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Basketball Preview: Four returning starters land Episcopal in title mix

Episcopal Academy has the pieces to make another run at the Inter-Ac championship. Last season, the Churchwomen finished 15-8, shared the league crown with Germantown Academy and advanced to the semifinal round of the Pennsylvania Independent Schools Athletic Association tournament.

Coach Chuck Simmonds welcomes back Luca Mamula (5-11 Sr. F), Seanna McNamara (5-11 Sr. G-F), Katie Weaver (5-10 Sr. G) and Olivia Dirks (5-7 Jr. G) to the starting lineup. Sophomores Raeleen Keffer-Scharpf (5-10 F) and Cara Harty (5-5 G) are expected to make an impact as well.

“(We) will be counting on experienced starters returning to guide the team early as younger players start to find their roles,” Simmonds said, “and use a challenging December schedule to get ready to compete through the Inter-Ac schedule.”

Episcopal began its season with a loss to Shipley, followed by a victory over Westtown School at the Inter-Ac League/Friends League Tip Off last week.

Academy of Notre Dame looks for big things from junior guard Mandy McGurk (5-7), sophomore Allie Lynch (5-5 G) and juniors Caitlyn Mullen (5-8 G) and Emma Kichula (5-9). Maggie Pina, a 5-6 junior guard, transfers in from Archbishop Carroll, where she earned second team All-Catholic League honors a season ago. Kelly McCullough, a sophomore guard, is another newcomer to keep an eye on. Coach Mary Beth McNichol is back for her 27th season with the Irish, eight wins shy of 500 in her Hall of Fame career.

“We hope to contend for the Inter-Ac League championship with the return of several good players and the addition of several good ones,” McNichol said.

Andrea Carter begins her first season at the helm of Agnes Irwin. She is the third head coach of the Owls in as many seasons.

The Owls are led by senior co-captains Mary Naylor, Paige Brala and Sydney Wolfington. Junior Gianna Napoleon and sophomore Katie Anderson also have varsity experience.

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