The leagues should be very competitive, but so should our teams.
The local girls teams competing in the Catholic and Public leagues, as well as the Catholic Academies League and the Bicentennial Athletic League, should all have their moments this year. The competition is very good in all of the leagues, but our teams should be right there in the mix by the time the postseason rolls around.
Here is a look at the local teams playing in girls basketball
CATHOLIC ACADEMIES LEAGUE
The Pandas are always a team to be reckoned with, and this is their final year before they join the Catholic League next year. Their final year in the Catholic Academies League should be a good one.
Coach Mary Kate Magagna’s team will be led by sophomore guard Reese Power. She’ll work with guards Abby Rock, Rileigh Donohoe, Natalie D’Alfonso, Cait Wnek and Anna Kane. Underneath, the Pandas will have Gracie Sullivan, Grace Giordano and Jenna Garzone patrolling the paint.
The Pandas will be a tough team, and the goal is to continue to grow as a team for this year and beyond.
“We are a very young and coachable team with the capability to be very successful,” Magagna said. “We have been improving on communication and understanding the importance of the little things. The girls work hard each day and are seeing what it takes to compete at the high school level.
“This season we are looking to improve our overall record from last year, make a statement in the Academy League as it is our last year before heading over to the Catholic League and continue to work hard each and every day.”
First-year coach Jullian Rattliff inherits a team that finished 2-18, but so far his team has competed hard in a nonleague schedule.
His team will be led by sophomore Reynah Rattliff and juniors Haley Davis, Delaney Finn and Eliana Szatkowski.
It hasn’t been easy, but Rattliff is proud of where the team is and where it’s headed.
“We have been working hard to create our culture and identity,” Rattliff said. “We know that our defense is what will get us over the hump. When all my ladies buy in without hesitation, we can reach our true potential. They don’t quite know how to win yet. They just have to believe that they are better than yesterday and work harder for tomorrow.
“We have so many teams ahead of us right now. We know that and they know that. We are working on our shortcomings while we compete with the things we do well. Everyone can contribute to the team with their best attribute and little by little, those things we have been working on are starting to show.”
Last year was the first for coach Edward Dever, and it was a struggle. The Sentinels lost all 10 of their Catholic League games and were outscored 528-243 in those games.
This year, the hope is to take a step forward in a very tough Catholic League.
Leading the way will be Gabrielle Dever, who will play point guard and serve as a captain. She’ll work with fellow senior Ciarra Corcoran, and sophomores Bridget Comas and Hayden Johnston, who is also a star soccer player.
Dever is excited about how much his team can grow this year.
“We are still a very young team but most of our girls have been with the program for at least a year now and I believe we are going to be more competitive this year and increase our wins,” Dever said. “Once we get to the Catholic League schedule, things will become more difficult, especially for a young team.”
A year after winning the Blue Division, the Bambies fought hard in Catholic League play and ended up with a 10-win season, and advanced to the state playoffs.
This year could be another good one. The Bambies don’t have a lot of depth, but they do have a strong group of players, which could make for a fun season.
The team will be led by senior guards MacKenzie McLaughlin and Mia Tobin. They’ll work with freshman guard Alyssa Browning. Playing forward will be senior Kate Patterson, junior Lexi Price and freshman Luca D’Andrea.
The Bambies, under coach Dave Schafer, are always competitive and this season should be no different.
“We are quick and athletic with experience in the backcourt,” Schafer said. “Our numbers are low, so the girls will have to play hard but smart. Our ability to get to the rim and our intensity on defense will have to be our recipe for success.
“If we stay healthy we will only get better as the season progresses. These are a great group of girls who are dedicated to being the best that they can be.”
The Pioneers have had back-to-back strong seasons, including last year that saw them make the final 16 of the Public League playoffs. Jonathan Michels is proud of what his team has built, and he’s excited for an encore from last year’s 10-win season.
Leading the way will be talented point guard Leyshka Ruperto, who was All-Public a season ago. She’ll have help, including center Diamond Broadnax.
Newcomers who will help the Pioneers are guards Amya Miller, Nayha Perez, Sky Rodriguez, Janeliss Laboy, Melagro Mercado-Oquendo and Jade Murphy, as well as forwards Abigail Ebana Bala, Albaliz Domingue, Emma Raif and Elisha Hayward.
The Pioneers have been getting better and better under Michels, and he’s happy with what he has to work with this year.
“This is the hardest-working team I’ve ever had at Frankford,” Michels said. “We are so young, but work so hard. It will take us a little time but by January we should be pretty good.”
Chris Reid has built quite the program at Washington, and this year he brings a young team to the court with him. The Eagles won just three games a season ago, but one of those triumphs was in the playoffs.
Leading the way this year will be juniors Julianna Zacarias and Rachel Conrad, both guards and forwards. Reid has a great sophomore class that includes forwards/centers Aliyah Cruz and Anesah Cruze, and guards Kamille Collins, Mia Soto and Celyne Vah.
With a talented lineup and some depth, the Eagles could be in for a fun season.
“One of the strengths this team should have this season is their desire to compete and play defense,” Reid said. “They are super aggressive in practice, sometimes to a fault, but they can rebound and get after offensive players, making them make mistakes.
“We are very young and inexperienced. Hopefully over time we can grow as a young group and be competitive in a very difficult and challenging Public League Second Division.”
Last year, the Panthers failed to win a game, playing a reduced schedule of just seven games. This year, the team should play much better, led by high-scoring guard Senaya Parker, who has Division I potential. She’ll work well with high-motor guard Guerla Saint-Verstil, who should provide plenty of toughness and defense.
Freshman point guard Lailah Fortson should get better every game in leading the offense.
“Fels will rely on tough defense to create turnovers,” said coach Malvin Carrion. “Offensively, (we’ll) lean on sophomore shooting guard Senyay Parker and freshman point guard Lailah Fortson.”
After a .500 record a season ago, the Lions should take another step, thanks to plenty of returning talent, mixed with some talented newcomers.
Guards Maniyah Monroe, a returning First-Team All-Public member, and Sierra McClure, a Second-Team returnee, will lead the team. They’ll work with seniors Delia Lewis and Desiree Matos. The offense will be run by freshman point guard Khaleah Collins.
“The Lions’ quickness, experience and pressure defense will be the strengths of the team,” said Lions coach Paul Rieser. “The Lions will be led by four senior starters that should help us contend for a National Division title and a Public League playoff spot.”
MaST Community Charter School
The Panthers were one of the top stories of 2022. They played great in the Bicentennial League, making the championship game and advancing to the district championship game. They also made the state tournament. All were firsts for the program.
This year, more good times are on deck.
A talented lineup includes point guard Anye Washington, shooting guard Saniyah Washington, center Riley Fitzsimmons and forward Kyleigh Murphy.
Edwin Vazquez Jr. did a fine job last year leading his team, and this year he’s excited about the prospects.
“The strength of our team is that we do not give up,” Vazquez said. “This team has been the underdog for years and the team that most used to look past. Now we have become a team that is circled on the schedule and that teams now have to scout. It’s due to the girls’ hard work and determination.
“On the leadership of Anye Washington, I believe we will be back in the Bicentennial championship game. We should win back-to-back-to-back division championships and our goal is finish off what we didn’t do last year. I had a special group of seniors last season who deserved to win. They were also led by Anye and I know that she wanted to win that for them last year. We have unfinished business and I believe that we still have a chance to do it.”
MaST Community Charter School II
For the first time ever, MaST Charter School II will have a varsity girls team and coach Taylor Dillion is happy with the team’s work ethic. Starting a varsity program isn’t easy, but this team should be competitive right away.
Leading the team will be center Jordyn Bolds, point guard Ariana Rosado and power forward Robin Charlton.
The team should get better as the season goes on, especially with the way the team puts in the work.
“Our team is very hard working and improving each day,” Dillon said. “We are a fast and strong team that will keep fighting through each game.
“We are looking forward to the competition now being a varsity team. We are hoping to improve after each game by playing the other teams in our league.”