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Girls Basketball Preview: Redd, Penn Wood overwhelming favorites again

Penn Wood is the heavy favorite to win the Del Val League championship for a third consecutive season.

The Patriots welcome back All-Delco senior forward Dahnye Redd, who was the second-leading scorer in the county last year with 18.6 ppg. Senior guards Joy Morton and Gabrielle Hairston have been big contributors over the years and give the Patriots an experienced backcourt tandem. Guards Samantha Dillon, Nadege Durand and Carle Andrews should see their roles increase.

Chichester coach Mike Carrafa is expecting steady improvement from his club, which won just three games last year. Gone is 1,000-point scorer Madison Thornton, who was the top scorer in Delco last winter.

Lauren Carrafa, a 5-2 guard, and 5-9 forward Nicole O’Donnell will be the Eagles’ go-to players this year.

Preseason information on Academy Park, Chester and Interboro was not made available to the Daily Times

Inter-Ac League

Coming off an 11-16 season in what was most certainly a rebuilding year, Academy of Notre Dame is primed to compete for the Inter-Ac title in 2015-16. The Irish are led by senior guard Alex Kane, who averaged close to 12.5 points per game and was among the top 3-point shooters in the county.

Senior guard Rachel Ryan and senior forward Kristen Rogers are among the key returnees, along with senior guard Caitlyn Clark, who missed all of last season due to injury. Sophomore center Katie Mayock transferred from Conestoga.

The Irish will be without senior Leanne Purcell for the season due to illness. Purcell played significant minutes for coach Mary Beth McNichol’s team last year.

Episcopal Academy should make some noise in the Inter-Ac with senior guards Dylan Higgins and Margaux Paolino, junior forward Elodie Furey and junior guard Reilly Wright showing the way. Last winter, coach Chuck Simmonds guided the Churchwomen to the semifinal round of the independent schools tournament and an 18-7 record.

“We will return veteran leadership while blending in role players from last season into key spots,” Simmonds said.

Sophomore Alex Blomstrom is the bright star at Agnes Irwin, which should continue to build under veteran basketball coach Don Ciminera. Kate White, an All-American lacrosse player, is a senior guard. AIS also expects to get key contributions from junior guard Caroline Coyne and sophomore forward Paige Brala.

Ches-Mont League

Kate Lannon, who is 204 points away from 1,000 in her remarkable career, is back for her junior season at Sun Valley. She is the lone returning starter for the Vanguards, who qualified for the District One Class AAA semifinals and posted a 17-8 record last season. Juniors Allie Giannakarios (5-9 forward) and Claire Howley (5-5 guard) gained valuable experience off the bench and are expected to slide into starting roles.

Coach Frank Ridpath begins his 16th season at Sun Valley.

Bicentennial League

Recent West Chester commit and senior guard Siani McNeil returns to Delco Christian as the reigning BAL Player of the Year. McNeil led the team in scoring, assists and blocked shots as the Knights advanced to the District One Class A semifinals.

Joining McNeil in the starting lineup are guards Emma Ellsworth, Claudia Norton and Alex Thompson, and 6-2 sophomore forward Shirley Piotrowski, who was the Knights’ second-leading scorer and top rebounder last winter.

Catholic Academies

Sacred Heart continues to be the smallest program in one of the toughest conferences in the area. Tenth-year coach Zach Shuler is optimistic the Lions can compete, as seniors Jessica McTaggert (guard), Lauren Kilroy (guard) and Madison Schneider return to the starting lineup along with sophomore guard Eileen Piombino.

Independent

This is a landmark season for The Christian Academy, which enters the PIAA and is playing an independent schedule until 2016, when it will enter the Bicentennial. Jason Wilt enters his sixth season at the helm of the Crusaders, who went 14-6 and lost in the Tri-State Christian Conference finals last season.

The Crusaders have all of their key pieces returning including top scoring guard and senior Gracie Cryan, senior guards Carli Sitkowski and Kaylah Roberston, junior forward Danay Cooks-Green, junior guard Madison Dutton, sophomore guard Lindsay Haseltine and sophomore forward Zoey Zhang.

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