Main Line girls’ basketball squads ready to take on opponents

The Main Line high school girls’ basketball scene features a number of teams who are coming off strong 2014-15 campaigns, among them defending two-time PAISAA champion Shipley, Episcopal Academy (PAISAA semifinalists last winter), Friends’ Central (24-3), Merion Mercy Academy (finished third at District One tourney), Radnor (PIAA state tourney qualifier), Academy of Notre Dame and Conestoga.
Here’s a beginning-of-season look at the Main Line high school girls’ basketball teams for the 2015-16 season:

Academy of Notre Dame

Head coach: Mary Beth McNichol, 25 year (overall record 459-230).
Last year’s record: 11-16 overall, 7-5 InterAc.
Key returnees: 5-8 senior guard Alex Kane (was first team All-InterAc), 6-1 senior center Rachel Ryan (was second team All-InterAc), 5-5 senior guard Caitlyn Clark (missed last season with ACL injury), 5-9 senior forward Kristen Rogers, 5-7 junior guard Casey Walsh, 5-5 junior guard Jill Kane, 6-0 junior center Tess Phillips.
Others to watch: 6-2 sophomore center Katie Mayock (transfer from Conestoga), 5-7 freshman guard Mandy McGurk.
Lost to graduation: Sam Sacchetta, Sophia Galantino. The Irish also will be without Leanne Purcell, who played significant minutes last year for Academy of Notre Dame, for the season due to illness.
Outlook: The Irish expect to contend for the InterAc championship, and return most of the 2014-2015 squad including four seniors and three juniors who all contributed last year.

Agnes Irwin

Head coach: Don Ciminera, second year.
Last year’s record: 6-16 overall, 2-10 InterAc.
Key returnees: 5-9 sophomore guard Alex Blomstrom, 5-9 sophomore post Paige Brala, 5-7 junior guard Caroline Coyne, 5-6 senior guard Kate White.
Others to watch: 5-11 freshman post Lindsay Lane, 6-0 freshman guard Gianna Napoleon, 5-7 eighth-grade guard Katie Anderson.
Lost to graduation: guards Lauen Spinelli, Stefanie Williams and Jolie Jemmott, post players Sierra Corbett, Emma Hill and Emma Collier.
Outlook: Ciminera said, “The InterAc is very tough this year, and we have upgraded our [non-league] schedule. We’re very, very young, and hope to be a representative team by the time we start InterAc play.”

Archbishop Carroll

Head coach: Tom Nerney, first year.

Last year’s record: 19-8.

Key returnees: 5-10 senior forward Lexi Cucia, 5-10 junior guard Bella Sorrentino, 5-9 junior forward Theresa Kearney, 5-7 sophomore guard Molly Masciantonio.

Others to watch: 5-3 freshman guard Amber Germer.

Lost to graduation: Julia Gantz, Lexi Stover, Keara McNulty, Ann McKnight, Kristen Ryan. 

Outlook: The Patriots, who return only one starter from last season, hope to pick up needed game experience as the 2015-16 campaign progresses.


Baldwin School

Head coach: Danny Fraider, second year.
Last year’s record: 11-12 overall, 4-8 Inter-Ac.
Key returnees: 5-7 senior center Danny Hammond, 5-7 senior guard Kejohna Hammond.
Others to watch: 5-6 senior guard Alex Brittingham, 5-11 senior post Kayla Watkins, 5-6 sophomore guard Evey Veguilla, 5-6 senior guard Imani Brown.
Lost to graduation: forward Emily Urban.
Outlook: Fraider sees the team’s biggest two strengths as 1) five seniors who all contributed to the team’s success last year, and 2) its inside game. She said, “We have five key returning seniors who saw significant time last season, they’re looking to improve their record from last year, to challenge teams in the Inter-Ac, and to build on the successes of last season.”

Barrack Hebrew Academy

Head coach: Chris Corcoran, first year.
Last year’s record: 11-10, lost in the championship finals of the Tri-County League.
Key returnees: 5-8 senior forward Lindsay Chevin, 5-10 senior forward Tali Glickman, 5-6 junior guard Sarah Nelson, 5-10 junior forward Talia Rikin, 5-9 junior forward Sarah Drapkin.
Others to watch: 5-7 sophomore guard Talia Koltan-Fromm, 5-6 freshman guard Yasmin Stein.
Lost to graduation: center Sarah Federman, guard Jenna Opperheimer.
Outlook: Corcoran said, “Our biggest strength is having five girls that saw considerable playing time last year. Having that real game experience can’t be duplicated in a practice. … It’s always challenging when a new coach comes into a program. After practicing with the team for two weeks, I believe we have the potential to improve on our record from last year. Our biggest challenge is going to incorporate our juniors, who have been in Israel during the first semester, three days before our first game.”


Head coach: Chris Jeffries, second year.
Last year’s record: 13-10 overall; 10-6 Central League (fourth place), lost to Abington in first round of PIAA Class AAAA District One playoffs.
Key returnees: 6-1 senior forward Ellie Mack (missed all of junior year to knee injury; was an All-Central League selection as a freshman and sophomore), 5-9 senior guard/forward Sondra Dickey, 5-11 junior forward Emma Powell (was All-Central League honorable mention), 5-7 junior guard Sarah Mascioli.
Others to watch: 5-8 sophomore guard Maria Koblish, 5-8 junior guard/forward Liz Scott.
Lost to graduation: forward Jill Mascioli, guard Jess Monastero.
Outlook: Jeffries sees the Pioneers’ biggest strength as experience: “We will be returning nine varsity players from last year’s team with girls who are ready to step in to leadership roles. … We did lots of growing last year, with the girls having to adjust to a new coach. With the return of All-Central League performer Ellie Mack, we expect to have a better year. We lost six games last year by eight points or less, and returning this many players should help to keep [us] calm in those late game situations.”
Regarding the other teams in the Central League, Jeffries said, “Garnet Valley has not lost a Central League game in two years. I know they graduated some very good players, but many remain as well. They are still the team to beat at the top. Strath Haven returns their top two girls and will be extremely good again and have a new coach who is very capable. Radnor had a spectacular post-season run late last year and are coming in with a lot of confidence as well.”

Episcopal Academy

Head coach: Chuck Simmonds, 12th year.
Last year’s record: 18—7 overall, lost in semifinals of PAISAA tournament.
Key returnees: 5-10 senior guard Dylan Higgins, 6-2 senior forward Lily Kuntz, 5-6 senior guard Margaux Paolino, 6-2 junior forward Elodie Furey, 5-7 junior guard Reilly Wright.
Others to watch: 5-10 sophomore guard Seanna McNamara, 5-10 sophomore forward Luca Mamula, 5-8 sophomore guard Katie Weaver, 5-6 senior guard Courtnie Williamson.
Lost to graduation: guard Maria Kilcullen (playing for Loyola), guard Meghan Pickell (playing for Ithaca), guard Julianne Longen.
Outlook: Simmonds said, “We will return veteran leadership, while blending in role players from last season into key spots. We have strength returning in the front court, and we will look to again contend for a championship within a very competitive Inter-Ac League, where numerous teams will compete for the league title.”

Friends’ Central

Head coach: Phil Annas, 17th year.
Last year’s record: 24-3 overall, 9-1 Friends’ Schools League.
Key returnees: 5-11 senior guard/forward Anna Leone, 5-8 senior guard Iyanna McCurdy, 6-2 junior forward Mikayla Vaughn.
Others to watch: 5-11 sophomore forward Briana Cypress.
Lost to graduation: co-captain Lisa Bernstein.
Outlook: While losing Bernstein will leave a big leadership role to fill, Annas is excited to have experience and maturity in the line-up. This year’s Phoenix squad will use size and an aggressive and quicker line-up to create offensive opportunities from their defense. Annas is looking forward to coaching this group and watching their development as the season progresses. If all goes according to plan, he is expecting that the Phoenix will be competing in the Friends’ Schools League playoffs in February.


Head coach: Messiah Reames, fourth year.

Last year’s record: 7-15 overall, 5-11 Central League.

Key returnees : 5-6 junior guard Sophie Grady, 6-0 sophomore center Greta Stahl, 5-6 senior guard Haley Morris, 5-9 senior forward Olivia Tevis.

Others to watch: 5-6 freshman guard Alana Swift, 5-7 freshman guard Christina Brown, 5-10 freshman forward Sioban Daley-Gibson, 5-10 freshman forward Abby Tevis.

Lost to graduation : No one.

Outlook: Reames said, “We are returning everyone from a young team last year that had the opportunity to learn through playing. I believe this will help during the season. … In order for us to be successful we must play hard every second of the season. Defense and rebounding will be the keys to our season. Garnet Valley is the best team in our league until someone else proves otherwise.”

Haverford High

Head coach: Bridget DiCave, fourth year.

Last year’s record: 17-5, lost in first round of Districts to Downingtown East.

Key returnees: 5-5 senior guard Mollie Reynolds, 6-0 senior center Amanda Battitsta, 5-6 senior guard Ashley Murphy, 5-10 junior forward Kelly Lyons, 5-8 junior forward Brianna Blair.

Lost to graduation: Rosie O’Halloran.

Outlook: DiCave said, “A strong freshman class will add to the depth of our returning sophomore, junior and senior players. We had a good season last year, but fell short of our goal of [making the] Central League playoffs.  We gained experience with a tough loss to Downingtown East in the  district tournament. We hope to match and exceed our accomplishments from last season.”

Lower Merion

Head coach: Lauren Pellicane, 11th year.
Last year’s record: 5-16 overall, 3-13 Central League.
Key returnees: 5-11 sophomore forward Bethany Eldridge, 5-8 sophomore guard Sarah Fitzpatrick, 5-10 sophomore forward Izzy Meline, 5-9 senior guard Claire Brown, 5-9 senior guard Margo Urheim.
Others to watch: 5-10 junior forward Tess Weber, 5-8 sophomore guard Ashley Roberts, 5-6 sophomore guard Katie Berg.
Outlook: Pellicane sees the Aces’ biggest strengths as depth and offensive balance: “This is the deepest team the Aces have had in over 10 years, and we have a number of players who can lead the team in scoring on any given night. … The keys to this year’s success will be defense, rebounding and how well the team continues to gel together. [Our biggest] challenges will include inexperience and youth.” The Aces continue to rebuild with 75 percent of the team being freshmen or sophomores. Pellicane sees the toughest Central League teams to beat this winter as defending league champion Garnet Valley and Conestoga.

Merion Mercy Academy

Head coach: Rob Baxter, ninth year.
Last year’s record: 16-11 overall; 7-7 AACA; captured third place in District One tournament, and advanced to second round of States.
Key returnees: 5-10 junior guard/forward Jada Smith, 5-8 senior guard Gabby Heinsinger, 5-11 senior forward Bern McGeever, 5-11 senior forward Liz McMonagle.
Others to watch: 5-8 senior guard Domenica Tomasetti, 5-10 junior forward Shannon Carroll, 5-9 junior guard/forward Hannah Crilley, 5-6 senior guard Allie Lee.
Lost to graduation: Valez Jackson. (playing basketball for Philadelphia University), Caroline Corzel.
Outlook: Baxter said, “We have pretty consistent size and we have some players with varsity experience. As always, we want to compete for a playoff spot in the competitive AACA. We want to position ourselves for a district playoff spot. The keys for us will be playing together and sharing the ball, as well as playing tough defense. We will need to make up for our players lost to graduation and need to find a way to score on a consistent basis. GMA, St Basil’s, Mount and Villa Maria will all be tough in the [AACA] league.”


Head coach: Mark Jordan, 10th year (also was head coach at Sacred Heart for 11 years).
Last year’s record: 20-9 overall, 11-5 in Central League, won four PIAA Class AAAA District One playoff games on the road, qualified for States for a second straight year, and lost to Cardinal O’Hara in state tourney.
Key returnees: 5-11 senior forward Kristin Hamill, 5-7 junior guard Nicole Massimino, 5-9 junior forward Allison Lanzone.
Others to watch: 5-4 senior guard Racquel Razavi, 5-5 senior guard Fallon Quinn, 5-6 junior guard Maura Holst, 5-7 junior forward Alexa Solomon, 5-7 junior forward Julianne Puckette.
Lost to graduation: point guard Katie Jordan (played in 17 playoff games in four years), guard Lauren Pacifico (made more than 60 treys the past two seasons).
Outlook: Jordan sees his team’s biggest strengths as athleticism and playoff experience: “We have plenty of multi-sport athletes, and we’re playoff-tested. We’ve played 12 playoff games the past two years, winning eight times, seven times as a lower seed). … We’ll need Razavi ,Quinn and Holst to handle the ball [this season]. Hamill will be playing next year at Franklin & Marshall, and is a force inside on both ends of the court. Massimino and Lanzone have started the past two years, and are terrific athletes who are major factors on both ends of the floor. Our biggest challenges this season will be guard play and [on-court] decision making. Conestoga is the clear league favorite [in the Central League], followed by Garnet Valley and Strath Haven We hope to finish in the top half of the league and qualify for States for a third consecutive year.”

Sacred Heart

Head coach: Zach Shuler, 10th year.
Last year’s record: 6-16 overall, 0-7 AACA, lost in first round of District One playoffs.
Key returnees: 5-11 senior forward Maddie Schneider, 5-5 senior guard Jessica McTaggart, 5-5 senior guard Lauren Kilroy, 5-1 sophomore guard Eileen Piombino.
Others to watch: 5-10 freshman forward Kyra Quigley.
Lost to graduation: guards Celine Dugan and Jen Young.
Outlook: Shuler said, “The keys to our success will be our senior leadership. We have five seniors and three of them have contributed to the program since they were freshmen. I am looking forward to seeing them step up and helping lead us to the district playoffs. We also have a lot of young talent who will be playing a lot of varsity minutes. We are hoping that our league will help us prepare for a playoff birth in districts.”


Head coach: Kevin Costello, second year.
Last year’s record: 27-9 overall, 9-1 Friends’ Schools League, PAISAA champions for the second consecutive year.
Key returnees: Senior forward and co-captain Courtney Redcross (comitted to Northeastern), senior guard and co-captain Emily Talluto, senior forward and co-captain Maya Overton, junior guard Yndiah Bobo.
Others to watch: freshman guard Lauren Ross, freshman forward Anna Camden.
Outlook: Costello said, “We are a young and talented group that might hit a couple of bumps along the road, but I am confident that our leadership from our upper classmen will allow us to form into a highly competitive group that will be able to fulfill its potential by seasons end.”

Villa Maria Academy

Head coach: Kathy McCartney, 30th year.
Last year’s record: 10-14 overall, lost in first round of District One playoffs.
Lost to graduation: Clare O’Rourke, Katie Mooney, Danielle Knopp, Mary Kate O’Malley
Key returnees: 5-7 senior forward Marielle Picinich, 5-10 junior forward And Marissa Picinich, 5-4 junior guard Murrin Tague.
Outlook: McCartney said, “We are a fairly quick team and we work very hard at the defensive end of the floor. We learned a lot last year and we are ready to put those lessons to use. We are hopping to be competitive in our very strong league. The top teams [to beat in the AACA] should be Mount, St. Basil, Merion Mercy and Gwynedd Mercy. [I’m] hoping we can sneak up on some people this year.”

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