The Reporter/Times Herald/Montgomery Media 2021-2022 Girls Basketball Preview

After a run to the District 1-6A championship game in last year’s condensed season due to COVID-19, the Plymouth Whitemarsh girls basketball team is once again set on big things once again in 2021-2022 with a talented and experienced squad.

“This team is used to playing with the expectation of being the best and knowing that each time they take the floor they are going to get the other team’s best shot,” Colonials Dan Dougherty said.

PW graduated 1,000-point scorer Anna McTamney from last season’s 18-2 side that went undefeated in the Suburban One League Liberty Division but return senior all-division guard Kaitlyn Flanagan – a Holy Cross commit – along with the interior pair of 6-foot-1 Jefferson commit Jordyn Thomas and 6-foot-2 Lainey Allen, a Maryland-Eastern Shore commit.

But repeating as SOL Liberty division champs won’t busy easy for the Colonials with both Abington and Upper Dublin vying for the top spot as well. UD, which made the district semifinals, has posted seven straight seasons with at least 20 wins and is looking to keep their success going with a group that includes sophomore Amy Ngo, all division honorable mention in 2021.

Back for Abington –a district quarterfinalist last year – are first-team all-division junior guard Cire Worley, who scored 16. 5 points per game and senior forward Jaida Helm, an All-SOL Liberty honorable mention.

In the SOL Colonial, Central Bucks West and Souderton want to build off district tournament victories and contend for the division crown, which was won by Central Bucks East last year. West returns all-division first team guard Emily Spratt with Souderton relying on a junior class that includes second-team guard Casey Harter.

North Penn aims to rebound after a 2-9 season under first-year coach Brianna Cullen, who was a member of the Knights’ 2014 District 1-4A title team.

Also looking for a bounce-back campaign is Lansdale Catholic, who went 2-11 a season ago. The Crusader return junior Gabby Casey, a Class 4A all-state second team selection, as they try to make some noise in the Philadelphia Catholic League, which is back to one table after having a two-division format the prior two years.

Archbishop Wood claimed its first PCL title since 2016 then went to secure its first PIAA championship since 2016. The Vikings graduated two-time state player of the year Kaitlyn Orihel but still have a talented roster led by seniors Ryanne Allen (Vanderbilt commit) and Bri Bowen (Delaware commit).

In the Pioneer Athletic Conference, Methacton is primed to be among the Liberty Division’s elite, bring back a trio or division first team selections in senior Nicole Timko – who stands fourth in program history in career points – and juniors Cassidy Kropp and Mairi Smith.

The Athletic Association of Catholic Academies will have a new champ this season with St. Basil, which won the league the past five seasons, now closed. Gwynedd Mercy – which lost to Basil in last year’s league final before GMA’s made a run to the 4A state quarters – along with Mount St. Joseph will try to contend for the open title.

Germantown Academy is young but is trying to stay the program to beat in the Inter-Ac with four starters back from last year’s 5-4 squad.

Coach: Dan Marsh (18th season).
League: Suburban One League Liberty Division.
District-Class: 1-6A.
Last Season: 13-5 (6-4 division), lost to Spring-Ford in District 1-6A quarterfinals.
Key Losses: Amanda Jackson (Houghton), Khalis Whiting (ACL injury).
Top Returners: Cire Worley (Jr., Guard), Jaida Helm (Jr., Forward), Abril Bowser (Jr., Guard), Maura Day (Jr. Guard), Krysten Brown (Sr., Forward), Jordyn Reynolds (So., Guard), Lila Stonehouse (Sr., Forward), Sarah Oleary (So., Forward), Piper McGinley (So., Guard).
Others to Watch: Maya Johnson (Fr., Guard), Dani Brusha (Fr., Guard)
Outlook: The Galloping Ghosts are out to contenders in the SOL Liberty with a deep squad led by all-division first team selection Worley (16.5 points per game) and honorable mention pick Helm (12 points, 10 rebounds per game).
“This season we have at least 11 players who can play and contribute at the varsity level,” Marsh said. “With an elite scorer in Cire Worley and her counterpart Jaida Helm providing some defense, rebounding and scoring, Abington will be tough to defend. Depth and experience are our strengths.
“Unfortunately, we lost a huge part of the experience when Khalis Whiting tore her ACL this fall. Khalis will continue to be a leader off the court but will be missed on the court.”

Coach: Rashim Lancit (second season).
League: Friends School League.
Key Losses: Patricia Munroe.
Players to Watch: Xola Wade (So., Guard), Oniya Osbourne (Jr., Guard/Forward), Arianna Frank (So., Guard/Forward), Kiana Frazier (Sr.), Rebecca Clark (Sr.), Annia Mejia (Sr.).
Outlook: Junior transfer Osbourne will contribute to the Lions at all five spots in the floor. Frank can provide shooting while Wade will be look at to provide a spark on both ends.
“ANC will need to find contributions up and down their lineup to keep pace with a very strong Friends League this year,” Lancit said. “Powerhouse teams like Westtown and Friends Central seem poised to be atop the Friends League standings at the end of the season. But the entire league has seemed to have an explosion of talent, so even making a dent will be a TALL task for the smallest of all Friends League teams; in school size and stature!”

Coach: Mike McDonald (seventh season).
League: Philadelphia Catholic League.
District-Class: 12-4A.
Last Season: 17-2 (10-2 PCL Red), PCL champ, District 12-4A champ, PIAA-4A champ.
Key Losses: Kaitlyn Orihel (Villanova), Noelle Baxter (Kutztown), Dana Kiefer (Bryant).
Top Returners: Ryanne Allen (Sr., Guard), Bri Bowen (Sr., Guard), Shannon Morgan (Sr., Guard), Kara Meredith (Jr., Wing), Delaney Finnegan (Jr., Guard), Allie Fleming (Jr., Guard), Lauren Tretter (Jr., Guard), Alexa Windish (So., Guard), Campbell McCloskey (Jr.), Makayla Duffy (Jr.).
Outlook: The Vikings graduated a talented senior class –including two-time state player of the year Orihel – that led them to their first PCL title since 2017 and first PIAA crown since 2016 but have their aim on winning both again, returning a pair of Division guards in Allen (Vanderbilt) and Bowen (Delaware).
Before getting into PCL play, Wood faces a tough non-league schedule that includes New Hope Academy (Md.) and Paul VI (Va.) at the She Got Game Classic in Virginia then hosts New York’s Long Island Lutheran at the Diane Mosco Shootout.
“We are grateful to come into the season Nationally Ranked again at #20 (by BlueStar Media) and we will find out if we can live up to that ranking right away,” McDonald said.

Coach: Zachary Sibel (third season).
League: SOL Colonial Division
District-Class: 1-6A.
Last Season: 12-6 (7-3 division), lost to Plymouth Whitemarsh in District 1-6A quarterfinals.
Key Losses: Paige Gilbert (William & Mary-lacrosse), Anna Blue, Maggie McCusker.
Top Returners: Emily Spratt (Sr.), Katie Finnan (Jr.), Tai Henkels (Jr.), Ava Longo (Jr.).
Others to Watch: Gabi Senior (So.), Alexis Castro (So.), Nia Perry (Jr.), Jenna Christie (Jr.,), Taylor Madden (Jr.).
Outlook: The Bucks finished second behind Central Bucks East in the SOL Colonial and return all-division first team guard Spratt and honorable mention guard Finnan.
“Last year’s wackiness allowed us to get a lot of players experience,” Sibel said. “With Spratt at the lead and supporting members of Finnan, Henkels, Longo, and a strong sophomore class we will look to compete in a very talented Colonial Division.”

Coach: Ben Bowman (fourth season).
League: SOL Freedom Division.
District-Class: 1-6A.
Last Season: 1-10 (1-9 division)
Key Losses: Umayrah Sulayman (transfer).
Top Returners: Mikahila Thomas (Sr., Guard), Tyrina Ragsdale (Sr., Forward), Arianna Davis (So., Guard).
Others to Watch: Cassie Bugg (Fr., Forward), Amelia Yevoli (Sr., Guard), Janiya Townes-Wakefield (Jr., Guard).
Outlook: “Coming off a year with only seven players, can we build off the competitive mindset and turn that into wins?” Bowman said. “We want to compete from beginning to end, develop a more positive mindset and turn our hard work into success.”

Coach: Sherri Retif (24th season).
League: Inter-Academic League
Last Season: 5-4.
Key Losses: Jessica Moore.
Top Returners: Kendall Bennett (Jr., Forward), Jessica Aponik (So., Guard), Sam Wade (So., Guard), Josie Munson (Jr., Guard).
Others to Watch: Alex Goodridge (Sr., Guard),Issy Casey (So., Guard), Jenna Aponik (So., Guard), Jessica Kolecki (Fr., Guard), Gabby Bowes (Fr.), CeeJay Thomas (Fr.).
Outlook: The Patriots have dominated the Inter-Ac – winning 20 of the last 22 league titles – but are in a rebuilding mode with a young squad that returning four starters. Bennett and Jessica Aponik were both second-team All-Inter-Ac in 2021 – Aponik out with a hand injury but the team is hopeful she’ll be back by mid-December. Freshman Kolecki is slated to start at point guard with Jenna Aponik and Casey providing depth at guard.

Coach: Jim Romano (40th season).
League: Bicentennial Athletic League.
District-Class: 1-1A.
Last Season: 18-2, District 1-1A champ, lost to Bishop Guilfoyle in PIAA-1A final.
Key Losses: Carly Mulvaney, Molly Walsh, Lauren Brockwell, Cady Westkaemper.
Top Returners: Katie McGrath (Sr., Guard), Sarah Cummings (Sr., Guard), Molly Stephenson (Sr., Post).
Others to Watch: Lily O’Brien (Jr., Guard/Post), Julia Walsh (So., Guard).
Outlook: The Drakes have been the district standard in 1A in recent years but graduated a senior group that was apart of four PIAA tournament runs, including two trips to the state final — winning in 2018 then losing last year. Romano, who comes into this season with 703 career victories, has a young and inexperienced side that will try to earn Jenkintown a seventh straight district title.

Coach: Eric Gidney (fourth season).
League: Philadelphia Catholic League
District-Class: 12-4A.
Last Season: 2-11 (0-11 PCL Red Division).
Top Returners: Gabby Casey (Jr., Guard), Lauren Edwards (Sr., Forward), Olivia Boccella (So., Guard), Cassidy Saulino (Jr., Guard), Sam McHugh (Jr., Forward), Erin Clark (Sr., Guard).
Outlook: Casey earned Class 4A all-state second team honors after averaging 19.8 points, 12 rebounds, six steals and four assists as a sophomore last season. Edwards added seven points and seven rebounds per contest while Boccella was a 53% shooter from three last year as she chipped in nine points, four assists and four steals per game.
“This should be a bounce back season for the Lady Crusaders,” Gidney said. “PIAA 4A All State Second Team Selection Gabby Casey returns for her Junior Season and is surrounded by new and returning talent. Last season’s second leading scorer Sophomore Guard Olivia Boccella should have a breakout season and Senior Forward Lauren Edwards is capable of a double-double every time she steps on the court.
“Big contributions are expected from Junior Forward Ali Johns (transfer) and in two super-talented freshmen Nadia Yemola and Sanyiah Littlejohn.  Lansdale Catholic has a difficult non-league schedule and expects to battle and be competitive in the always difficult Philadelphia Catholic League.”

Coach: Craig Kaminski (20th season).
League: Pioneer Athletic Conference Liberty Division.
District-Class: 1-6A.
Last Season: 14-6 (12-2 PAC, 6-2 division), lost to Abington in District 1-6A second round.
Key Losses: Allison Hazlett.
Top Returners: Nicole Timko (Sr., Guard), Mairi Smith (Jr., Forward), Cassidy Kropp (Jr., Guard).
Others to Watch: Tori Bockrath (Sr., Forward), Kayla Kaufman (Sr., Forward), Reana Torres (Jr., Guard), Abby Arnold (Fr., Guard).
Outlook: Timko has the fourth-most career points in Warriors program history (1,202), last year averaging 16.9 points per game and earning All-PAC Liberty first team honors. Both Smith (9.8 ppg) and Kropp (9.5 ppg) also made last season’s all-division first team.
“The team returns a solid nucleus that gained a lot of experience through a not so normal season a year ago,” Kaminski said. “The players returning are hungry to erase the bitter taste of the first round District playoff loss last season and three straight losses to end the season.  We return four starters from a season ago, but we will be looking for some of the younger players to step up and develop some depth for us as the season goes.
“The team will need to be able to adjust on the fly, stay positive and most importantly enjoy and have fun for every second we get to step on the court for practices and games.  Our goals are always to qualify for the league, district and state playoffs.”

Coach: Matt Feeney (third season).
League: Athletic Association of Catholic Academies (AACA).
District-Class: 1-5A.
Last Season: 8-7 (6-5 league), lost to Springfield (Delco) in District 1-5A quarterfinals.
Key Losses: Grace Niekelski (Dartmouth), Paige Metzler.
Top Returners: Lauren Hoffman (Jr., Guard), Georgia Pickett (Jr., Forward), Kiersten Pumilia (Jr., Guard), Chloe McGrorty (Jr., Guard), Emily Birmingham (So., Forward).
Others to Watch: Erica Martin (Jr., Guard.).
Outlook: “We do not have a senior on the roster so the team is relatively young,” Feeney said. “We expect more balanced scoring across the lineup.  The league will once again be strong and we expect each game to be competitive.”

Coach: Brianna Cullen (first season).
League: SOL Colonial Division.
District-Class: 1-6A.
Last Season: 2-9 (1-9 division).
Key Losses: Alli Lindsay.
Top Returners: Caleigh Sperling (So., Guard/Forward), Abby Plaugher (Jr., Guard), Olivia Stone (So., Guard/Forward).
Others to Watch: Cameron Crowley (Fr., Guard), Kelly Donnelly (So., Guard).
Outlook: Cullen, who was a member of the Knights’ 2014 District 1-4A title team and played collegiately at Widener and Chestnut Hill, takes over a North Penn program looking to bounce back after winning just two of its 11 games in 2021.
“This is a young and fresh team coming in after the COVID season,” Cullen said. “They are looking to build a positive culture and gain experience in a very competitive conference.”

Coach: Dan Dougherty (10th season).
League: SOL Liberty Division
District-Class: 1-6A.
Last Season: 18-2 (10-0), SOL Liberty champ, lost to Spring-Ford in District 1-6A final.
Key Losses: Anna McTamney (USciences), Ally Zolty (Arcadia), Gabby Cooper, Lilly Bell McGrorty, Deja Evans (transfer to Archbishop Wood).
Top Returners: Kaitlyn Flanagan (Sr., Guard), Jordyn Thomas (Sr., Forward), Lainey Allen (Sr., Forward), Erin Daley (Jr., Guard/Forward), Abby Sharpe (Jr., Guard).
Others to Watch: Fiona Gooneratne (Sr., Guard), Angelica Balcer (Jr., Guard).
Outlook: The Colonials graduated 1,000-point scorer McTamney but are still out to make noise in the district and still with a lineup that includes All-SOL Liberty first team guard Flanagan (Holy Cross commit) along with 6’1” Thomas (Jefferson commit, all-division honorable mention) and 6’2” Allen (Maryland-Eastern Shore commit) inside. Juniors Daley (second team) and Sharpe (honorable mention) with both all-division picks last year.
“Our goals for this season are to attempt to win the Liberty Division within the Suburban One League and make a run at the SOL, District, and State Championships,” Dougherty said. “Our returning players have the experience and talent to be elite and our new rotation players have the right mentality for us to be a well-balanced team.”

Coach: Lynn Carroll (18th season).
League: SOL Colonial Division.
District-Class: 1-6A.
Last Season: 8-9 (6-4 division), lost to Plymouth Whitemarsh in District 1-6A second round.
Key Losses: Jordan Zimmerman, Olivia Schneider, Hayley Fenchel.
Top Returners: Casey Harter (Jr., Guard), Erin Bohmueller (Jr., Guard), Teya McConnaha (Jr., Forward), Mikayla McGillan (Jr., Forward).
Others to Watch: Brooke Fenchel (So., Guard), Alexis Stefanowicz (Jr., Guard/Forward), Grace McDonough (Fr., Forward).
Outlook: A junior class that includes all-division picks Harter (second team) and McConnaha (honorable mention) looks to have among the top sides in the SOL Colonial.
“We are experienced at every position and our junior class led the 2020-2021team in every statistic as sophomores,” Carroll said. “The combination of length, offensive selflessness and a very high basketball IQ will allow for versatility on both ends of the court.
“We’re excited to compete in the always-tough Colonial Division and are looking forward to the new challenge of playing our crossover opponents.  With the talent-level we have this year there’s no goal we can’t reach if we’re willing to put in the work every day.”

Coach: Morgan Funsten (10th season).
League: SOL Liberty Division
District-Class: 1-6A.
Last Season: 20-4 (8-2 division), lost to Spring-Ford in District 1-6A semifinals.
Key Losses: Dayna Balasa (USciences), Rachel Bilger (Cedar Crest), Sarah Eskew (Rider-track), Jess Polin (East Stroudsburg).
Top Returners: Bliss Brenner (Sr., Guard), Colleen Klammer (Sr., Forward), Geena Sarnoski (Sr., Guard) Amy Ngo (So., Guard).
Others to Watch: Lilli Kleiman (Jr., Forward), Alaina Sanders (Jr., Forward), Aditi Foster (So., Guard).
Outlook: The Cardinals are light on experience and size but do return two starters in Ngo – all-division honorable mention as a freshman – and Brenner as they aim to stay among the SOL Liberty’s best. UD has won at least 20 games the past seven seasons.
“The team will rely on the athleticism and competitiveness of several multi-sport athletes to improve throughout the season,” Funsten said. “The team is aiming to have another strong showing in the postseason and contend for the Suburban One Liberty Division title.”

Coach: Matt Carroll (sixth season).
League: SOL Freedom Division.
District-Class: 1-5A.
Last Season: 13-5 (9-1 division), SOL Freedom co-champ, lost to Springfield (Delco) in District 1-5A semifinals.
Key Losses: Kaiya Herb, Kathryn Morrow, Kaitie Opferman.
Top Returners: Kiera Coyle (Sr., Guard), Emma Hurley (Sr., Forward), EmmyFaith Wood (Jr., Guard), Holly Gohl (So., Forward).
Outlook: The Golden Bears are out to build off the success of splitting the Freedom crown with New Hope-Solebury and earning a District 1 playoff victory and will have a chance to do so returning four starters including all-division first-team selections Gohl and Wood.
“We were very successful last year when it comes to accomplishments,” Carroll said. “We shared the league title with New Hope-Solebury and we hosted and won our first playoff game in over a decade. At the end of the day, we knew we didn’t get to the overall level of basketball we wanted.
“Our goals for this year are very similar to last year but we are ready to compete with every team we face and know that we have a chance to win every game. Last year gave us some confidence and we worked really REALLY hard this off-season. Competing with the best is a different mindset for this program but we think we are ready for the challenge.”

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