Here is my previews heading into the 2019-2020 Girls Basketball Season.
EARLY SEASON TOP 21
1. Southfield Arts and Tech
2. West Bloomfield
7. Lake Orion
8. Stoney Creek
11. Royal Oak
12. Bloomfield Hills
14. Troy Athens
15. North Farmington
21. Oak Park
OUTLOOK: The Red looks to be wide open then in years past. Southfield Arts and Tech went to the State Finals last season but they lost two starters and their bench is a huge question mark. West Bloomfield might be the most complete team in this division. They have a ton of balance to make some noise. Clarkston has a year of experience under their belt which should help them. They have had a solid summer league and have every starter back from last season. Stoney Creek has the play makers and should be a story line all season. Bloomfield Hills will need to address some depth troubles. Groves has some questions. Royal Oak lost a ton of talent from last season and could struggle early. This division looks to be very interesting.
SOUTHFIELD ARTS AND TECH WARRIORS
Weakness: Other two starters and Depth.
The Warriors will be a very interesting team to watch this season. Southfield Arts and Tech went to the Division One State Finals before falling to Saginaw Heritage. Coach Michelle Marshall’s team will have three starters back in Cheyenne McEvans, Kayonia Willis, and Jasmine Worthy. They have some questions surrounding their depth along with replacing two starters from last season's team. The schedule is going to be a challenge for the Warriors which is not a surprise for Marshall's squads in the past. They'll play Avondale, Pewamo Westphaila, East Grand Rapids, Ypsilanti Arbor Prep, Flint Carman Ainsworth, and Bishop Noll Institute. Program strength is a question mark. The key for Southfield Arts and Tech will be is if they can production elsewhere besides from McEvans, Willis, and Worthy if they want to make some noise.
WEST BLOOMFIELD LAKERS
Strength: Athleticism, Experience.
Weakness: Mental Mindset especially in Non-League.
The Lakers moved up from the White to the Red after winning the division last season. They could be up for the challenge in their new division. West Bloomfield is loaded with proven experience and talent. They have Mya Bobo, Logan Lewis, Jade Goodloe, Sydney Hendrix, and Lola Chambers for Coach Bert Mosley. Mental mindset could be a question though especially with moving up to a new divison and toughen up schedule. The Lakers toughened up the non-conference slate which includes games against Detroit Renaissance, River Rouge, Flint Kearsley, Harper Woods Chandler Park Academy, and Walled Lake Western. It could be a special season for West Bloomfield.
Weakness: Mental Lapses.
The Wolves will be a team to be a recon with this season. Clarkston will be loaded seeing them in the summer league they will be vastly different. They have every starter back from last season’s team that started off 0-5 with a very tough schedule which includes Taylor Heaten, Madison Skourspki, Kaitlyn Kaul, Sam Aris, Jennifer Starnes, Olivia Toderan, Izzy Hadley, and Lexi Linton for Coach John Weyer. The Wolves have a very tough non-conference slate which includes games against Walled Lake Western, Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes, Ypsilanti Arbor Prep, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep, Lake Orion, and Waterford Kettering. Program strength is very strong as well. The Wolves will be a team to watch for sure this season.
STONEY CREEK COUGARS
Strength: Proven Guards and Wings.
The Cougars will be a very interesting team to watch in 2019-2020. Coach Kellen James’s group returns several key players in Lily DiPani, Devin Vowels, and Sydney LaPrairie returning for Coach Kellen James. Stoney Creek also has some newcomers that are ready to make some noise in Mia Carson even though interior looks to be a concern. They have a tough non-conference with games against Harper Woods Chandler Park Academy, Lake Orion, and Macomb Dakota. The Cougars will be an interesting team to watch this season.
ROYAL OAK RAVENS
Strength: Young Nucleus.
Weakness: Unproven Experience.
The Ravens lost a ton of talent and experience last season but Coach Brian Sopota’s team cupboard is far from bare. Royal Oak has a young nucleus led by Sarah Soraghan. Soraghan became a starter last season and made an impact. The Ravens will need others to step up as they lost a ton of experience from last season. Royal Oak has talent in Sarah Ammon, Anna Ross, Ana Johnson, Elinor Kochanski, Sam Mullen, Lexi Romesburg, and Emily Jenkins. It could be a very interesting year for Sopota and his team especially with non-conference games against Berkley, Novi, Lake Orion, and Walled Lake Northern. Expect some growing pains early but later in the year they could be dangerous.
BLOOMFIELD HILLS BLACKHAWKS
Strength: Guards and Banks.
The Blackhawks are in an very interesting spot this season. Coach Jeff Rubin’s squad lost Maryiam Hashim and Grace Getz to graduation but they have Jordan Banks, Angelina Saavya, and Keleen Fife returning and Banks likely moving to a guard/wing position this year. Bloomfield Hills has questions in the interior even though they will have Melisa Mecaj there. The Blackhawks also have a tough non-conference schedule which includes games against North Farmington, Oxford, and Royal Oak Shrine. Bloomfield Hills could surprise some folks this season.
Weakness: Program Strength.
The Falcons had an interesting year which included upset wins over North Farmington, Bloomfield Hills, and Stoney Creek last season. Groves will have some experience back in Ellie Ruprich and Mia Yarberry. Program strength is a major concern despite fielding all three teams this year. The Falcons non-conference looks very challenging with Oxford, Seaholm, Berkley, Troy Athens, Adams, Royal Oak Shrine, and Lakeland. It could be a very long season for the Falcons this season.
OUTLOOK: The White will have a ton of parity this season. Any team from top to bottom can win the division with how even the teams are is heading into the season. Avondale has to be the early favorite because of talent but they have questions especially when it comes to their depth. Oxford, Lake Orion, Adams, and Troy have a ton of talent back and program strength for each squad is very strong as well. North Farmington will be an interesting team to watch as they come down from the Red. Troy Athens has all their starters back from last season but can they put it together. This could be a fun division to watch all season.
AVONDALE YELLOW JACKETS
Strength: Experience and Size.
The Yellow Jackets in Coach Bob Lees second year will be a team to keep an eye on as they are the preseason favorite in the White. Avondale returns Reigan Lawrence, Keori Lee, and Taniah Jackson. They will add Braila Benion who transferred in from Pontiac last season. The Yellow Jackets will need to address their depth as they could be seven deep. They also have a very tough non-league schedule with games against Waterford Kettering, Southfield Arts and Tech, Birmingham Marian, Novi, Birmingham Detroit Country Day, Carleton Airport, and Seaholm. This will be a team to watch.
The Highlanders should be an interesting team to keep an eye on this season. They have a ton of proven experience returning from a team that battled with Waterford Kettering in the district final last season. Adams has Maggie Doelinga, Amelia Drahnak, Abbey Drahnak, Nicole Clarehout, Laura Petersmark, Elizabeth Blaine, Anaiah Howard, and Maddie Kessman for Coach Shay Lewis. The Highlanders have questions in the interior despite having enough experience. Adams has a very interesting non-conference schedule which includes Utica, Bloomfield Hills, Walled Lake Central, and Waterford Mott. The Highlanders will be a team to watch.
Strength: Work Ethic.
The Wildcats are a team that has a workers mentality as seen in the summer league. Oxford has a ton of experience back in Sarah Tyrell, Emma Morris, Gabby Dinges, Aleah Dymond, and Mackenzie Methner returning for Coach Rachel Bryer. Program strength is very strong from top to bottom which is a plus. The Wildcats have non-conference games against Bloomfield Hills, Walled Lake Central, Armada, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep, Davison, and St. Clair Shores Lakeview. They should be a team to watch this season.
LAKE ORION DRAGONS
Strength: Program Strength.
The Dragons should look vastly different in Coach Bob Brydges second year. Lake Orion is a team on the rise led by Meghan Marshall, Kierra Tierney, Grace Vukeluch, Erin Humes, and Melissa Normand along with newcomers Kacy Lauer, Sydney Maddox, Claudia Staruch, among others. The Dragons will have the balance and program strength is very strong. Lake Orion has a very tough non-conference schedule with games against Stoney Creek, Royal Oak, Lapeer, and Pontiac Notre Dame Prep. There will be an early adjustment period for this team but when everyone is on the same page look out.
Weakness: Interior besides Sampson.
The Colts has a ton of experience returning for a team that made the district finals last season. Troy has Athena Sampson returning in the front court along with Calen Knight, Riya Chakravity, Elena Renke, and Laura Gumma should provide guard depth. Charlotte Sobotka, Alyssa Matuza, and Kayla Rutledge should be impactful players this season for Coach Simon Bato. Program strength looks to be very strong for the Colts. Troy’s non-conference will be interesting with games against Chippewa Valley, Berkley, Waterford Mott, Seaholm, and Pontiac Notre Dame Prep. The Colts will be a team to watch.
NORTH FARMINGTON RAIDERS
Weakness: Interior and Program Strength.
The Raiders moved down from the Red this season and should be an interesting team to watch. North Farmington has their two top players back in Molly Simpson and Maya Kelly but their are issues that still remain for Coach Jeff Simpson. There are two issues that could impact his squad this season, the interior and program strength. They will not field a freshman program this season. The Raiders have a very tough non-conference schedule with games against Groves, Walled Lake Northern, Detroit Cornerstone, Bloomfield Hills, Farmington, and Chicago Philips. They will be a team to watch closely.
TROY ATHENS RED HAWKS
The Red Hawks will look to rebound after a very disappointing one point home loss to Chippewa Valley last season in the district semifinal. Troy Athens will have a ton of experience returning this season in Izzy Crumm, Grace Bright, Abby Bright, Emma Wodwakski, Clare Shoales, and Shayna Landess for coach Stacie Klumpp. The non-conference slate is looks manageable with games against Berkley, Seaholm, Groves, Sterling Heights Stevenson, and an improved Lakeland team. This will be a team to watch.
OUTLOOK: When looking at the Blue it looks like it could be a repeat as last season except there could be one team that wins it outright. Berkley has a ton of young talent back but program strength will be a question. Rochester has their fourth coach in four years but they will be competitive and experienced. Seaholm has a ton of experience back. Farmington should be better. Ferndale has a new coach. Pontiac is always a mystery. Oak Park could struggle. It will be a very interesting division to watch.
Weakness: Program Strength.
The Bears will be an interesting team to watch this season. Berkley has a ton of proven experience from a team that shared the Blue with Rochester a year ago. The Bears have a ton of young talent for Coach Kirk Carolan to work with in Emma Hamilton, Ashley Loon, Charlesa Rice, Lauryn Thomas, and Tessa Voss returning for a team that won 16 games last season. They added a freshman in Jillian Gomes that should help their interior. Berkley has toughened up their non-conference schedule which has Macomb Dakota, Troy, and Madison Heights Bishop Foley. Program strength is a question mark though. The Bears should get a ton of attention this season.
Weakness: Mental Mindset.
The Falcons have their fourth coach in four years as Bill Thurston takes over the program. Thurston has been around the program for four different coaches and he brings his expertise into the program. Rochester will have some talent back in Laura Kucera, Anna Winkler, and Megan Lorenzo. The Falcons shared the Blue with Berkley last season which should be a motivator They should be right back in the thick of the league race this season with the experience they have returning and the team they could be. Rochester has an interesting non-conference slate which includes Waterford Mott, Madison Heights Bishop Foley, Birmingham Detroit Country Day, Adams, and Stoney Creek. They should be a team to watch this season.
Weakness: Program Strength.
This should be a very interesting second year for Coach Chris Manchester and his Maples. Seaholm had a tough adjustment period going from coach turned assistant principal January Hlaski to Manchester last year and it showed early. The Maples have a ton of experience returning in Julia Bell, Meredith Owens, Helena Beasley, Julia Crump, and Lily Morris. Seaholm has a very tough non-conference schedule which includes games against Groves, Lake Orion, Avondale, Troy Athens, Milford, and Stoney Creek. Program strength is a huge concern. The Maples are a team to really keep an eye on especially with how the players can adjust in Manchester’s second season.
The Falcons had a rough year last season but there is optimism for Farmington as they moved down from the White to the Blue this season. The Falcons have Val Pallett and Autumn Bartlett returning for Coach Laura Guzman. Farmington has a very interesting non-conference schedule which includes games against North Farmington, Royal Oak, Madison Heights Bishop Foley, Troy Athens, and a matchup with former coach Dave Browne and Milford. It should be an interesting season for the Falcons.
Weakness: Program Strength.
The Eagles will be an interesting team to watch this season. Keith Paris takes over as the program’s third coach in three years. The question for Paris’s team will be program strength which has been a huge concern because of the low numbers (don't field sub-varsity teams.) Ferndale has Keneshia Williams and Kyra Newman returning which is a good starting point. It will take some time for Paris to put his program in place and when he does they can go places. The non-conference schedule looks favorable with the exception of playing Detroit Edison. I don’t know if Ferndale is ready to take that next step right now.
The Phoenix are in an interesting place right now. Pontiac still has athletes and will be competitive for Coach Christopher Wright. The Phoenix have been making strides despite not having a ton of depth to work with. They have some tough non-conference games looming against Bloomfield Hills and Birmingham Detroit Country Day. Pontiac will be a team to keep an eye on this season.
OAK PARK KNIGHTS
The Knights could be in for a challenging season this year again for coach Peggy Carr. Kyla Wilson is back for Oak Park but the schedule looks very challenging. It could be a long season as mentioned for the Knights.
My Podcast from November 26th.
My Podcast from December 2nd.
My Podcast from December 2nd.