North Babylon is going for its third county championship in four seasons. Hartley and senior Katrina Plummer are returning starters. The Bulldogs have eight players on the roster who are freshmen or younger, including two eighth-graders who started in the opener.
Sachem East won 22 consecutive games before losing in the county final for the second consecutive season. Kristen Doherty, sophomore Meagan Doherty, senior Caitlin Hopkins and junior Kelsey Ferguson are returning starters.
Northport always has talent and depth. Senior point guard Grace Schilling gets her chance to shine and 6-3 junior Stephanie Leon, who has received interest from Division I schools, has improved offensively.
Ward Melville should be one of the top teams. Senior point guard Georgia Holland handles pressure well and senior forward Kaitlyn Carballeira is a force in the paint. The Patriots are a very strong defensive unit and often turn turnovers into points in transition.
Smithtown West has two Division I-bound players. Senior forward Shneeka Center, who will attend Davidson, is an explosive scorer and relentless rebounder. UMass-bound Sara English, a 6-5 center, will be a tough matchup for many teams. If the Bulls can get good guard play, they will be dangerous.
Whitman, one of the best defensive teams, could make a deep run with four starters back, including senior Meghan Foehl and junior Ally Leftridge.
Brentwood will be in the mix because of strong defense and physical play. Seniors Jasmine Burwell and Ruth Vargas are the linchpins.
The lone returning starter for Commack is senior Nicole Hagenah, and she will be relied upon heavily. Commack is young and can go with a quick, athletic unit or one with size.
Longwood could be a sleeper with most of the team returning, including seniors Kara Nenos and Siah Davis.
Riverhead returns all five starters, including freshman Shanice Allen and sophomore Jalyn Brown.