Girls basketball season preview: Sizable differences between teams in Palm Beach County, Treasure Coast
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
by Matt Porter
This year, the biggest should be the best.
From the Treasure Coast to Boca Raton, the girls basketball teams that have a presence down low have the greatest chances of reaching the top: the state finals in Lakeland.
Start in a realigned District 9-8A. Dwyer 6-foot-5 junior Kai James, - the sister of Dwyer senior and North Carolina signee Joel James - is rated as the No. 6 post player in the junior class by ESPN HoopGurlz. Junior Sam Glodis (6-3) is eighth among post players. Sophomore guard Keyanna Harris, who is rated the sixth-best guard and No. 22 sophomore in the nation, is a super-athletic 6-footer.
The Panthers have their sights on the state finals, but they might not beat Palm Beach Central. Six-foot-1 seniors Mariah-Cauhryn Smesler and Lexus Love can score and rebound, while an opposing coach called guard/forward Crystal Primm the top freshman in the county.
Not blessed with great size, Jupiter has a new coach, Bruce Wasserman, and the same disciplined style, which should help the Warriors compete.
District 10-8A is wide-open. Park Vista has an experienced group led by junior forward Caitlyn Hayes. New John I. Leonard coach Dan Ross brings experience and has a reliable senior in 5-foot-10 forward Tamoya Merritt. Boca Raton and Seminole Ridge have a solid mix of youth and experience.
Treasure Coast looks like the class of District 6-8A thanks to junior wing Marriah Nunnally and sophomore post Rosemarie Julien (14 ppg, 12 rpg). District 12-7A looks like a race between powerful, athletic Martin County and Fort Pierce Central, led by senior Larnique Collins (22 ppg, 15 rpg).
Despite losing Post large schools player of the year Myeshia Hall, Palm Beach Lakes should compete for the 13-7A title behind junior guard Shanovia Dove, a first-team All-Area player. Santaluces, with double-double machine Miriam Pierre, will pose a challenge. Royal Palm Beach should win its share of games.
District 14-7A should be wide-open, with Atlantic, Lake Worth, Olympic Heights and West Boca Raton having playoff shots.
With possibly the area's best backcourt, Boynton Beach should dominate District 15-5A. Senior Taylor Shade, a FIU signee, can score on anyone and is a tough rebounder. Sophomore Shakoa Edwards has shown flashes of big-time scoring ability, while junior transfer Ta'Kerria Brown led the Tigers to a season-opening win over Lakes.
District 12-4A is tightly bunched at the top, with St. Andrew's, Lincoln Park and Cardinal Newman competing to knock off each other. Opposing coaches rave about senior forward Angela Alvarez (20 ppg, 16 rpg). Newman, which plays a tough schedule, has lots of size and a solid leader in senior guard Myranda Nadal. Lincoln Park only has eight varsity players, so the Greyhounds will need to stay healthy and out of foul trouble. Junior guard/forward Brandy Montgomery was one of the best players on the Treasure Coast last year.
Benjamin looks like a slight favorite in a competitive District 12-3A. Sophomore Riley Burke, who an opposing coach called "one of the best pure shooters in the county," will help offset the loss of the graduated Jamie Burke and post presence Jessica Armstrong, who has turned her focus to volleyball. King's Academy has a steady group led by junior point guard Cat Urso, and well-coached Jupiter Christian has a great shot at the playoffs.
Trinity Christian dominated on its way to the state final, but loses one of the state's best players in Danielle McCray. Junior Alicia McCray assumes the spotlight and plays the same big guard role as her sister. The Warriors are the favorite in 13-3A, but don't count out Pope John Paul II with sharpshooting junior Emily Kissel.
With three of the best young players in the area transferring in, revamped Grandview Prep should roll to the District 12-2A title. Expect sophomores Neydja Petithomme and Vionise Pierre-Louis and freshman Jonika Garvin, who came over from American Heritage, to make an instant impact.
Ten teams to watch
Boynton Beach: Taylor Shade leads the area's best backcourt.
Dwyer: No one can match Panthers' size up front.
Grandview Prep: American Heritage transfers boost Pride.
Jupiter: New coach, same disciplined squad.
Lincoln Park Academy: Greyhounds have fifteen winning seasons in a row.
Martin County: Young and super-athletic.
Palm Beach Central: Plenty of size to compete with Dwyer in 9-8A.
Palm Beach Lakes: Shanovia Dove takes over as Rams' go-to player.
Santaluces: Can always rely on post scoring.
Trinity Christian: Another wave of young talent coming in.
Fifteen players to watch
Angela Alvarez, St. Andrew's, Sr., F: Double-double threat every night.
Riley Burke, Benjamin, Soph., G: Averaged 16.7 points per game as a freshman.
Shanovia Dove, Palm Beach Lakes, Jr., G: Attacking scorer can take over games.
Keyanna Harris, Dwyer, Soph., G: Silky-smooth and smart, one of best in her class.
Brandy Montgomery, Lincoln Park, G/ Could be Treasure Coast's top player.
Taylor Shade, Boynton Beach, Sr., G: Only 5-5, but FIU signee does it all.
Kai James/Sam Glodis, Dwyer: Juniors are two of nation's best post players.
Alicia McCray, Trinity Christian, Jr., G/ Already an 1,000-point player.
Miriam Pierre, Santaluces, Sr., F: Strong and athletic and a good leader.
Mariah-Cauhryn Smesler/Lexis Love, Palm Beach Central: Few teams can match seniors' size.
Vionise Pierre-Louis/Neydja Petithomme, Grandview Prep: Highly skilled sophomores can take over games.