December 6, 2012

Girls' basketball preview

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Tiana-Jo Carter, left, at 6-foot-2 is a strong defender as well as an offensive threat for Lake Region, the Western Class B champion.

2012 Press Herald File

20111223_GirlsBBall
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Allie Clement directs the offense for a McAuley team that will seek to win a third straight Class A state title after going 22-0 last season.

2011 Press Herald File

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Returning starters: 4

Impact players: Mallory Nelson, sr., F; Kristy Willey, Sr., G; Caitlin LaFountain, jr., G/F; Chelsea Crawford, sr., G; Micaela Mitchel, sr., G/F

Outlook: The Eagles made a nice run last year and look to do the same. They have a nice returning group with experience and talent. Many of the players are interchangeable, so expect Mt. Ararat to be able to handle defensive pressure this year. As always the Eagles will play strong defense. And they've improved offensively, so this could turn into a long tournament run again.

NOBLE

Coach: John Coffin, fourth year

Last year: 2-16

Returning starters: 3

Impact players: Chandler Waterman, sr., G; Amber Kelly, jr., G; Danielle Logan, jr., F; Katie Taylor, soph., F

Outlook: Ten players return from last year, giving the Knights reason to be optimistic. This will be a guard-oriented team as the Knights try to pressure and push the ball in transition as much as possible. They might struggle against teams with size, but the Knights will be gritty enough defensively to keep games close.

PORTLAND

Coach: Jan Veinot, sixth year

Last year: 2-16

Returning starters: 2

Impact players: Elizabeth Donato, soph., G; Ella Purington, sr., C; Brianna Holdren, jr., G; Mariana Angelo, jr., PG

Outlook: The Bulldogs are going to be very young, with five freshmen on the varsity roster. Those players with varsity experience, such as Donato, Purington and Holdren, will need to carry a big load, and Angelo makes the move up from junior varsity to run the team from the point. Defense will be Portland's strength.

SANFORD

Coach: Kristy Parent, 12th year

Last year: 10-9, lost in West prelim

Returning starters: 3

Impact players: Heather LeBlanc, sr., C; Samantha Adams, sr., G; Taylor Littlefield, sr., G; Morgan Fogg, jr., PG; Janelle Cannon, sr., F; Shelby Paiement, jr., F

Outlook: The Spartans have a strong senior class and look to erase the disappointment of last year's early playoff exit. As always, they will be a strong defensive team and they should rebound well. A key will be the offensive improvement of a team that sometimes struggled to score last year. LeBlanc provides a nice inside presence while Adams, Littlefield and Paiement can get hot from the outside.

SCARBOROUGH

Coach: Ron Cote, first year

Last year: 19-2, lost in West final

Returning starters: 4

Impact players: Mary Redmond, sr., G; Ashley Briggs, soph., G; Maria Philbrick, sr., PG; Taylor Leborgne, sr., G; Courtney Alofs, sr., F; Marisa O'Toole, sr., F; Sam Sparda, soph., F

Outlook: The Red Storm should be one of the top teams in Western Class A, combining experience, athleticism and talent to form a deep team. They'll need to adjust to a new system under Cote, the longtime Biddeford coach who was an assistant at Cheverus last year. Look for them to attack teams both offensively and defensively, hoping to score transition points. When they need to play a slower pace, Redmond and Briggs should be among the leading shooters in the league. Look for another long tournament run.

SOUTH PORTLAND

Coach: Mike Giordano, 17th year

Last year: 7-12, lost in West prelim

Returning starters: 2

Impact players: Danica Gleason, sr., G; Brianne Maloney, jr., G/F; Meaghan Doyle, fr., F; Maddie Hasson, fr., PG; Holly Black, soph., C

Outlook: The Riots will count on two freshmen to make the big jump to the varsity in Doyle and Hasson, but Giordano is confident they can play at that level. While the Riots will again be strong defensively, they have to develop some scorers. Gleason is moving from the point -- where she started for three seasons -- to the wing in hopes of creating more opportunities for her. Maloney and Black will provide inside scoring.

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