1. Gorham: The Rams are widely regarded as the team to beat in the first year of Class AA, and it’s easy to see why. They have perhaps the best player in junior guard Emily Esposito, surrounded by a lot of talent. The addition of Danasia Fennie, a transfer from Westbrook, and 6-2 freshman Mackenzie Holmes provides a very strong inside game. Gorham will be tough defensively and tough to beat.

2. McAuley: The Lions have two of the state’s best players in senior center Jess Willerson (bound for Cornell) and senior guard Sarah Clement (off to UNH). Add sophomore Eva Mazur, who was an impact player as a freshman, and you’ve got three players who can control a game. Overall, the Lions are still a little young, so they should be a lot better at the end of the season.

3. South Portland: Senior guard Maddie Hasson is one of the best players in the state. She has plenty of help around her. The Riots will count on four freshmen – Katie Whitmore, Bela Cloutier, Jena Leckie and Grace Rende (a transfer from Cony) – to help supply depth.

4. Greely: The Rangers won the Class B state title last year and could contend for the Class A crown this year. They have plenty of experience, led by Moira Train and Sarah Felkel. The addition of talented freshman Anna DeWolfe, who can play just about anywhere, makes them much more dangerous. If their 3-pointers are falling, they will run away from teams.

5. York: Eleven players return from last season, led by talented senior guard Shannon Todd, who is bound for Northeastern. Always a strong defensive team, the Wildcats may be more balanced offensively. And there’s some extra motivation: Rick Clark has announced that his 34th year as head coach will be his last.

6. Windham: With four starters back, the Eagles have the experience and talent for another long tournament run. Senior forward Sadie Nelson is one of the best all-around players in the SMAA, solid on both offensive and defensive ends. But the Eagles need someone to step up and help share the scoring load. They have plenty of candidates.

7. Cheverus: This is going to be a very interesting team to watch in Steve Huntington’s second year as coach. They’re not very tall, but the Stags are loaded with quality guards. They want to play an up-tempo game and get up 60-70 shots. If their 3-pointers drop, this could be a dangerous team.

8. Cape Elizabeth: The Capers surprised everyone with their run to the Western Class B final last year. If they return to the regional final (in Class A this time), it won’t be a surprise. They have veteran talent and leadership in Montana Braxton, Madeline Bowe and Carter Harvey, who all can shoot and play tight defense.

9. Fryeburg Academy: The Raiders return everyone from last year’s playoff team, so expectations are high. Senior point guard Julia Quinn is one of the best players at her position in the region. This is a team that shouldn’t be overlooked.

10. Lincoln Academy: The Eagles made it to the regional semifinals last year and could go even farther. They have talent and experience, led by point guard Brie Wajer. They also have height, speed, and good shooters. If the defense comes around, this team will be difficult to beat.

– Mike Lowe, Staff Writer