Wednesday, November 22, 2000

Girls basketball preview

Mason unanimous choice as best in Division I McNicholas tops Div. II-IV poll

By Dave Schutte
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        When it comes to girls basketball in the Cincinnati area, very little has changed since the 1996-97 season.

        For the fifth consecutive year, Mason was voted No.1 in The Cincinnati Enquirer's Division I preseason poll. Mercy, Colerain, Sycamore and Princeton round out the top five.

        Five of the top 10 teams are from the Greater Miami Conference and four are from the Girls Greater Cincinnati League.

        Unlike Division I, the Division II-IV preseason poll is crowded at the top. No.1 McNicholas totaled 121 points and edged Springboro and Hamilton Badin, who tied at No.2, by one point. Wyoming is No.4 and within striking distance at 106 points.

        Although Mason, ranked No.9 in the USA Today Super 25 poll, was a unanimous choice, the Comets may not be as dominant as in past seasons.

        With Michelle Munoz and Jere' Issenmann the only returning starters from last season's state championship team, coach Gerry Lackey must rely on many players without varsity experience.

        “It's hard to say, but we may be very overrated,” Lackey said. “There's so many good teams in Cincinnati and the state and there's not much difference.”

        Munoz, a preseason All America who has signed with Tennessee, averaged 20 points and eight rebounds last season. The University of Illinois-bound Issenmann, who averaged 10 points, four assists and three steals, is the Comets' outside threat.

        “Michelle and Jere' will be the bulk of our offense, especially early on,” Lackey said. “Once the other girls get experience, they will become more comfortable.”

        Junior Nicole Stein has assumed the point guard position, and Rachael Minnich is at the shooting guard spot. Stacy Shull, who was used frequently last season, will start at forward.

        “Staying out of foul trouble and remaining healthy are concerns,” Lackey said. “Defense will be a key. We may not put as many points on the board, but we're going to be a good team.”
        2. Mercy

        The strength of this season's Bobcat team will be on the inside, with returning starters Angie Heintz, Melissa Clavier and Siobhan Zerilla, along with Kim Stern. Starters Jennifer Winright and Erin Mullen return at the guard positions.

        But the Bobcats have not been able to work together much, since some players have just finished with fall sports.

        “We're two to three weeks behind because of the success of the soccer and volleyball teams,” Huismann said. 3. Colerain

        Since Chris Trentman took over as coach three years ago, the Cardinals have gone 38-8.

        With double-figure scorers Quanita Hailey and Katie Haggard back, along with Annie Wessels and Alysa Croxton, look for the Cardinals to post another outstanding record.
        4. Sycamore

        Although hit hard by graduation, coach Paula Hayden's Aviators will be an experienced team with veterans Jesica Fitzwilson, Jenny Kimmey and Emily Schwerdtmann.
        5. Princeton

        It's another reloading year at Princeton. Coach Jerry Stein will rely on returning players Brie Bradshaw, Dee Davis, Jamie Skoog and Katie McNamara. 6. Mt. Notre Dame

        With no returning starters and only four letter winners back, the Cougars will rely on seniors Liz Engel and Liz Braun. 7. Oak Hills

        The Highlanders' first season in the Greater Miami Conference should be rewarding, with the help of veteran players Danielle Dietrich, Jackie Cornelius, Stacey Fehr, Vanessa Laug, Michelle Holmes and Amanda Sauers. 8. Lakota West

        Cara Wright, Andrea Carlberg, Tara Swift and Stephanie Comisar have performed well in preseason scrimmages and will key players. 9. McAuley

        The Mohawks return nine letter-winners, including post players Lisa Kampschmidt, Kristen Rust and Nicole Koenig. Three-year starter Nikki Lichtenfeld and Amanda Hoffman will start at guard. 10. Ursuline

        The Lions' strength will be at the guard positions with veterans Erin Davren and Whitney Klein. However, the the team lacks height, which might be tough to overcome.
        Division II-IV
        1. McNicholas
        The return of seven letter-winners, including four starters, is the reason for the Rockets' top ranking. Look for returnees Ashley Clark, Kendra Hornschemeier and Lynn Oberschmidt to lead. 2. Badin
        Although Badin lost lost three starters from last season's state runner-up team to graduation, veteran coach Dan Purcell will look to Amy Morner, Cydney Overton, Angela Vilkoski and Molly Brennan to continue the winning tradition.
        2. Springboro

        The Panthers return their entire starting lineup, including double-figure scorers Kelsey Sullivan, Lindsay Wight and Becky Ballard.
        4. Wyoming
        Quickness, speed and defense carried a young Wyoming team last season and coach Deb Gentile will rely on those traits again.

        But this season the Cowboys will be a veteran team, with Maria McCarthy and Jenni McGee, Monica Hoyles, Mary Bell, Marla Anderson and Laura Verhaeghe returning.
        5. Roger Bacon
        Although the Spartans graduated seven seniors from last season's team, Ellie Hazelbaker, Rose Frentsos and Julie Metz are back. With help from the younger players, Roger Bacon could hold the ranking.
        6. Purcell Marian
        One of the surprise teams of the 1999-2000 season with a 12-9 record, coach Mike Peddicord's Cavaliers will look to returning staters Patti White, Keri Finnell, Saundra Hall and Melisha Reese.
        7. Madeira

        A disciplined team under coach Dave Schlensker that controls the tempo, the Amazons will be led by returning starters Lindsey Barnhart, Amanda Davis and Amy Mackris.
        8. North College Hill

        First-year coach Joanna Sears inherits a Trojans team that started four freshmen and won 17 consecutive games last season after losing its opener.

        Michele Miller and Amber Flynn will team with LaTosha Johnson and Shamika Johnson to challenge in the Miami Valley Conference. 9. Kings

        The Fox sisters, Sarah and Lauren, along with Kellie McClung and Julie Roudabush, will be the mainstays for a Knights team that must adjust to first-year coach Katie Moeller.
        10. Little Miami

        The underrated Panthers return Courtney Balser, Ashley Richardson, Jackie Chamberlain, Jill Smiley, Mary Werden and Stephanie Journeay from last season.


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