South Portland could have plenty to cheer about this season in Class AA. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

1. South Portland: After several years of playoff frustrations, the Red Riots are primed to take the next step. They have a nice blend of experience and youth, inside game and outside game, offense and defense. And they have one of the best players in the state in Maggie Whitmore, who can play just about anywhere on the court and control the game.

2. Greely: The Rangers enter the season as the two-time defending Class A champions with a 38-game winning streak. With Anna DeWolfe now playing at Fordham University, they might not be as dominant as they have been, but the Rangers will keep winning. They have two of the state’s top players in Brooke Obar and Camille Clement and a strong surrounding cast. And, Coach Todd Flaherty said, “I think the girls have something to prove.”

3. Scarborough: The defending Class AA South champion took a big blow when senior guard Julia Freeman suffered a season-ending knee injury. That may only bring the Red Storm closer together. Mike Giordano still has a talented lineup, led by Madison Blanche, Bella Dickinson and Kayla Conley, and Scarborough’s defense never rests. That’s why this team is going to make another long run into the tournament.

4. Portland: This is going to be a fun team to watch. The Bulldogs are healthy, and that means their talented, athletic and versatile players such as Gemima Motema, Amanda Kabantu, Davina Kabantu and Kiera Eubanks are ready to go. Portland is going to attack the basket offensively and attack the ball defensively. There’s plenty of young talent, too, to provide depth.

Gorham Coach Laughn Berthiaume no longer has Maine Gatorade Player of the Year Mackenzie Holmes, left, but his young team should be dangerous again this season. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

5. Gorham: The Rams lost one of those once-in-a-lifetime players when Mackenzie Holmes graduated. But they should still be one of the best teams in Class AA. Coach Laughn Berthiaume has 10 players that he is going to rotate, keeping the pace fast and the pressure high. “We want to get more shots up,” he said. “Wear teams down a little bit.” The Rams are still relatively young, with only one senior, but they’ll be dangerous.

6. Kennebunk: Start with Emily Archibald, the 6-2 junior who plays just about any position. She leads the Rams but has a lot of experience surrounding her. Kennebunk has steadily improved the last few years, with this senior and junior class at the head of that improvement. Every player has a role to play, and they all do it well.

7. Freeport: The Falcons loom as the team to beat in Class B South. They not only have an outstanding player in senior guard Caroline Smith, but all five starters return, giving them a chance to exceed last year’s finish when they advanced to the regional final. Defensively, they force a lot of turnovers; offensively, they spread the ball. It’s a good combination.

8. Cheverus: Bill Goodman is back coaching after a one-year absence, brought on by the closure of the Maine Girls’ Academy, and he’s taking over a pretty good squad. There’s some talent, such as Lauren Jordan and Jillian Lizotte (a transfer from Sanford), and this is a deep team. Goodman plans to use 10 players and keep a pressure defensive style that could result in more points off turnovers.

9. Sanford: This is an intriguing group. The Spartans are tucked away in southwestern York County and often escape the spotlight. This year, they may demand it. Sanford has a good mix of experience and youth and boasts perhaps the SMAA’s best inside player in Paige Cote. The Spartans play tough defense. If the offense comes through, they could make a long playoff run.

10. Boothbay: Gone is Faith Blethen, now playing at George Washington. But the defending Class C state champion Seahawks will still be a team to contend with. Coach Brian Blethen returns four starters, including senior guard Chloe Arsenault and junior forward Glory Blethen. Last year’s championship experience should be a factor, as Boothbay will certainly face challenges every night.

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