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Mercury-Area Team-by-Team Girls Basketball Preview

Boyertown

Head coach: Jason Bieber, ninth season.

Last year’s record: 9-1 Pioneer Athletic Conference, 28-5 overall (PAC, PIAA-6A champs).

Players to watch: Kylie Webb, 5-8 Sr.; Tori Boalton, 5-9 Sr.; Jen O’Connor, 5-9 Sr.; Avery Sweisfort, 5-9 So.

Outlook: The 2017-2018 Lady Bears will certainly have one tough act to follow. Now in the wake of last season’s PAC and PIAA-6A championship team, Boyertown will look to fill the voids left by graduated Abby Kapp (Boyertown’s all-time leading scorer), Katie Armstrong and Alli Marcus. Returning, though, are Webb, Boalton and Sweisfort, all of whom were major contributors to last season’s unforgettable run. Although it will be a whole new cast, Bieber has plenty of confidence that his team will bring the same approach. “We will have many new face on the court this year, but our expectations are the same every year: Win our league and qualify for the state tournament,” he said.

Victoria Boalton (4) of Boyertwon looks to shoot against North Allegheny in PIAA Class 6A girls’ basketball championship game action at the Giant Center March 24, 2017. (Mark Palczewski | Special to PA Prep Live).

Daniel Boone

Head coach: Kristen Marcinko, first season.

Last year’s record: 0-10 Berks Conference I, 5-17 overall.

Players to watch: Madison Spitko, Kaylie Walker, Sydney Hayes.

Outlook: Last season was one to forget in Birdsboro as the Blazers finished the season winless in Berks Conference I play and ended on a six-game losing streak while dropping 13 of their final 14 games. Leading-scorer Spitko returns after averaging just over seven points per game along with Hayes (4.6 ppg) for a team full of fresh new-comers. “We’re looking to be competitive in the league and division,” said Marcinko.

Hill School

The Hill School’s Qiana Vigo (13) knocks the ball away from Perkiomen School’s Madelin Parisi during their game at The Hill School last season. (Austin Hertzog – Digital First Media)

Head coach: Jen Weissbach, third season.

Last year’s record: 16-6 overall (Mid-Atlantic Prep League runnr-up).

Players to watch: Maia Lockhart, Sr.; Alexa Giacche, Jr.; Qiana Vigo, Jr.

Outlook: The Blues are coming off a strong campaign last season that finished in the second round of the PA Independent Schools Athletic Association (PAISAA) playoffs and garnered a runner-up finish in the MAPL. Sharp-shooting Vigo makes her return after suffering a torn ACL last season Lockhart and Giacche have proven to be plenty capable scorers.

Methacton

Head coach: Craig Kaminski, 16th season.

Last year’s record: 8-2 PAC, 19-8 overall (PAC runner-up, advanced to District 1-6A playoffs).

Players to watch: Jill Zerbe, 5-9 Sr.; Olivia Pennypacker, 6-0 Sr.; Nicole Cooper, 5-4 Sr.; Abby Penjuke, 5-9 Jr.; Sydney Tornetta, 5-7 So.

Outlook: Finding that focal point on offense will be key as the Warriors graduated Ryan DeOrio (1,071 career points), Jackie Cerchio and Sydney Thompson, the trio accounting for almost 60% of their points last season. Tornetta is coming off a solid freshman season where she showed plenty of poise and will be Methacton’s lone returning starter while Pennypacker should be a presence down-low. “Our three seniors have been with the program all four years and have had much experience in role spots on past teams,” said Kaminski. “Now they are in the spotlight and how quickly they embrace the leadership role will determine how successful we are this season. We feel that any five players we put on the floor at any time can handle the point, drive to score inside or shoot from the outside.”

Norristown

Head coach: Richard Fisher, second season.

Last year’s record: 0-10 PAC, 2-20 overall.

Players to watch: Seniors: Beyoncé Collins, Tova Wright, Georgia Werkiser, Morgon Culbreath, Kayla Mastrocola and Ahyne Thompson.

Outlook: It wasn’t exactly smooth sailing in the Eagles’ first season in the PAC as well as Fisher’s first season with the team. That said, he believes things are trending upward for Norristown. “I expect to have better results from the girls,” he said. “If we are disciplined on and off the court we can make some positive strides.”

Owen J. Roberts

Head coach: Jeremy Mellon, 10th season.

Last year’s record: 2-8 PAC, 7-15 overall.

Players to watch: Kylie Cahill, 5-10 Sr.; Bridget Guinan, 5-9 Sr.; Diana Rantz, 5-9 Jr.; Olivia LeClaire, 5-9 So.

Outlook: The Wildcats are coming off one of the most challenging schedules around the district, one they faced with a relatively young roster. Now another year older, Mellon hopes that experience pays off as he returns a pair of Second Team All-PAC selections in Rantz and LeClaire along with the senior leadership of Cahill and Guinan, who played integral roles in the respective girls soccer and field hockey teams’ state playoff runs. “We still will be relatively young overall with most of our returners who logged varsity minutes being underclassmen,” said Mellon. “However, we have great leadership and with a renewed commitment to defense and a fundamentals first attitude we are hoping to be explosive and fun to watch. We have a lot of good athletes that have to transition into good basketball players.”

Perkiomen School

Head coach: Nikki Duggan, second season.

Last year’s record: 8-10 overall.

Players to watch: Maddy Parisi, 5-5 Sr.; Abby Glavin, 5-7 So.

Outlook: The Panthers will have a much different look this season following the graduation of Nicki Ciocarri and Helena Tang from last year’s squad. Newcomers Henielys Ramos and Miriam Oelgarth should provide a strong presence inside while Parisi and Glavin will be able to spread the floor. “Every day the girls get a little better – in practice and in the games we have so far,” said Duggan. “We will continue to improve and will look to be contenders in our conference by the end of the year.”

Perkiomen Valley

Boyertown’s Kylie Webb (13) drives to the basket as Perkiomen Valley’s Alex Blomstrom defends during the second quarter of a game last season. (Austin Hertzog – Digital First Media)

Head coach: John Strawoet, fourth season.

Last year’s record: 5-5 PAC, 11-12 overall (Advanced to District 1-6A playoffs).

Players to watch: Meg Jonassen, 5-11 Sr.; Taylor Hamm, 5-11 Sr.; Alex Blomstrom, 5-8 Sr.; Meg Moore, 5-10 Sr.; Brynne Wacker, 5-5 Sr.; Grace Lindberger, 5-5 Sr.; Kelly Owens, 5-5 Jr.

Outlook: Last year could be considered a down season compared to the success the Vikings had entering the season. Now, they look primed to get back to their old ways as PV boasts a roster filled with seniors Jonassen and Hamm, both of whom  were All-Area First Team selection. Blomstrom had a solid junior season in her arrival where she finished second in the PAC in 3-pointers. “Senior leadership will be the strength of this team,” said Strawoet. “We have plenty of experience and size and it’s all going to come down to how well we handle pressure. We’ll need to be consistent in our play every game.”

Phoenixville

Head coach: AJ Thompson, second season.

Last year’s record: 5-5 PAC, 10-12 overall.

Players to watch: Peyton Graham, 5-7 Sr.; Jasmine Hamilton, 5-10 Sr.; Liberty Allain, 5-10 Sr.; Hannah Sands 5-8 Jr.; Ameerah Green 5-6 Jr.; Marlee Brown 5-6 So.

Outlook: Defense has always been the foundation of the Phantoms, evidenced by the team allowing under 36 points-against per-game last season, which ranked among the PAC’s best. Back are seniors Graham, Hamilton and Allain, who will look to fill the void of five seniors lost to graduation. “I expect our seniors to lead us on offense and help take the pressure off the younger girls as they adjust to the speed of the game, said Thompson. “On the frontier side of the PAC-10 I think it will be a very competitive race. Each team lost some key contributors but also brought back some good talent. It will be a battle to reach the final 6 at the end of the season.”

Pope John Paul II

Pope John Paul II’s Monica Rapchinski tries to get some space from Pottstown’s Miyana Brant after receiving an inbounds pass. (Austin Hertzog – Digital First Media)

Head coach: Stacey Huntington, first season.

Last year’s record: 7-3 PAC, 10-13 overall (Advanced to District 1-5A playoffs).

Players to watch: Monica Rapchinski, Sr.; Elise Sylvester, Jr.; Lauren Ciuba, Jr.

Outlook: Huntington takes over at PJP after spending the previous two seasons as an assistant. That means she knows what she’s got, including Rapchinski, an All-PAC First Team selection who averaged 11.2 points and just under five rebounds per game last season. Sylvester and Ciuba are coming off strong junior seasons while seniors Kayla Mesaros, Grace Cobaugh and Julia Owens will also look to make an impact.

Pottsgrove

Head coach: Mike Brendnlinger, 16th season.

Last year’s record: 7-3 PAC, 14-9 overall (Advanced to District 1-5A playoffs).

Players to watch: Payton Sinkbeil, 5-7 Sr.; Morgan Scharneck, 5-4 Sr.; Savannah Lear, 5-5 Jr.; Samme Marazas 5-5 Jr.; Jordyn Mayes 5-5 Jr.

Outlook: This season could be a trying effort for the Falcons as they look to rebuild after losing six seniors, including standout guard and All-Area First Team selection Diana Randleman. “With the loss of four starters and two key subs, Pottsgrove will be fielding an inexperienced team,” said Brendlinger. “They will count on their upperclassmen to provide leadership until some of the younger girls get used to varsity competition.”

Pottstown

Pottstown’s Ebony Reddick (11) grabs a rebound over Phoenixville’s Liberty Allain. (John Strickler – The Mercury)

Head coach: Chris Jackson, 10th season.

Last year’s record: 3-7 PAC, 9-13 overall.

Players to watch: Ebony Reddick, 5-6 Sr.; Gianna Epps, 5-4 Sr.; Riley Owens, 5-8 Jr.; Emmy Wolfel, 5-5 Jr.; Dazah Reguester, 5-3 Jr.

Outlook: Size and depth could prove the Achilles heel for the Trojans this season, as they don’t have a player listed above 5-8 on the roster. That said, Jackson sees plenty of promise with some sharp-shooters at the guard positions. And of course, Reddick is a scoring threat from virtually anywhere on the court. “We will need to rely heavily on the fundamentals of ball movement and boxing out,” said Jackson. “It’s the best shooting team I’ve had in years and we have some quickness and depth at the guard spot.”

Spring-Ford

Spring-Ford’s Rachel Christman drives to the basket while Perkiomen Valley’s Allison Cappelli defends during the second half. (Digital First Media)

Head coach: Mickey McDaniel, fifth season.

Last year’s record: 6-4 PAC, 17-10 overall (Advanced to District 1-6A playoffs).

Players to watch: Rachel Christman, Sr.; Abby Goodrich, Jr.; Cassie Marte, Jr.

Outlook: This season will provide no shortage of challenges as the Rams graduated their entire starting lineup, including leading-scorer Sydney Wagner (Stetson University) and paint presence Maddie Haney (Philadelphia University). Spring-Ford always finds a way, though, and this year should be no different as the team is loaded with seniors including Christman, Sarah Cooper, Dez Engle, Ali Higgins and Kali Kratz. “We will have a mixture of experience players and inexperienced players on the varsity level,” said McDaniel. “With our conference and non-conference schedule we will need to rise to the challenge every day in the practice room to take on the game day challenges. Work ethic, defense, enthusiasm and leadership will be the primary ingredients we need to compete and get better each day as the season moves along.”

Upper Merion

Head coach: Leah Shumoski, third season.

Last year’s record: 8-2 PAC, 14-10 overall (Advanced to District 1-5A playoffs)

Players to watch: Jordan Wilson, 5-10 Sr.; Amya Anthoney, 5-7 Sr.; Tymeriah Stanton, 5-7 So.

Outlook: The Vikings did plenty of damage in their first year joining the PAC as they claimed the Frontier Division and eventually played in the District 1-5A playoffs. After losing the opening round of the PAC and district playoffs, Shumoski says there is some work yet to accomplish. “We’re looking to improve on where we ended last year and win a few games in districts,” she said. “The girls put a lot of work and time in the offseason and I am hoping that dedication pays off for them.”

Upper Perkiomen

Head coach: Greg Swavely, third season.

Last year’s record: 0-10 PAC, 1-21 overall.

Players to watch: Sierra Kelly, Sr.; Erika Boyer, Sr.; Kaitlyn Mundy, Jr.

Outlook: Swavely is still seeking his first inner-conference win after taking over as head coach of the Tribe prior to the 2015 season. Coming off consecutive winless seasons in league play, Upper Perk returns some promise including last year’s leading scorer, Mundy (7.3 ppg) along with Kelly (4.3).

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