The Poll

Varsity Girls Basketball

December 04, 2008

1. St. Frances

* Last season: 26-5, ranked No. 1

* Because of injuries last winter, the young Panthers already have made the transition they were expected to face now. They are shooting for their seventh straight Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference title.

2. Arundel

* Last season: 22-6, No. 3

* The Wildcats return their top three players, including 6-foot-3 C Simone Egwu and 6-4 F Sheronne Vails - and they are driven to win the state Class 4A crown after a disappointing title game performance last season.

3. Seton Keough

* Last season: 29-5, No. 2

* The Gators return the area's top inside threat in 6-5 C Asya Bussie, and her dominance should carry them through while they rebuild around her. Look for defense to keep driving them in the IAAM A Conference hunt.

4. Western

* Last season: 23-4, No. 7

* With height inside and quickness on the outside, as well as a strong catalyst in G Akeema Richards, the Doves aim for a state Class 3A title after falling in the semifinals in overtime a year ago.

5. River Hill

* Last season: 19-6, unranked

* The Hawks will have an inside advantage over most teams with 6-1 F Alicia Seelaus and 6-3 C Ryan Dannelly, which could get them back to states after a year away.

6. City

* Last season: 22-3, No. 11

* The Knights are determined to return to the state tournament after falling to Poly in the regional final last season, and they have the veteran squad to do it.

7. Archbishop Spalding

* Last season: 19-8, No. 13

* With a strong group of returning players and some solid young additions, new coach William Rosemond should have the Cavaliers in the IAAM A Conference race.

8. Severn

* Last season: 23-3, No. 12

* The Admirals play in the IAAM B Conference, but don't let that fool you. They can compete with most A Conference and Anne Arundel teams.

9. Winters Mill

* Last season: 25-1, No. 5

* The Falcons have some rebuilding to do, but they have a great cornerstone in stellar G Cassie Cooke and a promising supporting cast.

10. Digital Harbor

* Last season: 19-7, unranked

* The Rams bolted onto the big stage with their first trip to the state Class 1A semifinals. A veteran team is primed for a return appearance.

11. Catonsville

* Last season: 23-3, No. 8

* The Comets graduated some key players and lost one to indoor track, but they have a strong centerpiece in G Shamika Williams.

12. Howard

* Last season: 5-15, unranked

* A formidable combination in 6-1 F-C Nyree Williams and 6-2 G Brandi Wingate should boost the Lions into the Howard County hunt.

13. Randallstown

* Last season: 16-8, unranked

* Every starter returns for the Rams, who took a big step up last season, reaching the Baltimore County title game.

14. Century

* Last season: 16-8, unranked

* The Knights are not big but are experienced and quick enough to battle Winters Mill in Carroll County.

15. McDonogh

* Last season: 15-11, No. 9

* Young but talented, the rebuilding Eagles could come along quickly for new coach Brad Rees.

Other teams considered: Aberdeen (14-10, unranked), Fallston (21-4, unranked), Joppatowne (17-7, unranked), Old Mill (19-6, unranked), Poly (21-6, No. 10), South River (17-8, unranked), Towson Catholic (15-7, No. 14)

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