Local teams could be major contenders

Arch­bish­op Ry­an’s Megan Wolf drives back Naz­areth Academy’s Mag­gie Bor­ski dur­ing a Cath­ol­ic League match­up on Wed­nes­day, Dec 15. Naz­areth won the con­test 43-23. Kev­in Cook/for the Times

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

Arch­bish­op Ry­an

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.” 

Little Flower

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.”

St. Hubert

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

Naz­areth Academy

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.” ••

You can reach at myerkov@bsmphilly.com.

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