With all the leagues and conferences reconfigured, it’s a little mind-spinning to start fresh. But that’s exactly what will happen for most teams in Section 1 this year.
In this new geographical configuration, teams will mostly play those in their own conference. I know you want to know who the best players and teams are in their respective classes, but we have plenty of days, weeks and month to discuss that. For now, let’s look at the favorites and potential all-stars in each conference.
I’ll start with Conference 1. Below I have listed the league alignments for the conference. For each league I will post my favorite and my challenger, and why. At the bottom are my preseason all-conference teams.
Preseason CONFERENCE 1 breakdown —
Favorite — Lourdes: Yes, the Warriors lost a Division I player in Kim Dweck and a solid forward in Rachel Crittenden, but Teneka Whittaker is one of the best players in the section. Other young players will emerge around her. I don’t see anyone here that will challenge them.
Top challenger — Arlington: The rest all lost top talent, like Caitlynn Moran from JJEF and Kara Tancredi from Beacon. The Admirals lost some of theirs, but enough returns from a 14-8 season, led by Rachel Perrone.
Favorite — Lakeland: Tough call, but I’ll take the Hornets. They feature the hands-down best player in the section and lost just one player from the starting lineup to graduation. With Tori Jarosz back, a full summer and preseason for sophomore point Emily Alicea, last season’s mid-year callup, and seniors Kristin Pappalardo and Vicki Kowalski, the lineup is well-stocked.
Top challenger — Carmel: The Rams earn the slight edge over neighbor Brewster. Brittany Horne (right) and Marie Mullen are back, forming one of the best one-twos in the section.
Favorite — Haldane: Another new coach and plenty of competition, but I can’t pick against the Blue Devils. They are the solid choice, with Liz Milner and the DesMarais all back.
Top challenger — North Salem: This is another no-brainer. Yes, the Tigers have a new coach as well, but they also have the No. 2 game-changer in the section in 6-foot-7 Danielle Fiacco. She could easily lift them past Haldane.
Favorite: Ossining — I don’t expect this league to provide much competition. Ossining’s adjustment period will come early without Hayley Awerdick, but it should be fine by January.
Top challenger: Peekskill — It is my annual rite to sell Put Valley a touch short, but I like the progress at Peekskill. A young cast led by Asia Jackson should continue the steady climb toward greater respectability.
Preseason ALL-CONFERENCE 1 —
Danielle Fiacco, North Salem
Brittany Horne, Carmel
Tori Jarosz, Lakeland
Alex Venuto, Ossining
Teneka Whittaker, Lourdes
Margo Hackett, Pawling
Asia Jackson, Peekskill
Liz Milner, Haldane
Rachel Perrone, Arlington
Emily Tapio, Brewster
Saniya Chong, Ossining
Briana Jones, Ketcham
Marie Mullen, Carmel
Saretta Nethersole, Hen Hud
Kristin Pappalardo, Lakeland