An impressive number of Main Line high school basketball teams are coming off strong 2015-16 campaigns as they prepare to tip off for the 2016-17 season.
Local boys’ basketball squads coming off strong seasons include Archbishop Carroll (advanced to the Catholic League semifinals and the second round of the PIAA Class AAA state tournament), Conestoga (advanced to Central League title game), Episcopal Academy (advanced to PAISAA semifinals, Friends’ Central (advanced to Friends’ Schools League championship game), Lower Merion (advanced to the PIAA Class AAAA District One semifinals), Devon Prep (advanced to the PIAA District One Class AA title game) and Shipley (17-11).
Main Line girls’ basketball teams that enjoyed strong campaigns last winter included Friends’ Central (captured its second consecutive Friends’ Schools League title), Villa Maria Academy (advanced to the PIAA District One Class AAA championship game), Shipley (advanced to the PAISAA championship game for the third consecutive season), Academy of Notre Dame (second in InterAc), Episcopal Academy (third in Inter-Ac), Archbishop Carroll (advanced to Catholic League semifinals) and Conestoga (advanced to Central League championship semifinals and the second round of the PIAA Class AAAA state tournament).
Here’s a look at the Main Line high school basketball squads as they head into the 2016-17 season, based on preview information sent to us by the teams:
Academy of Notre Dame
Head coach: Mary Beth McNichol, 26th year (478-235 career record).
Last year’s record: 19-7 overall, 9-3 InterAc.
Key returnees: sophomore point guard Mandy McGurk (second team All-InterAc selection last winter), senior guard Casey Walsh.
Others to watch: senior guard Jill Kane, 5-10 senior forward Tess Phillips, senior guard Kara Celano, sophomore guard Emma Kichula, 6-0 freshman center Riley Shaak.
Lost to graduation: Caitlyn Clark (Washington College), Alex Kane (F&M), Rachel Ryan (Salisbury), Kristen Rogers.
Outlook: McNichol said, “We hope to contend for the InterAc championship. We lost a talented class but we feel that we have the pieces to be a good team. We have some young players that will complement our senior class.”
Head coach: Paul Capodanno, first year.
Last year’s record: 10 – 18 overall, 1-11 Inter Ac League.
Key returnees: 6-0 sophomore forward/center Gianna Napoleon, 5-7 freshman guard Katie Anderson, 5-7 senior guard Caroline Coyne.
Outlook: Capodanno said, “We have a young group of talented underclassmen. We are excited about our young talented group. They have a bright future ahead.”
Archbishop Carroll (boys)
Head coach: Paul Romanczuk, 14th year.
Last year’s record: 23-4 overall, 12-1 Catholic League.
Key returnees: 6-4 senior guard Colin Daly, 6-6 senior forward Jesse McPherson, 6-4 senior guard Khari Williams.
Others to watch: 6-3 junior guard Justin Anderson.
Lost to graduation: guard Ryan Daly (Delaware), guard Josh Sharkey (Samford), guard John Rigsby (Holy Family), forward Alex House (DeSales), forward Miks Antoms (Lee Academy – prep school).
Outlook: Romanczuk said, “Our biggest strengths are shooting, depth at guard and perimeter defense. The biggest challenge [for us] is finding a point guard to run the show.”
Archbishop Carroll (girls)
Head coach: Renie Shields, first year.
Last year’s record: 11-14.
Key returnees: 5-9 senior guard Bella Sorrentino, 5-8 senior guard/forward Theresa Kearney, 5-8 junior guard Molly Masciantonio.
Others to watch: 5-4 sophomore guard Amber Germer, 5-5 sophomore guard Maggie Pina.
Lost to graduation: Lexi Kucia, Kiersten Crossin.
Outlook: Shields said, “We lost only two players to graduation. Our [biggest] challenge is scoring.”
Head coach: Danny Furey (Fraider), third year.
Last year’s record: 6-15 overall, 2-12 InterAc.
Key returnees: 5-8 senior guard Gillian Chestnut, 5-8 senior forward Morgan Montoute.
Others to watch: 5-10 sophomore forward Simi Bleznak.
Lost to graduation: forward Danielle Hammond (VCU).
Outlook: Furey said, “We are only returning two players from last year’s squad we have almost an entire new, young team. We are looking to improve upon last year, build on the successes of last season and challenge teams in the Inter-Ac.”
Barrack Hebrew Academy (boys)
Head coach: Jeremy Treatman, second year (also was head coach in 1995 with a 14-12 record, and a long-time assistant at Lower Merion).
Last year’s record: 12-9.
Key returnees: 5-10 senior guard Zach Lipstein, 6-1 junior forward Gabe Bryant, 5-10 junior guard Jacob Felger, 5-11 senior guard Simon Gordon.
Lost to graduation: 6-1 guard Elliot Bernstein (Penn), 5-9 guard Sammy Turb-Toluk.
Outlook: Treatman said, “We are guard oriented and will play strong man-to-man defense and look for stops and fast breaks. We are very small and will be challenged versus bigger teams.”
Barrack Hebrew Academy (girls)
Head coach: Kevin Lonesome, first year.
Last year’s record: 6-12.
Key returnees: 5-4 sophomore point guard Yasi Stein, 5-6 senior wing Talia Raikin, 5-8 senior post Sarah Drapkin, 5-5 junior guard Talia Koltun Fromm.
Others to watch: 5-7 senior wing Sarah Nelson, 5-10 junior post Julie Opher, 5-4 sophomore guard Shira Perloff.
Lost to graduation: Mia Stein, Lindsey Chevron, Tali Glickman, Dria Gutierrez.
Outlook: Lonesome said, “We have a young team – only four players on last year’s varsity last year are returning, and our sophomore class and freshman class have some talent. Our defense and hustle will keep us in games. Our biggest challenges will be inexperience, shooting and size.”
Head coach: Mike Troy, 11th year (also was head coach at Devon Prep for nine years).
Last year’s record: 18-10.
Key returnees: 6-4 senior forward Charlie Martin, 6-4 senior center Angus Mayock, 6-0 senior guard Scott Shapiro.
Others to watch: 5-11 sophomore guard Zack Lezanic, 6-0 sophomore guard Milton Robinson, 6-4 junior forward Charlie Schappel, 5-10 junior guard Colin McFillin, 5-10 sophomore guard Shane Scott.
Lost to graduation: guard Daryl Caldwell (playing for West Chester University), guard MJ Lezanic (playing for Susquehanna), guard Andrew Larkin, center Jack Baker.
Outlook: Troy lists the Pioneers’ biggest strengths as unselfishness (ability to find the open man with the extra pass), shooting and senior leadership; while listing their biggest challenges as replacing the experience of the three guards (all two-year starters) lost to graduation, and increasing their defensive pressure on the ball and forcing more turnovers.
Head coach: Chris Jeffries, third year.
Last year’s record: 21-7 overall, 14-2 Central League.
Key returnees: 5-9 senior forward Liz Scott, 5-11 senior forward Emma Powell, 5-4 senior guard Lindsay Erickson, 5-7 senior guard Sarah Mascioli, 5-8 junior guard Maria Koblish.
Others to watch: 6-4 junior center Katie Mayock (transfer), 6-1 junior forward Cat Esbenshade.
Lost to graduation: forward Ellie Mack (Bucknell), forward Sondra Dickey (Lehigh, lacrosse).
Outlook: Jeffries said, “We are returning a lot of leadership and varsity experience. Ellie Mack will never be replaced – she was a 1,000 point scorer and first team All-Central League twice – but we must learn how to trust each other and find our new leader for late game situations.”
Head coach: Jason Fisher, fourth year.
Last year’s record: 12-13.
Key returnees: 5-8 senior point guard Daniel Shannon, 6-2 senior forward Jimmy Loftus, 5-8 senior point guard Luke Farmsworth, 6-2 senior forward Jack Marquis, 6-2 senior forward Grant Kowalewski.
Others to watch: 6-2 sophomore guard Aaron Nuble, 5-7 freshman point guard Nick Crowe.
Lost to graduation: Danny Brace (playing baseball for Gettysburg College).
Outlook: Fisher said, “Our team is based in hard-nosed fundamental basketball. They are very unselfish and will be a fun team to watch for those who enjoy the fundamental game.”
Episcopal Academy (boys)
Head coach: Craig Conlin, seventh year.
Last year’s record: 19-7 overall, 8-2 InterAc (second place).
Key returnees: 6-7 senior forward/guard Nick Alikakos, 6-1 senior guard Conner Delaney, 6-4 senior forward Jermaine Rhoden, 6-5 senior forward Jack O’Connell, 6-5 senior forward Kyle Virbitsky.
Others to watch: 6-5 sophomore forward Jack Purcell, 6-4 sophomore forward/guard Matt Dade.
Lost to graduation: guards Matt Woods and Kyle Sacchetta.
Outlook: Conlin, who lists EA’s biggest strengths as size, intelligence, toughness and teamwork, said, “In the past, we have played with four guards around one big, now we are four bigs around one guard. We are really proud of how hard the young men are competing in [pre-season] training.”
Episcopal Academy (girls)
Head coach: Chuck Simmonds, 13th year.
Last year’s record: 15-9 overall, 7-5 InterAc.
Key returnees: senior forward Elodie Furey, senior guard Reilly Wright, junior forward Luca Mamula, junior guard Seanna McNamara, junior guard Katie Weaver.
Others to watch: sophomore guard Olivia Dirks.
Lost to graduation: Lily Kuntz (Middlebury College); Dylan Higgins (Cornell University); Margaux Paolino, (Duke, field hockey); Courtnie Williamson (UNC, field hockey).
Outlook: “We return a core that will look to compete at a high level,” said Simmonds. “There is good experience in the front court, and we will look for solid backcourt play as the year progresses.”
Friends’ Central (boys)
Head coach: Ryan Tozer, fifth year.
Last year’s record: 18-10 overall, 8-1 Friends’; Schools League.
Key returnees: 5-11 senior guard Antone Walker, 6-6 junior forward Toure Mosley-Banks, 6-0 sophomore guard Bryce Spriggs, 6-3 sophomore forward Myles Robinson.
Others to watch: 6-6 junior forward Justin Steers, 6-0 sophomnore guard Ethan Stokes, 5-11 freshman guard Omar Nichols, 5-9 freshman guard BK Kothari.
Lost to graduation: forward De’Andre Hunter (University of Virginia), guard Chuck Champion (Loyola University Md.), guard Steven Folwell.
Outlook: Tozer said, “Like most high school teams our biggest challenge is replacing our senior class. We approach this season having lost three senior starters to graduation, two of which received D1 scholarships. To compound those losses we lost returning sophomore starter Myles Robinson to a season ending injury. Despite those losses, our staff is approaching the season with cautious optimism.
“Our only returning starter is senior captain Antone Walker. Antone will play the point and will be expected to keep our young team steady as they gain experience. Antone sees the floor well and is a terrific three-point shooter.
“Junior newcomer Justin Speers is a 6-6 wing who will have to make up for the rebounding lost when Robinson was injured. Justin can score around the rim and can step out and knock down perimeter shots. He has to be a plus defender as he makes the transition to our program.
“Another returnee who has to step up this year is junior forward Toure Mosley-Banks. A 6-6 forward who is in his third year at FCS, has had a great preseason and we need him to be a big contributor on both ends of the floor if we are to have a successful season.
“A key to our season will be sophomore guard Bryce Spriggs. Bryce struggled with injuries in the opening weeks of practice but he is clearly ready for a big season. A strong guard who can get to the hoop, Bryce is a good rebounder despite only being 6-0. His toughness is contagious and we look forward to watching his continued growth.
“Sophomore Ethan Stokes adds competitiveness to our team. He is a scrappy, aggressive player who will add depth at multiple positions. We are excited about our two freshman guards, Omar Nichols and BK Kothari. With the graduation losses and the loss of Robinson, they will be forced into action sooner than we hoped would be necessary. They will both play meaningful minutes this season. Sophomore Alex Havira has worked extremely hard this preseason and will see minutes as he adjusts to varsity play. Junior forward Jordan Friday will add rebounding and depth in the post.
“With such a young team, we are relying heavily on our senior leaders Alex Chesen, Ben Kenney, Max Valenci, and Chris Annas to set the tone in practice. We have a tough early season schedule and our challenge is getting our inexperienced players ready to compete from day one.”
Friends’ Central (girls)
Head coach: Phil Annas, 18th year.
Last year’s record: 21-6 overall, 9-1 Friends’ Schools League.
Key returnees: 6-0 sophomore guard Nia Jordan, 6-2 junior forward Raanee Smith.
Others to watch: 5-4 senior guard Zoe Ginsberg.
Lost to graduation: Rucha Alur, Larissa Carroll, Anna Leone, Iyanna McCurdy (playing basketball for Southeast Missouri State University), Avital Schweitzer.
Outlook: After losing five seniors to graduation last spring, Friends’ Central will have several major roles to fill. The Phoenix will have to replace three starters, including Mikayla Vaughn, who transferred for her final year. Annas is excited to see who will step up and fill the leadership void left by the graduating seniors. If all goes as planned, Annas is expecting the Phoenix will be competing in the Friends Schools League play-offs by implementing an up-tempo transition offense.
Head coach: Jesse Rappaport, 10th year.
Last year’s record: 8-14 overall, 4-12 Central League.
Key returnees: 5-10 senior guard Will Esposto, 5-11 senior guard Idris Ransom.
Others to watch: 6-0 senior guard Kevin Sanchez, 5-11 junior guard Nick Bugbee.
Lost to graduation: center Montgomery Brown, guard Tyler Allen.
Outlook: According to Rappaport, the Rams’ biggest strength is speed; their biggest challenge is lack of height.
Head coach: Kacy McNichol, first year.
Last year’s record: 14-9.
Key returnees: 5-6 senior guard Sophie Grady, 5-9 sophomore guard Christina Brown, 5-6 junior guard Meg Wilcox.
Others to watch: 5-5 senior guard Amanda Costa, 5-6 senior guard Carolyn DePillis.
Lost to graduation: guards Haley Morris and Olivia Tevis; Gabrillle Kontra, Sophia Kontra.
Outlook: McNichol said, “We are looking to build off previous success. We return a strong backcourt with strong senior leadership and young talent. We look to be a force [this season] and compete for the Central League championship.”
Haverford High (boys)
Head coach: Keith Heinerichs, sixth year.
Last year’s record: 6-16 overall, 5-11 Central League.
Key returnees: 6-2 junior swing player Isaiah Hart, 6-2 senior forward Jack Farrell.
Others to watch: On Nov. 29, Heinrichs noted, “We have a group of ninth-, 10th- and 11th-grade players fighting for time; it would not be right to single any out just yet.”
Lost to graduation: seven seniors, including Connor Gulfoil and Jack Donaghy.
Outlook: Heinrichs said, “Our biggest strength will be our ability to share the basketball. The biggest challenge we face will be our lack of varsity experience. We do not return a player that averaged more than six points or 15 minutes a night [last season].”
Head coach: Bernie Rogers, second year.
Last year’s record: 10-15 overall, 4-6 InterAc.
Key returnees: 6-0 junior guard Kharon Randolph, 5-10 sophomore guard Gavin Burke, 6-5 sophomore center Asim Richards, 6-5 sophomore forward Christain Ray.
Lost to graduation: Jack Marshall (High Point, lacrosse); Micah Sims (Bucknell, track); Tom McNamara (Notre Dame, lacrosse).
Outlook: Rogers said, “We are a young team with no seniors; therefore, we are looking to gain valuable experience as we find our team identity. We have a young nucleus that is working hard and wants to succeed.”
Lower Merion (boys)
Head coach: Gregg Downer, 27th year.
Last year’s record: 18-10 overall, 11-5 Central League.
Key returnees: 6-4 senior wing Terrell Jones, 6-2 senior guard Noah Fennell, 6-0 sophomore guard Steve Payne.
Others to watch: 6-4 sophomore wing Jack Forrest.
Last to graduation: 6-8 center Jeremy Horn (playing for Claremont McKenna College), KJ Helton.
Outlook: Downer said, “Our team has an interesting mix of youth, with six sophs making the club, and the veteran leadership of Jones and Fennell. Our team has multiple weapons from 3 and at times will be dynamic on offense. Our [biggest] concerns are rebounding and getting stops on defense. The younger players will take time to adjust to their first real varsity minutes, but as the season goes on we hope the inexperience goes away.”
Lower Merion (girls)
Head coach: Monique Bokyins, first year (was Penn Wood head coach for six years).
Last year’s record: 7-13 overall, 2-13 Central League.
Key returnees: 5-10 junior forward Bethany Eldridge, 5-8 junior shooting guard Sarah Fitzpatrick, 5-10 forward Izzy Meline, 5-5 junior point guard Katie Berg, 5-10 senior forward Tess Weber, 5-4 junior swing guard Mary Pat Quinn.
Others to watch: 6-0 sophomore forward Rowan Hassman, 5-4 junior point guard Evey Veguilla, 5-2 junior point guard Emma Riverso, 5-2 junior point guard Gabby Riverso, 5-6 senior guard Sophia Goldstein.
Lost to graduation: Claire Brown, Margo Urheim.
Outlook: Boykins said, “Our team’s biggest strength is its work ethic. These young ladies are hard workers and are determined to be great! Our biggest challenge is our height – our team does not have much height this year.”
Head coach: John Harmatuk, fourth year (also was head coach at Cypress Springs High School in Houston, Texas for 12 years).
Last year’s record: 17-13 overall, 5-5 InterAc.
Key returnees: 5-11 senior guard Tommy Wolfe, 6-3 junior guard Ray Baran, 6-7 junior post Billy Corcoran, 6-1 junior guard Brady Devereux, 5-10 sophomore guard Tygee Leach, 6-0 senior guard Danny Sullivan.
Others to watch: 6-0 freshman guard Deuce Turner, 5-10 freshman guard Rahdir Hicks, 5-9 freshman guard Spencer Cochran, 6-0 freshman guard Isaac White.
Lost to graduation: guard Will Powers (Holy Cross), post Mike Hollingsworth, guard Mike Narzikul.
Outlook: Harmatuk lists the Friars’ biggest strengths as depth and shooting; and lists their biggest challenge as experience.
Merion Mercy Academy
Head coach: Rob Baxter, 10th year.
Last year’s record: 14-11 overall. 6-7 AACA.
Key returnees: 5-10 senior forward Jada Smith, 5-8 senior forward Hannah Crilley, 5-9 senior forward Shannon Carroll.
Others to watch: junior guards Annie Dombrowski and Nora Pergolini, senior forward Maida Pannepacker.
Lost to graduation: Gabby Heinsinger (NYU).
Outlook: Baxter said, “We have a few players with varsity experience. We hope to build on our experience and use our athleticism. We will have to find consistent scoring from more than one player, and stay out of foul trouble.”
Head coach: Jamie Chadwin, first year.
Last year’s record: 11-12 overall, 6-9 Central League.
Key returnees: 6-4 senior forward Mason Ressler, 5-11 senior point guard Sami Ghazzi, 6-1 senior guard Jack Thompson, 6-0 senior guard Phil Regan, 6-2 senior guard Tommy Webb.
Others to watch: 6-0 junior guard Zahir Lee, 6-3 sophomore wing Vern Harper.
Outlook: Chadwin said, “This team loves to play together. They are a tight group with an unselfish attitude. Together, they will be able to realize their goals and reach their destinations.”
Head coach: Zach Shuler, 11th year.
Last year’s record: 6-16 overall, 0-7 AACA.
Key returnees: 5-4 junior guard Eileen Piombino, 5-11 sophomore forward Kyra Quigley (was injured all of last year – ACL), 5-6 sophomore guard Caitlin Hughes, 5-7 sophomore guard Jaycee Webster.
Others to watch: 5-5 freshman guard Kayleigh Doyle, 5-5 senior guard Emily Robinson, 5-5 junior guard Agnes Friend, 5-9 sophomore forward Sami Smith, 5-10 sophomore forward Natasha Karnoto, 5-10 senior forward Katie Gillin, 5-7 sophomore guard Liz Franz.
Lost to graduation: Maddie Schneider, Jessica McTaggart, Lauren Kilroy, Kayla Cecchine, Chelsea Slaughter.
Outlook: Shuler said, “Our biggest strength is a balanced attack of guards and forwards – I am confident we can go deep at all positions. Our biggest challenge is that we are going to be very young – possibly starting a freshman, a junior and three sophomores. Of course, being able to compete in our league is always a challenge but hopefully the tough competition will help us prepare for a [PIAA Class] AA district run.”
Head coach: Phil D’Ambrosio, fifth year.
Last year’s record: 17-11 overall; 5-3 Friends’ Schools League.
Key returnees: 5-10 senior point guard Kiyon Hardy, 5-11 junior point guard Sam Sessoms, 6-3 junior forward Ronan Higgins, 6-2 junior guard Eli Gorrell, 6-3 junior forward Tom Sobelman.
Others to watch: 6-9 sophomore center Ray Somerville, 5-9 freshman guard Khai Champion, 6-1 freshman forward Randall Brown.
Lost to graduation: guard/forward Arvelle Jones III (playing for NYIT), guard Micah Salamon, center Pete Sobelman.
Outlook: D’Ambrosio said, “We return a solid core for this season in addition to sophomore big man Ray Somerville. Also, freshman newcomers, Khai Champion and Randall Brown will add to the group. With strong guard play in place from last season in Kiyon Hardy and Sam Sessoms, we will look to add to our season-high 17 wins from last year. We will play an uptempo offense looking to advance the ball in a hurry and space the floor making good decisions finding our teammates.”
Head coach: Sean Costello, seventh year.
Last year’s record: 15-10 overall, 7-2 Friends Schools League.
Key returnees: 5-5 senior guard Indiah Bobo, 6-2 sophomore forward Anna Camden, 5-7 sophomore guard Lauren Ross, 5-8 sophomore forward Casey Winter, 5-7 sophomore guard Elizabeth Talluto, 5-7 sophomore guard Kate Scutt.
Lost to graduation: forward Courtney Redcross (playing basketball for Northeastern), guard Emily Talluto (playing lacrosse for LaSalle), forward Maya Overton (attending Yale).
Outlook: Costello said, “We will look to get out in transition and play a fun style of basketball. We have a good mix of year round basketball players and athletes that understand what it takes to win. We expect different players to step up on a daily basis and have a very balanced team on both ends.”
Villa Maria Academy
Head coach: Kathy McCartney, 31st year.
Last year’s record: 12-13 overall, 5-8 AACA.
Key returnees: sophomore forward Abby Walheim, sophomore guard Julia Samar, senior guard Murrin Tague, senior guard Erin DiDonato, senior forward Marissa Picinich.
Others to watch: sophomore forward Paige DeMutis, senior forward Emily Gillin, senior guard Bri Wright.
Outlook: McCartney said, “We will be fairly athletic and will look to pressure on defense and run on offense. Our big challenge will be to mentor and bring the young kids around quickly.”