The Perry Panthers are very young, but their youth are very talented. Rylee Pireu will continue to be the heart and sole of the Panthers. She’ll be the leading scorer and rebounder, and demand the most attention. They have some returning guard play that’s solid, Leapline and Terrell bring not only experience but leadership and intensity. The freshman class the Panthers bring in this year is intriguing. Randilic, Guscoff and Centeno should play early and most likely often. They have a very solid class to work with and build around.
I like the direction the Lake Blue Streaks are headed in. They have an above average freshman class with Hunt and Dyrlund being the two biggest pieces of that. Hunt may start at PG from Day 1. Dyrlund will contribute. Sophomore Stephens will take a big jump from last season and should be a very solid contributor. Junior LeBeau will continue to improve as she has been on the floor since freshman year. Senior Mackenzie Hance may be one of the most improved kid sin the league. She will see the opponents best defender and junk defenses, but she’s unselfish enough to make those around her better and help these young kids gain confidence while they grow. November on the bench with a major knee injury doesn’t help the Streaks but they have enough players now to work through that.
Green Bulldogs are the most intriguing team, they have the personnel and depth to possibly make some noise and surprise some people. Their junior bigs Berlin and Piercy could cause some problems. Depending on how they play them they could go twin towers, they could only play one at a time or they could pull Piercy out to the perimeter, it will be interesting to see how that dynamic plays out. The sophomore backcourt of Sydnie Pearce and Olivia Payne is one to be very excited about. Pearce is a traditional ball control PG and Payne has the ability to be a big time scorer. Throw in a nice athletic freshman in Ziehler and some other role players and the Bulldogs can be a very nice team if they put it all together.
Jackson Polar Bears are going from super experienced to not very experienced. I don’t have to mention that they’ve lost the best player Jackson has ever seen, possibly the best shooter the state of Ohio has ever seen. Kerianne Diese is the lone returning starter but they have some solid guard play this year with her and Redpath sharing the backcourt. Add in some good young talent with sophomores Ava Scroggs and Alayna McMullen and they’re pretty deep in the backcourt. It will get a little thin in the post where they lack in having much size. Rachel Stran is a kid who can play inside or outside, she will most likely be guarding lots of posts so one key for Jackson will be whether she can play though that and still have the energy to produce on the offensive end. The Polar Bears have a tremendous coaching staff so I expect them to develop nicely and challenge some teams, and definitely be looking better a year from now.
The Hoover Vikings are looking good at guard this year. Hawks is a senior that will lead the Vikings on the perimeter along with junior Peyton Davis. The Vikings also have sophomore pair with Haubert and Walker that will step up big for them. Those two are both very intriguing guards for the Vikings moving forward. Of course the Vikings will still be led by Ashland commit Annie Roshak. Annie will patrol the paint but also runs the floor and shoots the ball well. The do it all senior will entering the season healthy and ready to go out with a bang. Depth and injuries have been the Vikings downfall the last few years but they seem to have some more depth this year that should help. The Vikings success might be as closely related to who they can keep on the floor just like it has the past few years. Hawks starts the season in an arm cast, hopefully she can get back on the court and they can contune to stay healthy.
The GlenOak Golden Eagles are as deep as any team in the state this year. They have 6 footer Haley Smith back from an ACL, people will quickly be reminded how good she is. They added another 6 footer, MaKenzie Green from Hoover, she is as skilled as any big in the state. They add Warren and Hall to the front court and they go four deep in the paint. They have experienced point guards with Mucci taking the lead and lightning fast Rozier backing her up. They have shooters in Lemire and Cashner, that will frustrate any defense. Vance can come in and give some depth at either guard spot. Then you have Abdulla who is a jack of trades. The big question will be if there’s enough minutes to go around. Can they put it all together and make the run they’ve bene waiting for?
Ok lets just get this out of the way, the McKinley Bulldogs return with the 2 time reigning Ohio Ms. Basketball and all world Kierstan Bel. That in itself gives them the advantage anytime they’re on the court. The Bulldogs success will depend on what they have developed around her. The two sophomore guards Foster and Terrell are as good as advertised, they will do what they need to get the Bulldogs wins. A couple added upperclassmen Sales and Flinn will give the Bulldogs some needed experience and depth. Though the experience has not been in the Federal League, it is experience none the less. I think they have an underrated inside presence with Kramer and Boykins, who are both undersized but tough and they do their jobs.
The bottom line in the Federal League is that McKinley and GlenOak will control the top like they have for the past 4 years. They are 4-4 in head to head battles while they have both been tossing the league title back and forth. I believe this year will be no different and I’m going to call it right down the middle…GlenOak and McKinley share the league title once again. While both are state powers and in different regionals, we all may be seeing a third battle for Canton his year, but only in Columbus, on the biggest stage, for a state title…
Player of the Year Candidate:
Kierstan Bell (SR, McK) – This is pretty easy. No real explanation needed besides she’s a top player in the country, so she’s definitely the top player in the league. If she can beat out Olympian Taylor Mikesell and her huge numbers last year for POY, there’s no one this year that is going to prevent it from happening. As long as Kierstan stays on the floor for the majority of the year, she’s a lock.
Players to Know:
Jade Abdulla (SR, GlenOak) – Jade’s diversity is something all teams would appreciate. Not only is she very tough but she can do just about anything the team needs her to. She’s a great defender, she can handle the ball, she will hit shots and get to the foul line. She’s a willing passer and can also handle the ball when needed, most importantly she just wants to win!
Marissa Berlin (JR, Green) – Berlin is coming back from an ACL and it’s yet to be seen where she’ll be at after missing a season but at 6’3″ there’s no doubt she will make an impact. Teams will ultimately have game plan for her and know where she’s at on the court at all times.
Peyton Davis (JR, Hoover) – Tough guard that plays with confidence and poise. More than ever she will be relied on to score, and she has the potential to score in bunches. She can shoot from outside and score at the rim, she’ll also get to the line a lot.
Kerianne Diese (JR, Jackson) – Most should remember Kerianne from ending GlenOaks season last year in the regionals at the buzzer. She’s Jacksons only returning starter, and she will be relied on a lot. She is best at controlling the offense and tempo, but she can score when needed, that will be a bigger expectation of her this year. She’s a very good defender as well that will give opposing guards some trouble.
Kyla Foster (SO, McKinley) – Kyla’s speed and athleticism makes her a problem in transition. She’s developed a more reliable jump shot and that will allow her to most likely be the second scoring option behind Bell.
Kelsie Glass (SR, Green) – Kelsie is a kid who will always have to be accounted for, she can get hot and hit from outside. If you let her get going she can reel off many threes in a game and she will be a major frustration to opposing coaches.
MaKenzie Green (JR, GlenOak) – MaKenzie had a very nice bounce back year last year after missing her entire freshman year. She now wears the green of GlenOak and has expanded her game. Very solid post moves, finishes with both hands. She’s able to pull bigger defenders out and beat them off the dribble or shoot the 3. 90% foul shooter makes her a huge asset on the floor down the stretch.
Aniyah Hall (SO, GlenOak) – Aniyah got some very valuable playing time last year without Smith on the floor. It will come in handy this year as she will be expected to make a nice jump to help the Eagles. She’s very athletic and causes matchup problems for most teams. Big time hustle kid that hits the boards and runs the floor.
Hannah Leapline (JR, Perry) – Tough lefty point guard that isn’t short on intensity and effort. She will defend with the best of them. The Panthers will be relying on her to put the ball in the hoop more this year with their youth.
Addison Mucci (JR, GlenOak) – Addison is a really fundamental point guard that doesn’t make too many mistakes. The way she leads the offense makes everyone else around her better. She makes great decisions, making the right passes, taking the shots when they’re there and attacking when its open.
Sydnie Pearce (SO, Green) – Syd is a very cerebral point guard that will defend and take care of the ball. The Bulldogs may need her to score more this year as she has a year of varsity time under her belt. She takes care of the ball and is a verbal leader on the floor, something a young Green team will need.
Gabby Piercy (JR, Green) – She hasn’t been with the Bulldogs long so it’s yet to be seen how she’s going to fit in. However she has a great chance of being a very instrumental player. Over 6 foot, with very solid mobility, a reliable mid range jump shot and a ton of length. The bulldogs could platoon their two bigs or Piercy could play the stretch 4 type that could give opponents fits.
Rylee Pireu (SR, Perry) – Rylee has taken the huge step from role player as a freshman and sophomore to the go to player last year very well. She continues to develop into a solid scorer inside and out, she looks to be a great leader for the younger kids and she’s developed a big time toughness. She will be again relied on to carry the load, but will also face plenty of defensive attention.
Annie Roshak (SR, Hoover) – There is no doubt the Hoover offense will still run through Annie, as it has for a few year, she is more than capable of carrying that load. With David and Hawks being very reliable perimeter scorers now the responsibility wont be as large. The guards will allow for her to get less double teams and she’ll also be able to help create some perimeter looks.
Vanessa Sales (SR, McKinley) – Sales will be a very welcome addition for the Bulldogs. She fits right in with the in your face defensive kids they like, and she can knock down shots which will help keeping teams honest on Bell.
Abby Stephens (SO, Lake) – Abby can be a pretty solid player when she’s locked in. She can score inside or out reliably, and she will rebound. She will be more of a focus of the defense this year so we will see how she handles that in league play. The Streaks will need her to get some buckets if they’re going to improve in the win column.
Nakyah Terrell (SO, McKinley) – Nakyah has some serious responsibility in an offense that features one of the best players in America. When the ball isn’t in Bells hands to initiate offense, it will be in hers. The Pups will need her to take care of the ball and get it where it needs to go. Any points she can provide will be a bonus. She is a top defender in the league as well, most opposing guards will struggle with her pressure.
Mackenzie Hance (SR, Lake) – Mackenzie is easily one of the most improved kids in the area. She has put lots of time and work into her jump shot and it looks better and the results are proof. She’s a rare type of player that’s more than willing to take a mismatch wherever she can. She’ll work smaller defenders over in the post with her polished inside game, and also beat bigger defenders on the perimeter. She’s also smart enough to identify either scenario and take advantage of it.
Jillian Hawks (SR, Hoover) – Hawks isn’t able to play yet but when she gets the cast off her hand she will undoubtedly pick up where she left off. Another kid that has worked so hard to improve and it will show. She has a great lefty stroke and will show she’s an above average shooter. She can also beat defenders off the dribble and either score or create. Defensively she’s able to create pressure that results in points for the Vikings.
Lexi Lemire (JR, GlenOak) – Lexi is maybe one of the best kept secrets, because the Eagles are so deep. She can fill it up from outside as well as anyone, she will be a knockdown shooter in the Eagles offense. She defends and gets her hands on a lot of deflections, she will not miss a beat on the defensive end.
Ava Scroggs (SO, Jackson) – Ava has the potential to be a bulk scorer. She can get her shots off quickly and doesn’t have to be set or comfortable. When she’s in attack mode she is very creative and unpredictable going to the rim. Great foul shooter that has a big time competitive edge.
Rachel Stran (JR, Jackson) – Rachel is long and athletic. She will surprise lots of people and get some blocked shots and will rebound well. She’s a very high motor kid that plays 94 feet of the floor. She has been developing as a shooter and that aspect will just make her more of a force.
Erica Warren (JR, GlenOak) – I think Erica is realizing how good she can be and she has been imposing her will in opponents. She has very good size and strength, she is almost unstoppable with ahead of steam getting to the rim. She rebounds very well and as she continues to move her range out she will just add to her game. She will have more help in the paint but with her ability to finish around the rim and make free throws will make it hard to take her off the court.
Freshmen to Watch:
Emma Dretke (Jackson) – Emma is a big freshman and she has a big motor, she never stops working. She can step out and knock down the three, but is also strong enough to finish around the rim. Very intelligent player who seems to be in the right spot pretty often, and rebounds well. She will start and she will probably have the most impressive stat line for any freshman in the league.
Kiley Dyrlund (Lake) – Kiley has some great length, good athleticism and knows the game pretty well for a freshman. With all those things she is going to have the chance to contribute at the varsity level. Comes from a nice basketball lineage, she’ll make some impact early.
Mia Guscoff (Perry) – Mia really gets after it on the defensive end, she brings energy and intensity guarding the basketball. She rebounds well for her size and runs the floor well, she will make plays in transition going both ways. The defensive end will be where she first makes a name for herself.
Bri Hunt (Lake) – Tough little point guard. She will play major minutes immediately most likely and be an important part of what Lake can accomplish this year. She’s not shy and will defend as well as attack on the offensive end. She will probably struggle some with bigger stronger guards but she wont be giving up anything in speed and toughness.
Meredith Randulic (Perry) – Possibly the most offensively gifted freshman in the league. Meredith is smooth offensively and can shoot the ball well. The size and strength may be the thing she has the most trouble adjusting to but she will be just fine as the season rolls along.
Angela Roshak (Hoover) – Angela may not see a ton of minutes early but she should be able to work her way onto the floor. She’s long and rangy like her older sister and while she’s skinny, she’s also tough and continues to develop more strength and assertiveness.
Alyssa Ziehler (Green) – Tall and athletic, Alyssa will move right into the Bulldogs rotation and find minutes. She runs the floor well and will get transition opportunities while she develops a half court feel. She can cause some issues for smaller guards with her length and athleticism.
Marissa Berlin (Green) – Returns after missing last year with an ACL
Jada Cook (Hoover) – Did not play
Alycia Cunningham (Perry) – Did not play
Kenedy Flinn (McKinley): Transferred in from St. V
MaKenzie Green (GlenOak): Transferred from Hoover to GlenOak
Natalie November (Lake) – Will miss the season with an ACL
Gabby Piercy (Green): Enrolled at Green after sitting out last year
Vanessa Sales (McKinley): Transferred in from Copley
Hayley Smith (GlenOak): Returns after missing last year with an ACL