Season outlook for local high school girls basketball teams

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The high school girls’ basketball season should be competitive across the area this year, with veteran coaches leading the way across New Hanover County.

Coming off a 26-win season and trip to the 4A East Regional last season, Hoggard is looking to regain its form with a deeper bench this year, while Ashley and New Hanover each has the ability to contend for a league title. Laney faces an uphill battle after losing one of its top players to a season-ending injury, while South Brunswick and Topsail have a pair of first-year coaches taking over the reins in the 3A portion of the Mideastern Conference.

The Vikings are missing their top scorer and rebounder from one year ago, but bring back three starters. Ashley may be the most overlooked team in the division with eight varsity players returning, while New Hanover brings a strong back court to the floor.

North Brunswick returns its leading scorer from the 2013-14 season as Jada Bellamy looks to make an impact after ACL surgery last year.

Lola Lovitt. Photo courtesy- Rodney Williams
Lola Lovitt. Photo courtesy- Rodney Williams

After collecting preseason forms from the area teams, each coach talked about their strengths, key returners and newcomers expected to make an impact.

Ashley

Head Coach: Adrienne Gale (14th season)

Overall record: 234-128

2014-15 record: 8-4, 17-9

Team strengths: work ethic, team chemistry, decent size, eight players with varsity experience

Key returners: Carly Baron- team captain, shooter, hard worker on and off the court; Lola Lovitt- all-around scorer, defender; Dana Craig- 6-foot, 1-inch forward, team defensive player of the year; Angel Smith- aggressive on the glass; Vanessa Fay- paint presence; Morgan Carpenter- ball on ball defender; Caitlyn Baker- rebounder; Zara Bryant- good utility player

Newcomers: Serenity Williams, Anna Ager, Kendell Farrior, Skii Bollinger

Emma Haywood. Photo courtesy- John Crouch
Emma Haywood. Photo courtesy- John Crouch

Hoggard

Head Coach: Boubacar Aw (4th season)

Overall record: 48-29

2014-15 record: 11-1, 26-5

Team strengths: youth, size

Key returners: Emma Haywood- senior captain, emotional leader, overall player; Aleah Thompson- senior captain, three-year starter, big value player; Tara Poteat- ball handler, point guard, experience, high basketball IQ; Mia Boone- most improved, mentally tough, player to watch; Keeley Britt- good understanding of the game, working on strength; Cierra Drueppel- most athletic; Olivia Hawkins- improved ball handling

Newcomers: Alani Fisher, Rickitah Robinson, Blair Barefoot, Kaitlyn Brannin, Ellison Louthan

 

Laney

Head Coach: Sherri Tynes (23rd season)

Overall record: 407-177

2014-15 record: 7-5, 15-11

Key returners: Lexie Melville, Jayda Malone, Jensen Edwards (injured), Anna Porcelli, Angel Malott, Lexi Morley, Baley Edwards, Kirstie Langley, Kiara Lloyed

Newcomers: Ava John, Cass Hames, Carleigh Wildeboer, Daylene Thompson, Sydni Simpson, Willaya Banaster

 

New Hanover 

Ayonna Cotten.
Ayonna Cotten.

Head Coach: Vertha Dixon-Wright (28th season)

2014-15 record: 10-2, 21-5

Team strengths: strong backcourt, work ethic

Key returners: Ayonna Cotten- most improved, floor leader, scorer; Amani Muhammed- rebounder, athletic; Kayleigh Merrell- hustle award, locker room/bench leader;

Newcomers: Azariah Fields

 

South Brunswick

Head Coach: Ashley Berting (1st season)

2014-15 record: 2-10, 4-17

Team strengths: good leadership, developing chemisty

Key returners: Nautica Lowe, Ta’Veyhja Satterwhite; Abigail Spivey; Danecia Thomas-Price

Newcomers: Mikahla Moss, Emily Cumbee, Tyler Wells, Katie Caric, Aurora Lovett

 

Jada Bellamy. Photo courtesy Cape Fear Photography.
Jada Bellamy. Photo courtesy Cape Fear Photography.

North Brunswick 

Head Coach: Travis Fortune (10th season)

Overall record: 111-102

2014-15 record: 3-7, 10-13

Team strengths: team speed, athleticism

Key returners: Taylor Perkins- junior guard, transfer from New Hanover, versatile; Jada Bellamy- leading scorer from 2013-14 season, returning from ACL surgery, consistent player; Unique Hines- defender, looking to contribute offensively; Aliah Johnson- most improved, point guard; Sarah Bell- defender, improved shooter

Newcomers: Keyana Yeoman, Angel Johnson

 

Topsail

Head Coach: Andrew Ellington (1st season)

2014-15 record: 3-9, 8-16

Team strengths: veteran leadership, quickness

Key returners: Keri White- Team leader, athletic, Division I softball commit; Dominique Bryant- leading rebounder, physical player; Brandy Williams- defender, co-captain, run the floor