Coach: Donna Murphy, first year
Last season: 24-7, lost to Madison Central in 11th Region semifinals
Top players: Serena Sandusky (5-8 jr.), Detierra Carpenter (5-5 sr.), Hallie Crumbie (6-1 jr.), Brittany Williams (5-10 jr.), La'Bianca Frazier (5-6 jr.), DeShante' Clay (5-8 jr.), Jashalon McGraw (5-7 jr.), Lakyesha Stennis (5-9 so.), Victoria McCoy (5-10 so.)
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Outlook: In her first year with the Lady Defenders, Murphy has some rebuilding to do, as only one starter returns.
However, that one starter is significant — Sandusky (16 ppg), who has committed to Butler University.
Murphy says "the team is making adjustments to a new coaching staff with new expectations of varsity players who saw limited action last season, but who will be expected to contribute more this season."
Murphy wants the Lady Defenders to play an up-tempo style on both ends of the floor, while improving their fundamentals and understanding of the game.
Lady Defenders' schedule
Nov. 30—at Ryle, 7:30
Dec. 2—at Madison Central, 7:30; 6—at Henry Clay, 6; 9—Sayre, 7:30; 13—at Scott Co., 7:30; 15—at Dunbar, 6:30; 28—vs. Clay Co. in Gateway Holiday Tournament at Montgomery Co.
Jan. 10—Tates Creek, 7:45; 13—Scott Co., 7:30; 18—Henry Clay, 6; 24—at Anderson Co., 7:30; 31—Franklin Co., 7:30
Feb. 2—Dunbar, TBA; 7—Rockcastle Co., 7:30; 10—at Tates Creek, 7:45; 14—at Christian Academy of Louisville, 7:30; 17—at Harrison Co., 7:30
Coach: Eric Sanford, first year
Last season: 7-18, lost to Bryan Station in first round of 42nd District tournament
Top players: Sydney Dunham (5-8 sr.), MacKenzie Claus (5-10 jr.), Aereanna Porter (5-11 so.), Ceci Evans (5-6 sr.)
Outlook: The Blue Devils lost six seniors, including leading scorer Candace Morton. What's left is a young and inexperienced team with only two seniors.
Dunham is the top returning scorer (7.2 ppg) and rebounder (5.4). Claus added 4.2 points and 4.0 rebounds.
"We have a host of freshmen who have the potential to contribute this year," Sanford said. "We will have to be a blue-collar team, using our athleticism and speed to get better each day." The freshmen helpers include a pair of guards, Destiny Carter and Jazmine Richmond.
Lady Devils' schedule
Dec. 2—Ballard, 7:30; 6—Bryan Station, 6; 8—at Dixie Heights, 7:30; 10—vs. Russell Co., TBA; 12—at Clark Co., 7:30; 16—at Lafayette, 8; 19-22—Fayette Co. iHigh Classic
Jan. 3—at Anderson Co., 7:30; 6—at Scott Co., 7:30; 7—vs. Ryle in MLK Classic at Paul Dunbar, 1:15; 12—Paul Dunbar, 8; 14—Tates Creek, TBA; 18—at Bryan Station, 6; 20—Madison Central, 7:30; 21—North Laurel, noon; 27—Scott Co., 7:30; 30—Sayre, 7:30
Feb. 2—at Frankfort, 7:30; 3—Woodford Co., 7:30; 7—at Franklin Co., 7:30; 10—at Paul Dunbar, 7:30; 17—at Tates Creek, 7:45
Coach: Allison Tate Denton, 11th year (161-128 overall)
Last season: 19-14, lost to Scott Co. in second round of 11th Region tournament
Top players: Sarah Cooley (5-11 so.), Kenyale Demus (5-8 so.), Emily Justice (5-8 sr.), Taylor Mynear (5-10 sr.), Sarah Martin (5-6 sr.), Aleisha Stiltner (5-7 sr.)
Outlook: The Lady Generals should be strong inside, led by district MVP Cooley, Mynear and 6-2 newcomer Ashanti Thomas. Justice is the leading returning rebounder (4.7 rpg).
Lafayette has quickness at the guard spots and good outside shooting, led by three-point ace Martin (7.5 ppg). New guards include Shirlisa Demus and Megumi Negahiro, each checking in at 5-5, along with 5-10 Dee Givens.
The Generals are young at guard, where the now-graduated Jariana Gillespie ran the point for three years, and need to replace Shomari Kendrick's 14.1 ppg and 10.9 rpg.
Lady Generals' schedule
Nov. 29—at Anderson Co., 7:30
Dec. 3—at Tates Creek, 7:30; 6—at Franklin Co., 7:30; 10—vs. Rockcastle Co. in Lady Defender Classic at Bryan Station, 5:30; 13—at LCA, 6; 16—Henry Clay, 8; 19-22—Fayette Co. iHigh Classic; 28—vs. Pendleton Co. at Bourbon Co. Classic, TBA; 29—vs. Bourbon Co. at Bourbon Co. Classic, 5
Jan. 3—at Paul Dunbar, 8; 10—at Lexington Catholic, 7:30; 21—vs. Woodford Co. at East Jessamine Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, 1:30; 24—Paul Dunbar, TBA; 28—vs. Garrard Co. at Berea College Prep Classic, 3:15; 30—at Woodford Co., 7:30
Feb. 2—Lexington Catholic, 7:30; 4—Tates Creek, 2:30; 6—Madison Central, 7:30; 10—LCA, 7:30; 17—Western Hills, 7:30
Coach: Chelsea Chowning, second year (19-12 overall)
Last season: 19-12, lost to Madison Central in first round of 11th Region tournament
Top players: Octavia Wilson (5-9 jr.), Alex Botkin (6-0 sr.), Emily Johns (6-0 sr.), Elizabeth Walton (6-0 sr.), Bonnie Rhule (5-8 sr.)
Outlook: Catholic is long and has big-game experience, returning its full roster. Wilson averaged 16.3 points, 3.8 rebounds and 4.5 assists last season.
Also back are Botkin (14.1 ppg, 10.4 rpg, 3.1 steals), Johns (7.8 ppg, 6.7 rpg), Walton (6 ppg, 5 rpg) and Rhule (4 ppg, 4 rpg).
Others who figure to play significant roles include Sarah Cawood (5-3 jr.), Suzanne Miller (5-6 so.) and three freshmen: Rachel Blake (5-9), Bailey Browning (5-2) and Tori Pippen (5-6).
Ball-handling is the biggest concern.
Lady Knights' schedule
Dec. 2—at Anderson Co., 7:30; 7—at Mercy, 7:30; 9—at LCA, 7:30; 12—Tates Creek, 8; 17—Paul Dunbar, 3:30; 20-23—Republic Bank Holiday Classic at Lexington Catholic; 27-30—at Surf N' Slam San Diego Hoops Classic
Jan. 3—at Sacred Heart, 7:30; 5—Scott Co., 6; 7—Marion Co., 1:30; 10—Lafayette, 7:30; 12—LCA, 7:30; 17—at Clark Co., 7:30; 20—at Assumption, 7:30; 23—Madison Central, 7:30; 27—at Tates Creek, 6; 28—at Clay Co., 3:30; 31—at Paul Dunbar, TBA
Feb. 2—at Lafayette, 7:30; 6—Montgomery Co., 7:30; 10—Walton-Verona, 7:30; 15—Covington Holy Cross, 7:30; 17—Newport Central Catholic, 7:30
Coach: Jason Seamands, sixth season (124-33)
Last season: 17-11, lost to Lafayette in first round of 43rd District tournament
Top players: Kristin Jacob (6-1, jr.), Kelli Mitchuson (5-5 jr.), Katelin Bundy (5-7 so.)
Outlook: Start with power forward Jacob (11.4 ppg, 9.7 rpg) and guards Mitchuson (6.7 ppg, 3.1 apg) and Bundy (9.7 ppg). Mix in shooting guard Kristin Rinehart, a 5-5 junior who was injured last year, plus freshman forward Savannah Compton and eighth-grade guard Hannah Hartley. That adds up to promise, including another possible run in the All "A" Classic, where LCA reached the semifinals last season.
The Lady Eagles took a hit when Allie Evans, who averaged 8.4 points and 6.1 rebounds as a freshman, opted to focus on volleyball.
Depth could be a problem.
Lady Eagles' schedule
Nov. 29—Tates Creek, 7:30
Dec. 3—Harrison Co., 7:30; 6—at Holmes, 7:30; 9—Lexington Catholic, 7:30; 13—Lafayette, 6; 16—vs. Harlan Co. in Berea Lady Pirate Holiday Classic, 7:30; 27—vs. Bell Co. in (Pulaski Co.) Bankers Classic, 11:30 a.m., and vs. Garrard Co., TBA
Jan. 3—at Christian Academy of Louisville, 7:30; 5—at Tates Creek, 7:30; 7—at St. Henry, 7:30; 10—Paul Dunbar, 6; 12— at Lexington Catholic, 7:30; 13—Holmes, 8 a.m.; 14—TBA, 10:45 a.m.; 28—Bracken Co., 7:30
Feb. 2—at Moore, 7:30; 4—at Paul Dunbar, 7:30; 10—at Lafayette, 7:30; 11—Danville, 3:30; 14—Monticello, 6:30
Paul Laurence Dunbar
Coach: Sarah Van Horn (first year)
Last season: 12-13, lost to Tates Creek in first round of 43rd District tournament
Top players: Kierra Muhammad (5-4 jr.), LaKeena Parks (5-10 jr.), Morgan McEldowney (5-11, sr.), Jordin Fender (5-4, jr.)
Outlook: Van Horn becomes the Lady Bulldogs' third head coach in as many seasons.
She has a good cast of returning players in Muhammad (14.3 points, 1.5 steals per game), Parks (11.4 ppg, 3.1 steals), McEldowney (8.8 ppg, 4.0 rpg) and Fender (7.6 ppg).
Van Horn wants to have her team push the tempo and use its athleticism to excel, looking "to defend with a high-energy level."
Other key players include center Brooke Todd (6-1, so.), daughter of Transylvania women's coach Greg Todd, and guard Lexus Edwards (5-7 jr.).
Lady Bulldogs' schedule
Nov. 29—at Walton-Verona, 7:30
Dec. 2—Scott Co., 7:30; 8—at Tates Creek, 7:45; 10—vs. Ryle in Lady Defender Classic at Bryan Station, 1; 13—Anderson Co., 7:30; 15—Bryan Station, 6:30; 17—at Lexington Catholic, 3:30; 19-22—Fayette Co. iHigh Classic; 27-30—at Mercer County Titan Christmas Clash
Jan. 3—Lafayette, 8; 6—at Mason County Pepsi-Mountain Dew Classic, 8; 7—Nicholas Co., 7:30; 10—at LCA, 6; 12—at Henry Clay, 8; 20—Tates Creek, 7:45; 24—at Lafayette, TBA; 31—Lexington Catholic, TBA
Feb. 2—at Bryan Station, TBA; 4—LCA, 7:30; 7—at Elizabethtown, 7:30; 10—Henry Clay, 7:30; 15—at Franklin Co., 7:30; 17—Madison Central, 7:30
Coach: Scotty Sutton, ninth year (140-64 overall)
Last season: 19-6, lost to Scott Co. in first round of 42nd District tournament
Top players: Maddie Mitchell (6-0 sr.), Sophie O'Rourke (5-7 sr.), Emily Culbertson (5-7 sr.), Gabbie Bowie (6-3, fr.)
Outlook: Four starters return, including the multi-dimensional Mitchell (14.3 ppg, 5.4 rpg). Bowie (10.1 ppg, 8.1 rpg) may be a freshman, but will be a third-year starter.
A senior backcourt consists of Culbertson (2.7 ppg, 4.1 apg) — an excellent passer on the break — running the show, and O'Rourke (8.5 ppg), who is the Spartans' best shooter. Grace Rahman (5-7 so.) and Francesca Spirito (6-0 jr.) are candidates for the fifth starting spot.
More help will come from three-time state cross country champ Maddox Patterson (5-7), Shannai Brooks-Jackson (5-10) and Haydn White (5-7).
Lady Spartans' schedule
Nov. 29—Madison Southern, 7:30
Dec. 3—Betsy Layne, 3:30; 5—Scott Co., 7:30; 9—at Bryan Station, 7:30; 17—West Jessamine, 3; 19—Menifee Co., 7:30; 29— University Heights at Kentucky Country Day Holiday Tournament, 1:45; 30—at Kentucky Country tournament, 5:45
Jan. 3—at West Jessamine, 7:30; 5—at Model, 7:30; 7—Bethlehem, 3; 9—at Frankfort, 7:30; 11—Berea, 7:30; 13—Burgin, 7:30; 24—at Madison Southern, 7:30; 30—at Henry Clay
Feb. 2—at Bourbon Co., 7:30; 4—at Deming, 5:30; 6—Nicholas Co., 6; 9—Williamstown, 7:30; 14—at Bracken Co., 7:30; 18—Brown, 2
Coach: Justin Cheatham, seventh year (65-107 overall)
Last season: 10-20, lost to Lexington Catholic in 43rd District semifinals
Top players: Peyton Hisel (6-1 sr.), Oney Harrison (5-7 jr.), Katie Pippen (5-9 jr.), Lexi Whaley (5-6 jr.) Dominique Etling-Turner (5-8, jr.), Michelle Tichenor (5-6 sr.), Michaela Drake (5-5 sr.)
Outlook: Everyone returns from last season, meaning the Lady Commodores expect to be strong and experienced at every position. Cheatham says that "players are angry about their performance last season and have used that as motivation to work much harder in the off-season."
Hisel averaged 10 points and gained second-team all-city recognition last season; Harrison earned honorable mention. Both likely will go on to play Division I college ball, as will forward Pippen. The other returning starters are Whaley and Etling-Turner.
Lady Commodores' schedule
Nov. 29—at LCA, 7:30
Dec. 3—Lafayette, 7:30; 8—Dunbar, 7:45; 10—vs. Anderson Co. in Lady Defender Classic at Bryan Station, 2:30; 12—at Lexington Catholic, 8; 16—at Franklin Co., 7:45; 19-22—Fayette Co. iHigh Classic; 27-30—at Mercer County Titan Christmas Clash
Jan. 3—Woodford Co., 7:45; 5—LCA, 7:30; 7—vs. Nicholas Co. in MLK Classic at Dunbar, 4:45; 10—at Bryan Station, 7:45; 14—at Henry Clay, TBA; 20—at Dunbar, 7:45; 21—vs. Anderson Co. in East Jessamine Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, noon; 27—Lexington Catholic, 6; 31—Madison Southern, 6
Feb. 4—at Lafayette, 2:30; 6—Clark Co., 7:45; 10—Bryan Station, 7:45; 11—Conner, 3:30; 14—at Madison Central, 8; 17—Henry Clay, 7:45