25th District team-by-team previews

25th District team-by-team previews


25th District team-by-team previews

Central, Manual, Portland Christian, Presentation, St. Francis, Shawnee


Central, Manual, Portland Christian, Presentation, St. Francis, Shawnee


  • Coach: Jana Costner (first year).
  • Last season: 17-11, lost to Sacred Heart, 84-60, in the first round of the 7th Region Tournament.
  • Player to watch: Stephonie Cole. The 5-9 senior forward was a second-team all-region selection last season.
  • Other top players: F Precious Hereford (5-7, Sr.); F India New (5-7, Jr.); G Thelisia Beasley Guin (5-2, Sr.).
  • Outlook: The Yellowjackets lost first-team all-region guard Peyton Evans to graduation, but the cupboard isn’t bare. Cole leads the group of returning players, but she should have help. Costner was named Central’s coach Friday after Janetta Johnson stepped down. Johnson, the mother of University of Louisville basketball player Jaylen Johnson, had been hired in June to replace Ashley Franklin. Costner was The Courier-Journal’s Seventh Region Coach of the Year at Christian Academy during the 2014-15 season.


  • Coach: Jeff Sparks (fourth year).
  • Last season: 21-8, lost to Murray, 58-41, in the first round of the Sweet 16.
  • Players to watch: Jaela Johnson. The 5-5 junior guard averaged 14.8 points per game on her way to earning first-team all-region honors last season.
  • Other top players: G Tonysha Curry (5-10, Sr.; 9 ppg, 7.4 rpg); G-F Aniah Griffin (5-10, Jr.; 6.7 ppg); F Nila Blackford (5-11, So.; 3.9 ppg, 3.7 rpg); G Tyonne Howard (5-1, Jr.; 2.9 ppg, 2.3 rpg).
  • Outlook: The Crimsons return three starters from last season’s Seventh Region champs, but must replace departed 6-4 center Krys McCune. “We have a very talented core group returning from last year’s Seventh Region championship team, but we did lose some key players to graduation and injury heading into the season,” Sparks says. “In order to compete in this region this year we will have to figure out how this group will gel and come together.”


  • Coach: Kristi McCartney (first year).
  • Last season: 2-12, didn’t participate in district tournament.
  • Player to watch: Lydia Cyrus. The do-it-all junior averaged 10 per game and was the team’s leading rebounder last season.  “Lydia is a versatile player who can play any position on the court for our team, from point guard to post,” McCartney says.
  • Other top players: PG Hannah Taylor (Jr.); F Carolyn West (Fr.).
  • Outlook: “This year will be a building year,” McCartney says. “We have new coaches seeking to implement a new program, structure and vision. We hope to be a strong defensive team that can focus on defending and rebounding, along with playing a fast-paced game of transition.”


  • Coach: David Jackson (15th year).
  • Last season: 17-14, lost to Central, 58-47, in the 25th District Tournament semifinals.
  • Player to watch: Lilly Stephenson. The 5-6 senior guard averaged 15.6 points and 4.5 rebounds per game to garner second-team all-region honors last season.
  • Other top players: F Julia Vogt (5-8, Sr.; 7.4 ppg, 6.6 rpg); F Courtney Jackson (5-8, Jr.; 10.5 ppg, 6.6 rpg); F Ashley Swearingen (5-5, Sr.; 3 ppg); G Jaelin Thompson (5-6, Jr.; 2.9 ppg); F Madison Perkins (5-8, So.; 2.5 ppg, 3.4 rpg).
  • Outlook: “We return seven of our top eight, so we have high hopes for a good year,” Jackson says. “We need to improve our shooting and rebounding.”


  • Coach: Dean Zangari (third year).
  • Last season: 5-17, didn’t participate in the district tournament.
  • Player to watch: Alexis Nelson. The 5-9 junior guard averaged 33.9 points and 6.8 rebounds per game on her way to earning second-team all-region honors last season. Zangari says Nelson “continues to improve in all aspects of the game.”
  • Other top players: G Maggie McGraw (5-4, So.; 5 ppg); G Norah Patrick (5-3, 8th; 3.5 ppg); G Jasmin Gonzalez (5-4, 8th; 3 ppg).
  • Outlook: “Our goal at St. Francis has been to develop our program to a point where we can truly compete for an All ‘A’ Seventh Region title,” says Zangari, who has no seniors on his roster. “This year, and definitely next year, we are contenders as long as we stay healthy.”


  • Coach: Charles Pearson (first year).
  • Last season: 13-9, lost to Manual, 61-29, in 25th District Tournament semifinals.
  • Player to watch: Keiana Patterson. The 5-5 sophomore guard averaged 10.3 points and 3.9 rebounds per game last season. “She pretty much plays 1-4,” Pearson said.
  • Other top players: G Jalana Scruggs (5-3, Sr.; 7 ppg); G Ta Nysha Allen (5-4, Sr.; 5.4 ppg, 4.7 rpg); G Johmika McGee (5-4, So.; 7 ppg, 4.1 rpg).
  • Outlook: The Golden Eagles, who closed out their 2015-16 regular season with victories in seven of their final eight games, will try to carry that momentum over into this season under their new head coach. “They’re showing really good signs of picking up everything really fast,” Pearson says. “I think we’re going to be very scrappy. I think we’re going to surprise some people.”


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