It's easy to pick out the surprise in the girls basketball ranks. There's only one team in the Top 10 that you will find no mention of on last month's preview page: Mercy.
Of course, I should have known better than to discount coach Mary Ella Marion and her Magic. One of the area's best coaches, she gets the most out of her girls in a program that, these days, rarely draws the best of the best area players.
The No. 10 Magic is 10-2 with its success built a little differently from most other top teams. The Magic has no superstar. To win, a lot of the players must contribute - and they have been contributing.
Melinda Kane, Ava Trageser, Maggie Marion and Brynne Matthews consistently score in double figures - not big numbers, but big enough to keep the Magic in every game, including losses to two teams that run over most local opponents: No. 1 St. Frances, 54-40, and No. 4 Seton Keough, 49-43. Seton Keough needed double overtime to shake the Magic.
In preseason, it's easy to pick out the teams that are likely to be the most successful when they have All-Metro players or All-City players returning, but when a team doesn't have players of that caliber it can be easy to overlook.
I probably should have taken a cue from its coach's decision not to name anyone as a preseason Player to Watch. That wasn't because she didn't have any good players but because they were all so close.
The Magic players are proving that's not a hindrance but an asset.