The start of the 2021 basketball season in Union County starts next month, and the Cuthbertson girls basketball team is expected to be the class of the county again.
The Cavaliers headline The Enquirer-Journal’s preseason girls basketball poll, coming in at No. 1 after going 28-3 last season. Head coach Joel Allen welcomes back three of his top four scorers from a season ago, including reigning county player of the year Maddie Dillinger, who averaged 13.7 points and 6.4 rebounds per game as a junior in 2019-20. Dillinger committed to Lenoir-Rhyne University in October, according to her Twitter account.
The Cavaliers will run the offense through Dillinger. They also have high expectations for sophomore Reagan Iovino, who led all county players with 80 made 3-pointers last season. Like Dillinger and Iovino, junior Ruby Williams has been a varsity contributor since she was a freshman. Williams averaged 6.8 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists last season.
Cuthbertson is striving to get over the hump this season and take home the program’s first 3A state championship before a move up to 4A in 2021-22. The Cavaliers lost in the 3A state title game in 2018 and reached the state semifinals last season.
No. 2 Forest Hills has dominated the Rocky River 2A Conference in recent years. The Yellow Jackets are aiming for their third straight RRC title under head coach Marc Richardson in 2021.
Forest Hills graduated a few key pieces this offseason, but they welcome back the past two RRC players of the year in senior Hope Benson (11.7 points, 7.8 rebounds in 2019-20) and sophomore Jamyah Blakeney (13.9 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists in 2019-20). They give the Yellow Jackets one of the best 1-2 punches in the county this upcoming season.
Parkwood is ranked No. 3 in the E-J’s preseason county poll. Parkwood was 16-11 last season under head coach Jesse Boyce. The Wolf Pack last won an SCC title in 2017-18, when they shared the regular season championship with Cuthbertson.
Parkwood welcomes back four of its top five scorers from last season, including junior Shimiya Taylor (12.6 points, 5.8 rebounds) and sophomore Jade Washington (8.7 points, 7.1 rebounds). The Wolf Pack finished fourth in the SCC standings last season behind Cuthbertson, Charlotte Catholic and Weddington.
After finishing third in the SCC last season with an overall record of 18-8, the Weddington girls rank fourth in the 2021 preseason poll. WHS guard Karrah Katzvach, who led the Warriors in points each of the past two seasons. Weddington does return four of its top five scorers from last year, including senior Miranda Barron, who averaged 11.2 points per game in 2019-20.
The Warriors are also counting on sophomore Tatum Bowen (6.8 points, 4.7 rebounds) and seniors Audrey Strange (6.5 points, 4.7 rebounds) and Emily Cunningham (6.4 points, 6.7 rebounds).
Union Academy is ranked No 5 in the preseason poll. The Cardinals are coming off an 18-9 season and bring back the county’s top scorer from a season ago in senior Savanna Brooks, who averaged 19.4 points and 7.9 rebounds per game in 2019-20. Brooks shares the backcourt with senior Karynton Clark, who averaged 10 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game last season.
Marvin Ridge, ranked sixth in the poll. The Mavs are coming off an 11-13 season. They will bring back their top two scorers from last year — junior Kyndall Shivers (10 points, 4.5 rebounds) and sophomore Zahra Douglas (9.1 points, 4.8 rebounds).
UNION COUNTY PRESEASON
GIRLS BASKETBALL POLL
2. Forest Hills
5. Union Academy
6. Marvin Ridge