Girls basketball preview

November, 21, 2011
11/21/11
12:58
PM ET
Basketball season is upon us. Here at ESPNNewYork.com, we break down the top teams, players and games to get you prepared for the upcoming season.

THE TITLE FAVORITES

Nazareth: Despite graduating three Division-I players, the Lady Kingsmen should once again be the team to beat in the city. Transfer students Brianna Butler, Sadie Edwards, and Destini Feagin will join a formidable core that includes floor general Darius Faulk and the young sharpshooter Bianca Cuevas.

Christ the King: There is no doubt that the Royals took a hit with the loss of Player of the Year Bria Smith, but she left behind one of the best core groups in the city. Sophomore Sierra Calhoun will have to take on a larger role and will have Lauren Nuss, Rayne Connell, and Taylor Butigan returning as support.

Murry Bergtraum: The Blazers will be playing this season with heavy hearts as their expected leader, Tayshana "Chicken" Murphy, was killed this past September. They will try to use her memory as motivation as Shequana Harris will try to lead them to their 14th consecutive PSAL title.

South Shore: Seniors Fannisha Price and Jenice Winter have now gotten to Madison Square Garden twice and lost both times. Head coach Anwar Gladden said that he has never seen such a focused group as they are determined to get back and win it all this time.

THE CONTENDERS

Moore Catholic: Mavericks head coach Rich Postiglione admitted that he was concerned about his team as they transition from a more physical one to one that is about shooting and speed. Luckily for him, he has two of the best shooters on Staten Island in Jamie O'Hare, who transferred from the now closed St. Peter's, and Christina Rubin.

Mary Louis: The Hilltoppers lost a key player in Karin Robinson, but guards Reana Mohamed and Jasmine Nwajei are returning and if talented freshmen Mei Lyn Bautista and Jordan Agustus can contribute, TMLA should be among the strongest teams in the city.

Archbishop Molloy: The Stanners have a talented squad lead by Amani Tatum and Carolyn Gallagher, but they will have to adjust to new coach Scott Lagas, a new system, and injuries to two players Alexa Dietrich and Dallas Pralle, who should be out until at least January.

JFK: The Lady Knights went 10-2 last year and only lost in the PSAL semifinals to eventual champion Bergtraum. That’s important because they only graduated three seniors and have starters Joyalevern Mcfarland, Deaisia Acklin, and Leshuana Phinazee returning.

THE SLEEPERS

Francis Lewis : The Patriots are very similar to JFK in that they were both good teams last year that made it to the semifinals and have key starters returning. Coach Stephen Tsai said that seniors Jasmine Davis, Tyese Purvis, and Jazmine Hamlet display such strong leadership that they are often seen helping him run practices.

McKee/SI Tech: Curtis is the sexy pick for the best PSAL team in Staten Island, but Seagulls head coach Peter LaMarca isn’t ready to cede the island. He has four starters coming back including Kaitlyn Astel, whom he called one of the top 10 players in the city and perhaps the most underrated.

Bishop Ford
: The Falcons didn't like how their season went last year and nearly the same squad is returning this year to prove that it was a fluke. Point guard Aaliyah Lewis will lead this team offensively, but she will need Shanice Vaughan, Ajannae Gates, and Jeane Jennings to step up their games as well to prove their doubters wrong.

Benjamin Banneker: As a sophomore last season, Africa Williams lead the entire PSAL with 29.06 points per game and coach Jonathan Anderson said she is just getting better with age. She joins captain and junior Jenipher Rodriguez and "secret weapon" sophomore Diara Adger to form a core that will be strong this year and next.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Nazareth guard Darius Faulk; Nazareth guard Brianna Butler; Christ the King guard Sierra Calhoun; Murry Bergtraum guard Shequana Harris; South Shore forward Fannisha Price; St. Peter's guard Jamie O'Hare; MSIT guard Kaitlyn Astel; JFK guard Joy McFarland; Molloy forward Carolyn Gallagher; Mary Louis guard Reana Mohamed

FIVE GAMES TO WATCH

Chris the King at Nazareth—Dec. 3
Murry Bergtraum at South Shore—Dec. 9
Murry Bergtraum vs. Mary Louis Academy—Dec. 18
South Shore at JFK—Jan. 20
Nazareth at Mary Louis Academy—Feb. 1

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