1. Greely: With four starters returning for the defending Class A state champs – a team many considered the best in the state – the Rangers loom as the team to beat again. Senior guard Anna DeWolfe may be the state’s most dynamic player, and junior guard Brooke Obar and sophomore guard Camille Clement are also capable of taking over a game. Senior guard Julia Martel also returns.

2. Gorham: Only one player is gone from the Class AA state runner-up, and the Rams have the state’s best inside player in 6-foot-2 senior Mackenzie Holmes. Sophomores Adele Nadeau and Olivia Michaud and senior Brittany Desjardin will play key roles, as will junior Jacqui Hamilton. The Rams can play a variety of styles, and they’ll smother opponents on defense.

3. South Portland: Led by Maine Sunday Telegram All-State junior forward Maggie Whitmore, the Red Riots should push the tempo more this year. Senior forwards Katie Whitmore and Jena Leckie and senior guard Bella Cloutier are capable of handling anything thrown their way. If 6-2 junior Kaleisha Towle continues to develop her game, the Riots will have a strong inside presence.

4. Portland: Telegram All-State guard Gemima Motemba suffered an Achilles injury and will be out until late into the season. But the Bulldogs return a lot of talent and experience – senior Grace Stacey, junior Davina Kabantu and sophomore Amanda Kabantu – and got a boost from the addition of 6-2 senior center Jill Joyce, who played at Maine Girls’ Academy last year.

5. Brunswick: The Dragons return three starters from last year’s Class A South runner-up. Senior guard Charlotte MacMillan will lead the way, and she’s surrounded by a lot of experienced talent. Senior point guard Marley Groat runs the show and doesn’t back down from anyone defensively. Junior Alexis Guptil, and seniors Emily Larochelle and Rosalie White will play key roles.

6. Boothbay Region: The Seahawks, who lost just one game last year in advancing to the Class C South final, return three starters, including one of the state’s best players in senior guard Faith Blethen. She’s joined by 6-2 sophomore (and sister) Glory Blethen and junior Chloe Arsenault, an exceptional defensive player. Boothbay can push the tempo but also is good in the half court.

7. Sanford: Looking for a darkhorse team in Class AA? Consider the Spartans. They have four starters back from a team that was close to contending last year. They have a 1-2 inside punch with 6-3 Paige Cote and 6-foot Jill Lizotte. Samya Santiague is solid at the point, and Julia Allen and Hope Tarbox are good wing players.

8. Marshwood: The Hawks, who lost in the Class A South semifinals a year ago, return 13 varsity players, including three starters. Guards Celine Lawrence and Natalie Herbold can create problems all over the court, and forward Casey Perry is a difference-maker on defense. Courtney Thim gives the Hawks a heady point guard, and junior Angelina Bisson will provide outside shooting.

9. Gray-New Gloucester: Everyone returns from last year’s Class B South runner-up, making the Patriots the favorite in the region. Bri Jordan and Jordan Grant bring star power to the Patriots, both capable of taking control of a game at any time. They’re surrounded by a lot of experienced, gritty players who know how to make big plays. Look for another deep playoff run.

10. North Yarmouth Academy: Is there a more intriguing team in southern Maine? The Panthers return seniors Maggie Larson and Sydney Plummer from last year’s playoff team. When Maine Girls’ Academy closed this summer, several players from that team – led by guards Catherine Reid and Serena Mower – came on board. NYA plays an incredibly tough schedule for a Class C team, which should help come playoff time.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.