Despite losses, Bucs still class of North
Lions should give defending division, Class 2A East Region champions run for money
A new season brings five new head coaches and a new crop of players into the fray as the MidShore’s high school girls’ basketball teams get underway.
Last season’s North Bayside champion, Kent Island, completed an undefeated regular season and won the Class 2A East Region title before falling in the state semifinals. The Buccaneers topped Queen Anne’s County 6931 in the region semifinal and defeated Elkton 80-38 in the final.
The Bucs should be solid again despite the loss of Olivia Diphilippo (Shenandoah University) and Maya Robinson (Chesapeake College). They were so dominant last season, their entire roster gained experience playing at the varsity level. High-scoring Se’Ri Miles is back along with a contingent of talented athletes.
Also with plenty of athletes returning, Queen Anne’s should be a top team in the Bayside Conference despite preseason injuries.
The Class 1A picture seems a bit fuzzier with rosters filled with underclassmen, but CambridgeSouth Dorchester should again be the team to beat. The Vikings reached the East Region final last season where they fell to Pocomoke.
Here’s a look at this season’s local teams:
Kent Island The Bucs will start four seniors that saw plenty of action last season. Senior Nina Cifolilli will play point guard and will be joined in the backcourt by senior Hannah Moran and junior Se’Ri Miles. Seniors Ali Patchett (forward) and Jahtera Kaih (center) complete the starting five.
“We’ll have a pretty good rotation this year because having four senior starters we need to get some of the younger players in,” Bucs head coach David Plumer said. He said freshman guard Blair Goodrich will likely see extended time on the court along with junior guard Alex Tiepe and junior center Lexi Dodge.
“Between Jahtera and Lexi, I think it’s going to take both of them to do Olivia’s job but with Ali Patchett being a post player to help guide them through,” Plumer said. “The point guard position is obviously a tough position to replace because they’re your quarterback and they’re controlling the tempo and the flow of the game for you out there. But Nina was a backup to Mya last year, so she got extended minutes. We’re completely confident she can come in and do her job … a lot of extended games for us, a lot of extended minutes for kids that are still with us now, and some experience from a player like Se’Ri. She’ll lead the way for sure. She’s experienced and has tasted that final four, so there’s definitely some motivation to do some big things again this year as well.”
Queen Anne’s The Lions limp into the season, but have a solid cast of returning athletes that should make them one of the conference’s best.
Seniors Emma Hill and Madison Ascione and junior Allie Harris are injured but are expected to return. The seven other players on the roster are sophomore forward Makenzy Hudock, senior guard/forward Emily Poad, senior guard Meagan Lukehart, junior forward Kelly Cavanagh, senior guard Becka Clay, sophomore guard Shannon Donovan, and senior forward Kailey Boomer.
“I thought we could just pick up where we left off but then we had all these injuries,” Lions head coach Mike Kern said. “So it’s
kind of slowed us up a little bit, but the good thing is we’re going to get other people playing time and experience and that’s going to make us better when they all get healthy.”
The entire team is made up of multi-sport athletes. Once the Lions get oriented to playing basketball again, Kern expects his team to produce offense throughout the lineup.
“We’ll be well-rounded scoring-wise; it’s not going to be just Emma and Kelly,” he said. “We’re very athletic. A lot of them didn’t touch a basketball until November 15th, so we’re trying to get the rust off, trying to improve our fundamental skills.”
Sts. Peter & Paul Head coach Mark Potter likes the Sabres’ depth. Last season’s team, which reached the Eastern Shore Independent Athletic Conference title game, consisted of seven players. He’s got a dozen this season, although five are freshmen.
Handling the point is sophomore Cat Christian. Rounding out the starters are junior guard Caroline Murphy, senior guard/ forward Jennifer Douglas, senior forward Megan Hickey, junior center Sarah Rust, and junior guard/forward Julia D’Albora.
Sophomore guard Sophia Marciniak will see plenty of time along with freshmen point guard Karis Ward and guard Caroline Shilling.
Rounding out the squad are freshmen forward Samantha Harrington and guards Breanna Mood and Christiana Mood.
“I think that as long as we can continue to develop, we’re going to be better than we have been the last two years,” Potter said. “We’re more athletic overall and we finally have a little depth coming off the bench.”
Mike Belasco is co-coaching with Potter this season.
Gunston The Herons graduated six from a team that won three games last season.
Head coach Jim Meehan hopes to build around four returners — Brennan Paddy (Jr.), Ryleigh Paskoski (Jr.), Marisa Pisapia (So.) and Heidi Barcus (Jr.). After laying a foundation last season, Meehan will try and expand this season with a motion offense, working in the likes of guards Alice Agee (Sr.), Momoka Watanabe (Jr.), Annabelle Gillespie (Fr.) and Lily Judd (Fr.).
Kent Island’s Se’Ri Miles drives past Elkton’s Vanessa Dunn during last season’s Class 2A East Region championship.