* Coach: Sonia Williams (second year, 13-9).
* Last season: 13-9, 6-4.
* Returning starters/letter winners: 3/5.
The Black-Hawks hope to take advantage of their speed and quickness to build on the success of Williams's first season. Brooke Point may employ a three-guard attack led by Williams's most experienced returnees: juniors Abbey Cunningham and Melissa Barnes and senior Michelle Barnes. Cunningham averaged 10 points a game last season.
Williams has been most impressed with the improvement of Melissa Barnes. Of Barnes, Williams said, "She's becoming more and more aggressive and looking to shoot more. She's taking the initiative."
In the front court, seniors Becky Campbell and Amy Carlson will get most of the playing time, though Williams does point out the team's weakness.
"We haven't found a low-post player yet," said Williams, who needs to find a replacement for graduated center Kate Smith. "A lot of our success will depend upon how consistent we are in the low post."
Look for 5-foot-10 sophomore Amanda Lovell and 5-4 junior Michelle Babuschak to get considerable playing time for the Black-Hawks.
* Coach: Michelle Darley (first year).
* New School
In addition to the challenge of competing on the varsity level with no senior class, Darley's Colonial Forge program simply needs players. The Eagles had 25 players to distribute among varsity, junior varsity and freshman teams, then lost two players to poor grades last week. Among the 23 remaining players, 15 are freshmen.
Darley decided to combine the freshman and JV teams and to keep 10 players on the varsity team, adding two or three JV players to the bench on game days.
"We're in a pickle," said Darley, who was an assistant at North Stafford last season. "We just don't have full numbers. I'm not at all concerned with a win-loss record. We just need to get as many players, as much playing time, as possible."
Darley does know that sophomore Kristen Bryant, a transfer from Little Rock, Ark., will play point guard.
Look for junior Katherine Harris and sophomore Ashley Turner, who played on the North Stafford JV and freshman teams, respectively, last season, to start for Colonial Forge.
* Coach: Patricia Oliver (second year, 13-10).
* Last season: 13-10, 7-3.
* Returning starters/letter winners: 1/6.
Despite losing four starters off last season's second-place Commonwealth District team, Oliver expects the same level of success for this year's North Stafford edition.
"There are no surprises this year, because everyone has worked hard over the offseason," Oliver said. "We felt we should have won the district last season, and we're solid as a team and ready this season."
With Courtland, last year's Commonwealth District champion, dropping to Virginia AA, Oliver feels the Wolverines have as good a chance as any to win the title.
"In one respect it's good that Courtland is out," Oliver said. "But playing against good teams is a measure of how good your team is."
The Wolverines will rely on its lone returning starter, 5-foot-8 junior Christina Carmon. Six-foot senior Amanda Ballard will play in the post. And guard Tiffanie Reed, who didn't play basketball last season because of ankle and shin splint injuries, will return this year.
"We should have balanced scoring this year, so we won't have one person that the other team can shut down and beat us," Oliver added.
* Coach: Rick Butler (sixth year, 63-26).
* Last season: 11-10, 4-6.
* Returning starters/letterwinners: 2/6.
Switching from an inside-outside game to a more up-tempo style of play will be the biggest challenge facing Butler and his team.
Last season, the Indians relied heavily on the outside play of all-district guard Karen Sowala (16.2 ppg) and the post play of 6-3 center Kari Fredette (14.8). To replace 70 percent of the team's offense, Butler will use more pressure defense in hopes of scoring more points in transition.
Five-foot-11 senior Meaghan Wilson and 5-7 junior guard Lorrie Watts return as starters, but Butler points to 5-2 point guard Angie Mathis as his team's most improved player.
"We're going to be able to run with people," Butler said. "In the past we've relied heavily on a few people and then there's been a drop-off [in talent]. This season we'll have eight or nine players who are interchangeable and we haven't had that" at Stafford.