WestValleyPreps.com asked Northwest Valley basketball coaches to analyze their teams heading into the 2008-09 season. Here are the responses from coaches as well as last year's records from schools that did not submit a response:
HEAD COACH: Lindsey Walls
LAST YEAR: 10-14.
HEAD COACH: Matt Visintainer
LAST YEAR: 10-19
RETURNING STARTERS: Senior Kelsey Ramstad, four-year starter and impact player; junior Tiffany Key, started as a freshman, but missed her sophomore year with a knee injury; senior Megan Webb, point guard who will play a big role.
TEAM STRENGTH: Athleticism
BEST OFFENSIVE PLAYERS: Kelsey Ramstad and Tiffany Key.
BEST DEFENSIVE PLAYERS: Tiffany Key, Megan Webb and Kelsey Ramstad.
TEAM LEADER: Kelsey Ramstad.
NEW PLAYERS TO WATCH: Emily Bryant will come off the bench and is one of the hardest working players we have. Sophomore Chelsea Traina transferred from Sunrise Mountain and will make an impact as well.
MOST PLEASANT SURPRISE: Real good group of freshmen who have a tremendous amount of potential.
BIGGEST OBSTACLE TO SUCCESS: Staying healthy. We have been dealing with a lot of injuries over the past two years.
BEST PLAYER IN THE REGION: Kelsey Ramstad.
BEST TEAM IN REGION: Tolleson is going to be very competitive every night they play.
Deer Valley Skyhawks
HEAD COACH: Rob Iannone
LAST YEAR: 22-7 (Lost to Pinnacle 61-50 in Class 5A-II state semifinals).
RETURNING STARTERS: Kelsey Collins, guard; Sam Rasmussen, guard; and Kyleigh Freeman, center. All are seniors.
TEAM STRENGTH: Speed, rebounding and guard speed.
BEST OFFENSIVE PLAYER: Kelsey Collins
BEST DEFENSIVE PLAYER: Kelsey Collins and Vanessa Becker.
TEAM LEADER: Kelsey Collins, Sam Rasmussen, Kyleigh Freeman and Jasmine Green.
NEW PLAYERS TO WATCH: Vanessa Becker and Tabitha Flores.
MOST PLEASANT SURPRISE: Tabitha Flores
BIGGEST OBSTACLE TO SUCCESS: Must stay mentally tough all game, run the offense and cut down turnovers.
BEST PLAYER IN REGION: Kelsey Collins
BEST TEAM IN REGION: Deer Valley
HEAD COACH: Rob Contrata
LAST YEAR: 12-16.
RETURNING STARTERS; Guard Samantha Grasso, guard Jazmin Mays, forward Janel Robertson and center Makala Davis.
TEAM STRENGTH: We are quick and can shoot the ball.
BEST OFFENSIVE PLAYER: It's a toss-up among Samantha Grasso, Jazmin Mays and Tiffany Levin.
BEST DEFENSIVE PLAYER: Samantha Grasso and Janel Robertson.
TEAM LEADER: We haven't picked captains yet.
NEW PLAYERS TO WATCH: Phoenica Zhang is a sophomore who is 5-feet-11 and will help us rebound.
MOST PLEASANT SURPRISE: Everyone has been working hard so I can't pick one standout at this point.
BIGGEST OBSTACLE TO SUCCESS: Because we are small, we must play solid defense and rebound the ball.
BEST TEAM IN REGION: Tolleson, followed by Westview.
HEAD COACH: Jennifer Bowman
LAST YEAR: First year of varsity.
RETURNING STARTERS: Due to the fact we are a first-year varsity program, and the fact I am a new coach, we don't currently have returning starters. All the athletes on the team are eligible to be starters at this point.
TEAM STRENGTH: I think our team's strength right now is the motivation that we can surprise a lot of teams. Nobody knows us right now and we can set ourselves up for extreme success.
BEST OFFENSIVE PLAYER: We don't have one player at this point who is the best. Each girl, in their position, offers a different aspect of offense. I would have to say that I don't have a best player right now, but a bunch of threats to reckon with.
BEST DEFENSIVE PLAYER: Once again, it is tough to pick one player from the team at this point and label them as the best. I think we have a lot of strength in our aggressive post players and our quick point guard.
TEAM LEADER: I would have to say that our post players are definitely team leaders. They seem to work harder than anyone and set the pace for our tempo.
NEW PLAYERS TO WATCH: We actually have a freshman on the varsity team among all our juniors. I feel she will be a threat as an outside shooter that will surprise everyone.
MOST PLEASANT SURPRISE: Amanda De Armond has been a great surprise. She is also a volleyball player so she came out late to tryouts. She is extremely intense and aggressive on defense. Also, Je'Mishia Cottrell is another athlete who improves tremendously every day.
BIGGEST OBSTACLE TO SUCCESS: Learning to adapt and play at the varsity level. We will have a lot to take in this year and overcome as a first-year program.
Mountain Ridge Mountain Lions
HEAD COACH: Michael Racine
LAST YEAR: 4-21.
RETURNING STARTERS: Sophomore point guard Ashton Bourdon; senior guard Hannah Godwin; junior forward Christine Stevenson; junior guard-forward Hailey Van Tussenbroek; and junior center Erika LaPlante.
TEAM STRENGTH: Quickness and aggressiveness
BEST OFFENSIVE PLAYER: Hailey Van Tussenbroek
BEST DEFENSIVE PLAYER: The entire team will be much improved on defense this year.
TEAM LEADER: Christine Stevenson and Hailey Van Tussenbroek
NEW PLAYERS TO WATCH: Lauren Fuller and Emily Beard are both up from JV
MOST PLEASANT SURPRISE; Our improvement on team defense has been a huge positive so far.
BIGGEST OBSTACLE TO SUCCESS: Turnovers and being outsized against most opponents.
BEST PLAYER IN REGION: Davellyn White of St. Mary's and Stephanie Douthit of Desert Mountain.
BEST TEAM IN REGION: St. Mary's is the team to beat.
HEAD COACH; Leslie Saulsby
LAST YEAR: 22-7 (Lost to Chaparral 62-49 in Class 4A-I quarterfinals)
Sunrise Mountain Mustangs
HEAD COACH: Gary Rath
LAST YEAR: 16-12 (lost to Deer Valley 69-23 in Class 5A-II quarterfinals)
RETURNING STARTERS: Guard-forward Aria Ham; center Katie Rutherford and guard-forward Daryl Putman.
TEAM STRENGTH: Depth and experience from last year.
BEST OFFENSIVE PLAYER: Aria Ham.
BEST DEFENSIVE PLAYER: Katie Rutherford can block shots. Madison Fennell is our best on-the-ball defender.
TEAM LEADER: Aria Ham and Daryl Putman.
NEW PLAYERS TO WATCH: Jade Lowery is an incoming freshman and our starting point guard. Jeta Ollanami and Vertrell Jones, along with Hailey Nygaard, move up from JV and will provide much-needed depth.
MOST PLEASANT SURPRISE: Rachel Altman and Megan Zwick are in great shape and look much more confident on the offensive end.
BIGGEST OBSTACLE TO SUCCESS: Our region is unbelievably tough. If our defense gets to where I want, we have a chance to be pretty good.
BEST TEAM IN REGION: Tolleson, hands down.