1. McAuley: The two-time defending Class A state champ is favored again this year and it’s easy to see why. In point guard Allie Clement and 6-foot-2 center Olivia Smith, both juniors, the Lions have two of the best players in the state. Then throw in Victoria Lux and Molly Mack, a pair of 6-footers, and returning guard Jackie Welch and you have great experience. Sophomore guard Olivia Dalphonse transferred in from Bonny Eagle and freshman Sarah Clement adds more depth to the backcourt. The Lions can play any tempo — and usually win at it.

2. Cheverus: If any team can match McAuley for talent, it could be the Stags. In Kylie Libby and Brooke Flaherty, Cheverus had a pair of athletic 6-footers who can create huge match-up problems. Libby, in particular, is moving to the point to direct the offense. But the Stags also have Mikayla Mayberry, Victoria Nappi and Georgia Ford all back from last year, and more talent on the bench. Cheverus can play any tempo and can go 10-11 deep.

3. Lake Region: Junior center Tiana-Jo Carter is getting Division I full scholarship offers and is a dominant player. But she’s far from a one-woman show. Senior point guard Sydney Hancock scored 22 points in the Western final. She and Kelsey Winslow bring toughness and leadership to a team that lost by two in the state final. Sophomore guard Sarah Hancock (Sydney’s cousin) has future star ability and a cast of veterans help make Lakers a team that can play multiple styles effectively.

4. Scarborough: The Red Storm have a new coach, but Ron Cote is familiar with the SMAA and his new players. Scarborough has a good mix of youth and experience, of inside and outside play. Senior Mary Redmond is a dead-eye 3-point shooter while sophomore Ashley Briggs is one of the SMAA’s bright young stars. Always gritty, Scarborough needs to develop a consistent offensive game to make a run.

5. Thornton Academy: Three starters return from last year’s quarterfinalists, so the Trojans have some experience. They also have two players with great potential: forward Olivia Shaw and point guard Katie McCrum, and a great leader in senior guard Tori Lands. An out-of-state transfer, Aurora Connolly, could provide a huge boost. Thornton could challenge for a top spot.

6. Gorham: Start with Kristin Ross. The SMAA’s second-leading scorer, rebounder and shot blocker from last year returns, although she’ll be out until late December with an elbow injury. But Gorham has plenty of experienced talent around her. And if the Rams can survive the early part of the season without her, they’ll be much better for a late-season run with her.

7. York: Wildcats return eight players from a 15-5 Western B semifinal team, including senior tri-captains Emily Campbell (6-foot-1, 10.5 ppg), Marquis MacGlashing (5-foot-11, 8.5 rpg) and guard Ruby Cribby. Four freshmen on varsity add an extra infusion of talent. If the new players meld well with the veterans, Wildcats could be a team on the upswing late in the season.

8. Deering: The Rams are consistently among the SMAA’s top teams and this year shouldn’t be different. They have great potential with guard Chelsea Saucier and 6-4 center Marissa MacMillan. If Keneisha DiRamio can stay healthy after missing much of the last two years with injuries, the Rams will have a huge boost.

9. Wells: Addition of Thornton Academy transfer Jordan Agger moves Warriors from dark horse to solid contender for one of the top four spots in Western B. Wells returns athletic all-conference first-teamer in junior Allison Furness (12.3 ppg) and guard Nikki Moody is a dynamic slasher.

10. Waynflete: As if four-year point guard Martha Veroneau (17.9 ppg, 2.9 assists) wasn’t enough to handle, her twin sister Catherine is recovered from knee surgery and younger sister Ann is a freshman guard, joining a squad that returns all five starters and made it to the Western Class C final. After injuries exposed a lack of depth in 2011-12 the team played an extensive summer schedule.

— Mike Lowe and Steve Craig, Staff Writers