Carroll’s Allie Stefanek (left) is checked by Carlisa Strickland of Columbus Independence during a Division II regional semifinal at Springfield on March 7, 2017. Carroll won 68-45. MARC PENDLETON/STAFF

GCLC NORTH GIRLS BASKETBALL: Carroll is unanimous favorite to repeat

Carroll High School’s girls basketball team is the unanimous choice to repeat as the Greater Catholic League Coed North Division champion in the preseason coaches poll.

And it’s hard to argue with anybody’s No. 1 vote.

The Patriots return four starters and three double-digit scorers from a squad that went 16-10 and is coming off its first league title since sharing the Girls Greater Catholic League Grey North Division crown with Alter in 2012-13.

BOYS BASKETBALL SEASON PREVIEWS

» Fenwick aims high with good mix of size, quickness

» Franklin seeks success with continued up-tempo style

“We’re feeling pretty good with the group we’ve got this year, but we’re still learning to jell,” said Carroll coach Cecilia Grosselin, noting that 10 varsity and reserve basketball players got a late start because of the soccer team’s success.

“We’re honored that the coaches put us high in the poll, but I certainly don’t want to take anything for granted. We still have to work hard. Nothing’s a given for us.”

Junior center Julia Keller (12.2), senior guard Elisabeth Bush (11.7) and junior point guard Allie Stefanek (11.1) were the Patriots’ top three scorers last year, and Stefanek averaged 3.4 assists and 2.7 steals per game.

Grosselin said freshman guard Sarah Ochs will play a key role off the bench this season.

Chaminade Julienne was second and Fenwick third in the poll, and both of those teams also return four starters. Alter placed fourth in the voting and will turn to three freshmen to boost its bid for a bounce-back season.

“We’re hoping to compete,” Fenwick coach Scott Dalton said. “We played a lot of Division I teams in the preseason, so we’ve been battle-tested a little bit. There’s been no negatives. We’re just right on that edge.”

Junior guard Hannah Beckman leads the Falcons’ returnees, having paced the team in scoring (8.7) last season. Dalton said Fenwick’s goal is 40-percent shooting this year after converting just 32.8 percent of its field-goal attempts in 2017-18.

“We bought a shooting machine, and we’ve been using it a whole lot to get better,” Dalton said. “I think we’re scrappier than we were last year, very relentless on defense. Offensively, we don’t have that 20-point scorer. But we have five girls that can put up 10 points, and we’ll take that any time. We’ll win more than we lose with 50 points a game.”

Fenwick was 13-10 last year, its first winning record since going 11-10 in 2013-14.

THE PRESEASON POLL

Here’s how the coaches voted in the preseason Greater Catholic League Coed North Division girls basketball poll, with point totals and first-place votes (in parentheses):

1. Carroll (4) 16

2. Chaminade Julienne 10

3. Fenwick 9

4. Alter 5

A LOOK AT THE TEAMS

Here’s a team-by-team preseason look at the GCLC North, with information provided by the coaches:

1. CARROLL PATRIOTS

Coach: Cecilia Grosselin (third season)

2017-18 Record: 16-10 overall, 9-1 GCLC North (first place)

Returning Starters: Elisabeth Bush (5-8 senior guard), Julia Keller (6-0 junior center), Ava Lickliter (5-5 sophomore guard), Allie Stefanek (5-6 junior point guard)

Top Newcomers: Megan Leraas (5-10 sophomore forward), Sarah Ochs (5-5 freshman guard)

Team Strengths: Experience, quickness, 3-point shooting

Team Weakness: Lack of size

2. CHAMINADE JULIENNE EAGLES

Coach: Randy Duff (second season)

2017-18 Record: 10-14 overall, 5-5 GCLC North (second place)

Returning Starters: Staci Greene (5-6 junior guard), Eve Monaghan (6-0 junior post), Courtney Redd (5-9 junior wing), Jordyn Varise (5-8 junior point guard)

Top Newcomers: Teri McCann (5-10 junior forward), Aaliyah Smith (5-8 sophomore forward), Campbell Zwierzchowski (5-9 freshman)

Team Strengths: Size, 3-point shooting

Team Weakness: Lack of speed

3. FENWICK FALCONS

Coach: Scott Dalton (second season)

2017-18 Record: 13-10 overall, 4-6 GCLC North (third place)

Returning Starters: Hannah Beckman (5-6 junior guard), Brooke Brunner (5-3 senior guard), Elena Daly (5-7 senior forward), Hannah Tebbe (5-4 senior guard)

Top Newcomers: Emily Adams (5-11 sophomore center), Meghan Creech (5-6 sophomore guard), Kelsey Daly (5-7 senior forward), Erin Kohls (5-3 junior guard), Megan Neff (5-8 junior forward), Rachel Tebbe (5-8 sophomore guard)

Team Strengths: Quickness, athleticism

Team Weaknesses: Height, rebounding

4. ALTER KNIGHTS

Coaches: Chris Hart (25th season), Kendal Peck (20th season)

2017-18 Record: 6-17 overall, 1-9 GCLC North (fourth place)

Returning Starters: Kala Gillis (5-10 senior guard-forward), Katie Kernan (5-7 senior guard), Kourtney Klug (5-9 senior guard)

Top Newcomers: Emma Hansley (5-7 freshman guard), Caraline Kernan (5-6 freshman guard), Karlie Romer (5-10 freshman guard-forward)

Team Strengths: Rebounding (for an undersized squad), depth

Team Weaknesses: Speed and quickness

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