TC Francis Scott Key Eagles
1993 record: 3-16. Coach: Alice Smith
Top players: Maureen Ritcey, 5-6, Sr., G; Carri Ryer, 5-6, Sr., G; Jen McDaniel, 5-5, Sr., G; Jen Wildesen, 5-9, Jr., F; Cindy Sheedy, 5-9, So., F; Stephanie Stambaugh, 6-0, So., F; Nicole Keffer, 5-6, So., G.
Outlook: Smith, who coached the Eagles' junior varsity team last season and the freshmen squad the year before, takes over for Brian Hollingsworth and promises a lot of changes.
Of the 13 players on this year's varsity roster, eight played on Smith's JV team that went 13-5 last year. "That's a big advantage," Smith said. "They feel very comfortable learning something and having success with it. The big thing is always getting them to believe in the system."
Ritcey, Ryer and McDaniel are the three seniors who are still learning Smith's system, which promises a structured game plan with a lot of different looks on offense and defense.
Smith plans to use all 13 players and said many have the versatility to play two and three different positions. "They all have equal ability and the starting lineup will change per game," Smith said.
Wildesen, a strong rebounder and excellent ball handler, will play a big role up front along with Sheedy. Stambaugh, Kelly Myers and Holly Burall, a transfer from Brunswick, add a lot of size to the lineup.
Along with the seniors, Keffer will be a key in the backcourt. She ran the point on JV last season and Smith is confident she is ready to take on that role at the varsity level.
"The seniors are doing an excellent job learning the system and the other girls who are familiar with it have helped them along. There's been a lot of competition in practice," Smith said.
1993 record: 3-18. Coach: Tom Delise.
Top players: Natalie Hannibal, 5-5, Sr., G; Amy North, 5-6, Sr., G; Pam Owens, 5-3, Sr., G; Ashley Davis, 5-8, Jr., F.
Outlook: The Lions don't have a lot of size or a single dominant player to rely on. What they do have is a veteran group that has worked hard and are determined to get things turned around.
Delise said his players worked hard over the summer to improve their game and it has showed in practice. The Lions are looking to play an up-tempo style with everyone involved to compensate for a lack of size. "I can go to the bench with confidence this season," Delise said. "We don't have any one individual you can build a program around, but 10 players who can all do the job."
North will move to point guard with Hannibal, who played there last season, sliding over to shooting guard. Owens and Kerry Adams, another senior, will see plenty of time in the backcourt and Delise is counting on strong play from senior Jaime Gordon up front. All five are in their fourth year with the program.
The junior class is deep at forward, with Davis, Michelle Clawson and Mandy Vogg.
"We'll do a little more pressing and hope to get some fast breaks with the aggressive defense. We're small, so the philosophy will be to get down the floor quickly before they can set up," Delise said.
Delise said the key will be shooting from the field. The Lions recently shot 15 of 63 from the floor in a scrimmage against High Point.
"We have to shoot better than that," Delise said. "We seem to be a little nervous at times, rushing our shots, but that will get better."
North Carroll Panthers
1993 record: 4-15. Coach: Greg Knill.
Top players: Teresa Mays, 5-7, Sr., F; Kandi Lippy, 5-8, Sr., F; Cori Bradford, 5-6, Sr., G; Kelly Dunkleberger, 5-9, Sr., F.
Outlook: The Panthers won't be the fastest team this season and don't have particularly great size, but one thing Knill has come to expect from his team is smart play and plenty of effort. How far it can carry them this season is a question to be answered later.
It was a rebuilding season for the Panthers last year. After a county championship and trip to the region final two years ago, the Panthers stumbled last season with an entirely new nucleus. The Panthers are looking to start fresh. "We're basically taking it one day at a time and not thinking about the past," Knill said. "The kids are working hard and really care -- this is very important to them. We're working hard on getting them ready to play and be competitive in every game."
Knill has 10 players on the varsity roster and eight have varsity experience. Forwards Mays and Lippy should provide most of the inside scoring, and Dunkleberger does a lot of the small things in the post area that go unnoticed.
Bradford leads a backcourt with plenty of experienced players. Seniors Melissa Wilfong and Barbie Jackson will be relied upon, along with junior Kathleen Tunney and sophomore Aubrey Wilfong.