Urban still has firepower in West; inside duo fuels Gateway in Central 

With league play set to start this week, a number of girls’ basketball teams can stake a legitimate claim to the top spot in the competitive Bay Counties League West.

Urban, the defending regular-season league champ, is 11-1 behind the play of guard Jen Marquez and a front line featuring Allison Weston and Jakkie Boka-Timmerberg.

University will seek to challenge Urban with the inside-outside strength of center Eve King and point guard Piper Tracy, while Lick-Wilmerding will rally behind the combination of sister guards Traci and Trisha Chang.

In the BCL Central, Gateway has an intimidating front line, but International counters with a versatile star player.

Here is a preview of The City teams (in alphabetical order):

WEST DIVISION

CONVENT (4-7): Convent lost four-year starter and all-league point guard Jen Hum-Traverso, but the Cubs still have plenty of talent. Returning forward Natasha Abdulmassih played a key role for Convent last season and freshman guard Scarlett Kirk has been impressive so far.

DREW (0-10): The young Dragons have struggled so far, losing their first 10 games by an average of 26 points.

LICK-WILMERDING (7-5): The Tigers have been impressive, capturing seven wins against tough competition, including a 41-36 victory over Academic Athletic Association league mainstay Lincoln. In addition to scoring from the Chang sisters, versatile guard-forward Misha Hurd provides just about everything else.

UNIVERSITY (7-4): The Red Devils return nearly every major contributor from last season’s team, led by intense rebounding machine King. Cecilia Furlong and Allison Lu are key role players.

URBAN (11-1): The defending league champs are back and better than ever. In addition to a stingy defense, Shaunre’ Clendinen provides instant offense off the bench and point guard Jen Marquez is the engine that motors the Blues’ potent offense.

CENTRAL DIVISION

BAY (6-5): In its first full season of play, Bay has been surprisingly competitive, heading into league play with a 6-5 mark. Coach Larry Minnich’s squad has been most impressive on defense, surrendering just 36 points a contest.

GATEWAY (9-1): The prohibitive league favorite, Gateway has been dominant, winning its nine games by an average margin of more 30 points. The Gators feature two athletic, imposing frontcourt players in Camila Rosen and Dominique Hunter (who racked up a triple-double in the Gators win against Head-Royce last week) as well as a couple of efficient guards in Alyson Szeto and Aisha Eza.

INTERNATIONAL (4-8): The Jaguars are led by 5-foot-10 forward Julia Hechanova, one of the few players in the Central who can match up with Gateway’s intimidating duo of Rosen and Hunter. Hechanova can do it all — she has legitimate 3-point range, a physical inside game and an array of mid-range jumpers that makes her nearly unstoppable offensively (as evidenced by her recent 26-point, 14-rebound game against Galileo).

LEADERSHIP (1-10): It has been a rough start for the Griffin, who lost their first 10 games of the season. However, Leadership may have begun to turn things around after a 30-28 triumph over Marshall.

WALDORF (1-4): Waldorf will look to improve upon its seven-win season from a year ago behind the play of sister guards Julia and Katrina Thollaug and center Illi Pemberton. Julia leads the team in scoring, Katrina heads the squad in assists and Pemberton pulls down more than 11 rebounds a game.

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Will Reisman

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