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Winter Preview

December 05, 2003

Anne Arundel County

Arundel, a Class 4A state semifinalist last season, returns the most talent - starting with the county's Player of the Year, Alex McGuire - to make it the clear favorite.

Joining McGuire (18 ppg., 7.8 rpg.) in the Wildcats' potent backcourt is quick and talented point guard Ana Baker while Latavia Vails and Janae Butler lead a frontcourt that will be without standout junior center Tiffany Johnson, who is concentrating on volleyball.

With senior center Lindsay Sheppard the county's most dominant post player, South River could provide a significant push under new coach Chiara Lee. The experienced Seahawks also return junior Rachel Fry and add Spalding transfer Stacy Hunt to bring quickness and good range in the backcourt.

In the mix will be Severna Park, now coached by Dave Griffith; Meade, under first-year coach John Brown; and Glen Burnie. How fast young talent develops will determine how far each team will go.

Chesapeake graduated all five starters and Annapolis lost its top three scorers from last season.

Carroll County

Nearly a year removed from a controversy that almost ended its season, Westminster is back, and should be a powerhouse.

Led by a pair of Div. I signees in frontcourt standouts Emily Bollinger (St. Francis, Pa.) and Jennifer Walkling (Fairleigh Dickinson), the Owls return 10 players with varsity experience, including five who have started at one point or another.

Following last winter's alcohol infractions that led to the suspension of nine players, new coach Kevin Lawrence, formerly an assistant at Gettysburg College, said he's intent on molding his talented pieces into a team. That would spell trouble for the rest of Carroll County.

Century, which last year split the county title with Westminster, could struggle without first-team all-county players Kelly Kasper and Mandy Psenicska, who have decided not to play their senior seasons. Second-team guard Lauren Schwarzmann will be forced to carry more of the scoring load.

Liberty again should be strong with the return of first-team all-county guard Brittany Harman and junior Stacey Krebs. Francis Scott Key also features several standout athletes, including first-team all-county volleyball players Jen Stambaugh and Erin Jenkins.

North Carroll looks to improve on last year's four-win season with eight returners, including standout point guard Carly Rihard. South Carroll returns three starters, with players from the school's strong JV filling the holes.

Baltimore City

The balance of power shifted last season when Western snatched the city title back from Dunbar. It appears that the defending champion Doves could hold onto that crown.

Despite graduating high-scoring Jeanell Hughes, the Doves bring back a lot of talent. Last year's freshmen have matured and appear ready to lead the way, especially 5-6 guard Ebony Dennis and 6-1 forward Zhondria Benn.

Dunbar brings back seven players but may suffer from the loss of veteran forward Jolunda Leake, out indefinitely with a knee injury.

Southside, Poly and City could have a lot to say about who comes out on top.

The Jaguars return only five players but add transfer Patrice Griffin. They have experience and size, especially in 5-11 senior Angela Speight.

The Engineers and the Knights return every starter. Poly has good size in 5-11 Brittany Christian and 6-1 Erica Turnbull and veteran point guard Dierra Washington. The Knights have a talented backcourt in 5-9 Amanda Burroughs and 5-3 Madea Bailey.

Walbrook and Lake Clifton will go as far as Renee Jones and Krystal Vaughn, respectively, can lead them.

Baltimore County

In moving to a new format that puts all of the Class 4A and Class 3A teams in the same division and all of the Class 2A and Class 1A teams in the other division, the county has set up some strong competition for berths in the county final.

Woodlawn, which won its first county crown in 12 years last season, is favored to repeat. The Warriors return every starter, including All-Metro guard Brittney Taylor, second-team forward Ronda Shelly and hot-shooting Tiara Wildy.

Milford Mill and Catonsville renew their rivalry in trying to catch the Warriors in the Class 4A/3A division. Each has a solid veteran core: point guard Shawna Scott and 5-10 forward Chelsea Jeter for the Millers and guards Sandy Wasserbach and transfer Nicole Holtman for the Comets.

In the Class 2A/1A division, Eastern Tech and Hereford should battle it out for first place while Lansdowne also could be in the hunt.

The Mavericks (13-6) return eight and have a front line that runs 6-2 all the way across with Suzanne Schrauder, Katie McKay and Krystal Shafer.

At Hereford, 10 players return but only two starters: 5-9 guard Kasey Sonnenfeld and 5-10 forward Catherine Brunson.

Harford County

The Chesapeake Division of the Upper Chesapeake Bay Athletic Conference is up for grabs with at least five county teams capable of winning the title.

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