H.D. Woodson is a heavy favorite to repeat as the Interhigh girls basketball regular season and tournament champion. In fact, all but one coach in the league is conceding both titles to Woodson. Only Eastern's Pat Sheppard feels she has a team that can beat the Warriors.
"Woodson seems to be in a class by themselves," said McKinley Coach Clayton Harrison.
But Interhigh players are less fearful of Woodson, ranked as the area's best and 13th in one national publication.
"No team is invincible in this league," said Ballou forward Kathy Walker. "It's time for them to step down," according to McKinley guard Vanessa Holloman.
But the Warriors have the talent to repeat. Coach Robert Headen has all-Met performers Tanderia Green (15.3 points) and Kammy Brown (11.9) returning from a team that went 29-1 last year. He only has two seniors on the squad, Adrian Elliott and Evelyn Newborn.
Headen's fifth starter will come from among Ruthie Miles, Carolyn Smith and Karen Wilkins, all sophomores. They will try to replace first team all-Met performer Belinda Hastie, who is playing for the University of Wisconsin. "We need two people to do the job she did," said Headen.
"This is something new to me (preseason favorite). I don't like the spot, I'd rather go up. It puts more pressure on me than on them (the players). Everybody's going to shoot at us hard.
"If we get through the first part of the schedule, we have a good chance to win the Interhigh."
Woodson's schedule has Towson Catholic, ranked fifth nationally; Seton, ranked third in the area, and Crossland, ranked fifth. Plus, the Warriors will defend their championship in the IABBO Christmas tournament, which includes several ranked teams.
Woodson, Ballou, Coolidge, Eastern, Theodore Roosevelt and Wilson are considered the teams likely to make the six-team playoffs this season.
Eastern is the only team to defeat Woodson recently. The Ramblers stopped Woodson's 43-game winning streak last year, but graduated three players and have a new coach -- Sheppard -- who returns to Eastern after taking a break from coaching. LeCount Hughes, last season's coach, decided not to return.
Sheppard has veterans Tracy Manning, Lavette Gray and Lavera Stewart returning. Newcomers include Roslyn Durham, Angela Harvey, April Coleman, Helen Turner and Rhonda Blake.
Carlton Saunders feels his Theodore Roosevelt team can finish in the top four. A lot will depend on the play of sophomore Sandra McGowan, who averaged 20 points for Jefferson Junior High last year. She will have to take the place of Beverly McLaughlin, who now plays for George Mason.
"The girls that sat and watched last year will now have their turn," said Saunders.
He will have seniors Collete Scott and Janice Austin, plus newcomers Twana Cook and Tina White.
According to Coolidge's coach, Mack Brown, his team is "going to be competitive, but they have a lot of things to work on."
Brown, who coached at McKinley before becoming an assistant at the University of the District of Columbia, will have veterans Shelia Hines, Annette Glasgow and Yolanda Pounds. Tanya Collins, who is 6 feet 2, 250 pounds, will start at center.
"I see the talent, but the seniors had three different coaches in three different years," said Brown.
"If we can play together as a team we can make the playoffs," said Michelle Payne, a member of the Ballou team that missed last year's playoffs by one game. Along with Payne, the Blue Knights will have Denise Robinson, Esther Burwell, Portia Mason, Terri Jenkins and Kelly Milhouse. Milhouse will step in for her sister Joanne, who was an all-Met performer her sophomore year.
Wilson could make the playoffs behind the play of Clara McCollough (12.6), Michelle Brown, Robin Suber, Aundrea Matthews, Adrienne Nelson, Stephanie Thomas and Earline White. Coach Hoarce Flemming said a lot will depend on McCollough this year.
"We have good height and good shooters. I think we will look pretty good. A lot will depend on how well they work as a team," said Flemming. McCollough had 16 points and White 13 in a 54-51 season-opening win over National Cathedral.
"It's going to be a long season," said Patricia Briscoe about her Anacostia team. The Indians have already lost their first two games by wide margins. She will have Tammy Butler, Angela Green and Carrie Farrley.
All Kenneth Harriston wants is to win one game in the Interhigh. His Spingarn team won its only game last year by forfeit over McKinley.
Cardozo will rely on veterans Josephine Campbell (12.8), Shelia Pugh and Sandra Lake. The Clerks won two games against Spingarn last year and will have their fourth coach in four years -- John Nunn.
"I'm pretty sure that we will win more than two games," said Nunn. "We will definelty do better than last year. I have a clear start with them."
Dunbar will have only one returning player, Sarah Short. Coach Araman Mazique will rely mostly on 10th graders this season.
McKinley will rely on upperclassmen Chavita Allen and Carolyn Hamilton to provide experience for the Trainers this year. He will also count on Lolette Clark, Marion Allen, Shantee Meadows this year. Clark will try to fill the role of all-Met performer Linda Ransford.