1. Thornton Academy: The Trojans were going to be a strong team with three returning starters, but the transfer of Victoria Lux from McAuley will have a big impact. Combined with Katie McCrum, she forms a 1-2 punch as good as any in Western Class A. Thornton has several other new players as well, including freshman guard Alex Hart, and should make a deep tournament run.

2. McAuley: The four-time defending Class A champs might not be as strong as in the past, but it would be unwise to dismiss them. The transfer of 6-foot-1 center Jess Willerson from Cheverus gives them immediate inside help, and guard Olivia Dalphonse is a strong leader. They will be strong again.

3. South Portland: The Red Riots return three starters, including the dynamic Maddie Hasson and center Holly Black. The addition of four talented freshmen guards – Meghan Graff, Abby Cavallaro, Grace Soucy and Sarah Boles – could make this a memorable season.

4. Greely: The Rangers return three starters, led by UNH-bound Ashley Storey, an athletic 6-3 game-changer at both ends of the court. She is surrounded by talented players who excel at playing defense and attacking the basket. If they can rebound, this is going to be a dangerous team late in the season.

5. Gorham: Emily Esposito and Abby Hamilton head a group of four returning starters that should make the Rams contenders to go deep into the Western Class A playoffs. The Rams lack height but not intensity. Look for them to attack their opponents relentlessly.

6. York: With all five starters returning, the Wildcats loom as a threat to go deep in the Western Class B tournament. Shannon Todd is one of the Western Maine Conference’s top players and she has plenty of help. York is athletic and versatile, and can hurt you in many ways.

7. Deering: The Rams also benefited from transfers, with three players coming in. That adds depth and talent to a team that was already pretty good. Look for Deering to make a long run in the Western Class A tournament.

8. Gray-New Gloucester: The Patriots have been on the cusp for the last couple years. Now is their chance to break through. Maria Valente headlines a group of returning starters that are versatile and ready to make a move in the competitive Western Maine Conference.

9. Lake Region: The defending Class B champs might not be as deep or big as they were a year ago, but they are still a threat. They can attack with a swarm of guards who play relentless defense and can hurt opponents both from the outside and by attacking the basket.

10. Old Orchard Beach: The Seagulls return four starters, including seniors Abby Dubois (15.4 ppg) and point guard Mackenzie Rague and junior guard Haley Plante (5.5 assists), who have started since their freshman seasons. After consecutive 14-6 seasons ending with a playoff loss to Madison, the Seagulls will continue to run whenever possible, shoot a lot of 3-pointers and be ready to contend for a regional title.

– Mike Lowe and Steve Craig, staff writers