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2008-09 girls basketball teams to watch

By Dan Published: December 4, 2008

ARCHBISHOP HOBAN (20-4, 13-1 North Coast League)
Seniors Rachel Tecca, Nikki D'Amico and Brittany Brown return to lead the Knights, the defending NCL champions and a program that has made the Division II regional tournament three out of the past four seasons under coach Tracy Miller. Tecca, a 6-foot-1 forward and University of Akron recruit, averaged around 20 points and 10 rebounds last season. D'Amico, a guard, and Brown, a forward, also will play integral parts along with junior point guard Taneka Lewis, junior forward Krissy Sokol and sophomore guard Grace Foote.

CLOVERLEAF (8-13, 5-9 Suburban League)
• Coach John Carmigiano expects the Colts to be much improved this season with three returning starters and a transfer. Senior starters Brittani Pekar (10.7 points, 7.2 rebounds), Candace Andel (10.1 points) and Kayla Henry are back, and 6-foot-3 junior center Brooke Forsythe, formerly of Brunswick, is another pivotal player. Sophomore guard Sarah Schleich and senior forward Caitie Coughlin also return.

COPLEY (13-7, 10-4 Suburban League)
• The senior tandem of Beth Mantkowski and Brittany Powell will guide the Indians this season. Mantkowski, a 6-foot-2 center, averaged about 16 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks last season and has committed to Ashland University. Powell, a 5-foot-7 guard and Gannon University recruit, averaged about 14 points and five rebounds. Sophomore 6-foot guard Taylor Reif will also be a key contributor after averaging 9.6 points and 4.2 rebounds last season.

CUYAHOGA VALLEY CHRISTIAN ACADEMY (15-6, 9-3 PAC-7)
• The Royals will look to improve upon last season's second-place finish in the PAC-7. Seniors Jeanette Pettigrew, Alyssa Presley, Melissa Knepper, Jessica Glenn and Victoria Risenhoover and junior Turea Moore provide an experienced foundation for CVCA coach Bill Stalnaker to work with. Defending PAC-7 champion Manchester (18-5, 12-0) will still be a formidable opponent with senior guard Lexis Staubs returning.

FIELD (18-5, 11-3 Portage Trail Conference Metro Division)
• Senior Traci Vandegrift returns to lead the Falcons. Vandegrift, a 6-foot center and Albany recruit for volleyball, gives Field a presence in the lane with her skill set and athleticism. Juniors Lauren Feciuch, Arielle Kenyon and Tabitha Murray are also back for coach Jeff Kidd, along with sophomores Hanna Mueller and Emily Ulrich. Field is seeking to dethrone defending PTC Metro champion Southeast, which posted a 20-0 regular-season record last season, but lost several players to graduation. Southeast does return senior Mya Levels, a 6-foot-2 forward and UNC-Wilmington recruit who averaged nearly 19 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks last season.

FIRESTONE (10-10, 8-4 City Series)
• The Falcons will look to challenge for the City title with senior guards Danielle Thomas, Jaysha Russell and Dominique Echols playing prominent roles for coach Audley McGill. Thomas averaged about six points and seven rebounds last season. Russell did not play for Firestone last season, but she contributed around 15 points per game for the Falcons as a sophomore.

GREEN (20-4, 11-3 Suburban League)
• Sophomore Logan Pastor and junior Deanna Wheeler return to lead the Bulldogs under the guidance of coach Tony Whitmer. Pastor and Wheeler, 5-foot-10 and 5-foot-8, respectively, each averaged around 10 points last season. Juniors Selana Reale and Kelsey Corle will also be counted on for production, along with senior Tiffany Henley and freshman Lydia Corle.

HUDSON (12-10, 5-5 Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division)
• The Explorers are hoping to emerge in the NOC this season with seniors Jennifer Lawson and Hannah Jones leading the attack under coach Dennis Lawler. Lawson, a 6-foot-1 forward, averaged 12.1 points and 9.9 rebounds last season. Jones, a 6-foot-4 center and Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne recruit, posted 6.5 points and 5.5 rebounds. That duo will be accompanied by sophomore guard Jessica Monsman, senior guard Emily Griffiths and junior Lindley Hill.

KENMORE (22-3, 13-0 City Series)
• Senior 5-foot-8 point guard Andola Dortch returns to lead the Cardinals, the defending City Series champions under coach Yontami Jones. Dortch, a University of Toledo recruit, uses her skill and quickness to be a prolific scorer. She will be joined by senior forward Scharlawn Hubbard, junior forward Courtney Palmer, junior guard Shanequa Williams and sophomore guard Markayla Powers. Kenmore reached the Division I Regional semifinal last season.

LAKE (15-7, 5-5 Federal League)
• Senior Lauren Myers returns to give the Blue Streaks an effective shooter from long range. Myers, a 5-foot-10 guard and Wheeling Jesuit recruit, averaged 14.6 points last season. Seniors Jordan Jenkins, Dana Brown, Cindy Netti, Kelly Vigars and Jessica Saporito are also back for coach Thom Grubb. Jenkins is a Tiffin University recruit.

LOUISVILLE (18-4, 13-1 Northeastern Buckeye Conference)
• Juniors Jessica Lairson and Erin Thornton will be key players for the Leopards under first-year coach Garee McCully. Lairson averaged 11.9 points, 7.4 rebounds and 3.4 steals last season. Sophomore Desi Givens and freshman Brianna Libertore should also be vital players for Louisville, which shared the NBC title with rival Northwest last season.

MOGADORE (13-7, 10-4 Portage Trail Conference County Division)
• The Wildcats will rely heavily on the production of junior guards Jordan Poth and Amanda Sidwell and sophomore center Presley Destro. That scoring trio should make coach George Tompkins happy and give opponents' defenses trouble all season.

NORTH CANTON HOOVER (20-3, 10-0 Federal League)
• Senior Jessica Carpenter returns to lead the Vikings, who must reload after the graduation of frontline standouts Brittany Orban (Northwestern) and Kyle Baumgartner (University of Akron). Carpenter, a 5-foot-8 guard and Baldwin Wallace signee, averaged 11.1 points for the Federal League champions last season. Coach Paul Wackerly will also have the luxury of having seniors Leah Gibson and Eleni Bourlas back with juniors Allison Peare and Alyssa Chovan. Senior guard Erica Iafelice is expected to return this season after a back injury.

NORTHWEST (21-3, 13-1 Northeastern Buckeye Conference)
• Junior 6-foot forward Dakota Harkins is expected to be the Indians' top player under the tutelage of coach John Martin. Seniors Rachel Miller, Candace Gemma and Erika Stach will be counted on for leadership and production. Sophomore Jessica Wormald also returns for Northwest, which shared the NBC title with rival Louisville last season. Martin is also counting on a few other sophomores and freshmen to emerge on the varsity team as the season progresses to soften the loss of junior Tabatha McKinney, who transferred to Canton South.

RAVENNA (14-8, 10-4 Portage Trail Conference Metro Division)
• Junior guard Lauren Tilden returns to lead the Ravens and is one of the most dangerous 3-point shooters in the area. Junior forwards Chanel Berry, Kayla Plaso and Dannielle Boyce will figure prominently for Ravenna, along with senior forward Lauren Flarida. Coach Rod Chlysta said the rotation is in flux due to depth and competition, and that freshmen could emerge into larger roles as the season progresses.

ST. VINCENT-ST. MARY (9-11)
• The Fighting Irish will be led by three seniors; Jessica Bridenthal, Jill Brownfield and Amanda Olszewski. Bridenthal, a 6-foot-1 forward-center, averaged 10.5 points and 5.9 rebounds last season and has committed to Ashland University. Sophomore Maria Arnone also returns for coach Joe Jakubick, a former University of Akron player.

STOW (12-11, 5-5 Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division)
• The Bulldogs return three starters — senior forward Kelsey MacWherter, senior guard Dana Cummins and sophomore guard Sarah Parsons — under coach Bob Podges. MacWherter and Cummins each averaged nearly 10 points last season. Junior forward Sonya Istocka should also be a major contributor for Stow.

TWINSBURG (20-2, 10-0 Northeast Ohio Conference Lake Division)
• Senior Rachel Peelman, a 5-foot-8 forward, is a solid defender, and 5-foot-3 senior Katie Whittington is a steady point guard for the Tigers. That tandem will lead the Tigers, along with Lauren Macer, for coach Mike Kelley. Malina Howard and LaShawna Gatewood are two highly touted freshmen that should figure into Twinsburg's plans.

WADSWORTH (17-6, 12-2 Suburban League)
• Senior Lindsay Tenyak, a 5-foot-9 senior guard, will step into a more prominent role this season for the Grizzlies. Tenyak helped Wadsworth win the Suburban League title last season by averaging about eight points and 4.5 rebounds. Coach Andrew Booth is also counting on senior Kate Macko, sophomores Robyn Rotterschmidt and Taylor Woods, juniors Kristen O'Brien and Sam Gearhart and freshman Christy Cingel. Cloverleaf, Copley, Green and Tallmadge will attempt to dethrone Wadsworth in the Suburban League.

WALSH JESUIT (19-5)
• The Warriors will be led by senior Amy Gardner, a 5-foot-10 senior guard and University at Buffalo recruit. Gardner averaged 13.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.2 steals last season. Claire Lysaght and Kendra Simmons are senior tri-captains with Gardner. Coach Pete Zaccari is also relying on junior Nneka Offodile, freshman Rachel Theriot and juniors Cheryl Yu and Sarah Sureck to produce on the court.

— Michael Beaven

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