Girls Hoops Preview
North Bayside looks wide open
Defensive wizard and offensive weapon Se’Ri Miles returns for Kent Island High’s girls’ basketball team for her senior season, but after graduating four starters the defending Bayside Conference champion Buccaneers will likely get challenged this season.
Kent Island breezed unbeaten through conference competition last season before finishing the season with a 25-2 record. The Buccaneers’ second loss came in their return trip to the Class 2A state semifinals, where they fell to eventual state champion New Town. The Bucs dispatched Elkton to win the 2A East Region after knocking out Queen Anne’s and Wicomico. Queen Anne’s had advanced to the Section II final with a victory over Easton. Cambridge-South Dorchester advanced to the Class 1A East Region final with commanding victories over North Dorchester and Colonel Richardson before falling to Pocomoke.
Saints Peter and Paul went 17-5 and won the Eastern Shore Independent Athletic Conference postseason tournament with a two-point win over Worcester Prep.
How will this season’s action unfold?
According to Mark Potter, who leaves Sts. Peter and Paul to begin his second head coaching stint at North Caroline, the North Bayside is wide open.
“Queen Anne’s, Easton, and Cambridge are loaded with young talent. Kent Island still has Se’Ri Miles. North Dorchester has a new coach and a freshman point guard and then you have Kent County, St. Michaels, and Colonel who always play hard,” he said.
Here’s a look at this year’s teams as the new season gets underway. Cambridge-SD
With only one senior, the Vikings still have a young team, although three players on head coach Bruce Springer’s roster saw action as starters last season.
Gone from last season’s squad, which went 11-12, is four-year varsity starter Jazhana Butler.
Senior Ashia Wright returns and will be joined by juniors Alexa Harris, Abby Robinson, Natalya Pritchett, and Catherine Linthicum. Sophomores on the squad are Morgan Tracy, Brooke Windsor, Sarah Brooks, and Jade Ward. Four ninth-graders have made the varsity roster: Kenya Jones, Ja’Nae Smith, Jazmine Walker, and Isabell Reynolds. Colonel Richardson
The Colonels, guided by head coach Tom Coursey and assistant Morgan Pecile, will look to improve
on last season’s 5-16 campaign. Guiding the way will be junior point guard Raven Hammond. She’ll be joined in the backcourt by ninth-grader Markayla Wilson and sophomores Cassidy Stubbs and Megan Stubbs, who will both also see action at forward.
Seniors Briana Kane and Tiarah Martin, juniors Adrianna Ayers and Brianna Wilmer, and sophomores Meredith Camacho and Jayonia Jackson play forward. Colonel hosts St. Michaels in its opener.
The Warriors return starters Ellie Roser, Myia Jeter, and Emily Griffith and several players that saw significant playing time last season, including Jaylen Howie, Abi Detrich, Jahnaysha Cornish, and Maddie Hickey.
Roser and Cornish are both senior guards. Howie and Ariyonna Gibson are forwards playing their senior season.
Jeter, a guard, is expected to have her hands on the ball a lot as is Griffith, a forward; both are sophomores.
Two more sophomores, Detrich and Caroline Miller, will play center. Hickey, a guard, is Easton’s lone junior.
Ninth-graders on the varsity are Lilly Osborne, Abby Farr, Jessica Millard, and Giselle Harris.
“We are very young but athletic and hope to be competitive with the top teams in the Bayside by the end of the year,” head coach Matt Griffith said.
Despite graduation losses, Kent Island should still be highly-competitive, especially with the return of Miles, a 1,000-point scorer, and with the expectation of success under head coach David Plumer.
The Bucs will have to find some additional offense after the graduation of another 1,000-point scorer, Hannah Moran.
Along with her scoring ability, Miles had 101 steals last season, including three in the state semifinal. Joining Miles at guard will be juniors Jordan Grard and Anna Bowen, who will run the offense. Blair Goodrich, who saw extensive playing time last season as a ninth-grader, will play forward, and Areej Khan is a senior center expected to start.
Coming off the bench will be senior Gabby Beach (F), junior Marissa Plumer (G), and freshman Savannah Stevens (F).
“We only have one returning starter so obviously we’re young on the court, but right now they’re learning a lot and we assume we’ll be ready throughout the season,” Coach Plumer said. “I anticipate this team being better toward the end of the season. … I’ll don’t expect to go out and blow anybody out or anything like that, but Se’Ri Miles has been Bayside Player of the Year a couple of times. She certainly will be able to carry a team until the other girls get up to speed. But this is definitely one of the younger teams I’ve had.”
Potter, who coached Sts. Peter and Paul the last four years, is back as head coach at North Caroline after a five-run run as the Bulldogs’ coach beginning in 2008.
The Bulldogs have a tough early schedule with Stephen Decatur and Crisfield in the first week and Kent Island and Easton before the holiday break.
“We have come a long way since November 15 and will take it one day at a time,” Potter said.
Kayla Price (F) and Sarah Taylor (C) are expected to lead the team along with fellow seniors Megan Robbins (G), Lakysha Moaney (G), and Daejour Phillips (G). Juniors Angel Brown (C), Hannah Ringgold (C), and YaKenda Carroll (F) are expected to provide rebounding for the Bulldogs.
Sophomore forward Camryn Pepper is a projected starter along with freshman guards Hailey Temple and Kandice Thomas, who “provide athleticism and speed to our defense,” Potter said.
Sophomores Sami Clement (F) and Tahyliah Thomas (F) look to provide a spark off the bench.
“As you can see, we will be young,” Potter said. “But it will be a great learning experience for the team. We look to compete day-in and day-out, limit our mistakes, and hope to be our best by mid-February.”
Tiffany Cephas takes over as head coach for a team that includes three players that share her last name.
“Like most coaches, I’m looking to have a better season than last year and be the best. We have a great group of girls that love to play,” Cephas said.
The Eagles expect solid play from seniors Jamaya Conaway (C), Tonia Cephas (F), Nicole Waples (G), and Isabella Warren (G).
“Jamaya, my leading scorer last year, who is absolutely amazing in the paint, is returning for her senior year,” Coach Cephas said. “We also have a freshman, Breisha Cephas [G], who is my daughter, who brings a lot to the team.”
Rounding out the Eagles’ squad are juniors Kendall Clough (F), Breonna Roberts (F), Jenna Usilton (G), Kalifa Hudson (C), and Lexie Mills (C), sophomore Trinity Cephas (F), and ninth-graders Tyana Cuffee (F), Jakiya Davis (G), and Sandra Reyes (G).
The Lions return only three from last season’s squad: senior for ward Kelly Cavanagh, junior guard Shannon Donovan, and junior forward MaKenzy Hudock.
“We are a bit inexperienced compared to past years. We lost six seniors,” head coach Mike Kern said. “We look to be very competitive this year; we have a little learning curve and may take some bumps early, but by mid-season we should be where we need to be. We are very athletic and have been working very hard. I’m excited about this group.”
Ali Harris returns for her senior year and plays forward. Remaining juniors include Aryelle Miles (G), Alyssa Robinson (G), and Brooke Gordan (G). Abby Blanchard and Claudia Leshinskie are sophomore guards. Freshmen Jiyah Hollis (F) and Jurnee Wilson (G) complete the roster.
The Saints picked up their first win in more than six years last season when they beat North Dorchester 4847 during the regular season. Firstyear head coach Valerie Stinchcomb hopes her squad can earn a few more victories this season. She’ll look for leadership from seniors, center Jasmine Robinson and forward Gracyn Colburn. Rounding out the probable starting five will be junior Olivia Shreves (G) and sophomores Shamyia Murray (G) and Sincere Taylor (F).
Three ninth-graders are also expected to see plenty of time on the court: Hannah Feek (C), Noah Bechtal (G/F), and Makia Morton (F).
“Right now it’s not so much as going into basic skills, it’s like utilizing their skills to the best of their ability when going against other teams,” Stinchcomb said of her team’s mindset so far. “A big thing also that we’ve been trying to do is to build confidence within the girls … being mentally strong and being the young ladies that they are, taking that to the court and off the court.”
Sts. Peter and Paul
Caroline Murphy, a shooting guard and forward, and Sarah Rust, a forward, return for their senior season. Junior Cat Christian returns to handle the ball at point guard. Two players expected to contribute suffered knee injuries during soccer and field hockey seasons, but first-year head coach Mike Belasco expects his ninth and 10th-graders to quickly contribute.
“We run a freestyle read-and-react system that usually takes a year or two to learn,” Belasco said. “We want the girls to learn how to move on the floor without the need of ‘robotic’ set plays. They need to learn how to anticipate and react to what’s happening in front of them. We’re basically learning on each possession, emphasizing the proper fundamentals that will give them more confidence in playing.”
Rounding out the varsity are junior Sophia Marciniak (G), sophomores Karis Ward (G), Caroline Schilling (G), Sam Harrington (G/F), and ninth-graders Caroline McKelvy (F), Morgan Kimminau (G), Amanda McKinnon (F), and Mayerli Puacar (G).
“I feel we have the toughest nonconference schedule on the Shore,” Belasco said, “including Severn School and St. Mary’s from the very strong IAAM ‘B’ conference, St. Thomas More from Delaware, and Kent Island from Bayside. We’re going to take our lumps but will be a much stronger team from it for our stretch run in the ESIAC.”
The Herons feature a mix of experience and youth with six returning players and eight freshmen on their roster.
“Already, the team has shown tremendous improvement and appear to become a competitor this season,” head coach Koula Strosnider said.
Heidi Barcus (F), Brennan Paddy (G), and Ryleigh Paskoski (G) are seniors on the roster. Marisa Pisapia (G) is the lone junior on the team. Sophomores include Eileen Ashley (F), Natalie Cockey (G), Annabelle Gillespie (F), and Lily Judd (G).
The Herons travel to Worcester Prep for their opener on Monday.
Kent Island High’s Se’Ri Miles works on offense defended by New Town’s Maraiyah Smith during last season’s Class 2A state semifinals at Towson University’s SECU Arena. Miles is the only returning starter for the Bucs this season.