There will only be one championship at stake in the SAC this season with the SAC Holiday Tournament officially cancelled.
Perhaps that means Homestead’s title count will be more limited? Or does the absence of that tournament take away from someone else? One thing is for sure, it does take away from players having a bigger stage to break out on.
Despite that, this conference is still going to be fun and the middle of the pack contains more teams than usual because of some exciting depth and youth. For six of the teams in the SAC, this will be a quick refresher because you can read full previews of them in their accompanying Preseason Power Poll articles.
If you have been paying attention to our Girls Hoops Preseason Top 50, then the “impact players” shouldn’t surprise you so we will be brief, but keep an eye on the players on the rise, all young ladies NOT in our preseason Top 50.
NOTE: The order of teams listed is Bounce’s personal predicted order of finish. Don’t sue me.
Homestead is the standard in the SAC, which is fair because it has captured all but one conference and conference tournament title since entering the SAC.
It is another annual reload for Homestead and again it has critical pieces to replace,yet again they have girls to step in. Alison Stephens, Molly Stock and Maggie Keinsley all got solid experience last season to step in now. They will file in behind proven threats Ayanna Patterson and Grace Sullivan, who are going to be a phenomenal inside duo. In the history of Bounce’s Power Poll, which runs weekly during the season, NO TEAM other than Homestead has ever been #1 and it has not been beaten in the area in the last two seasons.
South Side Archers
Are the Archers the only threat to dethrone Homestead? They pushed them to the brink multiple times last season and it will always be a matchup to watch even if we won’t get it three times again this season.
Youngstown State commit Lamyia Woodson is gearing up for a year where she could really control the post conference wide and Olivia Smith is back as a tempo pusher. The addition of CC Calloway makes South Side so tough because she plays hard on both sides of the ball, making her an ideal wing for the Archers aggression.
There is a an argument that could be made (and has been made to Bounce this preseason) that it is Carroll which is actually the top team in the area.
The Chargers have a couple of things to prove to get there but the depth of this team is solid. Position by position, they will be very hard to match up with, even those listed above them here.
This team has good length and their lead players – Emily Parrett, Delane Sheets and Saniya Jackson – can all play multiple spots on the floor. They run hard, they play hard and this is a Carroll team that is as motivated as any Coach Mark Redding has had in his time with the Chargers.
Under new coach Kevin Clopton, things are going to change some, but what won’t is the ‘chip on their shoulder’ way that the Bruins play. They have built for this season and although that was under another coach, they still are highly motivated to make the most out of this cast. Even though she has been great through her entire career, TiAuna White was still one of the SAC’s top breakout players a season ago. Northrop will be dangerous on the perimeter with J’Asia Scott and Amanda Thatcher capable of guarding anyone.
Concordia Lutheran Cadets
While a lot of the conference is going to be focused on the perimeter, the Cadets are strong in the post. Maybe that is why everyone else should be more perimeter oriented, so Chanteese Craig doesn’t block their shots. One of the most impressive things for the Cadets through last season was their ability to have a variety of girls step up. A big showcase of that was in a sectional win over Angola where Rhaya Kachinske was irreplaceable; Bounce is excited to see her progress in particular.
Bishop Luers Knights
It will be a nightly treat to see how the Knights are shooting the ball because Delaney Bailey and Janaiya Bright could get hot. If Bishop Luers can avoid streaky shooting and can rebound the basketball, do not be shocked if it pulls several upsets through the course of the SAC season. Bounce is more than intrigued to see if freshman Addie Shank can really separate herself, because doing so as a 9th grader in this conference is far from easy.
There is just something about this team under first-time head coach Akilah Sims. Her playing and college assistant coaching experience could mean a lot for this program that is trying to end its “in flux” status. Adding Destiny Jackson (11.8 ppg/9/.4 rpg) as a transfer is massive. Jackson is a workhorse who makes everyone around her better. Matching Jackson with Sims is a significant paradigm shift for Snider. Its freshman class is loaded and Jordyn Poole is as good as any 9th grader we have seen in the area lately; how will it translate to the varsity level?
Bishop Dwenger Saints
One of the best teams in the conference, the Saints are going to again have a back loaded schedule where they will have to up their game for. Staying healthy is important as the Saints have the players in lineup that can change the game at all levels of the floor. Lexi Linder is a savvy perimeter player who can defend well, Kayliana Hammel can mix it up a bit everywhere and Maggie Cheever is a long threat inside who can be a rim protector.
Wayne has been in a rebuild for some time, but last season was where you could really see some movement in the Generals. Their youth was exciting, aggressive and are only going to be better this season. Shabrea O’Quinn (10.8 ppg/9.1 rpg) is a heavy threat in the double-double department and runs the floor as well as any area post. Two fellow sophomores, Emilia Diaz (5.1 ppg) and Aniah Hill (6.5 ppg) are both solid returners that had some big showings as rookies. The trio led a group that graduated nobody and still averaged 11.7 steals per game. Wayne is young and is going to get younger with three new freshmen in the fold with Sydney Gorman, Mariah Luna and Khalise Collins.
“This season we will have a very young but talented group. We have a core group of girls who understand the game and are hungry to change the perception of wayne. This is the year that we will make some noise in the city,” Wayne coach Lacia Gorman said.
North Side Legends
Who will score for North Side? They need someone to step up and step up big. They graduated some experience and some young ladies who knew how to bring pressure. Juniors Felicia Smith (3.5 rpg) and Zara Nokour (4 rpg) can rebound the ball well so they have to be able to convert some scoring in the post as well. Sophomore Tierani Hoskins is the Legends’ leading returning scorer and junior Tasia Chaney comes over from Snider to add some experience. North Side, in their rebuild under second-year coach Michael Wallace, will rely on some freshmen as well.
“We look to develop our young program for the future and our main goal is to get better as we continue to grow as a quality program. No pressure, no diamond!” said Wallace.
Ayanna Patterson, Homestead
This is a no-brainer right? Patterson has offers from almost every major Division I school in the country for a reason. We are all ready for a healthy Patterson after some injury issues last season. We want to see her play strong all over the court this season and if she can improve her in-game range, who stops her?
Olivia Smith, South Side
Spitfire. Firecracker. Fire starter. Any other descriptive word that has fire in it? Smith is ready to set the conference ablaze and it shows more and more all of the time. If South Side is able to finally knock off Homestead, she is the catalyst.
TiAuna White, Northrop
White is a matchup nightmare because she can post up and rebound with the conference’s best interior players and she can defend and cut by some of the best wings.
PLAYERS ON THE RISE
Annaka Nelson, Concordia Lutheran
Nelson’s success was spotty as a freshman last year, but she is a good defender at the rim. Concordia has that and Nelson just makes them tougher in that regard. With registered consistency, this could be a year where Nelson breaks out and shows she is the future for the Cadets.
Amanda Thatcher, Northrop
We’ve waited long enough to say this: Thatcher very much built from the same mold as sister Arielle, a former All-Area performer for the Bruins. This season, expect a more controlled, mature Thatcher that can make a lot of defenders miss as she moves around her team’s offense.
Kayliana Hammel, Bishop Dwenger
Hammel is highly touted in a Sainst lineup that brings back a ton. She is a no-nonsense hard worker. She has a good chance of stepping up as a verbal leader, something the Saints were missing a bit of a year ago. Hammel is going to be another one of those girls who is a matchup issue with her size.
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