By season's end, it's possible that none of the Midstate Athletic Conference girls basketball teams in The Daily Star's circulation area will play in the league title game _ for the second straight year.
Last season, Harpursville beat Greene in the final. Those two teams are among the favorites again this year.
Unatego coach Greg Bonczkowski and Bainbridge-Guilford coach Bob Conway agreed that Greene appears to be the favorite in Division I, and Harpursville and Oxford look strong in Division II.
But it's also possible this league could spur plenty of talk around Section Four. Conversations that might start, "Hey, did you hear about the Harpursville-Sidney game Friday?"
In case you didn't hear about that game, Sidney senior Danielle Gravel and Harpursville senior Hannah Kimmel each scored 40 points in the Hornets' 74-70 road victory.
Sidney athletic director Eric Race said Monday that Gravel finished with a school-record for points in one game and tied another program record with 10 three-pointers. The latter matched 1998 Sidney graduate Heather Nolan, who set what is believed to be the Section Four record of 10 threes Feb. 18, 1998, in a 78-53 Susquenango Association semifinal loss at Oneonta High. Nolan scored 30 points in the setback.
Though the MAC has to replace longtime standouts such as Unatego's Colleen O'Hara _ now at Plymouth State in New Hampshire _ and Bainbridge-Guilford's Dani Conway (Alfred State), it still has firepower.
That includes Afton senior Jessie Winans, a Sixth Team all-state selection in Class D last season.
The following is a team-by-team look at the area schools in the MAC:
Second-year coach Fred Barkalow's team went 5-15 last season, including 1-9 in the MAC.
Seniors Erica Cantwell and Kristen Dandignac, along with juniors Libby Buel and Justine Alwine, are the top returners from that team. Cantwell averaged 2.3 points last season.
Sophomore Marisa Chytalo scored 19 points in the Bulldogs' 50-31 loss to Hancock on Friday.
Athletically, the Warriors should match up with anyone they play.
Gravel, who averaged close to 15 points last season, is also a standout softball pitcher who will graduate as the girls soccer program's all-time leader in goals scored.
Junior guard Lyndsay Delello earned a trip to the state meet in track last season in the 400-meter hurdles and senior forward Stephanie Simonds advanced to states in the discus. Simonds also started in goal for the girls soccer team this past fall.
It's up to first-year coach Brad Aldrich to see how it all fits together.
"We're getting better," Aldrich said after the loss to Harpursville.
The Warriors finished 12-9 last season.
Two starters _ 6-footer senior Amber Potter and junior guard Charlee Weideman _ return from last season's 4-12 squad.
The Storm will have two 6-footers this season, with the addition of freshman Amanda Off.
Another freshman, Jordan Anderson, scored 21 points in UV's 42-35 overtime win against Hancock on Dec. 7.
The Spartans received an influx of talent from a junior varsity squad that went 18-2 last season. How quickly those newcomers adapt to the varsity level will go a long way in determining Unatego's success.
Some of those newcomers played for the Spartans' soccer team, which made a 12-victory improvement from the previous season and finished 16-1-1.
"We have five kids who played soccer and I hope that success carries over," said Bonczkowski, who has overseen a program that has won at least 15 games in each of the last five seasons. "All of the kids have been in the system at least one or two years. If we come together at the right time, there's not a team we can't compete with."
Two players, senior guards Stephanie Havens and Kayla Wong, contributed to last season's 15-7 record.
Seven others _ freshmen Katrina Clark, Sarah Mannina and Casey Manzanero, along with juniors Amanda Peloso, Shelby Puffer, Kajee Quick and Kaitlyn Woods _ are up from the JV.
Sixth-year coach Gary Backus might have the most experienced team in the league. He returns two fourth-year varsity players _ senior Holley Reynolds and junior Devon Kaminsky _ and three third-year players _ seniors Christa and Shelby Jennings, and junior Morgan Benson.
That balance showed this past Saturday in the Warriors' 76-30 rout of Deposit as six players scored at least nine points. Amy Conkling led the way with 18 points, followed by Hunter Browne (14), Jennings (12), Reynolds (11), Kendra Hoyt (10) and Benson (nine).
"We hope to contend for the division title," said Backus, who returned nine players from last season's 11-10 team.
The Crimson Knights figure to have one of the best backcourts in the league in Winans and fellow senior Stephanie Parsons.
Winans, who's heading to Division I Coastal Carolina on a softball scholarship next year, averaged 15.8 points and Parsons contributed nine points a season ago, when Afton finished 12-10.
The development of eighth-grader Payton Cutting _ Afton's tallest player at 5-10 _ could be key.
"How well we do will depend on the development of our post players and how we defend inside," 10th-year Afton coach John Simonds said.
Conway begins his 28th season with four players back from a squad that finished 15-7.
His niece, sophomore point guard Randi Conway, might be the team's top returner. Forward Shania Vandermark, also a sophomore, junior guard Chelsi Rosa and senior center Kim Brown also are back.
Junior guard Corrine Riegel is up from the junior varsity.
"We've got a group of kids who are pretty athletic," Conway said. "I've seen improvement from game to game. They're starting to understand some things. Early in the season, they were all looking for somebody (Dani Conway), who wasn't there anymore to shoot the ball."
Rob Centorani can be reached at email@example.com or 607-432-1000, ext. 209.