Area players to watch and Preseason Top-10

With plenty of talented players returning to the area girls’ basketball scene this season, a preseason “Starting 5′ is introduced for the first time. The “Starting 5′ consists of the top all-around players in the area heading into the season. 25 players were included for the list, including one player from each team. A “Sixth Man’ is also included with the “Starting 5.’ The players to watch list are included below the “Starting 5′ along with the preseason top-10 team rankings.

Starting 5

Noelle Powell (Sr.), West Chester Rustin

After scoring her 1,000th point last season, the sky is the limit for Powell heading into her senior year. Powell will be the focal point in the Golden Knights’ offense. One of the area’s quickest players, Powell can make defenders miss when she possesses the ball and create a shot. The 2014-15 season could be a special one for Rustin with Powell leading the way.

Ciara Forde (Jr.), Bishop Shanahan

As Forde rose to one of the top players in the Ches-Mont, so did Shanahan. Once Forde became the go-to scorer for the Eagles, her team rose to new heights and made the state playoffs for the first time in school history. A prolific passer and skilled defender, Forde’s role will increase as Shanahan loses five seniors from last year’s state playoff team.

Paige Warfel (Jr.), Downingtown East

One of the top area players returning, Warfel’s 6-foot frame provides a mismatch for many defenders attempting to guard her. With four starters returning on Downingtown East, Warfel should add to her point totals at shooting guard from last season as she closes in on the 1,000-point mark. Warfel and the Cougars are expected to contend for the Ches-Mont title.

Casey Warley (Sr.), West Chester Rustin

Arguably the area’s top point guard, Warley returns to a West Chester Rustin team that returns 12 players from last year’s PIAA Class AAAA semifinal team. The Bloomsburg-bound Warley should improve her scoring totals from last season as one of the main options in an up-tempo offense. She also is a premier defender and excels with the basketball in her hands.

Jess Hussey (Jr.), Kennett

One of the breakout players in the area last season, Hussey averaged 16.5 points per game in leading a young Kennett squad. A presence in the low post, Hussey is also a solid rebounder with a strong jump shot in the paint. Hussey has an outside shot at eclipsing the 1,000-point mark this season and looks to lead the Blue Demons to the Ches-Mont League playoffs along with a district appearance.

Sixth Man

Maddie Dew (Sr.), Downingtown West

Dew is a player who doesn’t let her height prevent her from scoring the basketball. Listed at 5’2”, Dew is one of the area’s top outside shooters and is quick enough to drive the lane and create a shot. One of the area’s most exciting players, Dew leads a Whippets team that will compete for the Ches-Mont championship.

Other players considered (players to watch):

Avon Grove: Regan Cook (Jr.)

Bishop Shanahan: Grace Phillips (Jr.)

Coatesville: Nafisa Saunders (Sr.), Zada Bookman (Jr.)

Conestoga: Jill Mascioli (Sr.)

Downingtown East: Lindsay Kent (Jr.), Kaelyn Johns (Sr.)

Downingtown West: Holly Schnack (Sr.), Hannah Supplee (Jr.)

Great Valley: Ashlyn Smith (Jr.)

Kennett: Aimee Armitage (Sr.)

Octorara: Brielle Kirk (Sr.)

Oxford: Hannah Bahls (Jr.)

Unionville: Lexi Shanahan (Sr.)

Villa Maria: Marielle Picinich (Jr.), Marissa Picinich, (So.)

West Chester East: Holly Hager (Sr.)

West Chester Henderson: Morgan Maturani (Sr.)

West Chester Rustin: Katie O’Hare (Sr.)

Jeff Kerr’s Preseason Top-10

1. W.C. Rustin: Four starters returning on last year’s PIAA Class AAAA semifinal team.

2. Downingtown East: More experience with four starters returning on the Ches-Mont runner-up, three juniors.

3. Bishop Shanahan: Forde, Phillips lead deep squad that reached PIAA Class AAAA tournament last season.

4. Downingtown West: Dew and crew expected to challenge for Ches-Mont playoff berth and make district run.

5. Villa Maria: Balanced offense led by Picinich sisters make Hurricanes threat in AACA once again.

6. Great Valley: Young team with three starters returning and solid bench.

7. Conestoga: No Mack this year, but Pioneers still threat for Central League crown.

8. Kennett: High-powered offense puts Blue Demons in contention for Ches-Mont playoff berth.

9. Coatesville: Saunders and Bookman give Red Raiders chance to nab Ches-Mont playoff spot.

10. West Chester East: Need to replace Nina Mazarelli’s scoring, but can play spoiler in Ches-Mont National.

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