Around The Area

Girls Basketball

December 03, 2004

Anne Arundel County

This much is clear: Defending 4A champ Arundel is the far-and-away favorite with all five starters back and much more led by All-Metro Player of the Year Alex McGuire.

The senior guard, already the program's leading scorer with 1,517 points, is part of a deep team that boasts second-team All-Metro guard Ana Baker and first-team All-County forward Janae Butler.

Severna Park, with four senior starters returning led by forward Lauren Wyble and guard Laura Moore, appears to come the closest with balanced scoring and young players off the bench ready to contribute. With Rachel Fry, Stacy Hunt and Ali Moreland all back at South River, the county runner-up Seahawks have plenty of talent in the backcourt.

Baltimore City

Coming off a banner year for city girls basketball, in which three teams -- City College, Western and Southside -- reached the state semifinals, this may be an even more competitive season within city borders. Defending champ City likely will face a shootout with Western for the title, but Western may have a tougher time reaching the city final than City could.

In Division II, Western must get by Southside and Dunbar to win a berth in the title game. The Doves likely have the best post game with 6-3 1/2 Whitney Cunningham and 6-1 Zhondria Benn and one of the city's top guards in Ebony Dennis.

In Division I, City is a clear cut favorite, boasting one of the strongest backcourt duos in Amanda Burroughs and Madea Bailey.

Baltimore County

Two-time defending champion Woodlawn took a huge hit from graduation, but don't expect that to knock the Warriors out of the county title race.

Graduating four of their top five scorers, the Warriors lost 45 of the 74 points they averaged, but still have 5-7 All-Metro guard Brittney Taylor, 6-3 center Kim Carr and 5-8 guard Milan Heard. Once again, the Warriors should face their stiffest competition in the Class 4A-3A Division from neighboring Milford Mill.

Catonsville and Randallstown could also be in the 4A-3A mix.

The 2A-1A Division could once again be a battle. Overlea edged Eastern Tech and Lansdowne for the division title last season, and all three return enough players to remain in a tight race this season.

Carroll County

Following several seasons as a dominant inside team, Westminster will look vastly different this time around, as the Owls attempt to ride their speed to the top of the Carroll County standings.

Returning starters Brittany Baer and Whitney Schultheis will lead the four-guard offense of new coach Jerry Georgiana. Gone are imposing forwards Jen Walkling (Fairleigh Dickinson) and Emily Bollinger (St. Francis, Pa.).

South Carroll and Winters Mill should challenge. Cavaliers guards Brittany Woodfield and Stephanie Scurci and 6-foot center Melissa Axtell lead a group that has been together for two years. And the Falcons return most of last year's 10-win team, including first-team All-County guard Allie Drechsler.

Harford County

Aberdeen won the county title last year, but there will be several strong Harford teams in the new Upper Chesapeake Bay Athletic Conference.

The Eagles went 21-4 last year, but they lost two first-team All-County picks. Player of the Year Tameka McDonald and teammate Rudi Johnson both graduated. Aberdeen will need Shannel Shivers (G/F, sophomore) and senior center Nalani Russell to step up as the Eagles are going to be a much younger team.

Fallston has three returning starters, led by senior shooting guard Amanda Andrews (16.2 ppg) and classmates Lindsey Mueller (F) and Caitlin Stein (G). Edgewood should be younger this season after posting an 18-7 record last year.

Howard County

River Hill (23-2), seeking its fifth county title in six seasons, remains the queen bee of county basketball and features junior shooting guard LaKeisha Eaddy and senior center Brittany Gordon, both first-team All-County returnees from a team that lost to Gwynn Park in the 3A East region championship game.

Challengers to the throne will include Glenelg, Centennial and Atholton.

Glenelg (19-6) returns a strong core, and its JV lost only one game. The Gladiators have a wealth of depth.

Centennial (10-10) features second-team All-County forward Brittany Kelley, a junior, and two fourth-year players, Katie Barrett and Lindsay Molesky. Atholton (15-9) will be led by second-team All-County senior forward Allie Scott .

Private schools

For two years, St. Frances has maintained a hold on the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference, but neighbor Institute of Notre Dame plans to change that this season.

The Indians are the team to beat with returning All-Baltimore City/County Player of the Year Chandrea Jones and 6-foot forward Brooks Webster.

Don't count out St. Frances, however. The Panthers return 5-9 guard Maya Newman and 6-foot forward Ma-Khida Hankins.

In the B Conference, defending champ Severn remains the team to beat. Pallotti and Friends could also be in the hunt. The C Conference is up for grabs with defending champion Arlington Baptist moving up to the B Conference.

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