Lions be­gin the class of North

State fi­nal­ist Queen Anne’s sport­ing a nice mix of re­turn­ing ta­lent and new­com­ers

Record Observer - - SPORTS - By CHRIS KNAUSS ck­[email protected]­dem.com

Queen Anne’s County pro­duced the best reg­u­lar sea­son and post­sea­son run last year among Mid-shore high schools. It was also the Lions’ best sea­son of girls’ bas­ket­ball in school his­tory.

The Lions went 24-3 in a sea­son in which they won the North Bay­side cham­pi­onship, the Class 2A East Re­gion ti­tle, and earned a trip to the state fi­nal.

Queen Anne’s de­feated South Re­gion cham­pion Oak­land Mills in the state semi­fi­nal, 57-47, at Tow­son Univer­sity’s SECU Arena be­fore fall­ing in the fi­nal to Poolesville, 63-23. The Lions ousted Eas­ton 44-29 in the Sec­tion II fi­nal and elim­i­nated Elk­ton 63-51 in the re­gional fi­nal. Eas­ton had knocked out Kent Is­land, 44-30, in the sec­tional semis.

With seven re­turn­ing play­ers and some new ta­lent, Queen Anne’s looks like a solid con­tender again for the North Bay­side ti­tle with Eas­ton pos­ing per­haps the Lions’ great­est chal­lenge.

“I think Eas­ton is ac­tu­ally the team to beat,” North Caro­line head coach Mark Pot­ter said. “They prob­a­bly have the most com­plete start­ing five and play to­gether as a team. I would buy a ticket to see Queen Anne’s and Eas­ton! Watch out for Colonel Richard­son. I am hear­ing good things about their pre-sea­son so only time will tell!”

The Mid-shore’s 1A schools strug­gled in the play­offs last sea­son. The sea­sons for North Dorch­ester and Cam­bridge-south Dorch­ester ended in the East Sec­tion II semi­fi­nals, and St. Michaels, Colonel Richard­son, and Kent County got knocked out in the first round.

But all the teams have a dif­fer­ent makeup now. Over­all, the com­pe­ti­tion level seems height­ened, ac­cord­ing to coaches’ re­ports, with more ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers that have im­proved their skills. Here’s a look at this sea­son’s teams: Cam­bridge-south

Dorch­ester

The Vikings ap­pear to be the wild­card in this sea­son’s out­look. They re­turn two starters from last sea­son’s 1210 team that handed Queen Anne’s its only reg­u­lar-sea­son loss.

Re­turn­ing for the Vikings are se­nior point guard Abby Robin­son, ju­nior power for­ward Brooke Wind­sor, and their lead­ing scorer from last sea­son, Kenya Jones, a sopho­more. Pos­si­ble starters in­clude se­niors Alexa Har­ris and Cati Linthicum and ju­niors Jade Ward, Mor­gan Tracy, and Sarah Lewis. New­comer Bre Palmer, a se­nior, “is a pleas­ant sur­prise,” head coach Bruce Springer said. Also show­ing prom­ise are sopho­mores Janae Smith, Makayla Dock­ins, Is­abela Reynolds, and Alexus Spriggs.

Colonel Richard­son Head coach Tom Coursey likes what he’s seen from his play­ers so far as the Colonels look to im­prove on a 4-17 record of last sea­son.

Likely starters are se­niors Raven Ham­mond (G) and Bri­ana Willmer (F), ju­nior

Jay­onia Jack­son (F), and sopho­mores Markayla Wil­son (G) and Kersene Austinville ©.

“We had two scrim­mages and we were able to play well in both scrim­mages,” Coursey said. “We have a lot of re­turnees from a year ago. So right now the team looks real good. It’s just a mat­ter of us play­ing well to­gether.”

The Colonels’ 13-player ros­ter in­cludes new­comer Me­gan Kirk, a ju­nior trans­fer. “She comes with a lot of ex­pe­ri­ence,” Coursey said.

Eas­ton

The War­riors, who went

15-6 last sea­son, look like a top con­tender in the North with new ad­di­tions bol­ster­ing a solid re­turn­ing cast.

“We have four new ar­rivals that should help im­pact the team im­me­di­ately on the floor,” War­riors head coach Matt Grif­fith said. “Get­ting this team to play with the chem­istry the team played with last year will be vi­tal to our suc­cess. Our goal will be, to get bet­ter by one per­cent ev­ery day. If we can do that we hope­fully will have a chance to com­pete with the top teams in the Bay­side by sea­son’s end.”

Re­turn­ing for Eas­ton are se­nior Mad­die Hickey, ju­niors Myia Jeter, Emily Grif­fith, Abi Det­rich, and Caro­line Miller, and sopho­mores Lily Os­borne and Abby Farr. New ar­rivals are se­nior Cat Chris­tian and ninth-graders Ashtyn Fin­ney, Kylie Briger­man, and Rachel Lapp.

Kent County

Like last sea­son, the Tro­jans are young and in­ex­pe­ri­enced, but they have some mul­ti­sport ath­letes who should im­prove through­out the sea­son.

Key play­ers could be se­nior Kelsey Dump­son (G), ju­nior Mat­tie Ce­sarini (G), sopho­more Olivia Jones (F/C), and ninth-graders Syd­ney Usil­ton (G), and Cheyenne Block­ston (G).

Round­ing out the 11-player ros­ter are se­nior Jaylin Fair­bank (F), sopho­mores Ty­janne Ste­wart (G), Deja Daw­son (F) and Kate Ervin (F), and ninth-graders Jade Cald­well (F) and Alana Fithian-wil­son (F).

“It’s the same thing I’ve done the last few years, teach them the game of bas­ket­ball, teach them how to en­joy the game of bas­ket­ball, and im­prove skills,” Tro­jans head coach Car­roll Jack­son-smith said. “I can prom­ise you and any­one else, they get bet­ter as time goes on. They’re very coach­able and they’re ath­letes.” Kent Is­land The Buc­ca­neers al­ways seem to play solid de­fen­sively, but this year, after the grad­u­a­tion of high-scor­ing Se’ri Miles (now play­ing for Ch­e­sa­peake Col­lege), they will need to be even stingier.

Like Kent County, the Bucs have tal­ented ath­letes still learn­ing the game of bas­ket­ball.

Key re­turn­ers are se­niors Jor­dan Grard (G) and Melissa Plumer (G), ju­nior Blair Goodrich (F), and sopho­more cen­ter Sa­van­nah Stevens.

“We have some ques­tions,” head coach David Plumer said. “We’re young, we’re su­per young. We only have three se­niors, but we’ve got some multi-sport ath­letes that ex­cel at other sports, so we ex­pect to be good. … I’m not go­ing to tell you we’re go­ing to have our best year, but we’ll com­pete.”

North Caro­line

The Bull­dogs re­turn three starters from last sea­son, and ac­cord­ing to Pot­ter, they are “im­proved and have ex­panded their bas­ket­ball IQ.”

Ju­nior Cam­ryn Pep­per is joined by sopho­mores Kandice Thomas and Hai­ley Tem­ple on a young squad that again fea­tures two ninth­graders, Hai­ley Ch­ester and Syd­ney Baker.

Han­nah Ring­gold and An­gel Brown are the only two se­niors and both are ex­pected to con­trib­ute in the paint. Tahliah Thomas, a ju­nior, should add some scor­ing and ag­gres­sive­ness on the de­fen­sive end, Pot­ter said.

Ju­niors Sami Cle­ment and Vi­o­let Clarke should see ac­tion com­ing off the bench.

“We will con­tinue to stress fun­da­men­tals and work on de­vel­op­ing team chem­istry,” Pot­ter said. “We hope to com­pete with the con­fer­ence elite, Queen Anne, Eas­ton, and Kent Is­land, by the time we get to the sec­ond sea­son. It is one game at a time in hopes of im­prov­ing each time we step on the floor.”

North Dorch­ester Ea­gles head coach Tif­fany Cephas is get­ting some help this sea­son from Jas­mine Robin­son, who is the founder and head coach of the Del­marva Di­vas trav­el­ing team.

The Ea­gles were good last sea­son, fin­ish­ing 10-10, and with seven re­turn­ing play­ers this sea­son could be even bet­ter.

Cephas said se­nior for­wards Kendall Clough and Is­abella Roberts are the team’s “key play­ers who both have great lead­er­ship” along with sopho­more guard Breisha Cephas who “brings ex­pe­ri­ence and de­ter­mi­na­tion to our team.” As a ninth-grader last sea­son, Breisha Cephas led the Ea­gles in scor­ing and steals.

Also ex­pected to see plenty of ac­tion are se­niors Lexie Mills (C), Brit­tany Nixon (G), Abra­janae Ricks (C), and Jenna Usil­ton (G). Trin­ity Cephas (F) is the only ju­nior. Jakiya Davis is a sopho­more guard.

“We are look­ing to have an amaz­ing sea­son and an even bet­ter sea­son this year,” Coach Cephas said. “These are a group of well-rounded ath­letes. I look for­ward to see­ing what our sea­son to­gether will bring.”

Queen Anne’s County The Lions, led by se­niors Makenzy Hu­dock, Shan­non Dono­van, and Brooke Gor­don, should be among the con­fer­ence’s top teams again.

Hu­dock scored 185 points last sea­son and pulled down

210 re­bounds. Dono­van con­trib­uted 86 steals, and Gor­don pumped in 17 3-point­ers.

Also re­turn­ing for the Lions are ju­niors Abby Blan­chard and Clau­dia Leshin­skie and sopho­mores Jiyah Hol­lis and Jurnee Wil­son. Hol­lis scored

200 points and grabbed 200 re­bounds last sea­son, and Wil­son con­trib­uted 165 points and 78 steals.

New­com­ers ex­pected to con­trib­ute are sopho­more Kas­sidy Robin­son and ninth­graders Kendall Moxey and Asia Reed.

Mike Kern, now in his sev­enth year as head coach, said his team fea­tures “very ath­letic guards” and has “some size in the post” in Hu­dock, Hol­lis, and Moxey.

Gun­ston

The Herons, who com­pete in the Eastern Shore In­de­pen­dent Ath­letic Con­fer­ence, are young with only one se­nior, Marisa Pis­apia. Eight ninth-graders are listed on the ros­ter.

“We are a very young team that will play sev­eral fresh­men and sopho­mores through­out the year,” Herons first-year head coach Brian Aikin said. “We are still find­ing out a good ro­ta­tion but get­ting bet­ter ev­ery time we step on the court. They are a group that is will­ing to learn and wants to earn the op­pos­ing team’s re­spect. As the sea­son pro­gresses, I see the team mak­ing strides, and im­prov­ing on last year’s re­sults.”

Ju­niors on the team are An­nie Bam­ford and Annabelle Gille­spie, and sopho­mores are Bri Bar­rett-kennedy, Olivia Her­shey, Emma Mcclary, Syd­ney Nit­tle, and El­lie Wil­son.

Saints Peter and Paul Saints Peter and Paul, which also com­petes in the ESIAC, is fac­ing a re­build­ing sea­son, but has an ex­pe­ri­enced coach­ing staff. Lisa Mor­rell is back after coach­ing the Sabres for 21 years un­til 2012. She is get­ting help from long­time as­sis­tant Jim Samiec.

“It’s vir­tu­ally a brand new team with many, many kids who have never played bas­ket­ball be­fore,” Mor­rell said.

SSPP opened its sea­son Mon­day with a 45-15 loss to Holly Grove Chris­tian School.

“We found out that we’re go­ing to need to fo­cus on de­fense … we’re go­ing to fo­cus on de­fense and re­bound­ing and see if we can con­trol the game a lit­tle bit bet­ter from that end,” Mor­rell said. “It’s tough with many play­ers who have never played, but they have a lot of en­thu­si­asm. They want to learn. And in my opin­ion they’ve al­ready got­ten a lot bet­ter just in the two weeks we’ve been prac­tic­ing.”

Se­niors on the ros­ter are Emily Con­lon, Kaely Rowlan, and Mor­gan Schisler. Ju­niors are Saman­tha Har­ring­ton and Caro­line James. Michaela Forster is a sopho­more and four ninth-graders round out the team: Ash­ley Grana­dos­martinez, Olivia Hens­ley, Jyra Hol­land, and Elis­a­beth Snapp.

Edi­tor’s note: In­for­ma­tion was not avail­able from St. Michaels.

PHOTO BY CHRIS KNAUSS

Queen Anne’s County’s Jurnee Wil­son tries to drib­ble away from Eas­ton’s Lilly Os­borne dur­ing a game last sea­son. Wil­son, who had a strong fresh­man sea­son for the Lions, will be re­turn­ing for a squad com­ing off a 24-3 sea­son and earned their first-ever trip to the Class 2A state fi­nal.

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