Radnor coach Mark Jordan is anticipating a season of change.
The Raiders surprised many Central League observers when they reeled off 13 wins and captured the league title by defeating Conestoga in the playoff final.
That team was buoyed by strong senior leadership and experience. This year, the Raiders have four starters to replace, including the Quinn sisters, Shannon and Taylor, who are playing lacrosse in college.
Last winter, Jordan whipped the Raiders into shape and made them a winner. In 2013-14, Jordan will rely on returning players Myonie Williamson and Katie Jordan. A senior guard, Williamson was the team's leading scorer last season, averaging 12.4 points per game.
"There will be a lot of underclassmen who will get major varsity minutes for the first time ever,' Jordan said. "We'll improve as the year goes, and will lean on Williamson to spearhead the offense and defense.'
Radnor has qualified for the District One playoffs seven consecutive seasons.
The rest of the Central League could be a real crapshoot. It's hard to find a true favorite.
At Upper Darby, the Royals are starting from scratch as first-year head coach and All-Delco Diamon Beckford takes over a program decimated by graduation. Beckford replaces longtime coach, Colleen Hafich.
A perennial Central League championship contender, the Royals advanced to the District One Class AAAA playoffs and finished 17-7 overall.
"This year is a rebuilding year,' said Beckford, who played collegiately at New Hampshire and Kent State. "We have strong senior leadership in our returners (and) some added athleticism in the front court.'
Beckford will lean on 5-11 senior forward Dominique Williams, a dangerous low-post threat, and 5-10 senior forward Olivia Townsend. Williams and Townsend are the team's only returning players.
One team to keep a close eye on this season is Strath Haven, which welcomes back 10 players from last year's eight-win squad. The Panthers have what most teams in the Central League lack -- size. Bridget Scott, a 6-0 senior forward, and 6-1 sophomore center Rachel Vresilovic are back in the fold. Senior guard Brandi Johnson and sophomore guard/forward Katie Fisher are perimeter scoring threats.
"We should continue to improve on last year,' second-year coach Patrick Keaveney said. "We need to be more consistent on both ends of the floor and protect the basketball better.'
Marple Newtown is a Central League dark horse, led by one of the top shooters in the county, three-sport standout and tennis All-Delco, Rylee Power.
A 5-8 guard, Power was tied for second in Delco last season with 52 3-point field goals. Power averaged a cool 14.5 points per game under coach Mike Colgan.
The Tigers should be better than their 5-17 record (3-13 Central League) a season ago. In addition to Power, Colgan has three more returning players at his disposal, all of whom are juniors. Carley Hamilton, a 6-2 forward, averaged a double-double as a sophomore (10.5 points and 10.1 rebounds). Nicole Smythe (5.0 ppg.) and Izzy Tello-Green (2.0 ppg.), both forwards, will likely see their roles increase.
"One of the keys to the season will be how quickly our new players adapt to playing at the varsity level, and improve our overall depth,' Colgan said.
Springfield needed two overtimes to dispose of Upper Darby in the first round of the District One Class AAAA playoffs last March. The Cougars saw their season end in the second round.
Rebecca Bennett was clutch in that first-round game, making what proved to be the winning basket, and finished with a team-high 15 points. This season, she is one of the team's top returning players. A 5-8 senior guard, Bennett is a good shot, solid rebounder and tough defender.
Alyssa Abbonizio, a 5-8 senior forward, joins Bennett as the team's only returning starters from last season's team that finished 14-11 (9-7 Central League). Coach Kim Smith, a 300-game winner beginning her 20th season on the Springfield bench, has high hopes for other key returnees, 5-10 senior forward Michelle Ronayne and 5-4 junior guard Sam Tamaccio.
"With the departure of Alex Poplawski (who is playing lacrosse at Stanford), the team has big shoes to fill,' Smith said. "The expectations are high.'
No team in the Central League made it further in the playoffs last season than Garnet Valley. The Jaguars are coming off one of their best seasons in program history, finishing 20-9 overall. They lost in the first round of the PIAA Class AAAA playoffs to Wilson-West Lawn.
Eleventh-year coach Joe Woods has a slew of returning players, including big contributors to last year's success. Sister guard tandem Jordan and Maddie Ireland are joined by senior forward Haley Warden and sophomore forward Sam Tomasetti, who did most of her damage off the bench last year. Macy Goldbach, a 5-10 sophomore forward, gives Garnet Valley size on the low post.
Ridley coach and former Archbishop Prendergast standout Jamie Haigh (formerly Battinieri) begins her fifth season at the helm. Haigh is expecting big things from 5-9 senior forward Marykate Rumbaugh, who showed flashes of brilliance last winter, and senior guards Taylor and Bree Mulhern. Emani Majors, a 5-3 guard, is a transfer from Octorara.
"We're returning a lot of varsity experience and welcoming some highly skilled freshmen into the mix,' Haigh said. "We're looking to take advantage of our speed on both ends of the court. This year's team is very hungry, which was shown this offseason in their workouts.'
Penncrest has solid depth at the guard position, led by 2012-13 leading scorer, Lauren Huggins, fellow senior Shayla Kennedy and junior Erin Dougherty.
Coach Lynelle Mosley starts her fourth season manning the Lions, who are looking to improve upon an 8-14 record.
"We have a strong group of girls coming back and we are hoping to be extremely competitive,' Mosley said.
Haverford could improve from last year's team that finished in last place in the Central League. The Fords bring in Mollie Reynolds and Rosie O'Halloran, a pair of Bonner-Prendergast transfers looking for fresh starts.