[Baltimore Sun] Mount de Sales girls basketball ready to challenge for conference title

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Jeffrey F. Bill/Baltimore Sun Media

Mount de Sales junior Shelby Lewis drives to the basket in the Catonsville Cup last season. Lewis averaged 12 points a game last season.

Mount de Sales tuned up for the IAAM B Conference season with a dominant 54-13 victory over C Conference foe Park, but opened league play against Maryvale two days later without top player Shelby Lewis who injured her ankle the day before the game.

The Sailors defeated Maryvale, 37-35, and improved to 2-0 overall and 1-0 in the conference.

Lewis’ injury wasn’t a high ankle sprain, so coach Trish Armstrong, in her 22nd season, expects the 6-foot-1 junior to return soon. Lewis averaged 12 points and nine rebounds a game last year and had 12 points and 10 rebounds in the opener against Park.

“She can hit it outside, but we prefer her inside, she draws doubles all the time, but she’s big and strong and she kicks it out to the guards so they get some open looks,” said Armstrong, noting she has promising future beyond high school. “She’s got some D1 looks. She will be playing somewhere, it just depends on the fit.”

Someone getting more than Division I looks, albeit in another sport, is junior Mackenzie Conley, who has committed to play lacrosse at Notre Dame. Conley, who played in a fall showcase for the U-16 Women’s National Lacrosse team, will be a vital sidekick to Lewis.

“She’s got explosive quickness, she can shoot from outside, she can do it all,” Armstrong said. “She is the real deal, like she is really good. She is going to be really important for us this year.”

Conley had 17 points and five rebounds against Park and eight points against Maryvale.

While the inside game will run through Lewis, the rest of squad will be dependent on senior point guard and three-year varsity player Clara Gaigler.

“She’s steady with a good assist-to-turnover ratio and can shoot outside and she handles the ball very well,” Armstrong said. “She’s the floor general out there running the offense.”

Joining Gaigler in the backcourt is senior shooting guard Cameron Weeks, who had seven points against Maryvale. The power forward spot features the duo of senior defensive specialist Ashley Hawkins (6-1) and junior Cecelia Hannibal (5-8). Hawkins will provide inside depth, while Hannibal fits best in an up-tempo game.

“If we are going smaller and quicker, she’s extremely quick,” Armstrong said. “She makes up for her height with it.”

Sophomore guard Ella Powers (eight points against Maryvale) comes off the bench to bolster the backcourt along with senior pure shooter Brooke Frederick and junior Sarah Litz, while sophomore Katie Carroll (5-10) fortifies the frontcourt. Carroll filled in for Lewis against Maryvale and grabbed 13 rebounds.

Juniors Gianna Romano and Marissa Fink bring high energy off the bench after playing JV last season.

‘Our biggest attribute is our half-court defense,” Armstrong said. “They were smothering over Park. Everyone on our team plays really good defense and this is probably the most cohesive unit that we’ve had in the last few years and you can tell they really bond as a team and they want it, they are. real hungry.”

Armstrong likes her team’s chances of bettering last year’s 13-13 mark. “I think when we get healthy I think we can contend,” Armstrong said.

In addition to playing defending state champion Howard in a holiday tournament, the Sailors will play nonconference foe and local rival Catonsville in the Catonsville Cup at 3:45 p.m. on Dec. 16.

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