The Leopards, 12-10 last season, were hit hard as seven seniors graduated. Only 5-11 forward/guard Elyse Koterwas is a bonafide returning starter.
Jimmy Powell will coach the Leopards this season as Katy Barnhart will be on the “sidelines,” at home with her newborn child.
“We have nice sophomores and juniors and we’ll see how they mix in together,” said Powell. “This will be the first time (Koterwas) will be expected to score points. You always have the unknown factor, but I think we have the makings of a good team.”
Kinsey Shifflett, a 5-7 guard who came off the bench last season, returns along with Erica Hargreaves, a 5-3 point guard who missed last season with a leg injury. Senior Sam Gladhill, at 5-9, will be in the post.
All the Washington County preseason talk revolves around South and the junior threesome of Dickson, Scott and Stewart.
First-teamers Dickson (16.7 points, 7 rebounds), Stewart (16.5 points) and Scott (12.3 and 5.9) were youngsters leading South to a 17-8 mark last year before losing to Damascus in a tough 3A West Region final.
“In losing to Damascus, I think it made these girls believe they have a shot this year after spending a summer playing basketball,” Naylor said. “Our goal is to get through the region.”
Naylor has two incoming freshmen ready to help the Rebels — 5-9 Celensia Dickson and 5-4 Lyndsay Bedregal. Add 5-10 transfer T.J. Tillman and the Rebels are going to be deep.
“The whole group played summer ball for the first time,” Naylor said. “We’re going to come out on a nightly basis like we did last year and get up and down the floor.”
St. Maria Goretti
Coach Todd Rideout had a young, promising team last season. He did not count on being even younger this year with the departure of three key players.
All-County first-teamer Severija Narkute returned home to Lithuania, Anna Mitchell returned home to Africa and T. J. Tillman transferred to South Hagerstown.
“We became a transformed team,” said Rideout. “The girls are working hard and are eager. In the process of working hard you want to develop chemistry.”
Two seniors — guard Maggie Murray and forward Lauree Lorensen — are starters that Rideout hopes leads the team through a “challenge every night.”
Goretti also has 5-10 sophomore Abbey Eich and freshmen Claire Murray, Aliayah Jackson and Tao Limlapdee who will play big minutes.
The Wildcats are in a tough 2A region, but that’s not keeping coach Chris Malott from being optimistic.
“I’m having more fun this year,” said Malott as he begins his ninth year. “I expect to be competitive in the region and be in the upper echelon of the conference.”
Williamsport, 10-13 last year, will build around senior guard Victoria Key, an all-County second-teamer who averaged 11 points last year.
Inside, the Wildcats have some timber with 6-2 senior Hannah Kastelein and 5-10 freshman Karley Robinson, expected to get a good deal of playing time.
Malott said the Wildcats will be a three-guard team. Junior Erin Palmer returns at point guard and 5-2 Kate Wade, a freshman, could be starting.