In March of 2020, every girls’ basketball team still standing in the PIAA tournament saw their seasons come to an abrupt halt as COVID-19 spread across the country.
For the next 10 months, players and coaches endured a lot of waiting, starts and stops, a lot of cancellations that included the remainder of the state playoffs and the implementation of new health and safety regulations. It all made for an offseason like any other and while AAU teams were able to compete over the summer, preseason proved another challenge as teams saw potential start dates continue to move back.
While this will be a season unlike any other, there’s still a wealth of talent in the Reporter/Times Herald/Montgomery Media area eager to take advantage of the opportunity to play.
Three of the local teams that had their seasons end early last season headline are among the top squads coming back this winter. Archbishop Wood seemed to be hitting another gear as its season stopped in the PIAA 5A quarterfinals, but with a loaded roster including state player of the year Kaitlyn Orihel (Villanova), Noelle Baxter (Kutztown), Dana Kiefer (Bryant) and highly-recruited junior Ryanne Allen, the Vikings expect to contend for the PCL title and PIAA 4A titles.
Both Plymouth Whitemarsh (6A) and Jenkintown (A) in District 1 bring back every starter and key player from a year ago. With only district champions making the state playoffs this winter, every game takes on more significance and with a preseason that saw two prolonged shutdowns, continuity is a key.
The Drakes finished without a loss last year and return a solid nucleus of seniors as they look to continue their run of dominance in the BAL, District I and PIAA A levels.
In the reshaped SOL, the Colonials will have to focus on winning their conference games with clashes against rivals Upper Dublin and a young but talented Abington squad taking on extra significance. PW’s nucleus of senior and junior starters, plus some promising reserves, is looking to push further than last season’s abrupt ending.
A year ago, CB West would have been the District 1-6A rep in states after the Bucks outlasted Pennsbury to win the district title. With a talented senior class, including state player of the year Maddie Burke (Penn State) now graduated, West will have to rely on returners like Paige Gilbert and Emily Spratt to compete in the SOL Colonial, a new division with plenty of familiar faces like CB East, CB South, Souderton, North Penn and Pennridge.
Most SOL and AACA teams begin play this week, the PCL will start league play on Jan. 29 and Inter-Ac competition begins Feb. 1. Like the fall, teams will be able to schedule addition games until the final day of the season even if they do not qualify for or are eliminated from the postseason.
St. Basil Academy and Bishop McDevitt are both playing their final seasons as both schools are slated to close at the end of the academic year. The defending AACA and District 1-3A champion, St. Basil is hoping to put together one final playoff push behind an experienced core led by Mississippi State recruit Denae Carter and Kutztown commit Shannon Remolde.
Inter-Ac champion Germantown Academy will have a very new look this year after graduating a highly decorated senior class. Senior Jessica Moore and Becca Booth lead a team heavy on sophomore and freshmen that are anything but short on talent and potential.
The PAISAA champion last season, Abington Friends School is also looking to replace some standout seniors behind veterans like Zaniyyah Ross-Barnes and a slew of upcoming players as the Kangaroos look to contend in the Friends School League yet again.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 has eliminated some marque events like the Blue Star Basketball, Hoops 4 Hope and Maggie Lucas Play-By-Play Classic showcases that pit local teams against each other and out-of-area competition. Several area teams have worked to create some compelling matchups on top of their already scheduled league contests and with a fluid schedule, it’s likely more will pop up in the coming weeks.
Coach: Dan Marsh.
2019-20 Record: 12-11, 9-5 SOL American Conference.
Notable Losses: none.
Returning Players: Khalis Whiting (Temple commit) Jr PG, Cire Worley So G, Jaida Helm So F, Amanda Jackson Sr SG, Krysten Brown Jr F, Abril Bowser So G, Maura Day So G, Ally Holden Sr F
Others to Watch: Jordyn Reynolds Fr G, Sarah Oleary Fr F/C, Ashley Reilly Jr G
Outlook: “This is one of our deeper teams we have had here at Abington. A strong incoming freshman class added to our top eight returning from last season. We are still very young and need to learn how to finish games. We lost numerous games late in the fourth quarter last year. This is a very determined and hard working group and they have a slogan of MORE which means Manifesting Outcomes Removing Excuses!”
Coach: Jeff Bond.
2019-20 Record: 20-8, 6-2 Friends School League
Notable Players Lost: Paige Mott; Jordan Smith Kendall Hodges.
Returning Players: Sr: Zaniyyah Ross-Barnes, Sr Aby Camarou, Jr: Aniyah Hayward, Jr Kyleigh Kilpatrick, Jr Phoebe Mixon, So: Ty’Lah Washington.
Other Players to Watch: Jr: Hanna Rhoades, Fr Sakinah Abdus-Salaam, Fr Sydney Johnson, Fr Kennedy Gilbert, Fr Julia Marczak.
Outlook: “Covid-19 hampered our summer off-season plans, but we were fortunate enough to remain healthy and get into the gym a few times a week in the fall for skills development. Our season will likely be delayed until January, but once we get going, we expect to be competitive again this year in the Friends Schools League and PAISAA. We lost a lot of leadership and toughness in Paige, Jordan and Kendall, all of whom are playing college basketball, but we have had spirited workouts this fall that have allowed our newcomers and returners to develop chemistry. We’ll look to commit defensively and push the pace like always, and we feel that we have the skill and depth to play with anyone who ends up on our schedule this year.”
Coach: Mike McDonald.
2019-2020 Record: 21-7, 11-1 PCL Red Division.
Notable Players Lost: Izzy Larsen, Lindsay Tretter.
Returning Players: Sr: Kaitlyn Orihel, Sr Dana Kiefer, Sr Noelle Baxter. Jr Ryanne Allen, Jr Bri Bowen, Jr Shannon Morgan.
Other Players to Watch: So Delaney Finnegan, So Allie Fleming, So Kara Meredith.
Outlook: “If the decision makers allow us to play, we hope to play for the PCL and 4A State Championships this year. We have a talented group of experienced returners that includes five Division 1 offered players and a slew of talented sophomores chomping at the bit. We are ready and willing to play!”
Coach: Dan Greenberg.
2019-20 record: 1-20, 0-10 PCL Blue Division.
Notable Players Lost: Caroline Cunnane and Amiyah Dixon.
Returning Players: Seniors Sianni Posey, Sr Kate McNally Sr Morgan Harris, Jr Kelly Roache, Jr Emma Obfenda, Jr Messiah White.
Other Players to Watch: Jr Mary Greenberg So Benni Nuyianes.
Outlook: “The Lady Lancers return three starters and several bench players who saw a lot of time last season. Seniors Kate McNally and Sianni Posey played a majority of the minutes last season and are ready to lead the Lady Lancers. We are also expecting a big season from senior Morgan Harris who will receive more playing time this year. It will be a tough season in general for the Lady Lancers in what expects to be the last season of basketball on Royal Avenue.”
CENTRAL BUCKS EAST
Coach: Liz Potash
2019-20 Record: 19-10, 8-4 SOL Continental Conference.
Key Returners: Emily Barry (senior/guard), Devon Burns (senior/guard, forward), Emily Chmiel (senior/forward,center) Aubrey DeAngelis (junior/guard), Elise Duffy (junior/guard, forward), Mia Salvati (senior/guard)
Others to Watch: Anna Barry (freshman/guard), Emily Curran (junior/forward)
Outlook: “The team returns an experienced group led by a strong senior class. Led by Emily Chmiel and Mia Salvati, the team returns a talented team that led last year’s team to a deep district and state run. The team is looking forward to the challenge of a new format where only the district champion will make it to the state tournament.”
CENTRAL BUCKS SOUTH
Coach: Beth Mattern
2019-20 Record: 9-13, 3-9 SOL Continental Conference.
Notable Losses: Allie Burke, Kirsten Schaller
Key Returners: Taylor Hinkle (Jr. G), Mackenzie Erb (Jr. G), Caroline McSorley (Sr. G), Alyssa D’Orazio (Jr. G)
Others to Watch: Maddy White (Sr. G), Sam Waltrich (Sr. G), Maddie Tantum (Jr. F), Sammy Schiesser (Jr. G), Allison Sauers (So. G), Kristen Conway (So. F), Yordana (Yoyo) Samayoa (Fr. G), Brooke Edwards (Fr. G)
Outlook: “We are returning a nice nucleus of players who committed to working on their individual skills during our offseason. The hope is the individual hard work will pay off when we are able to get on the court and work on our team skill. We’ve had a long offseason to reflect upon our struggles from last season. This team is excited to get back on the court and leave last year’s struggles in the past while creating new memories for this season. Our league is once again going to be extremely competitive and we know there is a huge challenge ahead of us!”
CENTRAL BUCKS WEST
Coach: Zach Sibel.
2019-20 Record: 25-5, 12-0 SOL Continental Conference.
Notable Losses: Maddie Burke, Olivia Irons, Jessica Broskey, Maddy McGarry.
Key Returners: Paige Gilbert (SR), Emily Spratt (JR G), Anna Blue (SR G), Maggie McCusker (SR G)
Others to Watch: Katie Finnan (SOPH G), Ava Longo (SOPH F) Tai Henkels (SOPH G) and Nia Perry (SOPH G), Freshman Guards Gabby Senior and Alexis Castro.
Outlook: “We are excited to embrace the new challenges of this wacky year. The offseason (though more individual this year with team shutdowns) has proven that this group of girls has the chance to be really special. Paige Gilbert, Maggie McCusker, Emily Spratt, and Anna Blue all bring experience to the court- -all in larger roles than before. This year will be about blending youth/new faces with experience and creating that strong team chemistry. Our goals of postseason runs remain the same as we are excited to compete again together.”
Coach: Ben Bowman
2019-20 Record: 6-16, 2-12 SOL American Conference.
Notable Players Lost: Taylor Johnson, Tyrina Ragsdale, Cashmear Moore, Maycie Cedeno, Keara Clay
Returning Players: Umayrah Sulayman, Assata Robinson, Mikahila Leighton
Others to Watch: Arianna Davis
Outlook: “Can we overcome the loss of a lot of players and come together as a team? Our outlook during these difficult times is to stay safe and healthy. On the court we want to have fun, learn from our losses and build on our wins.”
Coach: Sherri Retif
2019-20 Record: 25-5, 12-0 Inter-Ac
Notable Players Lost: Jaye Haynes, Elle Stauffer, Maddie Vizza, Caitlyn Priore, Sarah Dilello
Returning Players: Sr -Jessica Moore, So- Kendall Bennett, Sr- Becca Booth, jr- Lilly Funk, sr.-Charlotte Dilello
Other Players to Watch: So Josie Munson, Fr Sam Wade, Fr Jessica Aponik, Fr Jenna Aponik, Fr Isabella Casey
Outlook: “The ’20-’21 Patriots have all the necessary ingredients to continue GA’s legacy of excellence on the hardwood. They return a strong core with captain shooting guard Jessica Moore and forwards Becca Booth and Kendall Bennett. Lilly Funk, Charlotte DiLello, Alex Goodridge and Bri O’Hara are high-motor guards with speed, character, and gifted athleticism. Long and athletic wing, Josie Munson is a surprise addition from Boulder, CO. Other highly taunted freshman include Sam Wade (GMAE) and Isabella Casey (Rosemont Holy Child) who battled against each other in last year’s Catholic Academies Championship as well as the Aponik Twins, Jenna and Jessica, who led Our Lady of Calvary to the ’20 CYO Championship Title.”
Coach: Tom Lonergan.
2019-20 Record: 16-13, 12-4 AACA.
Notable Losses: Sarah White, Reganne Flannery, Mollie Hanson.
Returning Players: Kaylie Griffin (Sr/G), Bianca Coleman (Jr/F), Sofia Coleman (Jr/F), Hannah Griffin (So/G)
Others to Watch: Maddie Newell (Jr/G), Julia Masterson (Sr/G).
Outlook: Led by senior Kaylie Griffin, a St. Joe’s commit, the Monarchs will rely on stout defense and solid outside shooting to compete in the always-tough AACA. The defending District I 4A champions will also attempt to make another postseason run in the condensed playoff format this winter.
Coach: Dennis Steinly.
2019-20 Record: 11-12, 7-7 SOL American Conference.
Notable Losses: Cam Ryan, Graceanne Griffis, Sydney Kemp.
Key Returners: Jr Alice Hall (F), Jr Emily Thomas (G), Sr Ava McKinney (G), So Caroline Shegogue (G)
Others to Watch: Jr Sam Hollish (F), Jr Paige Cole (F), So Leah Harrington (G), So Alli Hewish (G), So Emily Nelson (G), So Caitlyn Carpenter (G).
Outlook: “We are excited to be back on the court after an uncertain off-season. Our top two scorers (Hall, Thomas) return and Shegogue & McKinney played key roles in significant games last season. Making the playoffs for the first time in a long time was a nice accomplishment but we felt dissatisfied with the way our season ended. With Ava, Alice & Emily leading the way and an enthusiastic group of sophomores anxious to show what they’ve got, I’m anxious to see how this season transpires.”
Coach: Jim Romano
2019-20 Record: 29-0, 13-0 BAL.
Notable Players Lost: None.
Returning Players: Molly Walsh (Sr/G), Carly Mulvaney (Sr/F), Lauren Brockwell (Sr/F), Katie McGrath (Jr/G)
Others to Watch: Cady Westkaemper (Sr/G), Sarah Cummings, Molly Stephenson
Outlook: “The goal is to stay healthy and safe throughout the season and to have the opportunity to participate in our league, district and state tournaments.”
Coach: Eric Gidney.
2019-20 Record: 24-3, 10-0 PCL Blue Division.
Notable Players Lost: Timaya Lewis-Eutsey, Riley DeVitis, Mia Rosenberger, Kelly Sabolsky, Caitlin Rosenberger
Returning Players: Gabby Casey (So/F), Lauren Edwards (Jr/F).
Others to Watch: Autumn Weber (Sr/F), Cassidy Saulino (So/G), Erin Clark (Jr/G).
Outlook: The Crusaders will have to overcome the loss of their top two scorers as they move into the PCL Red Division after winning the PCL Blue last season. Gabby Casey is an extremely versatile player that LC will rely on while competing in a new division.
Coach: Rich Becker.
2019-20 Record: 15-11, 10-3 BAL.
Notable Losses: Ceili Courduff ; Alexandre Krutstinger; Riley Malone; Phoebe Lynch; Maggie McGarry
Key Returners: Jess Dugo (11th G), Liz Neeld(10th F).
Others to Watch: Tori Finnegan (F 11th); Ofek Gur (F 11th); Jess Shein (G/F 10th), Zoe Alden (G 9th)
Outlook: “We are a very young and inexperienced team with no seniors. Our goals are to continue to improve every week, be in a position to be competitive in all our games and to be playing our best basketball by the end of the season. At the start of the season, our young players will be forced to play above where they are ready to play, but they are competitive and are looking forward to the challenge.”
Coach: Craig Kaminski
2019-20 Record: 23-7, 8-2 PAC Liberty Division.
Notable Players Lost: Sydney Tornetta, Caroline Pellicano, Sydney Hargrove
Returning Players: Nicole Timko (Jr/G), Cassidy Kropp (So/G), Tori Bockrath (Jr/F)
Others to Watch: Allison Hazlett (Sr/F).
Outlook: A state playoff team and the PAC runner-up last year, the Warriors must replace three starters including stat-stuffing guard Sydney Tornetta. Nicole Timko and Cassidy Kropp are two of the top returning players in the PAC and coach Craig Kaminski always seems to have teams that improve as the season goes on.
MOUNT SAINT JOSEPH
Coach: Matt Feeney
2019-20 record: 20-9, 10-4 AACA.
Notable Players Lost: Audrey Bryce, Grace Morrow, Kelly Rothenberg, Maura Scanlon, Taylor Sistrunk, Lauren Vesey.
Returning Players: Sr Grace Niekelski, So Lauren Hoffman, So Georgia Pickett, So Kiersten Pumilia
Other Players to Watch: Sr Paige Metzler, So Chloe McGrorty.
Outlook: “This is a young team that will rely on a talented sophomore class. Grace Niekelski is a top player in the league and consistent scorer. The league will be tough again and given the league only schedule each game will be crucial.”
Outlook: “Norristown has been approved for participation in the upcoming winter season. However this is contingent upon pre-determined COVID metrics being met. Until metrics reach such levels, athletics within the district will remain in a delayed state, virtual district wide workouts will continue to take place in the interim.”
Coach: Jen Carangi.
2019-20 Record: 18-9, 8-4 SOL Continental Conference.
Players Lost: Carley Adams, Valerie McGriff, Alaina Mullaly, Kate Early.
Returning Players: Alli Lindsay, Ali Johns, Abby Plaugher, Laynie Doran, Rachel Strobel, Imani Plaza.
Other Players to Watch: Olivia Stone, Caleigh Sperling
Outlook: “We have a very young team, returning only one player with significant varsity playing experience, so we have spent a lot of our pre-season teaching. The lack of spring, summer, and fall basketball due to the pandemic has been a challenge, but the girls have handled the ups and downs very well, and we’re lucky many of our players play basketball all year round. In our program, it’s always a goal to compete for the Conference championship, and we know our league will be tough again this season. We’re also working to qualify for district playoffs and state playoffs again this year.”
Coach: Mike Elton.
2019-20 Record: 12-11, 4-8 SOL Continental Conference.
Notable Losses: Evelyn Loughery, Sophie Cweiber, Corinn Mart, Julia Kreider, Ashley Gordon.
Key Returners: Kiersten Moyer SR/F, Emma Pyne JR/G, Katie Yoder SO/G-F, Grace Rosica SO/G-F, Ryan Hodder JR/G-F.
Others to Watch: Ava Unzicker JR/G, Anna Croyle FR/G-F.
Outlook: “We graduated four of our starters, and lost another to a Division 1 scholarship in Track. A rash of injuries last year allowed some of our younger players to earn some Varsity experience. We are a very young athletic team, and the team has a great attitude and strong work ethic. At this point in time, the team just wants to play! A lot of our younger players have previous experience playing with each other, and have a good understanding of the game.”
Coach: Dan Dougherty
2019-20 Record: 25-4, 13-1 SOL American Conference.
Notable Losses: None.
Returning Players: Anna McTamney (Sr), Kaitlyn Flanagan (Jr), Gabby Cooper (Sr), Erin Daley (So), Jordyn Thomas (Jr), Abby Sharpe (So), Ally Zolty (Sr), Lily Belle McGrorty (Sr).
Other Players to Watch: Lainey Allen (Jr), Deja Evans (So), Fiona Gooneratne (Jr).
Outlook: “Have goals of competing to win our new division in the SOL, and hopefully challenge for a SOL, District and State titles. Realistically, we are just excited to be back to playing basketball. Very empty feeling having our season end the way it did last year. Luckily we have everyone back, but opportunities are not guaranteed. We have a very experienced, athletic, and talented roster to start the season. It is great to see Lainey Allen able to return as well as the growth of our younger players (Daley, Sharpe, and Evans). Thankful to our district for giving us the chance to have a season, now it is up to us to make the most of it.”
Coach: Terry Mancini
2019-20 Record: 24-3, 14-0 AACA.
Notable Players Lost: Lizzie Deal, Kelly Grant
Returning Players: Denae Carter (Sr/F), Shannon Remolde (Sr/G), Riley Scannell (Sr/G), Samantha White (Jr/G)
Others to Watch: Tori Nigro (Jr/G), Hannah Hunter (Sr/F).
Outlook: “We are looking forward to having a good season, God willing with this virus, as the Academy League as of now having decided to play a 12 game league schedule. We are hoping to repeat as champions of the Academy League as this is the last year for St. Basil Academy as a school. So hopefully we can go out as a Champion.”
Coach: Lynn Carroll.
2019-20 Record: 19-9, 7-5 SOL Continental Conference.
Notable Loss: Mikaela Reese
Key Returners: Jordan Zimmerman, Olivia Schneider, Hayley Fenchel, Casey Harter, Erin Bohmueller
Others to watch: Teya McConnaha, Mikayla McGillian, Rachel Schewe
Outlook: “In a season of uncertainties, we – first and foremost – want to stay healthy and take advantage of every opportunity we are given as a team. In addition to that, we have a lot of returning talent and will look to continue to build on the success of the last few seasons. We think we can compete for the conference championship and qualify for the district tournament.”
Coach: Dave Giordano.
2019-20 Record: 4-18, 1-13 SOL American Conference.
Notable Losses: Rilegh Serroni, Emily Guicheteau, Meghan O’Hara
Key Returners: Maddie Yoder (Sr/f), Raya Davis (Sr/f), Emma Cawley, (Sr/f), Annie Coll, (Jr/g),
Others to Watch: Allison Briggs, (Sr/g), Ashley Jenkins (Soph/f), Paige Robinson, (Soph/g)
Outlook: “Excited to be in the realigned Freedom Division of the American Conference. We need to continue our positive attitude and things will change. We can be competitive in games if we stay together. We had a few games last year that should have gone differently. The girls need to build on a strong second half of the season. Nothing will work unless we do.”
Coach: Morgan Funsten.
2019-20 Record: 21-9, 12-2 SOL American Conference.
Notable Losses: F Kara Grebe, F Anajae Smith, F Jackie Vargas.
Key Returners: G Dayna Balasa (Sr.), G Sarah Eskew (Sr.), G Jess Polin (Sr.), G Bliss Brenner (Jr.).
Other players to watch: F Rachel Bilger (Sr.), F Colleen Klammer (Jr.), G Geena Sarnoski (Jr.), G Amy Ngo (Fr.).
Outlook: “The 2020-2021 Upper Dublin Girls’ Basketball team returns three starters from last season that achieved a 21-9 record. The team is led by returning starters Dayna Balasa, Jess Polin, and Sarah Eskew. The team will rely on the experience of those three senior guards to handle a different type of season. It will be impossible to replace the size and skill that we lost to graduation last year, but we are confident we can still compete at a high level. The team is aiming to have another strong showing in the postseason and contend for a conference title.”
Coach: Matt Carroll.
2019-20 Record: 12-11, 8-6 SOL American Conference.
Notable Losses: Four starters including Bean Hughes.
Key Returners: Kaiya Herb (12/G), EmmyFaith Wood (10/G).
Outlook: “Although we will really miss our four seniors from last year, we are excited for our new-look team in our new-look league. Kaiya has been a constant for us as a four-year starter, and I think she’s going to have a great senior year. EmmyFaith showed a lot of flashes as a freshman and is so much better since last February. The rest is relatively unknown and it will be fun to watch it all unfold. There’s no doubt that our girls are going to continue to work extremely hard and put themselves in a position to compete in every game and hopefully have a chance to win the Freedom League by the end of the season. Many may think that last year was our chance and now we are starting over again. We consider this more as a rebuild than a restart and our goals are still the same and just as achievable.”
Coach: Laura Whitney.
2019-20 Record: 8-13, 3-9 SOL National Conference.
Notable Losses: Hannah Reimel, Erin Hart, and Direidy Serrano.
Key Returners: Kailyn Hansen (Sr/F), Emily Thran (Sr/F), Courtney Bragen (Jr/G), and Chase Dubzak (Jr/G).
Others to Watch: Alyssa Lewicki (So/G), Savannah Zeaman (Fr/G).
Outlook: “For the third time in the last five seasons, we are playing in a new conference. There’s obviously a lot of uncertainty this season, but I am really excited about our opportunity to be competitive and for our young players to get valuable experience. When I think about the future of our program, I really like the direction we are headed. Our mindset this season is to continue to get better each day and make the most of every opportunity we get. Nobody knows for sure how many games we will actually get to play, so we need to play each game like it’s our last because nothing is guaranteed.”