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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THORNTON ACADEMY

Coach: Eric Marston, third year

Last year: 11-9, lost in West quarterfinals

Returning starters: 3

Impact players: Tori Lands, sr., F; Katie McCrum, soph., G; Olivia Shaw, jr., F; Lauren Leskowsky, jr., C; Aurora Connolly, sr., F; Ashley Howe, fr., F

Outlook: The Trojans look to have one of the better teams in the SMAA this year despite several key losses and injuries. In Shaw they have one of the SMAA's brightest young stars, capable of playing inside or out. McCrum gained much experience in her rookie season and is much improved. The team is versatile and deep, with many players capable of playing several positions. Look for this team to make a deep run in the playoffs.

WESTBROOK

Coach: Chris Aube, second year

Last year: 9-11, lost in West quarterfinals

Returning starters: 3

Impact players: Emily Blackmore, sr., G; Ashley Richards, sr., F; Paige Baldwin, jr., C; Marissa Martel, soph., PG; Lexi Redmond, soph., C; Amber Richards, soph., C/F; Emma Riley, jr., G

Outlook: The Blazes have a nice mix of experience and youth, and also have a nice combination of players in the 5-10 range, allowing them to play a variety of styles. Look for Westbrook to push the ball a little more this year, trying to beat teams for transition baskets. But they're going to be at their best in the half-court game, where they can take advantage of their size and athleticism.

WINDHAM

Coach: Brody Artes, first year

Last year: 15-5, lost in Wests semifinals

Returning starters: 1

Impact players: Lonnie Staten, jr., F; Sam Frost, jr., G; Haley Batchelder, jr., F; Lauren Coughlin, sr., F; Sadie Nelson, fr., G

Outlook: Artes had been in the Windham boys' system for five years, coaching the freshman team the last two winters. He takes over a program that graduated a bunch of talent and experience, but still could be competitive in the SMAA. As always the Eagles will play an up-tempo game but, lacking size, a lot of their success will depend on how well they rebound.

• CLASS B

CAMDEN HILLS

Coach: Marty Messer, third year

Last year: 15-4, lost in East prelim

Returning starters: 2

Impact players: Megan LeGage, sr., PG; Kristina Alex, sr., F; Jordan Knowlton, sr., F.

Outlook: With only five returning with varsity experience, the team has shown a "tremendous work ethic and drive," according to Messer. The seniors are solid and the team has a good mixture of quickness and height. Repeating last year's 15 wins might be a reach, but the playoffs are a possibility.

CAPE ELIZABETH

Coach: Chris Casterella, sixth year

Last year: 4-14

Returning starters: 4

Impact players: Kisa Tabery, sr., F; Marlo Dell-Aquila, sr., G; Kate Miklavic, jr., G; Emma O'Rourke, jr., G; Mary Perkins, jr., G/F.

Outlook: Returning starters Tabery, Dell-Aquila, Miklavic, O'Rourke and solid contributor Perkins figure to be improved with a year's experience. However, wins will still be difficult to come by for an undersized team without a go-to player. The Capers will need to create offense with pressure defense and get contributions from seven newcomers.

FALMOUTH

Coach: Mari Warner, third year

Last year: 9-10, lost in West prelim

Returning starters: 2

Impact players: Ally Hickey, soph., G/F; Anna Hickey, sr., G/F; Dana Basconcelos, soph., G.

Outlook: The Hickeys are the returning starters and with Basconcelos -- last year's top substitute -- will provide scoring. Senior point guard Maddie Inlow played a lot last year, as did senior guards Meg Palombo and Molly Ryan. Newcomers include 6-1 Kayla Walsh and post player Shannon Page. Falmouth will try to use a spread, read-and-react offense to utilize its athleticism. How well Falmouth defends and creates discomfort for its opponents will be a key.

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