Coach: Danny Graham
2011 Record: 13-13 (state playoffs)
Players to watch: Keanna McNeill, Sr., F; Aliyah Ratley, Sr., F; Azaya Graham, Jr., G.
Outlook: A load of talent returns to the Lady Pirates, led by senior Aliyah Ratley, a transfer from South Robeson who averaged nearly a double-double (10.8 PPG and 8.6 RPG) in her first season at LHS. After a middle-of-the-pack finish in the Southeastern Conference and first-round exit in the state playoffs last season, Lumberton should be primed to contend for a league title and make a playoff run.
Coach: Michael White
2011 Record: 17-8 (state playoffs, 2nd round)
Players to watch: Tia Glover, So., G; Alexis Roberson, Jr., G.
Outlook: Big shoes are in need of filling by St. Pauls with the loss of all-county regulars Khadijah Pirest, a double-double threat every night, and Bianca Palazzola, who led the team in points, rebounds, blocks and assists last season. Moreover, first-year coach Michael White takes over as the successor of long-time coach Mike Ratley who retired after a 31-year career coaching high school basketball. A rebuilding year and dip in the Three Rivers Conferences standings is likely in the cards for St. Pauls.
Coach: Danyel Locklear
2011 Record: 14-9 (state playoffs)
Player to watch: Colleen Chavis, Sr., G.
Outlook: There’s no way around it, the Lady Rams are in rebuilding mode. With the loss of Laura Bird, last year’s county offensive player of the year (16.8 PPG, 12.8 RPG) and co-player of the year in the SEC, Swett will have many holes to fill on both sides of the floor. It will be an uphill climb for Swett to compete with the SEC’s cream of the crop — Scotland, Richmond and Lumberton. Colleen Chavis is one of only a few experienced returners headlining this year’s young squad.
Coach: Lula Ratley
2011 Record: 3-22
Players to watch: Ahlea Dickens, Sr., F; Virginia McCormick, Sr., F; Illiyah White, So., F; Jaquell Stackhouse, Jr., C.
Outlook: After a mere three wins last season, and a winless mark in the Three Rivers Conference, there’s nowhere go to but up for South Robeson. Looking to lead the Lady Mustangs — who are vastly more experienced than last season’s young team — out of the league basement will be a crop of seniors led by senior forward Virginia McCormick who routinely led the Mustangs in scoring as a junior.
Coach: Chris Rodriguez
2011 Record: 6-15
Players to watch: Anasia Evans, Sr., G; Na’Jewel Ingram, So., F; Marsha Chavis, Fr., C.
Outlook: Fairmont brings back the leading scorer in the county and Three Rivers Conference in Anasia Evans (20 PPG), a senior who will lead a squad filled with juniors and sophomores. A few new faces expected to make an impact are led by sophomore Na’Jewel Ingram, a transfer from Purnell Swett. After a fourth-place finish in the conference last season, the Golden Tornadoes are gunning to vie for the top spot with favorites St. Pauls and East Columbus.
Coach: Steve Sinclair
2011 Record: 13-12 (state playoffs)
Players to watch: Robyn Mcphaul, Jr., G; Jasmine Murchison, Sr., F; Shantanna Norris, Jr., C.
Outlook: Steve Sinclair takes over for Katasha Oxendine, who in two years helped turn the Red Devils into a league contender and playoff team. With a bulk of last year’s starting lineup returning, including last year’s leading scorer Robyn Mcphaul (9.5 PPG), Red Springs will trot out a seasoned group that won four of its last six games to end the 2011-12 campaign.
Preseason All-County Team
G Anasia Evans, Fairmont; G Robyn Mcphaul, Red Springs; F Virginia McCormick, South Robeson; F Aliyah Ratley, Lumberton; F Keanna McNeill, Lumberton