In the Lenawee County Athletic Association, the team to beat once again will be Ida (20-3, 12-0), which has won five straight LCAA crowns, eight of the last 10, and 11 in coach Tim Leonard s 15 seasons.
In battling the challenge of top contenders Hudson and Blissfield, the Bluestreaks return junior starters Erin Bentley (5-3, guard) and Kyrie Cramer (6-2, post), plus letter winners Rachel Sepesy (5-3, senior, guard) and Kayla Spotts (5-10, junior, forward).
A lot will depend on our bench and who steps up from game to game, Leonard said. We have a lot of opportunity and possibility. We just have to make sure somebody steps up and gets the job done.
Blissfield (18-6, 8-4 LCAA) has two junior starters back in Amanda Opel (5-10, forward) and Margaret Faulkner (5-8, swing), who each averaged around eight points per game in 2005. Helping out will be senior letter winners Erica DeVantier (5-6, guard) and Callie Slomski (5-8, forward).
But the biggest boost for the Royals, who reached the regional last year, may be provided by the seven players who played on a 20-0 junior varsity team last year.
It should be a fun year, said second-year coach Gary Brink. We re going to rotate in a lot of different players, and we re going to press and fastbreak. We re going to do a lot of running and shooting. Potentially, we could have another real good year.
Erie Mason (6-15, 3-9) looks to improve with three returning senior starting guards including cousins Kayla Cousino (5-4) and Kelly Cousino (5-6), and Danielle Smith (5-1). Four other letter winners return.
We should make an improvement, said 25th-year coach Bryan Parran. A lot depends on how our post players come along and how well we rebound. If we re able to score consistently, we ll also be better offensively.
Dundee (3-18, 0-12) has nowhere to go but up and third-year coach Jay Haselschwerdt thinks the Vikings will make a climb behind four returning starters.
Back are seniors Jessica Booher (5-7, forward) and Jessica Balowski (5-4, guard) and juniors Allie Kominek (5-3, guard) and Kasey Orr (6-2, post).
We should be right in the middle of things in the conference and we have pretty high expectations, Haselschwerdt said. We had a good summer, and hopefully that ll carry over. We want to turn things around and earn some respect for Dundee basketball.
Monroe (22-4, 10-2) looks to again compete for a crown with defending Michigan Mega Conference division champion Inkster, and for another solid tourney run.
Last year s Trojans matched the Class-A state quarterfinal tournament run of the 22-3 team from 2004.
New head coach Matt Benge counts on returning senior starters Jade Gaston (5-3, guard) and Cassidy Lay (5-6, guard), along with returning letter winners Kendra Stadler (5-9, senior, forward) and Ariel Hatcher (5-11, junior, post).
I have high expectations for this team, Benge said. We have some different faces, so it might take a few games to get in the flow. But we ve really preached high-intensity defense from day one, and everything else will fall in place from there.