Girls basketball: The poll

Compiled by sports staff after consultation with coaches

December 03, 2009

1. Seton Keough
Coach: Jackie Boswell Last season 25-8, ranked No. 1

Postseason: IAAM A Conference champion

Outlook: The Gators, who won three postseason tournaments last winter, graduated Player of the Year Asya Bussie, but they have reloaded with a stellar cast, led by All-Metro second-team guard Amber Singletary.

2. St. Frances
Coach: Jerome Shelton Last season: 26-5, No. 2

Postseason: IAAM A Conference runner-up

Outlook: The Panthers are reloaded, too, and they are highly motivated to recapture the A Conference crown they lost to Seton Keough last season after winning six straight titles. Swarming defense and quick-strike offense should again keep the Panthers running.

3. Western
Coach: Tiffany Silver Last season: 20-7, No. 5

Postseason: Class 3A state semifinalist

Outlook: The four-time defending Baltimore City champions graduated three starters but have the players to fill in with a transfer and two stellar freshmen, including 6-foot-6 center Infiniti Alston. Look for a better post game, a more balanced offense and a stronger run at a Class 3A state crown.

4. Digital Harbor
Coach: Patrick McDonald Last season: 24-3, co-No. 7

Postseason: 1A state champion

Outlook: Now in Class 2A, the Rams add superb Archbishop Spalding transfer guard Janay Brinkley to an already strong senior-laden lineup led by forward Asia Logan and guard Nichelle Groom. Look for them to challenge Western in the city and to make a run at another state crown.

5. Arundel
Coach: Lee Rogers Last season: 22-5, co-No. 7

Postseason: 4A state semifinalist

Outlook: Three top players graduated, but others have been waiting their turns, so not much should change with the Wildcats, who have won seven straight Anne Arundel County titles. Senior forward Sheronne Vails, 6 feet 5, and guard Talen Watson will lead them through a tough schedule.

6. Archbishop Spalding
Coach: William Rosemond Last season: 19-8, No. 10

Postseason: IAAM A Conference semifinalist

Outlook: The Cavaliers return all but one starter and have high hopes for moving up in the A Conference. Led by point guard Maggie Morrison, their experience, skill and a stronger emphasis on defense could make them a threat to Seton Keough and St. Frances.

7. City
Coach: George Petrides Last season: 24-3, No. 3

Postseason: 2A state champion

Outlook: The Knights graduated three starters but bring back nine players who saw significant playing time. They should be strong on the boards, and even though guard LaShay Taft will be running the point, she can still take over a game.

8. McDonogh
Coach: Brad Rees Last season: 14-9, No. 12

Postseason: IAAM A Conference quarterfinalist

Outlook: The Eagles lost some big scoring numbers to graduation, and they will be a smaller team this season. Still, they return three starters and with an up-tempo offense should be right in the A Conference mix.

9. River Hill
Coach: Teresa Waters Last season: 27-1, No. 6

Postseason: 2A state finalist

Outlook: Graduation hit the Hawks hard, claiming their stellar frontcourt and one guard, so look for leadership to come from the backcourt, especially Shantrel Oliver and Alex Vega, while the young players grow into their roles.

10. Meade
Coach: Bobby Freedenburg Last season: 13-11, unranked

Postseason: 3A North quarterfinalist

Outlook: With four starters back and the addition of guard Amani Bailey from Archbishop Spalding to fill the fifth spot, the Mustangs should be moving up in the Anne Arundel County race.

11. Catonsville
Coach: Mike Mohler Last season: 23-3, No. 9

Postseason: 3A North finalist

Outlook: The Comets graduated two key starters but will bring back guard Zoey Whittington, who ran track last winter. They will be athletic and deeper, but they need to find a go-to girl on offense.

12. Joppatowne
Coach: Michael Harris Last season: 20-4, No. 14

Postseason: 1A South finalist

Outlook: The Mariners enjoyed great success with a young team, and that should continue, with half of this talented group in the 10th grade. Veteran guards Brittany Thornton and Zameria Jones should continue to lead the way.

13. St. Mary's
Coach: Terri Daniels Last season: 18-6, unranked

Postseason: IAAM B Conference champion

Outlook: The Saints graduated three starters but return forward Melanie Mocniak and guard Kelly Broussard, both strong juniors. The younger players are eager to step in and contribute to the relentless defense that drives their success.

14. Atholton
Coach: Maureen Shacreaw Last season: 13-10, unranked

Postseason: 3A East first round

Outlook: The Rams were young last season, and Shacreaw said they were a year away from returning to contention. With all five starters back, they should move up in the Howard County standings and challenge in the postseason.

15. Fallston
Coach: Mike McTeague Last season: 28-0, No. 4

Postseason: 3A state champion

Outlook: The Cougars, now in Class 2A, would still be a top-5 team had All-Metro forward Jess Harlee not torn a knee ligament that keeps her out at least until late February. Everyone will have to step in to fill the void.

Others considered: Aberdeen (17-7, No. 15), Centennial (16-7, unranked), Old Mill (19-7, unranked), St. Vincent Pallotti (12-12, unranked), Roland Park (13-12, unranked), South Carroll (15-9, unranked)

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