Coach: Yantz Robinson (third season)
Last season: 1-11
Key players: Alese Abitia, sr., G; Celia Smith, sr., F
What to know: Robinson expects the Cougars to be more physical and to better communicate on the floor. The lack of experience could hurt the relatively young team. Abriana Burr is expected to contribute too.
Coach: Patrick McKiernan (sixth season)
Last season: 18-7 (lost in third round of state playoffs)
Key players: Kalani Poloa, sr., PG; Aubriana Noti, sr., P; Camrynne Mack, jr., G; Aleita Amparan, sr., G; Unique Gainey, jr., F; Mykiaa Minniss, jr., F; Domi Semadeni, jr., G; Taylor Fortune, jr., G
What to know: The Spartans return a talented roster, including last season’s top scorers in Poloa and Noti. The team has just one sophomore, Brionna McBride, and the rest are juniors and seniors so the experience level is high for a team that made it to the third round of the playoffs last season. McBride is returning from knee surgery and McKiernan said in a preseason questionnaire that she will be a key player this season. Expect Doherty to make another run in the playoffs.
Coach: LouAnn Guiden (first season)
Last season: 3-20
Key players: Sam Worrell, so.; Drue Kraft, jr.; Teyanna Norris, jr.; Trinity DeHerrera, jr.; Gina Coleman, sr.; Jari Jordan, sr.; Cecilia Guerra, jr.; Emani Coleman, jr.
What to know: The Trojans last finished with a winning record in 2009-10 when they went 21-5. Last season was another tough one, but first-year coach Guiden predicts that this year’s team can finish within the top four in the league. She called the team motivated with hard-working players. Along with the returning experience, the Trojans add four transfers to the mix.
Coach: Kyle Spencer (first season)
Last season: 11-14 (lost in second round of 5A state playoffs)
Key players: Jordan Valentine, jr., G; Jayda Lyon, jr., G; Katie McIntyre, sr., P
What to know: The Lancers lost five seniors from last season’s team, including their two top scorers. They could be in a bit of a rebuilding mode, but Valentine, Lyon and McIntyre, plus Phylicia Bacon and Morgan Sibley, all have varsity experience. Emily Vaszery is expected to contribute at guard.
Coach: Dave Shackelford (21 seasons)
Last season: (10-15, lost in second round of state playoffs)
Key players: Tashika Burrell, sr., G; Avad Stahl-Gomez, sr., G; Sanee Cates, so., G
What to know: Burrell is one of the top guards in the league and will be leaned on heavily, along with Stahl-Gomez and Cates, to lead the Terrors. Watch for seniors Jonae Byas and Jalyn Cantres to contribute as they move up to varsity.
Coach: Janean Jubic (first season)
Last season: 20-5 (lost in third round of state playoffs)
Key players: Courtney Stanton, sr., P; Jade Odom, sr., PG; Spencer Lindsey, sr., G
What to know: The Eagles lost two talented players from last year – Jayne Lydiatt to graduation and Emma List who transferred to Discovery Canyon – but retain leading scorer Lindsey and the talents of Odom and Stanton. Look for the Eagles to make another playoff push.
Coach: Ashley Miller (third season)
Last season: 19-6 (lost in third round of state playoffs)
Key players: Madi Wriedt, jr., G/F; Milly Cruz, jr.,PG; Bailee Hart, so., G; Bailey Torres, so., G/PG; Shannon Danda, jr., G/F
What to know: Rampart lost six seniors to graduation, including top-scorer Nicea Eliely, who plays for Nebraska. Replacing them won’t be easy, but the Rams have a lot of young talent. Wriedt, Cruz and Hart are all returning starters. Miller also called Hart and Torres potential breakout players as sophomores.
The Classical Academy
Coach: Frank Haist (first season)
Last season: 11-12
Key players: McClain Walker, sr. PG/SG; Nicole Daum, sr., G/F; Reagan Bervig, jr.
What to know: Haist steps in to a team that already works well together. The Titans have a number of players with varsity experience who could be used in different ways to make the team go. The chemistry already shared by the players could shape the squad into a league competitor.
Coach: Jose Montanez (first season)
Last season: 8-15
Key players: Adora Threat, sr., G; Amanda Robinson, sr., F; Destiny Trujillo, jr., G/F; Chenoa Scippio, jr., PF
What to know: The Panthers have a lot of new varsity players, with four returners. Montanez said the team is trying to find its identity this year, but that the girls have the desire and motivation to play good basketball. Leading scorer Aubrey Robinson transferred, so the Panthers will be looking at others to pick up the scoring.
Coach: Jeff Beatty (seventh season)
Last season: 24-2 (lost in quarterfinals of state playoffs)
Key players: Chloe Welch, jr., G; Ashley Bowen, so., C
What to know: The Grizzlies lost star player Kylee Shook, who is at Louisville, and the team will be young. Welch and Bowen are both strong players and will be the leaders. It will be interesting to see the kinds of adjustments that the Grizzles will make with the absence of Shook.
Coach: Rick Rienks (fifth season)
Last season: 1-22
Key players: Samantha Ernst, sr., W; Kiera Stiles, sr., W; Kylee Balaty, so., PG; Aleah Brenner, sr., W; Jordan Lopez, so., P; Kayshala Dewitt, sr., P
What to know: The Marauders had a tough season last year. Mitchell returns all three team captains in Stiles, Brenner and Ernst, so younger players will have teammates used to leadership roles. Balaty was the team’s leading scorer with 8.5 points per game. While Rienks says shooting is a weakness, their strengths are in defense and hustle.
Coach: Joe Williams: (seventh season)
Last season: 18-6 (lost in first round of state playoffs)
Key players: Malaynah Palaroan, Gyani Sami, Jasmine Monroe-Shivers
What to know: The Stallions will be young, with six sophomores and freshmen in the mix. But they’ll be quick and athletic, and they get Harrison transfer Aubrey Harrison, who was a second team all-conference player last year.
Coach: Jim Mason (21st season)
Last season: 14-11 (lost in second round of state playoffs)
Key players: Alexa Apodaca, sr., G; Jaida Aquino, sr., G; Charisse Fairley, jr., G; Aaliyah Ricketts, so., G
What to know: Widefield lost last year’s lead scorer Logan Prater to graduation, but Fairley and Ricketts were the second- and third-leading scorers, respectively, so they will be depended on to carry the scoring. Mason would like to see his team improve defensively.
Coach: Del Garrick (first season)
Last season: 2-21
Key players: Mackenzie Porter, sr., G; Jenna Bashor, sr., G; Katie Christian, sr., G; Gracie Forbes, jr.; Kylee Newsome, so., P
What to know: This year will be Garrick’s first full season as head coach, after he took over the program midway through December last season when former coach Kris Kemp was put on leave from her coaching duties. Both of the Panthers’ wins came against Mitchell. The team is inexperienced, according to Garrick, but does have strong senior leadership. Garrick called this year a rebuilding mode.
Coach: Phil Roiko (fourth season)
Last season: 13-11 (lost in first round of state playoffs)
Key players: Katelin Gallegos, sr., F; Brooke Sulski, sr., G; Katlyn Blacksten, jr., F; Mary Parchinski, jr., F; Zoe Sims, so., G; Liza Louthan, so., G
What to know: The Kadets have a lot of experience with five returning starters. Sulski and Gallegos led the team in scoring last year. Roiko is expecting the league to be competitive, with three to four teams battling for the league title. Depth is also a strength for the Kadets, who will be working on improving defense and taking care of the ball, according to Roiko.
Coach: Lisa Guhl (first season)
Last season: 7-16
Key players: Alex Taylor, sr., G; Ashlynn Smith, sr., P; Brenna Deines, sr., F; Carly Miller, sr., G; Katie Nelson, jr., G
What to know: The Indians will be adjusting to a new system under first-year coach Guhl. She said that the team has been working hard to transition. Cheyenne Mountain will look to the four returning seniors to provide leadership. Smith led the Indians in scoring and blocking last year.
Coach: Danelle Rivera (ninth season)
Last season: 8-15
Key players: Ashten Prechtel, so., P; Kristina Schneible, jr., P; Emma List, sr., G
What to know: The Thunder return its top scorer from a season ago in 6-foot-5 Ashten Prechtel, who averaged 13.1 points per game and five blocks as a freshman. Add two transfers from Australia – Zoe Lee and Lily Cunningham – to the mix along with List who transfers from Pine Creek and expect the Thunder to have a big year.
Coach: Tarike Adams (third season)
Last season: 13-11 (lost in first round of state playoffs)
Key players: Jade Adams, sr., SF; Hanna Diaz, sr., SG; Kiana Harkema, sr., PG; Kirsten Regennitter, sr., SF
What to know: The Falcons return a lot of talent, including six seniors. They may have lost their leading scorer, but there should be enough talent on the team to pick up the scoring. Look for the Falcons to be competitive again this year and make another playoff push.
Coach: Cayla De George (third season)
Last season: 7-16
Key players: Arianna Blowe, jr., PG/SG; Kaity Hovasse, jr., PG/SG; Sami Tucker, jr., C; Preslee Enget, jr., PG/SG
What to know: The Rangers return four players who have played varsity since they were freshmen, so they have experience. Blowe led the team with 12 ppg last season and Hovasse was second with 11.2. The Rangers had more wins last year than they had in the previous two seasons combined. With the experience of the returning players, look for the Rangers to improve in the win column.
Coach: Dennis Coates (seventh season)
Last season: 13-10
Key players: Sam Rippley, sr., PG; Jasmine Sanders, sr., G; Regan Mukpik, sr., G; Marie Koogle, sr., F; Makenzie Siskind, jr., G
What to know: Last season, Rippley averaged 15 ppg to lead the Bears and Sanders was second with 9.8. The experience is a strength for the Bears, according to Coates, who is hopeful that the team’s lack of size will be made up in depth. Palmer Ridge field hockey star Liz Phillips will also join the team.
Coach: Tommie Johnson (first season)
Last season: 24-2 (lost in state semifinals)
Key players: Dejah Glover, sr.; Deja Derrell, sr.
What to know: Last season, Sand Creek suffered a heartbreaking 71-70 loss to Evergreen in the semifinals in the team’s second consecutive semifinals appearance. The Scorpions also lost coach B.J. Johnson, who took a job as the director of scouting for the Brooklyn Nets in August, and star players Oliana Squires and Liah Davis. Tommie Johnson comes to Sand Creek from CSU-Pueblo where he was an assistant coach and recruiter for the men’s basketball team. The Scorpions are young and relatively inexperienced, so it will be interesting to see if they can build off the success Sand Creek has had in the past.
Did not report: Vista Ridge, TCA, Cañon City