For the 2nd straight year the race for the Federal League title is as open as it can be, giving us fans some very interesting basketball. Last year McKinley and GlenOak battled for a 1st place tie for the league. While both teams lost a good amount, there’s still plenty of reasons to expect another run.
As an overall observation the Fed lacks real post play across the board, it will be a guard and defensive oriented league that will lead to some exciting basketball but also may hurt anyones chances of making a deep playoff run.
McKinley looks to fill the shoes of Player of the Year Ty Newkirk, which is the easy part with Kierstan Bell making her arrival at the high school level. The tall athletic freshman will put lots of points on the board. Kierra Cunningham gives the Bulldogs another legit scorer who can get to the basket or get hot from outside. The Pups also pick up some pieces from the merger with Timken, over the scrimmage season they fit right in and the Pups have looked very good.
GlenOak has to move on after parting ways with 8 seniors that helped the Golden Eagles climb to the top of the league. Toledo commit Dai’Shona Polk will lead the way for GlenOak, giving them a constant scoring threat from the post and the perimeter. Depth may be their biggest issue but between Polk, Shelton and Brown they will have plenty of firepower.
Jackson, after being regional runners up last year, will have their sights on the next step, a league title. I fully expect we will all get a larger dose of Taylor Mikesell, which only makes sense considering she’s the single most unstoppable player any of us know. They will get a good solid post contribution from senior Caitlin Tytler and I expect a jump in production from junior Destinee Lee to help the Polar Bears this season.
Hoovers success will undoubtedly ride on their two stud guards, Lipscomb commit Lexi Manos and Maddie Blyer, and whether they can stay healthy. Both are tremendous guards and two of the best in the league and beyond. However if they can’t stay on the floor they can’t be any more than a moral support for the Vikings. Hoover will see an increased role from some young kids and will get a big lift from one of the most overlooked players I know, senior Tiffany Bentler. With no real post threat we might see some wide open basketball from Hoover.
Perry comes in with some serious stardom with the combo of Karlee Pireu and Kimmie Borck. Between the two there will be many stat stuffing nights of basketball. For the Panthers the real question will be what they can get after the two juniors. Fellow junior Tori St. Jean has what it takes to be a solid player and I don’t believe we’ve seen the best from her yet, this could be a big year for her. There’s some younger talent there as well, we will see who steps up. Losing Natalie Wilson to an ACL was softened a little by the arrival of Brook Layton, who will fill in and bring some toughness to the lineup.
Lake looks to improve after last year, bringing back the biggest piece in Shawnee State commit Brandie Snow. Everyone knows Snow can get the job done, and some consider her the best player in the league, but has she developed her game enough over the offseason to give more than she had last year? Everyone knows in the Federal League one player can’t do it themselves so the biggest question may be what is there to help her. I’ve liked what I’ve seen out of Taylor Champagne over the summer, she looks more poised and aggressive, she’s starting to attack and also knock down open shots. Miller and McSherry are two seniors that the Blue Streaks would love to get some consistent contributions from. With Miller coming back from an ACL it’ll be a bit of feeling out process at first.
Green comes to the Federal League for the first time and looks to hold their own. They are relatively deep and feature the best pure post player in the league, senior Tiffin commit Madison Jackson. Jackson has a lethal opposite hand which makes her unpredictable in the post, and she can also step out and hit shots. Varsity veterans Lily Carson and Abbie Pierce will give the Bulldogs some perimeter scoring threats and some much needed leadership considering Green will be pretty young overall.
Player of the Year candidates
Kierstan Bell (freshman) McKinley – Yes, a freshman will be in the consideration for POY, because she’s just flat out good enough. It’s tough for a freshman to win the honor but it’s not out of the question that she could be the statistical leader of every category on the Federal League champs, then how could you deny her?
Maddie Blyer (junior) Hoover – Incredible PG with a complete game. She can and will score, she will distribute the ball at a crazy pace, and can defend. If she stays healthy she will be in the discussion.
Kimmie Borck (junior) Perry – Sky’s the limit for the smooth lefty PG. Can score and distribute with the best of them. uses either hand very well, making her even more dangerous.
Madison Jackson (senior) Green – If Green makes a nice run in the Federal League the biggest reason will be Madison. Could be a double double type kid on a daily basis.
Lexi Manos (senior) Hoover – Easily one of the quickest and best players in the area, Lexi can get to the rim almost at will while also showing an increasingly good jump shot over the summer and fall. She has the ability to score in bunches and I’d be surprised if we don’t see several 20+ point nights out of her.
Taylor Mikesell (sophomore) Jackson – Already established as the best player in the area and the league, but that doesn’t guarantee anything. Had very good numbers as a freshman but not eye popping, but I fully expect to see an increased workload this year which means the POY type stats will also increase.
Karlee Pireu (junior) Perry – Karlee is a big time layer with big time potential. With the combination of size and strength to go with her wonderful skill set I would not be shocked to see her in the running for POY if and when Perry makes a run at the league. Her ability to score from the inside or outside makes her tough to stop.
Dai’Shona Polk (junior) GlenOak – Another inside/outside scoring threat that I expect to put up great numbers. I don’t know it for certain but I would guess she was last years runner up. If the Eagles can repeat I would think Polk would be at the top of the POY list.
Brandie Snow (senior) Lake – We all know Brandie will have great numbers. Just like last year, through double teams and face guarding, her speed, strength and athleticism will allow her to get hers. The question remains can Lake win in order to get her into the discussion for POY. She will have double doubles as a guard, and maybe even a triple double here and there, but can Lake compete. I would imagine even a marginal improvement for the Blue Streaks would give Brandie some serious POY credibility.
Team to Watch for
Green Bulldogs – Don’t think for a second that just because they’re the newbie they can’t hang. Let’s not forget they are coming from a league that included Wadsworth and Revere twice a year, they are no strangers to competition. They have good talent and good depth. They will be competitive and just might surprise people with some quality league wins.
Players You Will Need to Know
Makenna Drabick (sophomore) Hoover – The athletic lefty started last year as a freshman and will have an expanded role this year for the Vikings. Her offensive skill is coming along to go with her speed and strength.
Kelsie Glass (freshman) Green – The shooter will play extensively for the Bulldogs, and she can score the ball. Primarily a shooter as of now but she is good enough to stand out even as she develops and matures.
Nasha Flowers (junior) McKinley – The athletic guard from Timken will make an immediate impact for the Pups. She has 4 triple doubles last year that included steals, which makes her a perfect fit in the McKinley system.
Alexis Green (sophomore) Hoover – An excellent shooter that is strong as can be. It may not be her time to shine considering the talent she’s playing with but she will have an important supporting role which she will excel at.
Rylee Pireu (freshman) Perry – Rylee has the size and basketball IQ to contribute immediately. Her skillset will allow her to be someone the Panthers can expect a contribution from, giving them some positive bench play.
Annie Roshak (freshman) Hoover – 6 foot combo, has the ball skills to be a perimeter player but the needs of a small Hoover team will force her to use her toughness and smarts in the paint.
Jenna Trainer (sophomore) Green – Jenna will fit in nicely and give the Bulldogs some underclassman support. She has a high IQ and knows what to do with the ball. She is tough and will compete against opponent.
Categories: Northeast Ohio Girls Basketball