Girls Basketball Preview: Underdogs Look To Surpass Expectations


The way Severna Park girls basketball head coach Kristofer Dean figures it, the Falcons will have all the resources necessary for a success story.

Dean’s team possesses size and they know how to win.

It’s just that many opponents will underestimate Severna Park. That could be a big mistake.

“I don’t know if a lot of people expect us to do much,” Dean said. “But I see where we can go with our leadership and athletic ability. I don’t think the girls program has had a final four berth since the ‘80s. I’d like one, and the girls deserve it.”

That final four feat was accomplished twice in that decade, in both 1980 and 1988.

Severna Park graduated leading scorer Theresa Bragg after last season, but the team returns enough talent to make up for her loss.

The Falcons – coming off a 12-9 record and first-round playoff loss to Broadneck – will ride the play of senior point guard Hanna Verreault, senior shooting guard Karli Kirchenheiter and junior shooting guard Ryan Feemster.

Severna Park will get a big boost from the return of senior guard Lilly Spilker, who missed all of last season because of a knee injury. Junior forward Sally Trent should provide more scoring.

Two players promoted from last year’s junior varsity squad, sophomore guard Charley Coward and junior guard Gabby Rosati, could offer immediate help.

“If we are not the best defensive team in the county,” Dean said, “that would be a disappointment.”

Freshman guard Maria Bragg, junior guard Kiley Curran, senior forward Abby Kavanagh, junior forward Amelia Smith and junior forward Madeline Sullivan are all vying for minutes.

“We will be exciting to watch,” Dean said. “We are a really fast team this year. Last year, we weren’t really a fast team.”

Broadneck coach Juan McKinney knows his team can make some noise, and he isn’t afraid to say so.

The Bruins return three starters who have elevated their play from last year: tenacious sophomore point guard London Best, junior small forward Samantha Miller and junior shooting guard Mackenzie Wharton.

Both Miller and Wharton averaged double figures in scoring last winter.

“We can be really good,” McKinney said. “If we limit our turnovers and play defense at a high level like I know we can, then we can make a deep run in the playoffs for sure.”

Senior center Addison Hurst and senior power forward Arianna Jefferies offer the Bruins great size, toughness and rebounding.

Depth will be among Broadneck’s biggest strengths with McKinney’s rotation featuring nine or 10 players.

Junior guards Ginger Kerdock and Malaika Latif, sophomore guard Summer Stroop and senior forward Caliyn Motta are the top reserves.

“This is the most depth I’ve had,” said McKinney, a fourth-year coach.

Junior Amoni Belt, junior center Liberty Chenault-Randall, freshman guard Brianna Snowden, senior guard Adowell Neadeah and junior Faith Achimovic are pushing for minutes.

Severn fans would like to forget about the past two seasons. Who can blame them?

The Admirals have gone 2-24 during that stretch.

The program needs leadership and new coach Jim Stromberg can provide it.

He’s won nearly 400 games as a head coach at St. Paul’s, Seton Keough, Catholic and Eastern Tech while winning six championships in 34 years.

“It’s a new challenge, and I love the school,” said Stromberg, when asked about taking over the job.

Stromberg will build the lineup around four seniors: guards Madison Vernon and Madison Tyron and forwards Emma Ripley and Megan Murphy.

“We are focused on improving every day,” Stromberg said.

Archbishop Spalding coach Aanika O’Connor will be put to the test as the Cavaliers’ new coach.

The team went 5-13 last year, leading scorer Kamari Sims (committed to George Washington) transferred to Riverdale Baptist, and the roster contains eight players and two of them are coming over from the softball team.

O’Connor, who coached at Meade last year after eight seasons and a 101-39 record, will have her share of concerns, but the starting lineup isn’t one of them.

Spalding returns three starters: sophomore power Whitley Watkins, senior guard/forward Mariah Sanavia and senior shooting guard Ava Sammons.

Sanavia ranked second on the team in scoring last year and had two 30-point performances. Spalding assistant coach Jermaine Branch said Watkins is being recruited by a few Division I schools.

Those starters will be joined in the lineup by promising sophomore point guard Eyan Bailey, who sat out last season because of injuries.

“This team is better than a 5-13 team,” Branch said. “Our goal is to get better in every practice and every game.”


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