This is a blog that is devoted to the OAA. We cover 23 schools from Oakland County to Wayne County. From Oxford to Harper Woods. This blog will give insight and projections around the OAA.
Thursday, November 11, 2021
2021-2022 Girls Basketball Preview.
By Sammy Taormina
Written Saturday November 13th at 10:30 AM
This is the 2021-2022 Girls Basketball Preview projections, storylines, and insight heading into the season.
I will be talking more about the projections and insight on my podcast OAA Now as well.
This blog article will be updated once updated information comes about.
Here is the top ten and insight on each team heading into the season.
INSIDE THE OAA TOP TEN
- West Bloomfield
- Stoney Creek
- Lake Orion
- Troy Athens
- North Farmington
INSIGHT: The Red is one of the toughest divisions in the State and it should be much tougher with the additions of Troy and Stoney Creek. West Bloomfield won the Red last season but went on COVID-19 protocol which ended their season. They have a new coach and have a lot of proven experience coming back. Clarkston made the regional semifinals last season. They also have a ton of proven experience coming back. The Wolves have a new coach but it’s someone that is familiar to the program. Stoney Creek has nearly everybody coming back this season. They are a sleeper in this division. Troy is a senior heavy team this season however the postseason has been the major issue surrounding them. Groves has had a successful postseason last season however the offseason has been very challenging. They have a new coach and saw a few departures from their program. Southfield Arts and Tech has a very young nucleus and could surprise some people this season. Royal Oak lost everyone from last season and has a young group coming back. It should be a very interesting season in the Red this year.
RANKING THE NON LEAGUE SCHEDULES (Toughest to easiest)
- Stoney Creek
- West Bloomfield
- Royal Oak
- Southfield Arts and Tech
LAST SEASON RECORD: 15-4, 6-2 Red. Lost 63-50 to Birmingham Marian in regional semifinals.
TOP PLAYER: Maddy Skourpski-G
PLAYER TO WATCH: Ava Hernandez-F
KEY QUESTION: Can the Wolves overcome tough non conference slate???
STORYLINE: The Wolves had a very interesting offseason after winning their second straight district title last season. They lost a tough one to Birmingham Marian in the regional semifinals. Clarkston has a new coach this season. It’s very familiar with the program in Aaron Goodnough. Goodnough coached the junior varsity program under then coach John Weyer and also with the PR1DE (AAU program.) The transition period won’t be as difficult because of the familiarity within the program. Goodnough has a ton of proven experience in Maddy Skorupski, Izzy Hadley, Ava Hernandez, Kierra Tomlie, Sophia Walker, Mia Zorski, Emily Valencia, Lena Eblencamp, and Emerson Wood coming back. Interior play is a question mark despite the very strong guard play for Goodnough. Program strength looks to be very solid for the Wolves. Clarkston should be in the mix in the Red. Also they could have a possible deep postseason run as well.
NON-LEAGUE SCHEDULE OUTLOOK: The non league schedule for the Wolves is very difficult. They have Birmingham Marian, Grand Blanc, Oxford, Lakeland, Ypsilanti Arbor Prep, and Macomb L’Anse Creuse North. If Clarkston wants to make some noise before league play they have to win some of these games. GRADE A.
WEST BLOOMFIELD LAKERS
LAST SEASON RECORD: 10-3, 8-0 Red.
TOP PLAYER: Summer Davis-G
PLAYER TO WATCH: Kendall Hendrix-F
KEY QUESTION: Can the Lakers get over that next hurdle???
STORYLINE: It was a very interesting year for the Lakers which saw them having a really good season winning 10 games but COVID-19 protocols took them and their boys basketball program out of the postseason last season. West Bloomfield made a coaching change this offseason with Darrin McAllister taking over the program. He has a lot of coaching experience being at Flint and also at Waterford Kettering as well. McAllister brought in former Southfield coach Jamie Glinz as an assistant coach. The Lakers have a lot of proven experience and is getting a ton of college looks. They have Summer Davis, Indya Davis, Kendall Hendrix, Sydney Hendrix, and Myonna Hooper coming back. Program strength is a big concern surrounding West Bloomfield but in talking to Glinz the said that they have that area covered. The Lakers should be in the mix for the Red and could make some noise in the postseason
NON-LEAGUE SCHEDULE OUTLOOK: West Bloomfield has a very difficult non league schedule. They are in a ton of showcase games which helpful for college scouts. The Lakers have to play two out of state teams in Bowlingbrook, Illinois at Belleville and Bishop Hammon Hall at Detroit Renaissance along with Dexter at Lake Fenton, Ludington, Frankenmuth, and Brighton at Westfield Prep. West Bloomfield has South Lyon East, Canton, and Detroit Edison coming to the gray top at home. That schedule might be too much to overcome. GRADE A.
STONEY CREEK COUGARS
LAST SEASON RECORD: 15-2, 6-1 White. Lost 39-38 to Utica in regional semifinals.
TOP PLAYER: Sydney LaPrarie-F
PLAYER TO WATCH: Sarah LaPrarie-F
KEY QUESTION: Can the Cougars sustain and rise above in the Red???
STORYLINE: The Cougars have always been in prominence when it comes to girls basketball in recent years. They won 15 games in a COVID-19 year including the White and a district crown last season is pretty remarkable. Stoney Creek brings a very experienced program to the Red this season. They have nearly everyone back from that team in Mia Carson, Milana Skoric, Sydney LaPrarie, Sarah LaPrarie, Riley Binfit, Emily Flynn, Lily Solek, Emma Demental, and Paris Kramer coming back for Coach Kellen James. Program strength looks to be very strong for “Team Finebaum.” The Cougars should fit in just fine in the Red. They are a sleeper in the Red this season.
NON LEAGUE SCHEDULE OUTLOOK: This might be one of the toughest schedules that I have seen James play in a while. The Cougars have a really difficult non league schedule which includes games against Westfield Prep, Lake Orion, Macomb L’Anse Creuse North, North Farmington, Rochester, Adams, and Grosse Pointe North. This non league schedule should prepare Stoney Creek for life in the Red and get them ready for the postseason. GRADE A.
LAST SEASON RECORD: 8-6, 5-1 White. Lost 41-40 to Rochester in district semifinals.
TOP PLAYER: Kendal Zeiter-F
PLAYER TO WATCH: Lizzie Bultynik-G
KEY QUESTION: How will the Colts handle life without Matuza and the Postseason???
STORYLINE: It will be the postseason not the regular season defines the Colts this season. Troy has been over 500 each season but has lost three straight years in the very first game whether first round or district semifinals. The district looks very manageable but also very interesting at the same time despite hosting it. The Colts are in the Red which should help toughen Coach Julius Porter and his program this season. Troy has Charlotte Sobotka, Mia Valiotis, Zoe Silver, and Kendal Zeiter coming back. They took a hit with Alyssa Matuza being out for the season with an ACL injury she suffered in the summer. There will be a ton of pressure on Lizzie Bultynik and Avery Allen to replace Matuza. A lot of people will look at Zeiter and Sobotka as the two players to watch but the key is Bultynk and Allen to see if they can fill that role. Program strength is a concern which needs to be addressed but if things go right then the Colts could overcome a ton of demons including their postseason ones as well.
NON LEAGUE SCHEDULE OUTLOOK: The Colts non league schedule doesn’t look as scary first thought when looking at it. Lake Orion and Troy Athens should be their toughest non league games. Berkley is a trap game for them after they were upset by the Bears on the road. Troy also has Holly, Walled Lake Central, Chippewa Valley, and Bloomfield Hills where these are games they should win. The non league schedule I’m not a fan on when it comes to the Colts. GRADE C.
LAST SEASON RECORD: 9-9, 4-4 Red. Lost 66-14 to Detroit Renaissance in regional semifinals.
TOP PLAYER: Jordan Peterson-F
PLAYER TO WATCH: Kaitlyn Sanders-G
KEY QUESTION: How will the Falcons adjust to a new coaching staff and transition???
STORYLINE: 2021 was very successful for the Falcons by winning their first district title over Berkley and getting to the regional finals. They played a very brutal non league schedule despite their record winning nine games including two in the postseason. Groves was blown out by Detroit Renaissance in the regional semifinals. Things were heading in the right direction but things changed in an instant. It was a very unusual offseason behind the scenes. The Falcons made a ton of changes which was well documented in the media. Groves changed coaches and named Alison Hidey as their new coach. She is the third coach in three years at Groves. Hidey hasn’t been a head coach before being an assistant at Dearborn Divine Child for eight years before coming to Groves. She has had a really good offseason with her new program. Hidey has some proven experience in Jordan Peterson, Kaitlyn Sanders, Cira Racco, and Lily Gallagher coming back. She has to address program strength which is a huge concern. The Falcons could surprise some folks but has a transition period that has to happen during the season.
NON LEAGUE SCHEDULE OUTLOOK: The Falcons non league schedule is not as vicious as it was last season under then coach AntJuan Simpkins. Groves still has very tough games with Lake Orion, Livonia Stevenson, and Birmingham Detroit Country Day looming. I think their non league schedule should give them confidence with Waterford Kettering, Novi, Detroit University Prep, Seaholm, and Walled Lake Western. Record wise the Falcons should be better but I’m not sure if this schedule will prepare them for life in the Red. GRADE B.
SOUTHFIELD ARTS AND TECH WARRIORS
LAST SEASON RECORD: 1-12, 0-8 Red. Lost 48-44 to Groves in predistrict.
TOP PLAYER: Jalyn Austin-F
PLAYER TO WATCH: Christen Banks-G
KEY QUESTION: Can the Warriors be competitive in the Red???
STORYLINE: It was a very odd year for the Warriors in 2021 which saw this program really struggle which was very unusual. Shaquita Coltrane came over from Southfield Christian for legendary coach Michelle Marshall after she retired in 2020 to take over the program. Southfield Arts and Tech won one game last season but this offseason they have made an impact with the talent coming into the program. The Warriors have Christen Banks and Anaijah Rich coming into the program along with experienced players in Jalyn Austin and Lauren Gillreath coming back. Program strength is a major concern for Coltrane despite the newcomers, Gillreath, and Austin. Doing a rebuild in the Red is a very difficult task and that is what the Warriors are facing this season.
NON LEAGUE SCHEDULE OUTLOOK: The Warriors are still in the process of completing their non league schedule but with the schedule. I’m not sure if the non league schedule will prepare Coltrane’s team enough for the Red. Southfield Arts and Tech has Westfield Prep which should be a very difficult game. They have Ecorse, Bloomfield Hills, Lincoln Park, Hamtramck, and Lake Fenton. This schedule should help them early but it could be very rough once the Warriors go into league play. GRADE B.
ROYAL OAK RAVENS
LAST SEASON RECORD: 9-7, 2-6 Red. Lost 47-35 to Seaholm in predistrict.
TOP PLAYER: Maddie Hanes-G
PLAYER TO WATCH: Danica Schmidt-F
KEY QUESTION: Can this new group of Ravens adjust to life in the Red???
STORYLINE: 2021 was a really good year for the Ravens. They took some lumps thanks to COVID-19 protocols and also life in the Red. Royal Oak took a huge hit when the entire varsity team was placed on COVID-19 protocol and missed the postseason. The junior varsity team played in their place in their postseason loss to Seaholm last season. The Ravens have Maddie Hines and Danica Schmidt coming back for Coach Brian Sopota. This is going to be a very young and inexperienced group this season after losing a ton of experience from last year. Program strength doesn’t seem to be an issue for Royal Oak. It will be very interesting to see what the Ravens have this season.
NON LEAGUE SCHEDULE OUTLOOK: The non league schedule brings a ton of familiarity and strong competition for the Ravens. Royal Oak has Walled Lake Northern, Berkley, Royal Oak Shrine, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep, Seaholm, Farmington, and Lake Orion should provide different challenges before life in the Red starts. This should provide quality competition for Royal Oak before league play starts. GRADE B.
INSIGHT: The White has been one of the most balanced divisions. It should be very interesting with the majority of the Blue from last season making up the White this season. Lake Orion has a lot of experience coming back but staying healthy will be the key for them. Oxford has some talent returning despite losing their best guard to graduation. Troy Athens has the majority of their team coming back. Adams has a new coach and they have been working hard this offseason in changing the culture of the program. North Farmington has a solid group coming back. They have been consistent year in and year out. Rochester has a ton to replace after having a great senior class from last season which saw them make district championship game appearances in the last two years. Berkley has had a very interesting offseason which has had a ton of controversy. They have a new coach along with a ton of questions. Bloomfield Hills should be better but it will be very interesting to see what happens with them. This division should be very competitive as mentioned.
RANKING THE NON LEAGUE SCHEDULES: (Toughest to easiest):
- Lake Orion
- Bloomfield Hills
- Troy Athens
- North Farmington
LAKE ORION DRAGONS
LAST SEASON RECORD: 11-8, 8-2 Blue. Lost 42-33 to Adams in district semifinals.
TOP PLAYER: Kylie Heck-G
PLAYER TO WATCH: Olivia Peplowski-F
KEY QUESTION: Can the Dragons avoid the injury bug???
STORYLINE: The Dragons have been building the program brick by brick under Coach Bob Brydges. They earned the Blue despite both their league losses were to Oxford. The next step is the postseason which looks very achievable with the district they are in. Lake Orion has had very tough matchups in the first round including last season where they fell to Adams in the district semifinals. The problems has been the injuries to key players at the wrong time which included season ending injuries to Kylie Heck and Meghan Marshall last season. The Dragons took a hit this offseason when Katie Van Heck injured her ACL and is out for the season. Lake Orion will be very experienced and battle tested this season. They have Maddie Ebbert, Heck, Chloe Wiegers, Taylor Dinda, Olivia Peplowski, Audrey Wischmeyer, and Jodie McCaffery coming back. The interior is a question mark for the Dragons but program strength should help address that problem. Program strength is very strong for Brydges. Lake Orion looks to be a well-oiled machine this season.
NON LEAGUE SCHEDULE OUTLOOK: The Dragons are in a very interesting spot. Brydges played a very tough non league schedule which had Midland, Troy, Stoney Creek, and Birmingham Marian last season. The non league schedule is very difficult with Rochester Lutheran Northwest, Stoney Creek, Groves, Troy, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep, and Royal Oak. Lake Orion should be battle tested come league play. GRADE A.
LAST SEASON RECORD: 9-5, 7-3 Blue. Lost 55-30 to Grand Blanc in predistrict.
TOP PLAYER: Myranda Wyniemko-G
PLAYER TO WATCH: Peyton Ritcher-G/F
KEY QUESTION: Can the Wildcats avoid scoring droughts???
STORYLINE: The Wildcats had a strong year which included beating Lake Orion twice but they had a very disappointing loss to Troy Athens on the final day of the regular season which dashed their Blue hopes along with an early postseason loss to Grand Blanc. Oxford lost a ton of experience along with leadership from last season. Coach Rachel Bryer will have a very young group with the majority of their team being freshman and sophomores this season. The Wildcats have two starters in Myranda Wyniemko and Peyton Richter coming back. They will need others to fill the void as well. Oxford also has Kayla Casper, Elizabeth Gonzales, Brady Elling, Avery Feeney, Abigail Snable, and Lexi Yankee are coming back along with newcomers Alison Huftedlar, Sophia Raab, and Nevaeh Wood. These three freshmen have played advanced basketball this offseason and should fit in right away for the Wildcats. Oxford has a ton of program strength as well. They have a really bad habit of going into droughts at times. Bryer has a program built for the long hall which is a good sign going forward. The Wildcats should be a strong contender this season.
NON LEAGUE SCHEDULE OUTLOOK: The Wildcats have a very interesting non league schedule. They have Fraser, Seaholm, Romeo, Brandon, Lapeer, and Clarkston. The Wolves should be their toughest non league game and maybe the Maples a close second for Oxford. The non league schedule could be a concern for the Wildcats to see if they are tested or not. GRADE C.
TROY ATHENS RED HAWKS
LAST SEASON RECORD: 6-8, 3-5 Blue.
TOP PLAYER: Gillian Ciak-G
PLAYER TO WATCH: Ella Musto-G
KEY QUESTION: Can the Red Hawks make that next step???
STORYLINE: The Red Hawks were very competitive despite being under 500 and winning six games. They were in a ton of close games which could have gone either way. Troy Athens beat Oxford on the road to close the regular season but COVID-19 protocols made them miss the postseason last season. The Red Hawks have a ton of proven experience in Gillian Ciak, Ella Musto, Aaruski Lockdale, Jordan Doyle, and Skylar Emerson coming back. Coach Stacie Klumpp has to address program strength at the sub varsity levels. Troy Athens is a sleeper in the White with the experience they have coming back. The question will be for Klumpp is can they sustain the momentum from last season and convert it into this season.
NON LEAGUE SCHEDULE OUTLOOK: The Red Hawks have a very interesting non league schedule that is still not completed yet. Troy Athens has Royal Oak Shrine, Seaholm, Clawson, Farmington, and Troy. The Colts are the toughest game on the slate. It should be a really good game between the two city rivals. Confidence is the key to Klumpp’s magic at Troy Athens. It will be very interesting. GRADE B.
NORTH FARMINGTON RAIDERS
LAST SEASON RECORD: 6-10, 3-5 White. Lost 56-32 to Farmington Hills Mercy in district finals.
TOP PLAYER: Sela Lefler-G
PLAYER TO WATCH: Hallie Rogers-F
KEY QUESTION: Besides The Big Three, who steps up???
STORYLINE: The Raiders had a really rough start early in the season but they picked things up and had a strong district run which included wins over Farmington and Livonia Stevenson before falling to Farmington Hills Mercy in the district finals last season. Coach Jeff Simpson has three key players in Sela Lefler, Hallie Rogers, and Penelope Creary coming back. Lefler has had a very strong offseason. Rogers is the key in the interior to watch because this is an area where they could have some concerns. Program strength is a major concern for North Farmington. They have things in the right direction so it will be interesting to see how the Raiders do this season.
NON LEAGUE SCHEDULE OUTLOOK: The Raiders non league schedule wasn’t complete as of yet but they are going more of a Lakes Valley route with their non league schedule along with playing Farmington and Stoney Creek. They have Walled Lake Western, Walled Lake Central, and Waterford Kettering on the docket. I don’t know if this schedule will test them. I can see them likely going 4-1 in this stretch before going into league play which should help North Farmington going forward. GRADE D.
LAST SEASON RECORD: 7-5, 2-2 White. Lost 75-48 to Clarkston in district finals.
TOP PLAYER: Madison Kessman-G
PLAYER TO WATCH: AnJuaya Howard-G
KEY QUESTION: Can Malburg build program strength???
STORYLINE: The Highlanders have had a very interesting and transitioning offseason. They lost a lot of proven experience from last season that made the district finals in the last two years. Adams has a new coach this season in Joe Malburg. Malburg brings a ton of experience himself takes over a program that has been very successful under then coach Shay Lewis. The program got a bit challenging toward the end of Lewis tenure especially with program strength which they had two programs. Adams has Madison Kessman, Abbey Drahnak, AnJuaya Howard, Samantha Blaine, Emma Klott, Olivia Marcial, and Abby Skiff coming back. Program strength is huge concern for the Highlanders especially in the sub-varsity levels. If Malburg can address this and get three programs it will help in the future. The Highlanders could experience some growing pains early with the transition having to happen during the season but later in the year they could surprise some folks. Adams will be a team to watch this season.
NON LEAGUE SCHEDULE OUTLOOK: Malburg took over in the summer created a very interesting non league schedule for his new program. Rochester Hills Lutheran Northwest, Stoney Creek, Walled Lake Northern, and Sterling Heights Stevenson should be very interesting and intriguing games for the Highlanders. Adams has Brandon and Kingston on the schedule which should be wins. I really like Malburg’s non league schedule. It’s a good schedule to get them ready for league play. GRADE A.
LAST SEASON RECORD: 5-9, 2-5 Blue. Lost 37-14 to Stoney Creek in district finals.
TOP PLAYER: Natalie Rayce-G
PLAYER TO WATCH: Allie Mac-G
KEY QUESTION: It will be very tough to replace last year’s class. Who steps up???
STORYLINE: The Falcons have had a successful two years getting to the district finals in each season. Rochester lost a ton of experience from the last two years and will be reloading a bit in that department. They have Natalie Rayce and Abbey Pleasant coming back for Coach Bill Thurston. They did take a hit as Melina Troy is out for the season with an ACL injury. The player I’m really keeping a close eye on is Allie Mac. Mac has really shown out during the basketball camps. There has been a ton of praise so that is something to watch. She could address some issues that the Falcons are facing this season. Program strength is a big concern for Thurston and company as well. Rochester will always be a factor and they will be this season.
NON LEAGUE SCHEDULE OUTLOOK: The non league schedule is very interesting for Thurston and his program. Rochester has Stoney Creek, Farmington, Seaholm, Fraser, Waterford Mott, and Utica Ford II. This non league schedule could test them with Farmington, Seaholm, and especially Stoney Creek. Fraser, Waterford Mott, and Utica Ford II are very young teams. I think the Falcons will come out of this non league schedule with a winning record but I’m not sure if they will be tested enough. GRADE C.
LAST SEASON RECORD: 11-6, 5-3 Blue. Lost 54-44 to Groves in district finals.
TOP PLAYER: Ashley Loon-G
PLAYER TO WATCH: Ava Beard-G
KEY QUESTION: Can Feltner and his new program gel and develop chemistry???
STORYLINE: Berkley had a great year winning 11 games. They were in the Blue hunt until falling to Lake Orion on the second to last day of the regular season and also made the district finals. It has been a really weird offseason for the Bears which started in September. Coach Kirk Carolan stepped down from the program to be an assistant at Macomb Community College thus they went with Ben Bancroft as their new coach however they had to do the coaching search all over again after an uproar. The Bears went with Cody Feltner to take over the program. He brings some coaching experience when he was at Ferndale. Feltner has some experience in Ashley Loon, Ava Beard, Sammi Winthrow, Maeve Nolan, and Aurora Sousanis coming back. Program strength is a major concern for Berkley this season. This should be a program to watch this season especially with a tough transition during the season that looms ahead.
NON LEAGUE SCHEDULE OUTLOOK: The non league schedule for the Bears looks very difficult and very challenging. They have Macomb Dakota, Utica Eisenhower, Troy, Grosse Pointe North, and Royal Oak. That is very difficult especially for a program that is in a coaching transition. Berkley is certainly a program to be watched very closely but that non league schedule is absolutely brutal to say the least. GRADE A.
BLOOMFIELD HILLS BLACKHAWKS
LAST SEASON RECORD: 2-10, 0-7 White. Lost 55-53 in OT to Avondale in predistrict.
TOP PLAYER: Amelia McCourt-G
PLAYER TO WATCH: Grace Main-G
KEY QUESTION: What will Massey do in her second year at Bloomfield Hills???
STORYLINE: The Blackhawks went through a lot in 2021. They had a very tough transition period which saw two coaching changes in the preseason. Bloomfield Hills won two games and had a tough postseason loss to Avondale last season. Coach Kristen Massey has a young foundation with Amelia McCourt, Grace Main, Jessica Finney, and Ashley Forner coming back. The Blackhawks have a lot of questions especially when it comes to program strength. Usually teams are better in coaches second year so it will be interesting to see how the Blackhawks handle this season.
NON LEAGUE SCHEDULE OUTLOOK: Bloomfield Hills has a very interesting non league schedule which features Adrian, Sterling Heights Stevenson, Dearborn Robichaud, Troy, Ecorse, and Southfield Arts and Tech. This non league schedule should test Bloomfield Hills especially with Troy, Southfield Arts and Tech, Dearborn Robichaud, and Sterling Heights Stevenson. Massey has this program heading in the right direction and toughening up the non league schedule is a great start. GRADE B.
INSIGHT: The Blue is shaping up to be a very competitive division this season. Harper Woods comes into the OAA from the Michigan Metro Conference. They have a lot of experience coming back but there could be some challenges in adjusting to a new league. Seaholm has a lot of proven experience coming back this season. They played a really tough non league schedule last season. Farmington lost a lot of talent from last season but their best player comes back. Avondale has two proven players coming back after having a very rough year last season. Oak Park has been progressing and rising. They have a new coach this season. Ferndale University has been improving as well. Pontiac and Ferndale didn’t field teams last season and have new coaches. The Blue should be very interesting to see what happens.
RANKING THE NON LEAGUE SCHEDULES: (Toughest to easiest)
- Ferndale University
- Oak Park
- Harper Woods
- Pontiac INC
HARPER WOODS PIONEERS
LAST SEASON RECORD: 7-3, 4-3 Michigan Metro Conference.
TOP PLAYER: Kendall Kelsey-G
PLAYER TO WATCH: Mya Duncan-G
KEY QUESTION: How will the Pioneers adjust to life in the OAA???
STORYLINE: The Pioneers come into the OAA with a ton of proven experience. Harper Woods was very competitive winning seven games which included victories over Ecorse and Hamtramck and had a very respectable Michigan Metro Conference record last season. Coach Paul Allen has a lot of proven talent in Kendall Kelsey, Mya Duncan, Shatyra Harris, Makaira Kelly, Cleaira Peterson, Charita Childs, and Destiny Bealey coming back. The Pioneers have the experience as mentioned but can they adjust to life in the OAA??? The OAA is a much different league than the Michigan Metro Conference. Program strength is a question mark surrounding Harper Woods. It should be very interesting how the Pioneers respond in a new league.
NON LEAGUE SCHEDULE OUTLOOK: The Pioneers non league schedule looks incomplete for now but entering a new league will bring new and very tough challenges. Harper Woods has Lincoln King Academy on the docket. It is possible they could add some Wayne County rivals like Ecorse, River Rouge, Hamtramck, etc. It will be very interesting to see how the Pioneers responds to life in the OAA.
LAST SEASON RECORD: 5-12, 3-3 Gold. Lost 49-40 to Berkley in district semifinals.
TOP PLAYER: Shay Manchester-G
PLAYER TO WATCH: Maggie Liebler-F
KEY QUESTION: How will the non league schedule help the Maples this season???
STORYLINE: It was a very unusual season for the Maples last year. They played a brutal non league schedule which included Stoney Creek, Clarkston, Adams, and Macomb Dakota, Seaholm was much better than their record indicated even though they won five games including a postseason game. The Maples should be very strong with the experience returning They have Shay Manchester, Maggie Liebler, Anne Boogeran, Clara Guffey, and Kate Sullivan coming back for Coach Chris Manchester. Program strength is a question mark especially in the sub-varsity levels. Seaholm should be ready to take that next step in a hurry.
NON LEAGUE SCHEDULE OUTLOOK: I have to give Manchester and the Maples a ton of credit with this non league schedule they played last season and this season. This year’s slate includes tough non league OAA matchups against Groves, Berkley, Troy Athens, Royal Oak, Oxford, and Rochester. This non league schedule should prepare Seaholm. This is a great non league schedule. GRADE A.
LAST SEASON RECORD: 9-5, 5-0 Gold. Lost 47-41 to North Farmington in district semifinals.
TOP PLAYER: Autumn Bartlett-G
PLAYER TO WATCH: Brielle Burns-F
KEY QUESTION: Who provides that secondary scoring option to Bartlett???
STORYLINE: The Falcons had an incredible season last year winning nine games which included an upset win over North Farmington but the Raiders got them back in the postseason. This season could be very interesting for Coach Laura Guzman and her program. Farmington has to replace a lot of talent from last season. They have their leading scorer Autumn Bartlett coming back which helps. Bartlett is expected to do a lot for them this season. In talking to Athletic Director Tim Micklash, he is very high on a few players that are not mentioned here. I’m very curious on the development of Brielle Burns especially with the interior being a concern. She might be needed to do more if opponents are focused on Bartlett and to provide that secondary scoring. Program strength is a concern though going forward. I really like what Guzman has done with the program and the talent they have developed. This is a possible sleeper to watch in the Blue.
NON LEAGUE SCHEDULE OUTLOOK: The Falcons have a very difficult and should get them battle tested. They have Walled Lake Western, Royal Oak, Rochester, Troy Athens, Northville and then either Macomb Dakota or South Lyon East. That’s a tough slate for Farmington with their non league schedule but it should prepare them for league play. GRADE A.
AVONDALE YELLOW JACKETS
LAST SEASON RECORD: 1-11, 0-7 Blue. Lost 73-21 to Birmingham Marian in district semifinals.
TOP PLAYER: Reigan Lawrence-G
PLAYER TO WATCH: Savannah Schmidt-G
KEY QUESTION: Can the Yellow Jackets put everything together???
STORYLINE: The Yellow Jackets have a really rough season last year which included blowout losses to Lake Orion, Oxford, and Troy Athens. They also had losses to Ferndale University, Auburn Hills Oakland Christian, and Pontiac Notre Dame Prep. Avondale beat Bloomfield Hills in the first round of the postseason which ended up being their only win on the season before falling to Birmingham Marian in the district semifinals. The Yellow Jackets have Reigan Lawrence and Savannah Schmidt coming back for Coach Roy Christmon. The coaching staff said that they added two transfers from Dayton, Ohio, and have a really talented guard coming into the program. Program strength is a major concern coming into the season for Avondale. This should be a team to watch with the experience they have coming back.
NON LEAGUE SCHEDULE OUTLOOK: I’m going to give the Yellow Jackets a ton of praise with their non league schedule this season. They have Rochester Hills Lutheran Northwest and Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood, Holly, Brandon, Warren Mott, and Pontiac Notre Dame Prep. I think this a very good non league schedule for Avondale. Should be very interesting to see how they do this season. GRADE A.
OAK PARK KNIGHTS
LAST SEASON RECORD: 8-5, 3-2 Gold. Lost to Detroit Renaissance 72-28 in district finals.
TOP PLAYER: ???
PLAYER TO WATCH: ???
KEY QUESTION: How will the Knights do with virtually a new coach and a new group???
STORYLINE: It has been a very strong two years for the Knights in transitioning their girls basketball program. They are 21-12 in the last two years which included winning eight games and getting to the district finals last season before falling to a very good Detroit Renaissance program. This offseason was very interesting for them. Oak Park lost several key players including Tamaya Todd who has graduated. They have a new coach in Crystal Fulton taking over the program for Peggy Evans Carr. Carr stepped down after the season after building the Knights back to their winning ways. Fulton was an assistant for Carr so the transition period won’t be as tough for the players. Program strength is a bit of a concern heading into this season. The Knights should be in the mix if things go right and the chemistry gets developed quickly.
NON LEAGUE SCHEDULE OUTLOOK: The Knights non league schedule is not completed yet as they like to schedule games late. They have Romulus and Ypsilanti on the schedule. It is possible that Oak Park could pick up some teams from the Detroit Public School League as well. This will certainly be something to watch this season. GRADE C.
FERNDALE UNIVERSITY EAGLES
LAST SEASON RECORD: 5-7, 0-6 Gold. Lost to Warren Regina 58-43 in pre-district.
TOP PLAYER: ???
PLAYER TO WATCH: ???
KEY QUESTION: Can the Eagles keep rising as a program???
STORYLINE: It was an interesting first year in the OAA for the Eagles. Ferndale University had games where they looked very good and games that they really struggled. The Eagles won five games which included a upset road victory at Avondale last season. It should be very interesting to see what Coach Desdan Hester and her program has this season. If they build confidence especially against the division then they could make that next step and give teams fits. Program strength is a question mark for them. This is an area they need to address coming into the season.
NON LEAGUE SCHEDULE OUTLOOK: The Eagles are in a really interesting spot when it comes to their non league schedule. Ferndale University has the talent to be very competitive. The Eagles have Waterford Mott, Taylor Prep, Madison Heights Madison, Melvindale, and Detroit Riverview West Academy twice. This is really not a bad non league schedule for Ferndale University. I think that Waterford Mott will be their toughest non league game but it’s not a bad way for their non league schedule, it looks very winnable. GRADE B.
LAST SEASON RECORD: Didn’t field a team last season.
TOP PLAYER: ???
PLAYER TO WATCH: ???
KEY QUESTION: Can the Eagles mesh and grow???
STORYLINE: The Eagles did not field a girls basketball program due to COVID-19 protocols last season. Ferndale made some changes this offseason which included hiring a new coach in Al Kattola. Kattola coached boys basketball at Oak Park and brings some experience for the program. This is a program in need of a reboot and hopefully with Kattola coaching the program the Eagles could make some noise.
NON LEAGUE SCHEDULE OUTLOOK: The Eagles have not finished their non league schedule yet. Ferndale whom is starting from scratch has Lincoln King Academy. It should be very interesting to see how the Eagles schedule goes before going into league play. GRADE INC.
LAST SEASON RECORD: Didn’t field a team last season.
TOP PLAYER: ???
PLAYER TO WATCH: ???
KEY QUESTION: Can the Phoenix grow and mesh???
STORYLINE: The Phoenix didn’t field a girls basketball program because of COVID-19 protocols last season. They are starting new with a new coach and everything. Pontiac has a new coach in Rawle Marshall taking over the program. He has some questions regarding program strength. It depends who is there and if they can build the program. That will be the challenge this season for the Phoenix.
NON LEAGUE SCHEDULE OUTLOOK: The Phoenix have a lot to address. Marshall will have a ton of challenges ahead of him. The non league schedule hasn’t been released yet. I can’t grade the schedule outlook as of yet. GRADE INC.