Plentiful is the best way to describe the girls’ basketball talent in the area this season.
The group includes three returning first-team All-Western New York selections, including the reigning player of the year. Another past first-team All-WNY pick returns to a familiar place fresh off a state championship.
Perhaps the toughest task is determining which of the Amherst Tigers deserves a spot on this list.
Here are 10 of the many talented players in the area to watch this season:
The 5-foot-6 Cardinal O’Hara senior is the reigning Sister Maria Pares Buffalo News Player of the Year. The Siena College signee is a relentless, in-your-face defender who averaged 6 steals per game. She also averaged 15 points, 7 assists and 3 rebounds for the five-time defending Monsignor Martin champions.
The 6-5 sophomore forward from Williamsville South is a dominating, game-changing inside presence and considered the No. 2 player in the nation for her graduating class by ESPN. A returning All-WNY first-team selection, she has offers from a who’s who in college basketball, including Connecticut. DeBerry averaged 18.8 points and 8.8 rebounds last season in helping the Billies reach the New York State Public High Schools Athletic Association Class A Final Four.
The 5-7 junior guard from Franklinville averaged 26.1 points per game in guiding the Panthers to the state Class D final and making the All-WNY first team. She was the only girls player and one of three players overall in Western New York to score more than 600 points last season with 627. She is 1,098 points away from matching the WNY record for career points set by Randolph’s Mckenna Maycock, who is now a senior at St. Bonaventure.
The 5-7 guard returns to Olean for her senior year after helping Seton Catholic win the Arizona 4A state championship last year. She averaged just less than 20 points per game and finished with more than 100 3-pointers. The Huskies’ all-time scoring leader (1,492) averaged 28.2 ppg as a sophomore, earning a first-team All-WNY selection.
The 5-9 sophomore for Amherst is a bundle of energy who has a knack for using her defensive skills to disrupt the other team’s guards. In addition to making a team-high 122 steals, she averaged 13.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and 4 assists per game. She was a third-team All-WNY pick last year.
One of the best athletes in the area, the 5-7 junior from Lake Shore is coming off a season in which she increased her points per game average by more than 10. She averaged 21 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists. For fans of defense, the third-team All-WNY pick ranked second in Section VI with 138 steals.
The 6-foot junior seems like a grizzled veteran for Panama. She averaged 15.2 points and 10.9 rebounds last year in helping the Panthers reach their fourth consecutive Section VI Class D final. An inside presence and third-team All-WNY selection has scored at least 280 points to go with 200 rebounds, 50 steals, 30 assists and 20 blocks for three straight seasons.
A fourth-team All-WNY pick last season, the 5-10 junior guard is a determined defender and one of the keys to making Williamsville South’s zone-press defense purr like a finely tuned engine. Dolan averaged 11.5 points, 5.6 assists and 2.8 rebounds per game in helping South reach the state Final Four for the second time in four years.
The 5-9 Mount St. Mary senior excels in multiple sports. The future Coastal Carolina women’s lacrosse player was an All-WNY honorable mention pick last year, averaging 18.1 points, 5.1 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 3.2 steals per game. She is a team player who looks to get others involved.
The 6-1 Sacred Heart junior played a key role in helping the Sharks win the state Catholic Class A title last season. She averaged 14.4 points, 4,5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.0 steals per game en route to earning All-WNY honorable mention. Her points per game ranked just behind older sister and first-team All-WNY pick Micaela Ryan, who is playing at Division I Elon.