The last couple years the NBC has been dominated by West Branch and Carrollton. In all reality that could be the case again. A few other teams have made improvements and will take their shot at dethroning the big dogs but they will certainly have to step it up and go through the Warriors’, both green and black.
The reigning league champs, West Branch, loss some star power and some serious scoring ability but they return all kinds of toughness and hustle. I wouldn’t expect to see consistent high scoring games, but rather consistently tough defensive battles. Kaylee Manning is ready to have a big season for the Warriors, on both ends of the floor. Walsh, Rito, Hovorka, Hahn, Menegay, and others prove a solid core of players that will give teams everything they can handle on a nightly basis. Southeast transfer Natalie Zuckowski will be a big piece for the Warriors when she joins the team midway through the season.
The Warriors from Carrollton look to return to the top after being upended last year by West Branch. Carrollton returns past NBC POY Ali Poole. The Kent State signee is poised to finish her high school career with a bang! The younger Poole sister is all ready to shine. Mikayla has a very solid game and is perfectly capable of being a big time scorer, distributer and defender. Her sophomore backcourt mate Cailee Husted is also very good and will contribute big time. The Warriors overall are very long, which is a big advantage in a league with few bigs. The Pridemore sisters provide a couple substantial six footers, while Poole and Angela Starre provide long perimeter defenders.
Alliance will continue to improve. Though it doesn’t really show in the win column yet the Aviators have shown some signs of getting better and more skilled.
Canton South has been laying the foundation to improve for two years now, it may not have shown up in wins yet but they are doing it right. They have built from the ground up with toughness and fundamentals and it will show with more wins this year. They return seniors Kam Tharp who may be the best pure shooter in the league, along with Beth Myers and Emily Thompson, scrappy tough kids that will do anything to help the team.
Louisville comes in as the team that I think has the best chance of crashing the party. Abby Beaver and Sarah Lairson are as skilled as you’ll find and without a doubt one of the best one-two punches in the area. The Leopards are finally gaining some experience and have some senior leadership, which they were without last year. Seniors Grace Jackson, Sabrina Benzel and Emily Hollifield give the Leps a tough physical presence in the paint and on the perimeter also some scoring relief as they all will score some points.
Salem comes into the season looking to prove they belong, Chloe Cheresene will be a big part of their success, but along with that, the focal point of any defense. The 6 foot junior is improving her game and moving it outside the paint so that she and the Quakes can maximize her potential. However the Quakers success depends on what they can get beyond Cheresne. Senior guard Olivia Stuff has been a big part of the offense for a few years now and she will continue to do that this year, after her we will see who steps up.
Minerva is another team that’s looking to make some noise, the senior heavy team may be looking at it’s best chance at having a legitimate shot. Josie Chaddock leads the Lions and she is the real deal. Her game is diverse, she can score inside and out, has a good left hand and defends. Bri Gassman has steadily improved over the last couple years but the junior must stand out and really make an impact this year if the Lions can be successful. Seniors Burchett and Pottorf will give Minerva some scoring options and depth, along with junior Alivia Bates.
Marlington is in their third season with Coach Rowe and they’ve seen some serious improvement since the 3 win season just three years ago. Once again they’re going to do it without any star power. Senior Morgan Penird brings some long range shooting to the table, so do the Peck twins. Powers brings some inside toughness. Sophomore Robin Campbell is a very good PG and she will do a great job leading the Dukes. Complete team effort over in Marlington, just how they want it.
Player of the Year Candidates
Abby Beaver (junior) Louisville – The PG has a rare 6th sense about her. She does things on the court that you don’t just see anywhere. She will have great assist numbers and she can score the ball. She is definitely a leader on this team and if the Leopards make some noise thus year you can expect her name to be right in the thick of things.
Josie Chaddock (senior) Minerva – Josie will have the numbers, but can the Lions get the wins? She will score, rebound and assist with anyone in the league, if she can lead the Lions to a great season you can definitely put Josie in the conversation.
Chloe Cheresne (junior) Salem – Salem improved last year, even got some really impressive league wins. If the Quakers can continue that it will have to be led by Chloe, who’s looking to have a big season. Like some others, she will have the numbers to get the interest, but can she lead the team to increased improvement?
Sarah Lairson (junior) Louisville – Sarah is an emotional leader and she leads by example. She is hard to stop because her motor is so tightly wound, and her game is diverse. She can score from the inside or the outside and plays defense as good as anyone. If the Leopards are going to make a run at the league she will be a big part of it.
Kaylee Manning (senior) West Branch – The senior guard can flat out play. She may not stand out physically but when the ball is tipped she’s all business. Scrappy and tough on the defensive side, can shoot the rock and make the right passes on the offensive end. If the Warriors repeat as NBC champs she will undoubtedly be the reason.
Ali Poole (senior) Carrollton – The POY winner from 2013-14 is the clear favorite. She’s the best player on what many people consider the best team. She will have great numbers to back up her case. Only thing that may get in the way is if the Warriors don’t win the league.
Team to Watch Out For
Canton South Wildcats – The Wildcats are no longer a team that can be taken lightly. They have solid starters that can win ball games and they have scrapers and hustlers coming off the bench that can help carry them through some substitutions. They will be under appreciated, therefore under scouted, and they will beat some teams as a result. Not a whole lot of flash here, but a ton of heart and hustle, with increased skill.
Players You Need to Know
Robin Campbell (sophomore) Marlington – Robin is good, really good. She seen some late action last year but she has apparently put in some serious work this offseason. She has the potential to be better than good.
Allee Davidson (sophomore) Salem – Allee gives the Quakers a nice sized kid with strength and scoring ability. Worked her way into the starting lineup last year and she’s looking to continue the improvement.
Kayla Hovorka (sophomore) West Branch – Missed all of last year with a bummed knee, Kayla is more than ready to get to work. She will immediately be a starter and an impact player who stands out with her aggression and intensity.
Cailee Husted (sophomore) Carrollton – Cailee didn’t get much playing time last year on a deep Warriors roster but she will this year. Cailee is very skilled, she can shoot the ball well, handles it well and has no problem finding open teammates. She will have a large part in Carrollton’s success this year.
Madi Pearson (sophomore) Minerva – Madi may be the newcomer of the year in the NBC this year. The highly skilled lefty is primed and ready to show what she can do after spending last year on the bench.
Angela Starre (sophomore) Carrollton – Angela gives the Warriors one more option in their lineup. She can score the ball good enough to have to know where she is at all times. She also gives the Warriors a big long defender on the perimeter.
Natalie Zuckowski (sophomore) West Branch – Natalie will need no introduction after she serves her 11 game transfer penalty. The former Southeast sophomore stands 6’3″ and will immediately make a huge impact in the paint. If they haven’t already, people will be wondering where she came from.
Categories: Northeast Ohio Girls Basketball