-8 sr. F), Amanda Moreno (5-6 sr. G)

Other contributors: Kendall Vedrode (5-5 so. G), Bailey McCarthy (5-4 fr. G)

Outlook: Four of the nine players on Alma’s roster are underclassmen so the Panthers will field a young team this season. Returning players with significant experience include second-team all-league point guard Seeley and seniors Fell and Moreno. With three teams in the conference that won at least 16 games last year, including Class B semifinalist Freeland, a .500 record in league play would seem to be a reasonable goal.

OVID-ELSIE

Last season: 8-13, 5-9 (6th place)

Coach: Michelle Ott (2nd season)

Returning player: Abagail Halm (5-8 sr. G)

Other contributors: Megan Black (5-11 so. C), Logan Trefil (5-8 so. G)

Outlook: The Marauders will sport a lot of new faces this season with honorable mention all-league senior Halm the only returnee with extensive playing experience. Second-year coach Michelle Ott is optimistic about her young team’s potential, particularly sophomores Black and Trefil. In a league as tough as the TVC Central, wins may be tough to come by for the Marauders this season.

TVC WEST

Last season’s final standings: 1. Carrollton, 2. Saginaw Valley Lutheran, 3. Saginaw Michigan Lutheran Seminary, 4. St. Louis, 5. Breckenridge, 6. St. Charles, 7. Ithaca, 8. Merrill

ITHACA

Last season: 3-18, 2-12 (7th place)

Coach: Bob Anderson (1st season at Ithaca, 48th overall)

Returning players: Renae Niznak (5-10 jr. C), Jamie Gose (5-4 jr. G), Courtney Cooley (5-5 jr. G), Madison Riley (5-6 jr. G)

Other contributors: Lacie Mates (5-11 so. F), Lacey Lehman (5-10 jr. F), Colby Cramer (5-9 jr. F)

Outlook: With no seniors and only five juniors on the team, the Yellowjackets are clearly rebuilding. New Ithaca girls coach Bob Anderson, who has 47 years of coaching experience, says his team has some athleticism but is very young and inexperienced. With an eye on building a team for a few years down the road, the Yellowjackets will be a work in progress.

INDEPENDENTS

LANSING CHRISTIAN

Last season: 22-3, 12-0 (1st place in SMAA)

Coach: Justin Terry (3rd season)

Returning players: Elizabeth Perkins (5-9 sr. G), Mikayla Terry (6-0 jr. F/G), Maddie Pauley (5-10 sr. F)

Other contributors: Rosemarie Falsetta (5-5 jr. G), Callie Mounsey (5-0 so. G), Rachelle Trafford (5-2 so. G), Sarah Mishler (5-2 jr. G)

Outlook: Lansing Christian went undefeated in the now-defunct SMAA last season and is playing as an independent. Overall, the Pilgrims won 22 games and advanced to the Class D quarterfinals before losing by a point to eventual runner-up Athens.

Lansing Christian returns two of the top players in the area in all-state special mention Perkins and all-state honorable mention Terry. Add second team all-league senior Pauley and some talented juniors to the mix, and the Pilgrims appear primed for a lengthy tournament run.

LESLIE

Last season: 1-20, 0-12 (6th place in SMAA)

Coach: Collin Smith (2nd season)

Returning players: Tori Kinney (5-2 sr. G), Becca Gould (5-2 sr. G), Olivia Hanson (5-4 sr. F), Arrianna Levario (5-5 sr. F), Emily Hanson (5-9 so. C), Vanisa Patel (5-4 jr. G), Hunter Fedewa (5-2 so. G), Hunter Hart (5-10 jr. C)

Other contributors: Annie Davis (5-5 so. G), Ashley Medcoff (5-7 so. F)

Outlook: The Blackhawks suffered through a 20-loss season in the SMAA last season and are now an independent. Leslie returns four seniors including Gould, who led the mid-Michigan area in steals last year (4.9 per game), and Levario — the team’s top rebounder (7.4). Coach Smith feels the Blackhawks are improved and eager to prove the point with victories.

– compiled by Jack Dowd

Latest

More USA TODAY High School Sports