Girls prep hoops: SAC PREVIEW

A look at the predicted order of finish in the SAC

Following a solid game in the Class 4A title game and a great off-season, Homestead sophomore Sydney Graber is ready to emerge as the next big-time Homestead talent. (News-Sentinel file photo)
South Side senior Taniece Chapman has gotten smoother around the basket and stronger at the free throw line to make her an even more dangerous player for the Archers. (News-Sentinel file photo)

Forty-one straight victories.

That is the streak for Homestead against current SAC opponents.

The run stretches back over four years, with South Side the last conference team to get the best of the Spartans in a 54-53 victory in sectional play on Feb. 9, 2013.

Interestingly, it may be the Archers that have the best chance at usurping Homestead atop the league standings.

But despite new faces and unfamiliar names, Homestead remains the league favorite entering a season that has much in the way of intrigue.

“This year I think will be a little special because of all the youth that we have and all the young kids eager to come out and prove themselves,” Homestead coach Rod Parker said.

PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH

1. HOMESTEAD

Indiana Miss Basketball Karissa McLaughlin, Jazmyne Geist and Madisen Parker may be gone, but the talent cupboard is far from bare at Homestead.

Lauren Selking is the lone senior, but the junior and sophomore classes are full of potential. Sophomore Sydney Graber had a huge summer, picking up several D1 offers. The 6-foot guard/forward will soon emerge as one of the best players in the area.

Haley Swing’s five-point, 10-rebound performance in the Class 4A state championship opened eyes on her potential. The junior will be joined by classmates Kara Gealy, Bri Lucas, Sophia Buck and Concordia transfer Sylare Starks in a deep pool of Class of 2019 talent.

The Spartans have won 18 or more games for eight consecutive seasons. No, McLaughlin and company doesn’t necessarily mean Homestead’s area dominance is coming to an end.

2. SOUTH SIDE

Coach Juanita Goodwell’s team is stocked with experience and talent, perhaps the most the program has had since the regional championship team in 2012-13.

Taniece Chapman is the offensive leader, but she has plenty of help from her senior classmates. Senior Shamari Tyson is ready to put a transfer and ACL injury behind her, while fellow seniors Shamari Jackson and Mikeba Jones are both versatile and experienced.

How deep can the Archers go? Sophomores Alaya Chapman and Jaci Jones as well as 6-foot center Lamayia Woodson will all help carry the load on the scoreboard.

3. CARROLL

After 18 wins with a junior-dominated team a year ago, Coach Mark Redding and the Chargers are eyeing more success this season.

Eight seniors will lead the way, paced by senior guard Kelli Damman (14.7 ppg). Fellow senior Laney Steckler (6.4 ppg) will be one to watch in the backcourt.

Carroll will have some size to play with up front, with seniors Julia and Macy Miller expected to be integral contributors in the post.

4. NORTHROP

A year after turning plenty of heads in a 15-win campaign, a veteran group of Bruins will be looking for more under coach Rashida Muhammad.

Back is First Team All-SAC forward Bre Douglas, who averaged 12 points and 10 rebounds a game as a junior. A pair of small, agile guards in Arielle Thatcher (14 ppg) and Niomi Dube (10 ppg) will also play a big role in Northrop looking to take the next step as a program.

5. BISHOP DWENGER

Two consecutive 14-win seasons have the Saints back in the upper echelon of the SAC. Can they continue the climb with do-everything senior Ellen Ross?

It won’t be easy with the loss of junior guard Jayda Smith, who has transferred out of Bishop Dwenger. Despite her departure, coach Cleveland Inge feels he has some young guard talent ready to emerge, including sophomore point guard Molly Ream.

“She is very intelligent, a true point guard willing to make the passes,” said Inge of Ream. “She will run the show. She’s got the keys to the car right now.”

6. CONCORDIA

In 14 years under coach Dave Miller, the Cadets have never had a losing season. Despite losing Shania Kelly (graduation) and Sylare Starks (transfer), there is no doubting the fact the Cadets will still be very good.

Junior Carissa Garcia was the leader in assists for Concordia last season and will team with a pair of senior guards in Paige Patterson and Hope Kanning to secure another winning campaign for the Cadets.

7. SNIDER

It was a reasonably successful first season for Coach Greg Friend with the Panthers a season ago in a 14-7 campaign.

Victories could be a bit more difficult to secure this year with plenty of production lost to graduation.

Senior Hannah Barnes enters the season as the biggest offensive threat after averaging 8.7 points last season. Junior DaLeshia Davis will partner with Barnes in the backcourt.

How several talented freshmen adapt to varsity basketball will go a long way in determining how good the Panthers will be.

8. BISHOP LUERS

It was a dismal season for the Knights a year ago. The seven wins were the worst in a generation for the proud program.

Coach Marc Pixley returns five of his team’s top six leading scorers from last year, including senior Kathryn Knapke and sophomore Lydia Reimbold, both of whom are capable of putting up big numbers offensively.

9. NORTH SIDE

This program has not won more than five games in a season since 2009-10. Can senior LaQuisha Ruth and junior Jewel Reuille lead the way to a respectable season for the Legends?

10. WAYNE

The only win for the Generals last season came against Blackhawk Christian. Junior Mya Jackson is a solid player on the block, averaging 9 points and 7 rebounds last season.

Does Jackson have enough help around her for Wayne to grab a few more victories?

SAC SUPERLATIVES

MVP: Ellen Ross, Bishop Dwenger

Best shooter: Hannah Barnes, Snider

Best post player: Taniece Chapman, South Side

Most versatile: Ellen Ross, Bishop Dwenger

Best passer: Carissa Garcia, Concordia

Best intangibles: Kelli Damman, Carroll

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