No one can be sure how many teams will make a run at the Harford County girls basketball title. But it's not too hard to figure out whichplayers will dominate the league.
Although there is sure to be a surprise or two, here are the preseason picks for the top 10 players in the league.
Shannon Bracken (5-11, sr., F) North Harford -- Bracken drew little attention last year although she was a key factor in the Hawks' solid inside game. A consistent "small" forward, she averaged 10.2 points but also had a lot of key rebounds. The senior has always had a nice turnaround jumper, but this year she has added more range.
Amy Dean (5-7, jr., G) John Carroll -- The two guard in a strong backcourt, Dean had to do a lot of scoring last year. She averaged just over 12 points, most off her deadeye mid-range jumper. A hustling defensive player, Dean knows when to look for the basket and when to pass off.
Nitrease Hamilton (6-0, sr., F) Havre de Grace -- A well-roundedplayer, Hamilton played every position on the floor at some time during last season. She is most dominant under the basket, averaging 17 points and 18 rebounds, but she can also handle the ball. Quick for abig girl, Hamilton also averaged six steals.
Carie James (5-11, sr., F) North Harford -- James dominated the boards last year, averaging 14.8 rebounds a game. She turned many of her offensive rebounds into points, averaging 14. An intimidating defender, James averaged twoblocks per game.
Cindy Jenkins (5-5, jr., G) Fallston -- A multitalented backcourt player, Jenkins can handle the ball and shoot. She should easily improve her six-points-a-game clip. With a good eye forher teammates, she averaged 4.3 assists. A pest on defense, Jenkins averaged nearly six steals.
Stacey Milton (5-11, jr., F) C. MiltonWright -- An aggressive rebounder with an all-around inside game, Milton averaged 11 points and 10 rebounds a game last year. She may be the key to how far the Mustangs go this year. But Milton is nursing afinger broken in five places as well as recovering from mononucleosis. She probably won't be back in top form until mid-season.
Krystin Porcella (5-5, soph., PG) John Carroll -- Porcella will run the thePatriots offense. She plays smart and sees the floor well. Last year, she averaged 8.7 points and could easily improve on that. Still developing her outside shot, Porcella can drive the lane or pop a short jumper.
Danielle Rivas (5-11, sr., F) C. Milton Wright -- Another strong rebounder for the Mustangs, Rivas averaged 10 boards a game last year. She also averaged nearly six points a game and should easilyimprove those numbers. A strong inside defender, Rivas has great anticipation and could pick off a lot of passes.
Thori Staples (5-7, sr., F/G) Joppatowne -- The best athlete among the top ten, Staples concentrates on soccer and track and field, but she can also put up the big numbers in basketball. She averaged 16 points and 15 rebounds last year. Offensively , Staples can do just about everything, from driving the lane to swishing the three-pointer.
Lisa Thomas (5-7, jr., PG) Bel Air -- Thomas was the surprise of the season last year forthe Bobcats, averaging seven points, four assists and just over three steals a game. At point guard, Thomas has a good eye for the cutters, and she can also hit from three-point range. The only veteran back, she'll face more defensive pressure, and if she can handle it, Thomas should improve on all her statistics.
NOTE: SEE ALSO MAIN STORY (DON'T TELL COACH, BUT N. HARFORD IS THE TEAM TO BEAT)