Girls Best of the Rest: Carmel Christian made huge jumps last year

Carmel Christian made the Final 4 last year. With (from left) Chloe Williams, Aja Jones, Christiana McLean, Lorelai Roper and Sherise Jones all returning, they’ll look to at least get back to that point. Andrew Stark/MMHW photo

Carmel Christian made the Final 4 last year. With (from left) Chloe Williams, Aja Jones, Christiana McLean, Lorelai Roper and Sherise Jones all returning, they’ll look to at least get back to that point. Andrew Stark/MMHW photo

Carmel Christian is loaded this year. They should easily win the Southern Piedmont and again be a player in the NCISAA 2A championship discussion after making the Final 4 last year before falling to Carolina Day. Charlotte Catholic had sort of a down year last season, but the Cougars should rebound in their new conference home. Providence should be better than their two conference wins from last year. Queen’s Grant went winless last season, but they will likely be improved.

Carmel Christian

Coach: Ashley Raley-Ross, second season (19-6)

2016-17 Record: 19-6, 14-0 in SPAA

Returning Starters: 4

The Cougars return a lot of talent and have added some key newcomers to a team that reached the Final Four of the NCISAA 2A tournament.

Junior point guard Christiana McLean has offers from Navy and Appalachian State. She averaged 14 points, seven rebounds, six steals and five assists per game.

She’ll run the show for the Cougars, but there are plenty of other stars who will contribute including returning starters Aja Jones, a 5-11 junior forward who averaged nine points and seven rebounds, Ashlynn Dotson, a 5-5 sophomore wing who averaged six points per game, and 5-11 eighth-grader Chloe Williams, who scored 10 points and grabbed four rebounds per game last year.

Charlotte Catholic transfer Lorelei Roper is a 6-2 senior forward and a Marshall University commit. She averaged 14 points and 12 rebounds for the Cougars last year and will have a big impact.

So, too, will 5-11 senior forward Sherise Jones. Jones averaged six points and six rebounds at Hickory Ridge and joins Gianna Jones, a 5-10 sophomore on the inside.

Charlotte Catholic

Coach: Robert Conrad, 12th season (195-88)

2016-17 Record: 13-14, 8-6 in So. Meck 8

Returning Starters: 4

The Cougars had a rare down season last year and are replacing their top two scorers and their leading rebounder from a year ago, but hope remains they can get back to their winning ways.

Sophomore guard Dane Bertolina is the leading returning scorer after putting up 4.4 points per game last year, but she’ll see a much larger role and more scoring chances this year.

Carson Dymock (four points per game), Maggie Dupre’ (3.2 points, three rebounds, 2.2 assists) and Emma Ullius (2.7 points, 3.2 rebounds) all started last year and will be looked at to provide leadership and toughness.

Alyson Henderschott, Ciara Flatau, Maggie Walton and Claire Kloiber are key reserves who also will see big minutes this year.

The Cougars need to develop a go-to scorer, but they will be solid in their new Southern Carolina Conference home.


Coach: Jennifer Bean, second season (5-20)

2016-17 Record: 5-20, 2-12 in So. Meck 7

Returning Starters: 4

The Panthers struggled last year and haven’t had a winning season in over a decade, but this team returns enough experience to turn that around.

Jaylynn Askew is the team’s leading returning scorer after averaging nine points and nine rebounds at her power forward spot.

Sarah Knafelz, a 6-1 center, averaged six rebounds, four points, three assists and two blocks per year as a freshman last year. She’s much improved and will help anchor the Panthers’ otherwise undersized interior.

Lili Brown averaged eight points per game and will start at one of the wings.

Audrey Lytle showed she can run the point as a freshman last year and will direct the Providence attack once again.

Paulina Armendariz was a starter in her freshman season and played well, but missed last year recovering from an ACL injury.

Keep an eye on freshman point guard Nyla McGill, who comes to Providence after setting the all-time scoring mark at Jay M. Robinson Middle School. She’ll contribute immediately.

Queen’s Grant

Coach: Kevin King, first season at Queen’s Grant (16-15)

2016-17 Record: 0-16, 0-10 in Uwharrie Athletic

Returning Starters: 4

Since making the NCHSAA 1A playoffs in 2013, the Stallions have struggled as a program. They haven’t won a game since and have gone 0-61 during that stretch and are on their fourth coach in five seasons.

Kevin King comes from Metrolina Christian where he had success and is looking to change the culture and turn around the program.

He has some help this season to make that happen, but the Stallions are young.

They have some nice returning talent in junior guard Trinity Sutton and junior wings Emeli Carrasco and Faoz Francis, who return to the starting lineup this season.

Junior center Jewell Williams and sophomore power forward Ashleigh Aberly will give the Stallions a needed interior presence.

Queen’s Grant is very excited about Forest Hills transfer Sheona Woodham. Woodham, a senior guard, averaged 12 points, three steals and three assists per game and will be a huge part of what Queen’s Grant does this season.

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