WILMINGTON — Coming off back-to-back Mideastern Conference Titles, the Hoggard girls basketball team is the early favorite moving through the 2016-17 season. The Vikings are two years removed from a 4A East Regional appearance and poised to make another run.
Hoggard brings plenty of depth to its roster as one of the only local programs who can go seven or eight players deep on any given night.
Division I prospect Lola Lovitt joins a talented cast after transferring from Ashley along with classmate Angel Smith. Seniors Alani Fisher and Tara Poteat are among the key returners for the Vikings. Poteat runs the point as good as anyone in the area, while Fisher has the ability to heat up from long range.
Lovitt is an early player of the year candidate, with juniors Keeley Britt, Mia Boone and sophomore Blair Barefoot rounding out a group of talented role players. Also expected to make an impact off the bench are Ellison Louthan and Olivia Hawkins.
Coach Boubacar Aw has established the Hoggard program based on his ability to motivate and get the most out of his players. The Vikings haven’t always had the most talent during the course of his tenure, but this season the skill set on the floor has potential to mix well with his tenacious coaching style.
While there’s still plenty to work on over the next few weeks and months leading into the postseason, Hoggard has made an early statement by going 6-1 overall heading through the holidays. The Vikings will have an x on its back after its achievements over the past few years, but it doesn’t look like there are many local teams who can compete with a Hoggard squad ready to continue its recent run of success.
The New Hanover girls may be the only side who can potentially give the Vikings a run for its money based on the number of varsity returners. Ayonna Cotten, Amani Muhammed, Azariah Fields, Kayleigh Merrell, Essence Newkirk, Elizabeth Criner, Michelle Jacobs and Amya Marshall represent a group hungry to prove their worth in the Mideastern Conference.
While the Wildcats are coming off a 20-win season from one year ago, their biggest obstacle has been its pesky crosstown counterparts on Shipyard Boulevard.
A complete list of players to watch throughout the girls basketball season is listed below.
Mideastern Conference Girls Basketball Players to Watch
- Lola Lovitt, junior, Hoggard
- Tara Poteat, senior, Hoggard
- Alani Fisher, senior, Hoggard
- Blair Barefoot, sophomore, Hoggard
- Ayonna Cotten, senior, New Hanover
- Amani Muhammed, junior, New Hanover
- Azariah Fields, junior, New Hanover
- Lexi Melville, junior, Laney
- Jenson Edwards, junior, Laney
- Dana Craig, senior, Ashley
- Taylor Perkins, senior, North Brunswick
- Jada Bellamy, senior, North Brunswick
- Dominique Bryant, senior, Topsail
- Morgan Allred, sophomore, South Brunswick