With Group A and AA area girls basketball teams completing fall seasons, the Commonwealth District (except for James Wood, which also played in the fall) gets the spotlight. Woodbridge returns much of its state semifinal team including one of the league's best players. But, Stonewall Jackson and Fauquier will be improved and Osbourn Park is strong.
Just three players return from last year's 3-17 season, and the Cougars have a new coach in Mike Webb. The former junior varsity coach will try to get his team to play in a controlled attack while building for the future.
Senior guards Brook Bevins (5-8) and Amy Borduas (5-6) return along with junior Wanda Ortego (5-2). But the front line will be young. Juniors Page Ely (5-10) and Kelly Green (5-9) have no varsity experience, but will be asked to log substantial time in hopes of turning things around.
The Falcons (11-9) are optimistic despite carrying only four seniors on the 14-player roster. With three solid players back and increased height, Coach Rob Moffett says could challenge for the district title.
Susan Berner, a 5-4 senior guard, returns after averaging 14 points per game last season. Also back are Gill Frazier (5-7, junior, six points) and Shelia Lewis (5-4, senior).
The additions of juniors Linda Early (6-1), Melissa Mainville (5-11) and Signe Bruton (6-0) provide the Falcons with strong inside players. If the younger players catch on quickly the Falcons could fly.
The Indians (12-11) will be very young and inexperienced after returning only one player with significant playing time from a year ago. Gone with the graduates is Michelle McClure, an all-Met selection in 1986.
Robbin Beasley (5-5, senior) averaged four points a game last season and will be asked to carry a much heavier load this time around. Coach Fred Mibert will also be counting on a couple of newcomers to provide some spark. Jackie Carter, a 5-8 forward, averaged 13 points per game last year on the junior varsity. Charleata Beale, a 5-10 freshman, will get her feet wet early.
Lenny Cascio has a tough task in his first year coaching the Wolverines (7-12). With no returning starters, Shannon Smith and Veronica Schul will come off the bench to control the guard positions. With the loss of Rachel Mercer and Stacey Alley, the Wolverines' two top scorers last year, Cascio will rely on Rachel Hermmer, a 6-0 freshman, in the center to help in scoring.
It will be a learning season, according to Cascio, who hopes his team's strong defense and positive attitude will make them competitive.
The yellow Jackets (19-4) are very good and very deep. Four seniors return from last year's squad including standout Cassie Mullenix. The 5-10, forward averaged nine points and nine rebounds a year ago.
Other veterans returning are Terri Linder (5-11, four points, four rebounds), Nikki Lake (5-8, seven points) and Betty Stefko (5-6, five points).
Newcomers Aimee Linder, a 5-7 guard, and Crissie Washington, a 5-9 center, give the Yellow Jackets depth in the paint.
The Panthers (21-6) graduated the bulk of the team that advanced to last year's state tournament as the Northwestern Region champion. First-year coach Bill Brown will have to find some offense as Cindy Condrey (5-8, senior, eight points) is the only returning starter.
Darlene Bardon, a 5-10 forward, and Jenny Beyer, a 6-1 center, give the Panthers strength on the boards and along with Condrey give Potomac a good inside/outside trio.
The Indians (0-17) hope to turn around last year's record with the help of junior Angie Parker. The 5-2 point guard averaged nine points per game last season as a sophomore. Charity Rooney will fill in for Tracey Snyder, last year's top scorer with 13 points, at the forward position. The 5-11 junior averaged 11 points.
Second-year coach Cathy Bauer has no other returners but sees promise in sophomore Trina Hutchins. Bauer hopes the 5-10 center will provide some offense.
The Indians will run a pressure defense and rely on quickness to take advantage of the fast breaks.
The Raiders (6-15) are young but return five players with experience and should be much improved. With several promising newcomers, Stonewall has depth to complement the veterans.
Michelle Upton (5-11, 12 points), Angie Conrad (5-9, eight points) and Dawn Mayhugh (5-11, eight points) return a solid front line that can score. Guards Staci Hutching (5-2, 10 points) and Chris Bolger (5-8, two points) give coach David Cooper the experience in the backcourt that successful teams must have.
Sophomores Jennifer Karl (5-7, guard) and Teresa Fredericks (5-9, forward), along with junior Alicia Prather (5-6, guard) will come off the bench.
The Vikings (22-4) return four players from last year's state semifinalists, including one of the top players in the league, the super-quick Rebecca Wakefield (5-7 guard, 11 points).
Lori Huffman (5-11, center), Rose Bell (5-8, guard/forward, eight points), and Jennifer Lewis (5-7, four points) return to give Woodbridge a strong nucleus.
Coach Ron Davis must find a way to replace standouts Brenda Cleaver and Stephanie Hyland but opponents can expect an aggressive man-to-man defense led by the speedy Wakefield.