By DOUG DONNELLY
The Tri-County Conference will have a new look this season with the return of Britton Deerfield and the addition of Erie Mason but there will be a lot of familiar faces.
Last year’s co-champions, Sand Creek and Madison, both return all five starters and figure to once again be in the running for the league title.
Remarkably, all 10 of the top 10 scorers in league play last year return this season, led by Madison’s Carly Anschuetz (17.8 points per game). Libby Rorick of Morenci led the TCC in 3-pointers (15) and Abby Haller of Summerfield led the loop in free throw percentage (77.3 percent).
BD played a JV-only schedule last year but are back with a varsity roster.
Here’s a team-by-team look at the seven TCC girls basketball teams:
2019-20: no team
Coach: Jeff Scott, 5th year (28-56)
Players to watch: Jillian Molnar, Cam Fore, Claire Molnar, Syd Hazlett, Haylie Shiels.
Return to varsity action: BD didn’t have a varsity team last year, but used the time for a full 20 games of JV basketball to build experience in the program.
Coach says: “We are very optimistic and will win the games we deserve to win. What we lack in the varsity experience we will overcome with exuberance to want to play, dedication and desire to get better every day, and tenacity at the defense end. We are hopeful that the positive experience that we had last year will carry over this year.”
Season opener: Tuesday vs. Milan
Coach: Josh Sweigert, 5th year (60-51)
Returning starters: Ellie Trainor, Sr.; Monica DeGasto, Jr.; Lizzy Liedel, Jr.
Other returning players: Ashley Bell, Sr.; Ava Micheau, Sr.; Brooklyn Micheau, Sr.; Kaylie Bash, So.
Newcomers: Chloe Grodi, Jr.; Hannah Palacio, Jr.; Jenna Wright, Fr.
Player to watch: Liedel led the Eagles in scoring and rebounding last season.
Coach says: “Joining a new league (Tri-County Conference) will present some different opportunities and we are looking forward to the new challenges we will face.”
Season opener: Monday vs. Ann Arbor Greenhills
2019-20: 14-6 (9-1 in TCC)
Coach: Rick McNeil, 19th season (271-126)
Returning starters: Carly Anschuetz, Sr.; Calie Sower, Sr.; Riley Jordan, Sr.; Elizabeth Ward, Sr.; Haley Haynes, Sr.
Other returning players: Madisyn McDonald, Jr.
Newcomers: Haylee Patterson, Harley Russell, Amber Gonzales, and Mallory Palpant
Player to watch: Anschuetz earned all-state recognition last season, averaging 16.0 points a game. “She is a returning captain and our leader in scoring, rebounding, steals and assists,” McNeil said. “She leads by example with her great basketball IQ and outstanding work ethic. It is a joy to have a player with Carly’s great attitude, skill, and leadership on the team.”
Coach says: “I am excited to see our team continue to grow and compete throughout the season.”
Season opener: Wednesday at Whiteford.
2019-20: 3-18 (0-10 in TCC)
Coach: Mark Stiver, 2nd season (3-18)
Returning players: Bekah Shoemaker, Jr.; Carolyn Gould, Jr.; Josie Zuevers, So.; Rachel Shoemaker, So.; Libby Rorick, Jr.
Player to watch: Bekah Shoemaker was one of the best players in the TCC a year ago but missed several games due to injuries. Libby Rorick led the team with 32 3-pointers.
Coach says: “It’s all about making adjustments as the season progresses.”
Season opener: Friday at Whiteford.
2019-20: 18-6 (9-1 in TCC)
Coach: Matt Benge, 11th season (146-74)
Returning starters: Kindell Covey, Sr.; Alex Waltz, Sr.; Madison Serin, Sr.; Emily Carbajal, So.; Chelsi Zyla, So.
Other returning players: Madelynn Disbrow, Sr.; Kylie Serin, Jr.; Grace Elliott, Jr.
Newcomers: Olivia Allen, Sr.; Jersey Still, Jr.; Allie Anderson, So.
Player to watch: Carbajal exploded onto the scene last year to help lift the Aggies to a district title. “She has an innate ability to score,” Benge said.
Coach says: “This team has a broad range of talent. We have players that can score in the paint, from the perimeter, and out in transition. It’s a very talented group.”
Season opener: Tuesday vs. Erie Mason
2019-20: 13-8 (6-4 in TCC).
Coach: Mickey Moody, 5th year (27-56)
Returning starters: Grace Kalb, Sr.; Breanna Weston, Sr.; Elaney Fisher, Jr.; Abby Haller, So.; Destanee Smith, So.
Other returning players: Sydney Redlinger, Jr.
Newcomers: Ava Fisher, Fr.; Faith Secor, Fr.
Player to watch: Abby Haller led Summerfield in scoring (10.8 points per game) and rebounding last season. “Even though Abby is only a sophomore, she is the best passer and best shooter on team. She makes the girls around her better.”
Coach says: “We have done a lot of conditioning and more shooting drills and hopefully that will pay off for us this season because we like to go up-tempo and we definitely need to be a better shooting team.”
Season opener: Monday vs. Airport
Coach: Les Manley, 6th year (49-54)
Returning starters: Paige Thomas, Sr.; Emma Spradling, Sr.; Kinzie Kohler, Jr.; Madelyn Thomas, So.
Other returning players: Emma Olrich, Sr.; Zoe Bauman, Jr.; Jess Ulery, So.
Newcomers: Anna VanBrandt, Jr.; Rachel Holliger, Jr.; Alaina Andrews, So.; Annie Gapp, Fr.; Shay Alexander, Fr.
Players to watch: Kohler and Paige Thomas were both first team All-TCC last year. Thomas is a four-year starter and Kohler has started since her freshman season.
Coach says: “I believe we are going to see the experience (being young) our girls have gotten in the last couple of years pay off this season.”
Season opener: Wednesday vs. Madison