Although the four local girls squads hailing from the Philadelphia Catholic League and Catholic Academies League have very different strengths and strategies, there seems to be one common theme shared on the hardwood this winter — youth.
Archbishop Ryan, Little Flower, St. Hubert and Nazareth Academy are relying a good deal on new players this season. Of course, there are a few familiar faces, but the rosters are filled largely with rookie players.
So what can you expect from the Ragdolls, Sentinels, Bambies and Pandas? Here’s a glimpse at the neighborhood basketball squads.
Philadelphia Catholic League
Last season: 12-11 overall
The Archbishop Ryan basketball team has a grueling non-league schedule this season, including bouts with some of the top teams in Pennsylvania.
And that’s just the way they like it.
“We have a really tough non-league schedule, which will prepare us for the Catholic League,” said Ragdoll boss Jackie Hartzell. “The Catholic League is always so tough, and I think this will help us become a stronger team.”
Archbishop Ryan’s roster has first-team All-Catholic point guard Megan Wolf. Fellow guards include Kalene Coffey and Melissa Rizzo.
Forwards Kelsey Dale, Amanda Weindorfer, Shannon Swift and Courtney Helm will work in the front court.
“So far, so good. We’re working hard every day and trying to get better every day,” said Hartzell. “We want to make the playoffs and play our best basketball at the end of the season come playoff time.”
Last season: 5-18 overall
The Little Flower High School basketball team is stacked with talent this season.
Experience? Well, that’s another story.
Although the Sentinels are returning four seniors to this year’s squad, the roster is filled with sophomores.
“We’re doing OK. We’re young, so it’s hard to tell right now how we’re going to fare,” said hoops boss Adam Butcher, now in his 18th year coaching the Little Flower team. “I think we’ll get better as the season goes along.”
Senior guards Courtney Widener and Jen Purcell and senior forwards Erin Keyes and Shanade Kiely will provide leadership for the otherwise youthful team.
Sophomores Colleen McDevitt and Megan Petroski will share point-guard responsibilities, with sophomore Morgan Powers rounding out the starting lineup.
“We have four seniors and a bunch of sophomores, but we have a very talented sophomore class,” said Butcher. “I’m hoping to improve on last year and build for the future.”
Last season: 12-11 overall
Four seems to be the magic number for the St. Hubert High School basketball team. The Bambies are returning four players who had significant playing time last year, including four-year varsity starter Eireann Anastasi.
Fellow starters include senior center Ashley Bieringer, junior forward Charlotte Kucowski and sophomore guard Biff Jones.
“We have balanced scoring — players capable of scoring double figures,” said St. Hubert coach Brian Kuzmick. “We’re hoping to improve ourselves every day.
“We’re out to let people know that there are more teams in the Catholic League than the powerhouses,” he added.
Catholic Academies League
Last season: 17-9 overall
After losing an extremely strong senior class to graduation last year, the Nazareth Academy High School basketball squad has a lot of familiar faces filling new roles on the hardwood this season.
First on the list is John Turner, a former assistant who’s now the head coach.
ldquo;I think this group has an opportunity to show what they can do,” said Turner. “We had strong players who graduated, so these girls have been waiting for a chance to step up and show what they can do.”
Guards include seniors Bridget Sobon, Raya Stearn and Elizabeth McBride, junior Gabby Balara and freshman Marissa Sylvester.
Senior Danielle Gasperi will join Nicole Domdrowski in the front court; Kristin Coyne is playing at center.
Alex Edger, Maria McFillin and Karli Visconto also will contribute to the Pandas this season.
“We’re off to a good start,” said Turner. “We have the ability to run the floor very well and we’re playing good defense. We could be very competitive in our league.” ••