Girls' basketball preview capsules

Capsules from girls' basketball teams around the Pikes Peak region.
By Justin Shaw preps@gazette.com - Published: December 2, 2013 | 11:10 pm 0

5A METRO LEAGUE

Doherty

Coach: Patrick McKiernan, 3rd season

Last season: 15-10, lost in second round of playoffs

Key players: Meagan Kramer, sr., C; Mariah Wiley, sr., PG; Alex Moscoso, sr., G; Abbey Stultz, sr., SG; Josie Major, sr., F

Outlook: The Spartans have strong underclassmen to provide support for the senior-laden starting lineup and should be in the running for the 5A Metro League title. Doherty will have a balanced scoring attack, and will be dangerous if it can find some outside shooting from its guards.

Liberty

Coach: Dawn Valentine, 1st season

Last season: 11-13, lost in first round of playoffs

Key players: Chris Brown, sr., G; Emily Jones, sr., G; Brooke Shade, soph., G; Rachel Everson, soph., PG; Kaci Daily, soph., F

Outlook: The Lancers lost their top three scorers from last season but return Jones and Brown, who will be looked to for offensive production. Liberty has a talented sophomore class, and it will need that class to step up and provide support for the more experienced players.

Palmer

Coach: Dave Shackelford, 17th season

Last season: 22-3, lost in third round of playoffs

Key players: Jenn Urbaniak, jr., F; Kara Flores, jr., G

Outlook: Palmer lost a ton of talent to graduation and returns only three letter winners and one starter. Urbaniak will be a force in the post, but the Terrors will need some of their young shooters to mature quickly and knock down shots in Palmer's fast-paced offense.

Pine Creek

Coach: Kelley Stewart, 12th season

Last season: 11-14, lost in second round of playoffs

Key players: Taylor Cross, sr., G; Jayne Lidiatt, soph., G; Kaelyn Schultz, sr., F; Mattie Cutts, jr., F; Caitlin Esterle, jr., F

Outlook: The Eagles have four freshmen in the mix for playing time and will lean on their seniors and juniors to get those younger players going. Pine Creek will be athletic and tough on defense, but it will need to find consistent scoring to win games.

Rampart

Coach: Megan Leatham, 4th season

Last season: 15-10, lost in second round of playoffs

Key players: Cassidy Budge, jr., G; Megan Kavalec, sr., G; Lucia Archuleta, sr., G; Lauren Mochowski, sr.; Nicea Eliely, soph.

Outlook: The Rams will be an experienced bunch, with nine players returning from last season. Rampart hasn't won a league title since 1990, and it hopes this is the year that it can take the next step. Archuleta, Kavalec and Budge were three of the top four scorers last year, and look to have big years again.

 

4A METRO LEAGUE

Coronado

Coach: Lavon Jackson, 2nd season

Last season: 8-16, lost in first round of playoffs

Key players: Taryn Frazier, sr., F; Destiny Bays, sr., G; C.C. Coombes, jr., G; Tati Clanton, sr., F; Emily Lambert, sr., C

Outlook: The Cougars are looking to improve from a season which saw them make the playoffs, and Jackson thinks his team will be better with another year's experience. Coronado should have improved chemistry, athleticism and defense, and will also have a lot of players who can play multiple positions.

Harrison

Coach: Ardie McInelly, 1st season

Last season: 13-11, lost in first round of playoffs

Key players: DeAijah Paulk, sr., PG; Erica Roslaniec, sr., F; Treanna Mulkin, sr., F; Ashley Register, jr., F

Outlook: First-year Panthers coach and former Air Force women's coach McInelly leads a team with athletic ability, but not much depth or height. The Panthers will need to use their athleticism and stay out of foul trouble to be successful. They'll be led by the trio of seniors, Paulk, Roslaniec and Mulkin.

Mesa Ridge

Coach: Jeff Beatty, 12th season

Last season: 25-1, lost in state quarterfinals

Key players: Gabby Purnell, sr., PG; Kylee Shook, soph., C; Samantha Rudd, sr., F; Tiffani Jackson, sr., G

Outlook: Mesa Ridge returns four of its top five scorers from last season, including Shook and Rudd, which may be the best front court in the state. The Grizzlies were young last season and are hoping to take a another step toward a state title. A state semifinal appearance - and possibly more - is within reach if everyone stays healthy.

Sierra

Coach: Joe Williams, 3rd season

Last season: 18-8, lost in third round of playoffs

Key players: TaLeela Earls, sr. G; Kanecia Cooks, soph., C; Nadirah Oakman, soph., G; Rebecca Cross, sr., F; JaDrianna Peck, sr., G

Outlook: Sierra returns six letter winners and adds transfers Courtney Jackson (out of state) and Lundyn Jackson (from Harrison). The offense will go through Cooks in the post, with an inside-outside game focused on some good shooters. The Stallions will once again boast a lot of athletic ability and should be a force in the league.

Woodland Park

Coach: David Graf, 5th season

Last season: 3-20

Key players: Alexa Garrick, sr., F; Lexi Comer, jr., F; Jenny Sells, jr. PG.

Outlook: Athleticism and the ability to have five scoring threats on the floor should help the Panthers. Woodland Park gets a number of juniors who last season played junior varsity. Katie Stunkard and Darian Sanfelice, both juniors, will help, as will newcomers Jeanette Worscheck and Kaitlyn Kemp, a transfer from Fountain-Fort Carson.

 

4A PIKES PEAK ATHLETIC CONFERENCE

Air Academy

Coach: Bob Wingett, 4th season

Last season: 13-11, lost in second round of playoffs

Key players: Kassady Huffman, jr., C; Madison Rasmusen, soph., G; Hayley Rhein, jr., G; Kylee Barry, sr., G; Jessica Berg, sr., G

Outlook: The Kadets will be a deep, but young team, with a freshman point guard, sophomore shooting guard and multiple juniors getting significant playing time. Air Academy will look to regain the form it showed when winning the 4A state title two years ago.

Cheyenne Mountain

Coach: Mike Armentrout, 1st season

Last season: 2-21

Key players: Sarah Thilenius, jr., G; Anna Hortik, soph., F; Sara Walters, sr., G; Tori Burnett, sr., G; Hunter Peifer, jr., F

Outlook: The Indians are looking to rebound from a disastrous season and have some reinforcements on the way. Several players who didn't play basketball last season have returned to the team and should provide some help for Cheyenne Mountain, including Walters, Burnett and Peifer.

Discovery Canyon

Coach: Danelle Rivera, 6th season

Last season: 10-14, lost in first round of playoffs

Key players: Jennifer Schneible, jr., F; Alex Smith, jr., PG; Katie Hofmeister, jr., G; Liz Hackett, sr., G; Alexandra Palmer, fr., F

Outlook: Discovery Canyon is led by a talented junior class and should be a better team than last season. Schneible and Smith will each assume bigger scoring roles, while some of the younger players will need to play well once the Thunder get into conference play.

Falcon

Coach: Rick Susak, 2nd season

Last season: 8-16, lost in first round of playoffs

Key players: Kelsey Hale, sr., F; Ally Martinez, sr., PG; Harmony Pettis, soph., PG; Kayla Travis, soph., SG

Outlook: The Falcons add five newcomers to six returning players and hope the blend will result in success. Pettis led the team in scoring, assists and steals as a freshman, and Travis transfers over from Pine Creek to provide more quality guard play. If Falcon's young players can step up in a timely fashion, the team could be dangerous.

Lewis-Palmer

Coach: Joel Babbitt, 4th season

Last season: 10-13

Key players: Emma Weaver, sr., F; Courtney Fox, sr., G; Kaila Baca, soph., G; Sammy Cook, sr., G; Sarah Lyons, soph., PG

Outlook: The Rangers have five seniors who have been in the program for four years, who provide leadership and know the system well. Lewis-Palmer will have strong guard play and strong cohesion, as most of the players have been playing together for the last four years.

Palmer Ridge

Coach: Dennis Coates, 4th season

Last season: 20-4, lost in second round of playoffs

Key players: Ali Meyer, sr., F; Michelle DeCoud, sr., F; Laura McCarthy, sr., G; Ryley Lane, sr. PG

Outlook: The Bears come off an excellent season, which ended with a disappointing loss in the second round of the 4A state tournament. Palmer Ridge will have a lot of returning experience from the seniors who have played varsity since they were freshmen, including Meyer, who averaged a double-double last season.

Sand Creek

Coach: Jamie Carey, 3rd season

Last season: 21-5, lost in state quarterfinals

Key players: Mikayla Reese, sr., G; J'nae Squires, jr., G; Oliana Squires, so., G; Liah Davis, so., P

Outlook: The Scorpions are loaded with talent and should not only contend for a PPAC title, but also a state championship. Sand Creek's main strength is its guard play, but with seven returning letter winners, this team is well-rounded and will be tough to beat.

 

3A TRI-PEAKS WEST

CSCS

Coach: Mason Young, 1st season

Last season: 6-14

Key players: Ryley Hoekert, sr., F; Aubrey Cox, sr., F; Hannah Swenson, soph., G; Bailey Query, jr., F

Outlook: The Lions struggled to score consistently last season, averaging only 35 points per game. CSCS will put in a new system with Young at the helm and hope to put more points on the board and finish with a better than .500 record.

Manitou Springs

Coach: Jon Asp, 1st season

Last season: 13-10, lost in first round of playoffs

Key players: Kristi Longfield, sr., PG; Shelby Megyeri, fr., G; Brooke Garretson, so. C; Angala Jensen, so., F

Outlook: Youth will definitely play a role for the Mustangs and first-year coach Asp. Sophomores Taylor Bennedict and McKenzi Petricko, plus senior Mattie Schwall will help out.

TCA

Coach: Kasey Lucero, 2nd season

Last season: 17-6, lost in first round of playoffs

Key players: Hannah Carr, sr., C; Courtney Griggs, sr., G; Leah Hinckfoot, jr., G; Kendra Frieden, soph., G

Outlook: The Titans graduated five key players last spring and are starting this season lacking the experience they've had in the past. However, TCA has speed in its guards and some shooters who are starting to come into their own. A strong back court will lead the way for the Titans.

 

3A Tri-PEAKS EAST

St. Mary's

Coach: Mike Burkett, 15th season

Last season: 23-5, lost in 3A state championship game

Key players: Maggie Hartman, soph., G; Sarah Burns, jr., C; Olivia Florek, fr., G; Tess Thomas, sr., F; Sarah Egbert, sr., G

Outlook: The Pirates were painfully close to winning the 3A state title last season, losing to Holy Family in double overtime. St. Mary's returns 10 letter winners and adds some talented underclassmen as it tries to reload and remain one of the best teams in the state. Freshman Olivia Florek takes over the point guard position from big sister Gabi, who was first team all-state last season.

 

2A BLACK FOREST

Calhan

Coach: Katie Parker, Jim Elrick, Hannah Thomas

Last season: 11-8, lost in districts

Key players: Morgan Helton, sr., C; Riley Cookson, sr., G; Katy Mease, sr., PG; Mikaela Parker, soph., G

Outlook: Calhan has a trio of seniors who will be looking to improve on last season's loss in districts and make a run for the state tournament. The 6-foot Helton will provide a lot of scoring and rebounding in the paint, while Cookson and Mease will provide the guard play.

ECA

Coach: Bruce Beers, 12th season

Last season: 18-6, lost in 2A regionals

Key players: Tori Mann, sr., F; Leah Bost, sr., G; Haley Goos, sr., G; Missy Dunbar, sr., G

Outlook: If the Eagles are going to continue their tradition of winning and advancing deep into the playoffs, they will need five freshmen to step up and play quality minutes. ECA lost three talented seniors from last year's team and will look to returning starters Mann and Bost to lead the way.

Miami-Yoder

Coach: Nolan Payne, 3rd season

Last season: 2-14

Key players: Kashley Fuchs, jr.; Samantha Strouse, jr.

Outlook: The Buffaloes will be one of the youngest teams in the state, with nine freshmen. If Miami-Yoder wants to improve on its 2-14 mark from last season, the freshman class will have to play well from the beginning.

Peyton

Coach: Tony Goodman, 7th season

Last season: 21-6, lost in state semifinals

Key players: Shelby Patterson, sr., PG; Victoria Goodman, jr., SG; Aleah Heredia, sr., PF; Robyn Barrett, sr.; Vaden Holmes, sr., SF

Outlook: The Panthers have high expectations and are hoping to make another trip to the 2A state tournament. Peyton has a challenging nonconference schedule, which includes Manitou Springs, Lutheran and a trip to 5A Adams City. What the Panthers will lack in size, they will make up for in speed, depth and experience.

The Vanguard School

Coach: Larry Blondin, 1st season

Last season: 25-2, lost in the state quarterfinals

Key players: Angel McNulty, sr., F; Caitlin Bower, sr., F; Bailey Milroy, jr., F; Ashley Ames, jr., F; Mariah Doom, jr., F

Outlook: The Coursers need to reload after a great season, which saw them gain a berth into the 2A state tournament. Vanguard lost several talented players, but will have size and be strong in the paint. The only downfall may be the inexperience of the bench, which didn't see a lot of playing time last season.

 

2A SOUTHERN PEAKS

Cripple Creek-Victor

Coach: Michelle Eastman

Last season: 2-16

Key players: Sarah Wywias, sr.; Madison Berger, jr.; Karense Zaccardi, sr.; Mikaela Schell, jr.; Autumn Herndon, jr.

Outlook: The Pioneers return several upperclassmen, but have a small squad this year and will need to develop team chemistry to be successful. Cripple Creek-Victor hopes to find enough scoring to be competitive in a strong 2A Black Forest league.

 

1A BLACK FOREST

Colorado School for Deaf and Blind

Coach: Michelle Wintering, 2nd season

Last season: 3-11

Key players: Skylar Sypher, sr.; Patricia Morales, sr.; Maria Duran, jr.

Outlook: A lack of experience could be a challenge, but with five returning letter winners, CSDB could be better. Sypher and Morales will also get support from newcomers Adriana Diaz and Estefany Reyes. Reyes is a transfer from New Mexico.

Not reporting: Mitchell, Widefield, Colorado Springs School, Vista Ridge, Fountain-Fort Carson, Florence, Fountain Valley, Ellicott, James Irwin

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