As Main Line high school girls' basketball teams open their 2013-14 campaign, some of the squads are coming off stellar 2012-13 seasons, notably Academy of Notre Dame, Archbishop Carroll, Barrack Hebrew Academy, Conestoga, Episcopal Academy, Friends' Central, Merion Mercy Academy, Radnor, Shipley and Villa Maria Academy.
What follows is a look at how the Main Line high school girls' basketball teams, listed in alphabetical order, shape up for the 2013-14 campaign:
Academy of Notre Dame
Head coach: Mary Beth McNichol, 23rd year (career record 438-198).
Last year's record: 21-5 overall, 9-3 InterAc.
Key returnees: 5-9 junior forward Sam Sacchetta, 5-4 sophomore guard Caitlyn Clark, 5-7 sophomore guard Alex Kane, 6-0 sophomore center Rachel Ryan.
Others to watch: 5-11 senior center Colleen Donnelly, 5-7 sophomore guard Leanne Purcell, 5-9 sophomore forward Kristen Rogers.
Lost to graduation: guard Megan McGurk (playing for Bucknell), guard Kathleen Fitzpatrick (playing for St. Joseph's University), guard Nikki Callahan (playing for De Sales), forward Ali Abbonizio (playing for Ursinus), Bailey McCue.
Outlook: The Irish lost five starters and eight seniors. "The team will be rebuilding,' said McNichol. "The team is young and inexperienced but we think it will be competitive.'
Head coach: John Novarina, third year.
Last year's record: 7-15 overall, 2-8 Inter-Ac.
Key returnees: 5-9 senior forward Madison Schmidt, 5-7 senior forward Autumn Wedderburn, 5-4 junior point guard Lauren Spinelli, 5-9 junior guard Stephanie Williams, 5-9 junior forward Sierra Corbett, 5-7 junior guard/forward Jolee Jemmott.
Others to watch: 5-10 freshman forward Michala Maciolek, 5-5 freshman point guard Caroline Coyne and 5-9 freshman guard Regan Schmidt.
Lost to graduation: point guard Faith DeVlieger (playing basketball at University of Scranton).
Outlook: Novarina said, "Our strengths will be an agressive, unpredicatable defense. In order to be successful, our squad will have to commit 100 percent to what we are doing on defense and continue to perfect our execution on the offensive end of the floor. We expect to be a plus team in transition, limiting fast break opportunities for opponents and using a pressure defense to generate easy opportunities for ourselves.'
Head coach: Chuck Creighton, seventh year.
Last year's record: 18-8 overall, 11-4 Catholic League.
Key returnees: 6-1 senior center Maddie Wallace, 5-9 junior guard Lexi Stover, 5-9 junior guard Julia Gantz, 5-6 junior guard Ann McKnight, 5-5 junior guard Keara McNulty, 6-0 junior center Kristen Ryan, 5-8 senior guard Cara Santoleri, 5-8 senior guard Margaret Filippelli, 5-5 sophomore guard Jess Carney.
Lost to graduation: Sarah Curran (playing basketball for Drexel), Kristie Costantino (playing basketball for Stony Brook).
Outlook: Creighton said, "Team balance is our strength. We have a solid nucleus of quality players that will play team basketball.'
Head coach: Mike Borkowski, second year.
Last year's record: 8-13 overall, 2-10 InterAc.
Key returnees: 5-11 senior forward Jen Motter, 5-3 sophomore point guard Imani Brown, 5-7 sophomore guard Kejohna Hammond, 5-3 sophomore guard Alex Brittingham, 6-2 eighth-grade center Devon Adams.
Others to watch: 6-0 sophomore center/forward Kayla Watkins, 6-3 sophomore center Danielle Hammond, 5-2 eighth-grade guard Nande Hardy.
Outlook: Borkowski said, "With the addition of Devon this year we should have more consistent inside scoring. Kayla is really improving her inside game, while Danielle should be ready to explode this year. Jen Motter has matured into a solid all around player this year. Our guard play should be much better with Alex and Nande on board. They should be able to help create more overall balanced scoring and take a lot of pressire off Kejohna and Imani. We are a young, competitive team hoping to become a contender in the Inter Ac. We need to cut our turnovers in half this year, play four quarters of defense, and increase our outside scoring to be able to compete with the stronger teams in our league. We as coaches are looking forward to a fun year.'
Barrack Hebrew Academy
Head coach: Rebecca Trajtenberg, fourth year.
Last year's record: 18-6 overall, 11-3 Tri-County League.
Key returnees: 5-9 senior forward Sophia Shoulson, 5-6 sophomore guard Lindsay Chevlin.
Others to watch: 5-3 sophomore point guard Maya Shaipra, 5-6 sophomore guard Dria Guiterrez, 5-7 freshman guard Alli Einhorn, 5-7 freshman forward Talia Raikin.
Lost to graduation: forward Jackie Khutorsky.
Outlook: Trajtenberg said, "Coming off a loss in the [league] championship game and with two key player returning, we are looking to make a run back to the championship game. We need to look inside to our big girls and run the ball as much as we can.'
Head coach: John Jones, 18th year.
Last year's record: 16-9 overall, 12-4 Central League (lost league championship game to Radnor).
Key returnees: The Pioneers return four starters (one was out with ACL last season but started as a sophomore) - 6-4 senior center Maddy Tessier-Kay (committed to Harvard for basketball, averaged 7.0 rpg, 2.5 bpg last season), 5-10 senior guard Kate Nalevanko, 6-0 senior forward Rachel Howry, 5-9 senior guard Liana Weishaar (out with ACL last year), 6-0 sophomore forward Ellie Mack.
Lost to graduation: Point guard Ali Grundy (was first team All-Central League selection, currently playing basketball for Washington College in Maryland).
Outlook: Jones lists the Pioneers' strengths as experience, height, chemistry, balance and depth; and sees Conestoga's biggest challenge as trying to replace Grundy.
Head coach: Chuck Simmonds, 10th year.
Last year's record: 23-3 overall; 11-1 InterAc.
Key returnees: 5-9 senior guard Sarah Abbonizio, 5-11 junior guard/forward Maria Kilcullen, 5-10 junior guard/forward Meghan Pickell.
Others to watch: 5-6 senior guard Lexie Curry, 5-6 junior guard Julianne Longen, 5-5 sophomore guard Margaux Paolino, 5-5 sophomore guard Courtnie Williamson, 5-10 sophomore guard/forward Dylan Higgins, 6-0 sophomore forward Lily Kuntz, 6-1 freshman forward Elodie Furey.
Lost to graduation: Megan Quinn (playing basketball for Villanova), Kristen Hinckley (playing lacrosse for Dartmouth), Meghan Hubley (playing lacrosse for Navy).
Outlook: Episcopal is returning several key members from last year's Inter-Ac and PAISAA state championship squad. At the same time, they will be looking for contributions from players who will be able to step into the key spots that graduated. According to Simmonds, the Churchwomen are hungry to compete for another league title, using defense, size and good shot selection to continually improve.
Head coach: Phil Annas, 15th year.
Last year's record: 13-12 overall, 5-3 Friends' Schools League.
Key returnees: 5-9 sophomore guard/forward Anna Leone, 5-8 sophomore guard Iyanna McCurdy, 5-4 junior guard.
Others to watch: 6-2 freshman forward Mikayla Vaughn, 5-8 senior forward Taylor Allen.
Graduation losses: Maria Conyers-Jordan (playing basketball for Wagner College), Sydney Frank (playing basketball for Rochester Institute of Technology), Suzy Bernstein, Briana Folwell, Grace Heard.
Outlook: With the graduation of five seniors from last year's squad, the Phoenix will be young and a bit lacking in experience. With only one senior and one junior on the current roster, Annas is excited to have youth and enthusiasm in the line-up. Losing Maria Conyers-Jordan and Sydney Frank from last year will leave big roles to fill. However, Annas is looking forward to coaching this group and watching their development as the season progresses. If all goes according to plan, he is hoping to have the Phoenix make a run at the League playoffs in early February.
Head coach: Messiah Reames, second year.
Last year's record: 10-10 overall, 8-8 Central League. Key returnees: Two fourth-year starters and All-Central League performers who are closing in on 1,000 career points this winter, point guard Katie Melvin (13 ppg, 6 apg, 3 spg, 9.3 rpg last season) and shooting guard Sabrina Tabasso (14 ppg, 1 spg, 3.5 rpg), will anchor the team this year.
Others to watch: Sophomores Haley Morris (3 rpg) and newcomer Olivia Tevis will be counted on both defensively and offensively, while junior Christina Mullen, coming off an injury, will be looking to score. The team also expects a good performance from freshman Sophie Grady, handling the ball as well as shooting. Nadirah Anderson (5 ppg, 5 rpg) will also contribute with her ability to score from the low post.
Outlook: In the absence of size, the Rams will utilize their speed to keep opponents off balance. Reames said, "Defense and rebounding will be the key to our season.'
Head coach: Lauren Pellicane, 11th year.
Last year's record: 6-16.
Key returnees: 5-8 senior guard/forward Danielle Baer, 5-7 junior guard Quinn Harrigan.
Others to watch: 5-8 sophomore guard Margo Urheim, 5-5 freshman guard Sophia Goldstein, 5-10 senior forward Sakia Leach, 5-9 junior forward Abby Goldstein.
Lost to graduation: forward Rosie Stahler (playing basketball for Franklin & Marshall), forward Kiersten Daly, guard Sophie Arnold (playing field hockey at Vassar).
Outlook: Pellicane, who lists the Aces' strengths as defense and team play, said, "We have an entirely new team that does not have as much experience or depth as we've had in years past, but our players are selfless, tireless workers. We'll be undersized this season, but need to make up for it with team play on both ends of the floor and a strong effort each and every night.'
Merion Mercy Academy
Head coach: Rob Baxter, seventh year.
Last year's record: 17-10 overall, 8-7 AACA.
Key returnees: 5-8 senior forward Tina Digiacomo, 5-7 junior guard Caroline Corzel. 5-5 junior guard Valez Jackson, 5-7 senior forward Mariah Quinn.
Others to watch: 5-9 junior forward Kristen Konieczny, 5-7 sophomore guard Gabby Heinsinger.
Lost to graduation: Martha Zeller, Mary Grace Zeller, Christina Oshea, Julianne D'Orazio (playing lacrosse for Lehigh), Reagan Marriner (playing basketball for Philadelphia University), Mariah Digiacomo.
Outlook: Baxter said, "We are basically a young team with a couple of players who have varsity experience. We will hope to build on things as the season progresses. I think our strength will be our defense and willingness to share the ball on offense.'
Head coach: Mark Jordan, eighth year (also was head coach at Sacred Heart for 11 years).
Last year's record: 18-7 overall, 13-3 Central League; won first-ever Central League title, beating Conestoga in league final; lost Class AAA district quarterfinal to Merion Mercy.
Key returnees: 5-9 senior guard Myonie Williamson (12.4 ppg) and 5-4 junior guard Katie Jordan got minutes in last season's league final.
Others to watch: 5-4 senior guard Marya Ghazzi, 5-6 senior forward Jen Lewis, 5-10 junior forward Kelsey Lally, 5-6 junior guard Megan Massimino, 5-5 junior guard Lauren Pacifico, 5-6 junior forward Caitlin Connor, 5-9 sophomore forward Kristin Hamill, 5-3 sophomore guard Fallon Quinn, 5-5 freshman guard Nicole Massimino.
Lost to graduation: Lindsay Price, Kyla Crombie, Shannon Quinn, Taylor Quinn.
Outlook: Radnor lost four of its starting five from last year's Central League title team. Many underclassmen will get major varsity minutes for their first time ever. They should improve as the year goes along - and will lean on Williamson to spearhead their offense and defense. The Red Raiders are looking to get into the district playoffs for a seventh straight year.
Head coach: Zach Shuler, eighth year.
Last year's record: 7-15 overall, 1-13 AACA.
Key returnees: 5-3 sophomore guard Jessica McTaggart, 5-4 sophomore guard Lauren Kilroy, 5-9 senior guard Emily Cartafalsa, 5-8 senior guard Nicolette Paci.
Others to watch: 5-7 senior guard McKenna Schneider, 5-0 senior guard Lauren McDevitt, 5-9 sophomore forward Bridie Anne MacCrory, 5-10 sophomore forward Maddie Schneider, 5-6 junior guard Celine Dugan.
Lost to graduation: forward Debornay Kidd-Wilkerson, guard Alanna Tucker, forward Ali Cobaugh, forward Danelle Singer.
Outlook: Shuler said, "Our strengths this year will be in the backcourt, as guards Jess McTaggart, Emily Cartafalsa, Nicolette Paci, and Lauren Kilroy help lead [our] inexperienced team in the always-tough Catholic Academies Conference. We are going to rely on strong leadership from the seniors as well as a very young frontcourt led by sophomore Bridie Anne MacCrory.'
Head coach: Sean Costello, sixth year.
Last year's record: 20-7 overall, 10-0 Friends' Schools League (champions).
Key returnees: 5-6 senior point guard Sox Alexander (committed to St. John's), 5-6 junior guard Nia Holland, 6-0 sophomore forward Courtney Redcross, 5-10 senior guard Colleen Walsh, 6-3 junior center Martine Fortune.
Others to watch: 5-9 freshman guard Tenisha Pressley, 5-4 freshman point guard Yndia Bobo, 5-6 junior guard Meredith Maguire.
Outlook: The Gators are looking to win their fourth league title in a row and fifth under Costello. The Gators return all five starters from last year and have the most depth in Costello's tenure. According to Costello, senior leadership will be a huge asset to this year's success. Colleen Walsh is entering her second year as captain and fourth year as a starter. Walsh set the Gators' single-season three-point record last winter with 74 treys. According to Costello, her ability to stretch the floor is the key to opening lanes for fellow second-year captain Sox Alexander.
Sophomore Courtney Redcross is being counted on to take a big step forward this year in offensive production. This will no doubt help her 6-4 frontcourt mate Martine Fortune, who is being heavily recruited across the nation. Along with Fortune, the junior class has a dynamic guard in Nia Holland. She will continue to add scoring from the wing and depth at the point guard position.
The Gators' schedule boasts some of the top teams in the Northeast. This includes a trip to the invitation-only Nike Tournament of Champions in Phoenix, which will pit the Gators against some of the top teams in the nation.
Villa Maria Academy
Head coach: Kathy McCartney, 28th year.
Last year's record: 26-5, finished second in AACA, won the PIAA Class AAA District One title, advanced to the PIAA Class AAA state semifinal.
Top returnees: 5-10 senior guard Molly Namiotka, 5-10 senior forward Jackie Carlin, 6-0 senior forward Mora Fetterolf, 5-5 senior guard Devon Tirney.
Others to watch: 5-8 junior guard Katie Mooney, 5-7 junior guard Clare O'Rourke, 5-8 junior forward Danielle Knopp, 5-10 senior forward Blair Allan.
Outlook: McCartney said, "Our biggest team asset is the experience of our returning starters and our biggest challenge is bringing the young kids along quickly. We will need our bench to develop quickly if we want to be successful this year. We play a demanding schedule so theirs will be a baptism by fire.'