Baldwin will have a hard time four-peating

Baldwin's Chelsea May, left, grabs a rebound in Baldwin's Chelsea May, left, grabs a rebound in front of Uniondale's Artiana Wynder in the second quarter. (Feb. 28, 2012) Photo Credit: James Escher

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Baldwinis the three-time defending Nassau AA champion, but will have to fight for a fourth with just one returning starter, point guard Mariah Butler. Butler started as the shooting guard last season, but slides over to the point to share the backcourt with Tyra Harrison. This is a new Bruins team, but still dangerous. Watch for 6-1 centers Chelsea May and Lames El-Gammal with Ashley McAdams up front, and dynamic guard Jade Aponte coming off the bench.

MacArthur is Baldwin's main threat in Conference II. Coach Mike Gattus said his team runs and attacks in transition, and believes Jena Cozza and Courtney Noakes could propel MacArthur to the top. In Conference I, Massapequa has two athletic bigs in 6-1 senior Lauren VanBuren and 6-1 freshman Melanie Hingher, and returns the versatile 5-10 Morgan Roessler to lead a squad that should compete for the county championship.

Uniondale is led by Jayda Hyatt and Alyiah McDonald on the wings. Hyatt has a great vertical leap and is averaging a double-double through five games.

Farmingdale could be a team to watch, returning 10 players behind Nadine Hagnagy and Alexis Panariello -- two Newsday All-Long Island athletes in soccer and lacrosse, respectively. The Dalers hope to get contributions down low from Courtney Irby and Amanda Housmann, and on the outside from Lauren Hill.

Freeport will rely on its defense, as Taylor Miller often locks up the opponent's top scorer and averages four steals per game, and Deja Hooks, 6-2, and Sydney Harris, 5-10, patrol the inside.

Herricks could repeat as Conference AA-III champions with four starters returning. Senior guard Alison Ricchuiti is a five-year varsity player who recently scored her 1,000th career point on Dec. 18 against Great Neck South.

Mepham looks strong this year with Nicole Castaldo, and already beat MacArthur, 48-32, on Dec. 4. Victoria Porcasi of Carey is averaging over 23 points per game and could keep her team in contention.

 

Class ANorth Shore runs a chaotic but successful system, and could again win the county coming out of Conference III. The Vikings usually substitute four players every 40 seconds to keep players fresh, but are led by three constants -- Alexandra Cantwell, Caroline Robertson and Erin Sheerin.

Manhasset is led by sophomore Jackie Albanese, a sharp shooter who averaging close to 16 points per game. Floral Park sophomore Lorraine Hickman is 6-0 and averaging close to 14 points and 10 rebounds per game. She and guard Valeri Fox will have to make up for the loss of second-team All-Long Island guard Kaela Hilaire, who transferred to Long Island Lutheran.

Conference I has two of the top teams in Class A, both of which could challenge North Shore in the playoffs. Wantagh is the first, returning three starters led by 6-3 sophomore center Alex Parlato, entering her fourth varsity season. Senior Demi Valenti is a three-year starter on the wing and Christina Peden is a well-rounded sophomore guard.

Garden City is the second, as the young Trojans will battle for the conference title with sophomore guard Samantha Auricchio, one of the top shooters in the county. Junior forward Taylor Carpentier brings experience to the Trojans, which have no seniors in their starting five.

South Side is a team on the rise with junior guards Julianna Pellegrini and Jess Hawley, and senior forward Bridget Kiernan.

Sewanhaka is favored to repeat as Conference II champion with Shantell McCall, Michelle Niles and Casey Hayes. The three big scorers on Plainedge are Kelsey Marigliano, Laura Bossert and Katie Finnen, as they'll try to contend with Sewanhaka.

Glen Cove has already turned around last season's winless campaign with a 4-2 start behind the Hudson sisters -- Taylah, a sophomore transfer from St. Anthony's, and Tristyn, an eighth grader.

Seaford could be the team to watch in Conference IV with four returning starters, including junior center Jessica Rini who averaged close to 23 points through five games.

 

Classes B, CCold Spring Harbor is favored to win its third consecutive Class B championship, led by Katie Durand, Kelly Vassallo and Kelly Gubatosi. Carle Place is led by returning conference player of the year Samantha Burden, and by Sarah Pisani, and expects to challenge for the conference title. Locust Valley hopes Brooke Spallino can help lead them deep in the playoffs.

Friends Academy is the only Class C team, led by Lindsay O'Sullivan.

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