10 PLAYERS TO WATCH
Taryn Bessler, Sr., Frederick: Warriors' big post known to knock down the points.
Deandra Elcock, Jr., Skyline: Team's top returning scorer should have Falcons flying high.
Ella Fallon, Jr., Longmont: Forward brings size and leadership to reloading Trojans.
Stephanie Giltner, Sr., Holy Family: Offensive and defensive standout looking to finish career with a bang.
Andi Houck, Sr., Centaurus: Wily guard can shoot the lights out of a gym and lock down on defense.
Hannah Hyde, Sr., Fairview: One of the big reasons why the Knights should have a dominating inside attack.
Alexus Johnson, Sr., Monarch: Dynamic forward will have Coyotes' opponents howling with her athleticism.
Ande Lampert, Sr., Boulder: Panthers' 6-foot-4 post certain to give her team a sizable advantage in the paint.
Kasey McKrola, Sr., Mead: Mavericks' top scorer ready to highlight team's first senior class.
Bri Wilber, So., Broomfield: Point guard who put up winning points in Eagles' fifth-straight championship comes back even stronger and wiser.
--4A, 5A state tournaments begin Feb. 21.
--4A, 5A boys and girls finals March 9-10 at Coors Events Center in Boulder.
--3A state tournament begins March 2.
--3A finals March 10 at Moby Arena in Fort Collins.
--2A first round, sweet 16 completed by March 3.
--2A finals March 10 at Pueblo Events Center.
--1A sweet 16 completed by March 3.
--1A finals March 10 at Budweiser Events Center in Loveland.
ALEXANDER DAWSON MUSTANGS
Coach: Jessica Mitchell, first year.
Last year: 3-17, 0-13 in 2A Mile High League.
Returning starters: Jackie Juarez (G, Sr., 5-6), Ali Hinton (G, Sr., 5-5), Lisa Pelikan (P, Soph., 5-11).
Others to watch: Anne Sullivan (P, Sr., 6-0), Fiona Ball (PG, Fr., 5-8), Nicole Towner (P, Fr., 5-10).
Outlook: Despite low numbers this season, the Mustangs are shooting for improvement in a number of areas. The team turns to Pelikan as its linchpin inside. Hinton and Jaurez are the team's outside threats, with the seniors set to build on last season. Dawson plans to push the tempo at both ends of the court.
Coach: Chris Mischke, first year.
Last year: 13-13, 7-9 in 5A Front Range League; eliminated in 5A Sweet 16.
Returning starters: Ande Lampert (C, Sr., 6-4).
Others to watch: Lena Jaycox (PG, Jr., 5-7), Madeline Gates (G, Jr., 5-7).
Outlook: Mischke, a former Monarch boys assistant and former head coach at Nederland, has a lot of size to work with, anchored by Lampert. The size advantage should allow the Panthers to dominate the boards, working into Mischke's defense-first philosophy. But size could also create detrimental mismatches for Boulder when it faces smaller, quicker teams.
Coach: Mike Croell, 18th year.
Last year: 25-3, 13-1 in 4A Northern League; won 4A state championship.
Returning starters: Brittney Zec (PG, Sr. 5-6), Bri Wilber (G, So., 5-4), Meagan Prins (P, Sr., 6-2), Morgan Rynearson (W, Sr., 5-8).
Others to watch: Taylor Schreter (P, Sr., 5-9), Katie Croell (W, Jr., 5-9), Annie Klauck (W, Jr. 5-9), Stacy Hull (P, So. 5-10).
Outlook: The Eagles turn to depth and a talented back court in their chase for a historic sixth consecutive 4A state title. Versatile guards Zec and Wilber anchor the team's high pressure defense and will be potent offensive weapons as well. Prins' frame will be an asset in the guard-heavy Northern League.
Coach: Jeff Jackson, third year.
Last year: 13-11, 7-7 in 4A Northern League; eliminated in first round of 4A state tounament.
Returning starters: Andi Houck (W, Sr. 5-11), Maurissa Ortega (G, Sr., 5-7), Anna Hubbell (W, Jr., 5-10), Midori Patterson (W, Jr., 5-10).
Others to watch: Jordan Matosky (G, Sr., 5-7), Lyndie Puckett (G, Jr., 5-8).
Outlook: Returning everyone from its strong 2011 run, Centaurus aims to run with the big dogs in the Northern League and 4A. The Warriors lack in size, but more than make up for it in athleticism, particularly with their potent inside-outside combo. Houck and Ortega could give defenses fits.
Coach: Noel Potter, first year.
Last year: 18-7, 12-2 in 4A Tri-Valley League; eliminated in first round of 4A state tournament.
Returning starters: Taryn Lee (C., Sr., 6-0), Nicole Hulet (G, Sr., 5-9), Amanda Ochoa (PG, Jr., 5-8), Piper Zeier (F., Sr., 5-10), Hanna Gallagher (F., Sr., 5-8).
Others to watch: Monica McGinnis (F., Sr., 5-11), Holly Hatfield (F., Sr., 6-0).
Outlook: The Tigers turn to an aggressive defensive gameplan to help them claw to their season goals, a crack at a Tri-Valley League title and a run into the 3A playoffs. Ochoa and Hulet are expected to play large roles in foiling the opposition's offense and creating turnovers.
Coach: Rod Beauchamp, 12th year.
Last year: 17-9, 12-4 in 5A Front Range League; eliminated in 5A Great 8.
Returning starters: Hannah Hyde (F., Sr. 6-0), Sonia Ghosh (G, Sr. 5-9), Georgina Ryder (P, Jr., 6-3), Meghan Higgins (G, Sr., 5-8), Julia D'Amico (G, Sr., 5-7).
Others to watch: Sarah Kaufman (G, So., 5-8), Katie Kuosman (G, Jr., 5-7), Annika Lai (W, Fr., 5-11), Betty Yi (G, Sr., 5-7), Shelby Davenport (P, Sr., 6-1), Haley Weaver (F, Sr., 5-9), Cimmy Retzik-Stahr (P, Sr., 5-11).
Outlook: Strong inside play by Hyde and Ryder and the sweet shot of Ghosh are a few of the weapons the Knights will use to chase down their goals. And Fairview has set the bar high for itself, aiming for a run at the Front Range League title and a deep run into the 5A tournament. The team will also get a big boost from its numbers, with its as roster deep as it is talented.
FAITH BAPTIST PIONEERS
Coach: Kent Wood, fifth year.
Last year: 7-10, 6-4 in FRCAA League; eliminated in regional consolations.
Returning starters: Hiley Schulman (PG, Jr., 5-7), Tiffany Caluag (G, So., 5-5), Mandy McCormick (G, So., 5-7), Ali Rakestraw (C, Sr., 5-10).
Others to watch: Hannah Gaiten (F, Jr., 5-10).
Outlook: The Pioneers expect to be stronger than last season, with the team aiming to push as deep as possible into the postseason. The team turns to a strong inside game to knock down this goal and has a proven commodity in the paint in Rakestraw. The Pioneers' biggest challenge? Staying healthy to relieve pressure off their shallow bench.
Coach: Roger Dufour, 17th year.
Last year: 14-9, 6-8 in 4A Tri-Valley League.
Returning starters: Alisha Casados (PG, Sr., 5-6), Mackenzie Urban (G, Jr., 5-5), Caroline Johnson (G, Sr., 5-5), Mikayla Bragalone (F, Sr., 6-0), Taryn Bessler (C, Sr., 6-0).
Others to watch: Erica Artis (C, So., 5-10), Brittany Pepitone (F, Jr., 5-7), Shyanna Neu (W, Jr., 5-7), Heather Maas (C, Sr., 5-11), Alex Dufour (PG, Fr., 5-2).
Outlook: Missing the postseason last year has the Warriors fired up to prove themselves this season. Frederick should more than have the firepower to achieve this task, with coach Dufour returning five starters and four reserves. Bessler and Bragalone give the Warriors a leg up in the front court, with the 6-0 seniors setting up for solid career finishes.
HOLY FAMILY TIGERS
Coach: Ron Rossi, ninth year.
Last year: 25-1, 11-0 in 3A Metro League; won 3A state title.
Returning starters: Kassandra Johannsen (C, Sr., 6-1), Stephanie Giltner (G, Sr., 5-8), Megan Chavez (G, Sr., 5-9).
Others to watch: McKenzie Zeman (G, Sr., 5-6), Abby Metzger (F, Sr., 5-10), Kendall Barnes (F, Sr., 5-10), Claudia Pena (F, So., 6-0), Moriah Turney (G, Jr., 5-3).
Outlook: The Tigers are ready to run down history and become the second team to win five consecutive girls basketball championships. And the team will have a slightly different look as it makes its way through its 3A schedule. Holy Family expects its inside game to be its hotspot this season, especially Johannsen. But the 6-foot-1 center is far from the Tigers' only weapon. Giltner and Chavez each have the talent to tear through points at the perimeter.
Coach: Craig Van Patten, second year.
Last year: 22-4, 12-2 in 5A Front Range League; eliminated in 5A Great 8.
Returning starters: Kailey Edwards (G, Sr., 5-9), Emily Glen (G, Sr., 5-7), Jordan Salaz (G, Sr., 5-3), Caitlin Smith (F, Jr., 5-11).
Others to watch: Courtney Smith (C, Fr., 6-2), Mackenzie Neely (G, Jr., 5-5), Emily Lopez (G, Jr. 5-4).
Outlook: Legacy has lofty goals this season, aiming for a Front Range League title and a top-seed in the 5A state tournament. Edwards is among the most versatile and aggressive guards in the state, and Glen has her team's hottest hands behind the arc. Caitlin Smith is expected to produce big games, with Legacy down in the size department this season.
Coach: Jay Darien, ninth year.
Last year: 26-1, 13-1 in 4A Northern League; finished as 4A state runner-up.
Returning starters: None.
Others to watch: Ella Fallon (F., Jr., 6-1), Kathryn Schell (G, So., 5-6), Anna Schell (G, So. 5-6), Kayia Canar (F, Sr., 5-8), Maggie Chandler (F, Sr., 6-0), Megan Talanko (F, So., 5-7), Mackenzie Murray (F, So., 6-0).
Outlook: The Trojans have a big challenge after graduating the entire starting lineup, but the team is not down and out. Kathryn Schell and Fallon are the expected to take the reins of the young, but talented team. Even with the obstacles ahead, Darien believes the team is in the running for the Northern League title and deep run in the state brackets.
LONGMONT CHRISTIAN WARRIORS
Coach: Dave Stoecker, first year.
Last year: 6-13, 4-7 in Mile High League.
Returning starters: Christina Ehr (P, Sr., 5-10), Keara Lenehan (PG, Sr., 5-8).
Others to watch: Delayne Moxness (P, Jr., 6-1), Taylor Shaeffer (F, Sr., 5-10)
Outlook: The sizable Warriors could cause some trouble in the Mile High League and 2A, with the team aiming to be competitive with whomever they step on the court against. The team returns its leading scorer Ehr, but also has other arrows in its quiver. Keara Lenehan has the potential to provide points on the perimeter.
Coach: Robert Boerjes, first year.
Last year: 13-9, 6-5 in 2A/3A Patriot League; eliminated 2A regionals.
Returning starters: Olivia Raspotnik (C, Jr., 6-2), Shannon Gilman (F, Sr., 5-11), Madison Myers (PG, Sr., 5-6).
Others to watch: Sammy Bashir (G, So., 5-4), Cali Smith (F, Fr., 5-7).
Outlook: The Lions' aim is another district title, but they will have to overcome depth issues to get back there. Despite low numbers, Lyons has plenty to work with in its returning core. Raspotnik, Gilman and Myers all have the potential to be All-Conference, coach Boerjes said.
Coach: Mike Ward, third year.
Last year: 4-16, 3-9 in 2A/3A Patriot League; elimintated first round of 3A districts.
Returning starters: Erica Shea (G, Sr., 5-5), Kasey McKrola (P, Sr., 5-10), Allison Majerus (F, So., 5-10).
Others to watch: Mikayla Martinez (G, So., 5-9), Marina Hanlon (G, So., 5-5), Fei Daly (G, So., 5-4).
Outlook: The Mavericks are fired up to produce a big year with the team's first senior class. Shea and McKrola should be the team's linchpins and have Mead aiming for the upper half of the Patriot League. The Mavericks look to play to their speed and ability to push the tempo in games.
Coach: Gail Hook, 14th year.
Last year: 22-4, 15-1 in 5A Front Range League; eliminated in 5A Great 8.
Returning starters: Alexus Johnson (F, Sr., 6-0), Ashton Davis (G/F, Sr., 5-8), Rebecca Richmond (G, Sr., 5-6), Jac Malcom-Peck (F, Jr., 6-0), Ellie Dietz (G/F, Sr. 5-8).
Others to watch: Brenna Stimac (G, Jr., 5-5), Mae Williams (F, So., 6-0), Bridgette Anthony (F, So., 5-10), Jordan Eisler (G, Jr., 5-7), Francesca Cendali (G, So., 5-7).
Outlook: The Coyotes' returning core should will be strong, especially in the paint. Johnson led Monarch in scoring last year and should be set up for a dominant senior season at forward. Davis and Richmond are also expected to have big career finishes, with the seniors anchoring the team's backcourt.
Coach: Roz Vara, first year.
Last year: 4-15, 2-10 in 2A Mile High League.
Returning starters: Mackenzie Belden (F/C, Sr., 5-11), Laura Stadele (F, Sr., 5-10).
Others to watch: Kalina Culver (G, Fr., 5-7), Mallory Orszulak (PG, Sr., 5-6).
Outlook: Coming off a losing season, the Panthers are aiming to see constant improvement over the course of its schedule. The team plans to hang its hats on a high-pressure and pace defense, fueled by Nederland's depth. Senior forwards MacKenzie Belden and Laura Stadele are expected to provide the Panthers their leadership.
Coach: Clark Burton, second year.
Last year: 7-14, 3-11 in 4A Northern League.
Returning starters: Sara Bishop (P, Sr., 5-11).
Others to watch: Anna Dunnell (F, So., 5-8), Kayla Blick (G, Sr., 5-6).
Outlook: Part of the Cougars' season will be dedicated to getting the team's ample youngsters experience, with Bishop the only returning starter. But Niwot's youth has not dimmed the team's ambitions, with the Cougars aiming for the 4A state brackets.
PEAK TO PEAK PUMAS
Coach: Chad Rathbun, sixth year.
Last year: 18-5, 7-3 in 3A Metro League; eliminated in 3A regional finals.
Returning starters: Khadijah Sayyid (PG, Sr., 5-3), Linnea Danielson (G/F, Jr., 5-7).
Others to watch: Ivy Devries (F, Jr., 5-8), Lindsay Calloway (C, Jr., 5-11).
Outlook: Sayyid has the potential to be one of the best point guards in the state, perplexing the opposition with speed and a sure shot. Danielson will provide Sayyid some experienced support, but the pair is it concerning the Pumas' returning starters. The graduation of four seniors makes Peak to Peak a young team, albeit one Rathbun believes is talented enough to aim for the 3A Sweet 16.
SHINING MOUNTAIN LIONS
Coach: Mike Hawkes, first year.
Last year: 8-8, 4-0 in 1A 5280 League; eliminated in 1A regional consolations.
Returning starters: Bry Kring (G, Sr., 5-7), Jade Zuspan (G, Sr., 5-5), Dayton Clark (G, Sr., 5-5), Hillary Krick (C, Sr., 5-11), Willow Schram (F, Sr., 5-7), Sarah Levine (G, Sr., 5-6).
Others to watch: Hana Mason (G, So., 5-5), Hannah Weinstein (G/F, So., 5-9).
Outlook: With a solid core of seniors the Lions are shooting at creating a lasting foundation for the program's future this season. A big step in this direction is the team working to become one of 1A's top defensive squads, an aspect coach Hawkes believes can help them match up well, no matter who the Lions face.
SILVER CREEK RAPTORS
Coach: Dan Kloster, eighth year.
Last year: 9-14, 3-11 in 4A Northern League.
Returning starters: Ana Gurau (G, Sr., 5-4), Rygell Hubert (F, Sr., 5-8), Margaret Davis (PG, So., 5-5), Emilie Rembert (G, So., 5-10), Grace Reed (P, Jr., 6-1).
Others to watch: Julie Dauer (P, So., 6-0), Shelby Keil (F, Jr., 5-7), Tess Warner (F, Jr., 5-7).
Outlook: The Raptors have big ambitions this season and the roster to see them through. The team returns five starters, including Hubert, who sat out last season due to injury. Gurau will be the team field marshal and has the potential to be among the best in 4A. The team is 10 players deep.
Coach: Tina Skidmore, first year.
Last year: 5-18, 2-12 in 4A Tri-Valley League.
Returning starters: Dominique Torres (C, Sr., 6-2), Kylie Emanuel (G, Jr., 5-4), Deandra Elcock (F, Jr., 5-8), Carissa Curtis (G, So., 5-7).
Others to watch: Nikki Mastriona (G, Sr., 5-4), Kaylee Spencer (G, So., 5-7), Naomi Barron (C, Fr., 6-0), Courtney David (F, So., 5-9).
Outlook: The Falcons are excited about showing the strides the team made in the off season and some of the new additions to the team. Skyline plans to run a fast-paced game on both ends of the court, a strategy Skidmore believes will catch some opponents off guard. Elcock and Emanuel were the top scorers a year ago and look to continue to roll up the points as juniors.