Once again the Federal League crown will go through McKinley and Hoover. and there are teams that can do it. McKinley has to be the favorite after winning the title the last two years and returning one of the best players in the country. Hoover has the talent to beat the Pups but after going 0-5 the last two years I got to see it before I believe it. GlenOak has a pair of wins the last few years against McKinley while winning a share of a the league title two years ago, however they have gotten considerably younger, but also deeper. Perry presents any team with a challenge with their solid group and big time play makers. Jackson features one of the better players in the state and beyond, and one of the few kids who can single-handedly win a game if need be. Green has talent, but they are also young and learning. A new look Lake team will play hard and give everything they have, but the Federal League schedule may be an uphill battle.
The Lake Blue Streaks have a brand new look, after registering only 1 league win the last two years it wont get any easier without reigning Federal League POY Brandie Snow and well revered HC Henry Cobb. Under new HC Bill Johnson the Streaks look energized and upbeat. Without a go to scorer or a legitimate inside presence the trail will be tough. Taylor Champaign will lead the Blue Streaks and she is fun to watch, but the added attention she will get from defenses may make her life tougher. Mackenzie Hance will develop into a bigger role and help Lake as she gains experience.
Green Bulldogs start their 2nd season in the Fed and will also be younger. Abbie Pierce will make a good senior leader for the Bulldogs as they wait for the return of junior Jenna Trainer from a knee injury. Pierce can take much of the scoring load while the younger kids mature and gain some experience. Savanna Maynard is a solid junior that will fill the stat sheet with her toughness and active style of play.
Jackson Polar Bears have experienced some turnover from last year after losing transfers and gaining one. Margaux Spencer, a junior from Hoover, will give Jackson some help scoring and some height. The two constants are the incredibly hard-working guards and Taylor Mikesell, a Maryland commit and arguably the best player any of us may see all year long. Mikesell is a dominant player on the perimeter who will provide plenty of points, and create lots of points for her teammates because of her high IQ and unselfishness. Hartnett, Becton and Davide are other guards who will make a difference for the Polar Bears.
The GlenOak Golden Eagles have as deep a team as anyone in Ohio, with a good mix of veteran leadership and talented youth. Dai’Shona Polk will without a doubt have her 4th great season as she finishes up her career in the green and white. Davina Shelton is another senior who will be very important to GlenOak’s success. The Golden Eagles have some freshman that are likely to make an immediate impact.
The Perry Panthers look to make a big move in the Federal League. They have a trio of players with Pireu, Borck and St. Jean that are as good as any in the league, to go along with a solid core of role players. Karlee Pireu, an Ashland commit, has the size and skill to play anywhere on the floor, her diversity is a huge asset to the Panthers. Kimmie Borck, who’s committed to Walsh, can defend and score with the best of them, and is without a doubt the best second option in the league. Tori St. Jean rounds out the trio with the ability at 6 foot to extend the defense and knock down outside shots.
The Hoover Vikings are as talented as any team in Northeast Ohio. With Ashland commit Maddie Blyer, arguably the best PG in Ohio, the Vikings can do a lot of things. She routinely sets up Drabick and Roshak for easy buckets, runs the offense to a T, and knocks down big shots. Roshak and Drabick will be the best post duo in the league which will help give the Vikings the upper hand in most matchups. Alexis Green is also a solid second guard scorer for the Vikings, giving them 4 legitimate scoring options, which is rare.
The McKinley Bulldogs return arguably the best player in Ohio and possibly the best player in America in her class in Kierstan Bell. The 6’1″ sophomore can do it all, inside and out. The Pups have more depth this year with the transferring of the Lee sisters from Jackson. A’Landria Terrell is a very solid PG, one of the best in the league on the defensive end. Chamira Young blossomed last year as a second option and helped elevate the Bulldogs in some games with her timely big shots.
Player of the Year Candidates:
Kierstan Bell (SO, McK) – Could easily be the statistical leader in every major category, possibly on the league champion. Most likely everyone’s preseason favorite.
Maddie Blyer (SR, Hoover) – As the team leader of the Vikings their success is going to depend on her. Maddie will have an incredible season. If they can get over the hump and win the league she’s a front-runner for POY.
Kimmie Borck (SR, Perry) – Kimmie is as good as they come, as good as she is she has the potential to explode even further. She is an important part of where the Panthers are going to finish.
Taylor Mikesell (JR, Jax) – With the expectations lower for Jackson, Mikesell will take it personally and raise her game even more. She will have a monster season and could help the Polar Bears exceed expectations.
Karlee Pireu (SR, Perry) – The Panthers are right on the brink of making a major move in the league, if that happens it will almost have to be accompanied by big numbers from this one.
Dai’Shona Polk (SR, GO) – The Golden Eagles have a legitimate chance at winning the Federal League, and it will be with the guidance of Polk. With the inexperience GlenOak has they will go as far as Dai’Shona can take them.
Naudier Becton (JR, Jax) – Naudier is very smooth and athletic, she’s grown and matured, and I expect her to prove that she’s a solid option for the Polar Bears.
Alexis Green (JR, Hoover) – As Alexis moves into the starting lineup with most of the perimeter attention on Blyer, Green will show her skill level. I expect her to surprise some people with her scoring ability and get some big time defensive assignments.
Savanna Maynard (JR, Green) – Savanna is such a hard worker, her motor is always running. She surprises people and gets results. Green graduated some important kids and have an injury that forces her to have a more important role, I expect her to take full advantage of it.
Annie Roshak (SO, Hoover) – Annie had a great freshman year so she wont sneak up on anyone this year but the sky is the limit. She has put a ton of time in this offseason and it will shine. I believe she may average a double double.
Freshmen to Watch:
Marissa Berlin (Green) – Considerably over 6 foot, traditional post. Will see lots of time and will just keep getting better and better.
Emma Brown (Green) – Long guard who can shoot it, she will see the floor for the Bulldogs, will have to get adjusted but I expect good things from her.
Makenzie Green (Hoover) – 6 footer who has an extremely high IQ, can play in the paint or the perimeter. Will get good minutes but wont be expected to put up big numbers.
Addison Mucci (GO) – True PG who has really good court awareness and IQ, very undersized but has a huge heart and an intensity that smaller guards require to be successful.
Gabby Piercy (Jax) – 6 foot plus post player who’s going to get good minutes for the Polar Bears. Will be most comfortable in the paint but will develop away from the basket.
Hayley Smith (GO) – Very nice combination of size and athleticism. Will see some good minutes in the post for the Golden Eagles and will show she belongs.
Destinee Lee: Jackson to McKinley
Triniti Lee: Jackson to McKinley
Micah Rhoades: Aquinas to GlenOak
Margaux Spencer: Hoover to Jackson