ESPN RISE takes a look at the teams to watch this month in this area:
Girls' Basketball -- College Park
College Park has gone from a brand new school in 2005 to a
girls' basketball state title contender in 2008. And head coach
Kip Anderson believes a team-first attitude has keyed that
ascension. But to Anderson and the Cavaliers, "team" is more
than just a buzzword. Anderson puts her players in charge on
the floor, allowing them to determine substitutions on their
own with a rotation that typically includes 10-12 players. "This
team takes care of each other," Anderson says. "They're all in it
together, and they understand that."The unconventional strategy
has helped the Cavs win back-to-back district championships
and develop a few Division I prospects along the way. Leading
the charge is senior Texas Tech commit Monique Smalls, a versatile
guard who averaged 13 points, eight assists and six steals
per game last season. Senior guard Allie Messimer has a few
Division I offers as well after pouring in 12 points per game last
year. Junior Nicole Morgan and sophomore Megan Shafer
patrol the paint and both have Division I hoops potential,
though Morgan has already committed to Texas A&M to play
softball. Seniors Sarah Priesmeyer and Kristen Haberern are two
more interior forces, and senior Megan Janousek is a crucial
player who will return from injury in January. Kelly McClure, a
senior, and Priyanka Duvvuru, a junior, are two of the Cavs'most
versatile contributors. The senior trio of Jaz Colon, Catie
Laughlin and Whitney Stone provide much-needed depth.
Boys' Swimming -- John Cooper
The Dragons needed only to finish second in the final event of last year's SPC Championships to snap St. Mark's 12-year
run of conference supremacy. But the team went out and won that event, the 400 freestyle relay, to put an exclamation point
on the championship. Seniors Bryce Poeter and Andrew Ghazi were on that relay team and return alongside senior James May
as John Cooper looks to start a streak of its own this winter.
Girls' Swimming -- Seven Lakes
The Spartans went from 39th at the Class 4A state meet in 2006 to eighth in '07 to second in '08. But the team faces a new
challenge this winter as realignment has sent it up to Class 5A. Junior Kyra Jones and sophomore Anne Steele are capable of
leading Seven Lakes to instant success, however. Jones won the 100 back and took second in the 500 free at state last year and
Steele was third in the 100 fly. They teamed with senior Kara Wilkerson and sophomore Bri Dillon to win the 200 medley relay.
Boys' Basketball -- Hightower
The Hurricanes were great last year, but it may have only been a warm-up for this season. After reaching the Region III-5A
semifinals and finishing 30-9 in 2007-08, Hightower returns three ESPN RISE All-Area selections, including 6-foot-7 Pittsburgh
recruit J.J. Richardson. Senior playmakers Daryell Taylor, the team's lone returning All-District first team pick, and Garlon Green,
a TCU commit, are also key to the Hurricanes' attack.
BREAK OUT TEAMS
GIRLS' BASKETBALL -- NORTH SHORE
Texas pledge Lauren Flores heads a Mustangs team that returns five All-District picks.
WRESTLING -- KLEIN OAK
Seniors Garrett Smith, Austin Davis and J. Kristofer Fortner pace the Panthers.
GIRLS' SWIMMING -- CLEMENTS
Senior freestyle specialist Danielle Yoho looks to push the Rangers into the Top 10 at state.
BOYS' BASKETBALL -- BELLAIRE
Junior forward Tobi Oyedeji leads the young but explosive Cardinals.