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2015-16 Chester County Area Preview Capsules

Ches-Mont League
National Division

Avon Grove
Head coach: Harry Loeffler (3rd season)
Last Year’s Record: 0-12 league (seventh in National), 3-15 overall
Key Players: Regan Cook, Sr.; Sarah White, So.; Chandler Salley, Jr.; Katie Lengel, So.
Outlook: Red Devils lost seven seniors from last year’s team, which failed to win a Ches-Mont game, but bring back one of their top playmakers in Cook (2.4 points a game). Salley returns as Avon Grove’s leading scorer (4.2 points) while White and Lengel will be inserted into the starting lineup and will see plenty of minutes on young team. “We’ll be young and inexperienced,” Loeffler said. “However, we’re more athletic than previous years, but health will be the key. We will continue to get better with the more we play and try to improve on last year’s record.”
Prediction: Young team that will improve as season goes on. Could end winless drought in league play.

Bishop Shanahan
Head coach: Fran Burbidge (3rd season)
Last Year’s Record: 11-1 league (first in National, Ches-Mont champs), 22-5 overall. Lost to Boyertown in District 1 Class AAAA playback round.
Key Players: Ciara Forde, Sr.; Grace Phillips, Sr.; Devon Adams, So.; Courtney Warley, Jr.; Kelly Basile, Jr.
Outlook: Eagles return arguably the deepest starting five in the Ches-Mont, including three starters back (Forde, Phillips, Adams) from last year’s championship team. Forde is back for her third year starting at shooting guard after averaging 11.3 points per game en route to All Ches-Mont first team honors. Phillips (7.9 points) and Adams (9.3 points) also were All Ches-Mont first team selections in 2014-15. Phillips will start at forward while Adams starts at center despite the transfer of Warley (7.8 points) from West Chester Rustin. Warley will play forward. Rounding out the starting lineup is Basile, who was one of the Ches-Mont’s top bench players last season after averaging 5.7 points. Basile will play point guard. Burbidge is still figuring out rotation of bench during training camp.
Prediction: Favorites to win the National Division and repeat as Ches-Mont champions. Expect deep district playoff run and second state playoff berth in three years.

Coatesville
Head coach: Rick Nelms (2nd season)
Last Year’s Record: 7-5 league (fourth in National), 16-7 overall. Lost to Central Bucks South in first round of District 1 Class AAAA playoffs.
Key Players: Zada Bookman, Sr.; Dee Dee Irwin, Jr. ; Brianna White, Jr.
Outlook: The Red Raiders lost leading scorer Nafisa Saunders (17.3 points per game), an All Ches-Mont first team selection, to graduation, but return plenty of firepower in Nelms’s up-tempo offense. Bookman will move into a starting role at guard after averaging 8.4 points off the bench in 2014-15. Irwin (9.2 points) returns at point guard while White (7.6 points) is back at center. White is one of the top centers in the division. Coatesville will seek more contributions from its bench with Shardae Dunn-Itogue (2.5 points), Sasha Jamison (2.0 points), Zhariah Torres (2.2 points) and Siani Brown (2.1 points) fighting for spots in the starting lineup.
Prediction: Right behind Shanahan and Downingtown East in National and expected to return to district playoffs.

Downingtown East
Head coach: Tom Schurtz (1st season)
Last Year’s Record: 10-2 league (second in National), 22-8 overall. Third place in District 1 Class AAAA. Lost to Cedar Crest in PIAA Class AAAA first round.
Key Players: Paige Warfel, Sr.; Aryah Aungst, Sr; Lindsay Kent, Sr.; Laura Ochsner, Sr.; Tori Barretta, Jr.
Outlook: Schurtz takes over for Bob Schnure, who retired after 36 seasons and 791 wins coaching Downingtown and Downingtown East. Cougars will speed up the offense with the experienced lineup returning four starters (all seniors). Warfel is the main scoring threat as she averaged a Ches-Mont leading 17.8 points and over 10 rebounds a game en route to earning All Ches-Mont first team and Daily Local News All-Area Player of the Year honors. Aungst (8.0 points) and Kent (7.2 points) return to starting lineup for third consecutive year with Warfel. Ochsner (6.6 points) is back at forward. East will begin year without Barretta, who is slated to start at guard, as she recovers from ankle injury. Nicole Welker worked with starters in first week of practice. “We feel we have a number of players that can play varsity,” Schurtz said. “There are plenty of underclassmen that worked hard in the offseason that can contribute for us. All 12 players on our roster can play varsity minutes.”
Prediction: Biggest threat to Shanahan for Ches-Mont title. Cougars should make deep district playoff run and return to states once again.

Downingtown West
Head coach: Dave Johnson (14th season)
Last Year’s Record: 8-4 league (third in National), 13-10 overall. Lost to North Penn in District 1 Class AAAA first round.
Key Players: Heather Camden, Sr.; Hannah Supplee, Sr.; Tahnay Boggs, Sr.
Outlook: The Whippets were hit hard by the graduation of Maddie Dew (15.5 points per game), a 1,000-point scorer and All Ches-Mont first team selection and will seek to replace her offense. Johnson will rely upon Supplee (8.0 points) at guard and Camden (5.3 points) at forward. Boggs moves into a starting role after playing mostly junior varsity last season. “We have to play team basketball,” Johnson said. “We’ll have to find someone to score some points for us consistently, but mostly rely on Heather, Hannah and Tahnay to carry us on various nights. We have small goals for the year, but see us looking up at Downingtown East, Bishop Shanahan and Coatesville right now.”
Prediction: Middle of the pack in division, but will get better as season goes along. If defense holds up, have good shot at district playoffs.

West Chester East
Head coach: Erin Listrani (2nd season)
Last Year’s Record: 2-10 league (sixth in National), 3-19 overall.
Key Players: Caitlyn Culbertson, Sr.
Outlook: The Vikings took a hit on offense and defense with the graduation of Holly Hager, an All Ches-Mont second team selection, and possess one of the youngest lineups in the league. Culbertson (5.0 points) is the team’s lone senior and will play one of the guard spots. East will expect contributions from Jenna Phillips, Caroline Lewis (2.2 points) Kaitlyn Boyle (3.7 points) and Lexy Hartman, which all earned varsity minutes last season. “There are lots of playing time for underclassman,” Listrani said. “I’m looking forward to seeing how they respond to more opportunities.”
Prediction: Young team will experience growing pains throughout the year, but will improve as season progresses.

West Chester Henderson
Head coach: Greta Neff (2nd season)
Last Year’s Record: 4-8 league (fifth in National), 10-12 overall.
Key Players: Emma Bertrando, Jr.; Jenna Maratea, Sr.; Julie Gawrylowicz, Sr.
Outlook: Plenty of talent returns to the Warriors this season including Bertrando, who led Henderson with 9.5 points per game in 2014-15 at forward. Maratea (5.0 ppg) is also back at guard and Gawrylowicz (6.5 ppg) at guard/forward. Henderson suffered two of the biggest hits in the division over the offseason with All Ches-Mont honorable mention selection Morgan Maturani graduating and sophomore Maddie DePrisco (8.7 ppg as freshman) injuring knee in offseason. Hopes still high for Warriors despite losses with deep bench and second year in Neff’s system. “Last season we were just 20 combined points from four more wins and a winning record,” Neff said. “We hope to qualify of the district playoffs for the first time in five years by playing solid defense, working hard and focusing on fundamentals.”
Prediction: The loss of DePrisco will hurt, but Warriors have talent to compete with Downingtown East, Bishop Shanahan and Coatesville in division. Strong shot at qualifying for district playoffs.

American Division

Great Valley
Head coach: Alex Venarchik (6th season)
Last Year’s Record: 6-6 league (fourth in American), 10-12 overall.
Key Players: Ashlyn Smith, Sr.; Kodi Campetti, Sr.; Steph Aker, Sr.; Christina Porecca, Sr.; Sadie Buzan, So.
Outlook: The Patriots return one of the Ches-Mont’s top players in Smith, who averaged 13.5 points and over eight rebounds a game last season en route to All Ches-Mont first team honors. Campetti (5.3 points) and Aker (4.4 points) return from injuries (both missed time in 2014-15) and will start at guard and forward, respectively. Porecca (5.6 points) and Buzan (5.6 points) return to the starting lineup as Great Valley returns all five starters from 2014-15. “We bring back a lot of experience and we’re excited to finally get this core group of seniors back healthy and ready to play,” Verarchik said. “These girls are athletic and unselfish and it’ll be fun to get them all on the court. Last year forced a lot of girls to get a lot of minutes that will put them in a great position this year to contribute.”
Prediction: Return of all five starters makes them favorites to win division for first time in five years. Patriots should return to district playoffs as well.

Kennett
Head coach: Vince Cattano (16th season)
Last Year’s Record: 5-7 league (fifth in American), 8-14 overall.
Key Players: Jess Hussey, Sr.; Miranda Hill, Sr.; Caroline Hertz, So.
Outlook: Blue Demons return arguably the best scoring duo in the American Division with Hussey and Hill. Hussey, slowed by numerous injuries last season, averaged 8.7 points a game at forward in just 17 games and earned All Ches-Mont second team honors. She averaged 16.5 points her sophomore year. Hill is back at shooting guard after earning All Ches-Mont first team honors and finishing eighth in the league in scoring with 12.8 points a game. Hertz is a third scoring option after a strong freshman season averaging 6.9 points. “The division looks to be a tight race,” Cattano said. “We are hoping to be in the mix of many teams that seek to take the top two spots in the division.”
Prediction: Blue Demons are right with Great Valley for top spot in American. The duo of Hussey and Hill give them chance at a Ches-Mont and district playoff berth.

Octorara
Head coach: Scott Forman (1stseason)
Last Year’s Record: 0-12 league (seventh in American), 1-19 overall.
Key Players: Ali Zimmerman, Sr.; Sydney Townsend, Sr.; Rocio Hernandez, Sr.; Rachel Rush, Jr.
Outlook: Forman takes over for Mark Petersen, who lasted one season with the Braves. He takes over a team that lost its top two scorers in Brianna Walter (7.7 points per game) and Jaycee Dagney (7.2 points). Zimmerman and Townsend will be the go-to players for Octorara, one of the youngest teams in the American Division. “We need to learn how to play as a team,” Forman said. “If we can do that, we’ll be able to compete.”
Prediction: Braves will struggle with the top teams in the division, but improve as season progresses.

Oxford
Head coach: Matt Messick (4th season)
Last Year’s Record: 3-9 league (sixth in American), 5-16 overall.
Key Players: Hannah Bahls, Sr.; Grace Hennessey, Jr.; Hannah D’Aquanno, So.; Grace Tipton, So.; Madeline Williams, So.
Outlook: After a rebuilding season that included one of the youngest rosters in the Ches-Mont, the Hornets return all five starters from last year’s team. Leading Oxford is Bahls, who is one of the top scorers in the area returning with 11.8 points a game and an All Ches-Mont second team selection. Henessey averaged 6.0 points while Tipton averaged 4.0 and Williams 3.9. Hornets have a deep bench with Devon Nask healthy and incoming freshmen Miranda Porretta and Lindsay Washkalavitch to compliment the starters. Emily Shallow also a sharpshooter off bench. “We have the most depth in years since I’ve been with the program,” Messick said. “This team looks to continue to grow from last season. We expect to compete for a spot in Ches-Mont and district playoffs.”
Prediction: Hornets will be much improved from last season and will play a factor in division race. A few upsets could get them in Ches-Mont playoffs.

Unionville
Head coach: Fred Ellzy (2nd season)
Last Year’s Record: 9-3 league (second in American), 16-8 overall. Lost to Council Rock North in District 1 Class AAAA first round.
Key Players: Maddie Shanahan, Jr.; Samantha Pancoast, Sr.
Outlook: Indians lost six seniors from last year’s Ches-Mont and district playoff team, but return Shanahan (10.1 points a game) as the focal point of the offense. With Shanahan in the starting lineup is Pancoast, who averaged 3.3 points in a key bench role last season. Unionville has one of the youngest rosters in the American as Ellzy explained four to six players are fighting for roles in the rotation. “We got quite a few players on a good JV squad last year that are hungry to play varsity,” Ellzy said. “It’s enjoyable to see Maddie (Shanahan) work with these players and become a leader for us. We got a good opportunity in this division, but it all comes down to execution.”
Prediction: Dark horse to take a playoff spot in division with Shanahan leading the way. Will make district playoffs if young team gels quickly early in season.

West Chester Rustin
Head coach: Jim Powers (1st season)
Last Year’s Record: 12-0 league (first in American), 18-7 overall. Lost to Radnor in District 1 Class AAAA playback round.
Key Players: Lexi Zavitsky, Jr.; Morgan Polidore, Jr.; Syd Eller, Sr.; Maggie O’Hare, So.; Erin Gallagher, So.; Julie Griesemer, Sr.; Grace Nelson, Sr.
Outlook: Golden Knights lost all five starters from last year’s Ches-Mont American Division title team, including All Ches-Mont first team selection Noelle Powell and All Ches-Mont second team selections Casey Warley and Katie O’Hare. With the talented senior class from last season graduated, Rustin will have to replace a combined 47.2 points a game. The Golden Knights also lost Courtney Warley via transfer to Bishop Shanahan. Zavitsky (2.3 points) contributed the last two seasons on varsity and will jump into a starting role. Gallagher (2.5 points) was a key bench player last season as a freshman and is expected to start. Griesemer and Nelson also should see their roles increase after earning varsity minutes in 2014-15. “This is a rebuilding year for us with a lot of young players, but with plenty of surprising talent that will be tested early with four strong nonleague opponents,” Powers said. “We jump into a big early Ches-Mont matchup with Great Valley where we hope to be ready and compete for one of the division’s top two spots and qualify for the district playoffs.”
Prediction: Golden Knights can not be overlooked in division race. Plenty of players have experience from last year’s team. Could compete for Ches-Mont and district playoff berth.

Central League

Conestoga
Head coach: Chris Jeffries (2nd season)
Last Year’s Record: 13-11 overall. Lost to Abington in District 1 Class AAAA first round.
Key Players: Ellie Mack, Sr.; Sondra Dickey, Sr.; Sarah Mascioli, Jr.; Emma Powell, Jr.
Outlook: Pioneers receive huge boost with Mack healthy for her senior season after missing all of 2014-15 with a knee injury. Mack will head to Bucknell next year. Not including Mack, Conestoga returns three starters (Dickey, Mascioli, Powell) and nine players from last season after finishing fourth in the Central League. Powell was an All Central League honorable mention selection last season while Dickey’s athleticism (verbal to Lehigh in lacrosse) will spread the floor.
Prediction: One of the top teams in the Central League and expected to return to district playoffs. Mack makes huge difference in lineup.

AACA

Villa Maria
Head coach: Kathy McCartney (29th season)
Last Year’s Record: 9-13 overall. Lost to Merion Mercy in District 1 Class AAA quarterfinals.
Key Players: Marielle Picinich, Sr.; Marissa Picinich, Jr.; Murrin Tague, Jr.
Outlook: Hurricanes return three starters on last year’s District 1 Class AAA playoff team in the Picinich sisters and Tague, who will play one of the guard spots. Villa was hurt hard by graduation, losing six seniors including leading scorer Katie Mooney. Marielle and Marissa Picinich will seek to fill the void left by Mooney on offense. Hurricanes have one of the younger rosters in the AACA, which McCartney will rely on veteran leadership and defense to get team through growing pains. “The success of this year will depend on the maturity and leadership of my veteran players and the transition of some young kids into the program,” McCartney said. “We will aim to be a tenacious defensive team that will pressure the ball all over the floor. This should be a fun year.”
Prediction: Always a contender for league title, despite a young roster. Should return to district playoffs as well.

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