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Teams prepare for new season

The Providence Day girls' basketball team has dominated private school basketball in south Charlotte in recent history, winning five of the last six N.C. Independent School Athletic Association 3A titles; but with a younger team coming back this year, another championship isn't guaranteed.

Charlotte Christian could challenge the Chargers in the CISAA this year with several returning players from a team that made it to the third round of the state tournament last year.

Here's a preview of the south Charlotte private school girls' basketball teams.

Charlotte Christian

Coach: Milton Carter.

2009-2010 record: 20-8 (third round NCISAA 3A tournament).

Key player: Gesele Bailey - Sophomore post player stands 6-foot-3 and was all-state last year. She's being recruited by several Division I colleges in the area.

Carter, in his first year as the head coach at Christian, has a lot of experience coming back this year for the Knights, as they return seven players from last year.

Joining Bailey is all-conference junior Maryah Mazyck, who plays almost every position on the floor; senior point guard Morgan Kirk, who will control the tempo for the Knights; and Michelle Brotherton, a junior who Carter called "a great shooter."

Charlotte Country Day

Coach: Andre Haston.

2009-2010 record: 13-11 (second round NCISAA 3A tournament)

Key player: Brittany Powell - 5-foot-6 senior all-conference guard is versatile and also can play in the post and will be an important leader on the court.

Country Day has a new coach this year, but Haston is familiar with the program having coached the junior varsity team for four years. Powell and fellow senior Sydney Jones, 5-foot-7 guard, will lead the Buccaneers. Sophomore Beth Erb (5-foot-6) was a starter last year and is one of the team's best defenders according to Haston.

Brook Vann will be a key new addition to the roster as the 5-foot-10 freshman is physical in the paint.

Haston said the team will play aggressive and focus on defense with full court presses and traps. With an undersized roster, the Bucs will try to speed up the game and "cause a lot of chaos," he said.

Charlotte Latin

Coach: Deb Savino.

2009-2010 record: 4-21.

Key player: Garland Austin - Junior was named all-conference last year and led the Hawks in scoring.

The Hawks are very inexperienced this year after only winning four games last year. Austin is the lone junior on a team with no seniors and only three returning players. Sophomore forwards Becca Jones and Brooke Brown both started last year and have developed well in the off season, according to Savino.

Newcomer Sydney Sebastian, a sophomore point guard, will open up the game for Austin this year and allow her to focus on scoring.

In her second year, Savino will try to play up-tempo, run the floor and press on defense, though endurance could be a problem with a lack of depth for the Hawks.

Providence Day

Coach: Josh Springer.

2009-2010 record: 24-6 (NCISAA 3A state champions).

Key player: Tiffany Mitchell - Sophomore two-time all-state guard scored 30 points in last year's championship game.

The Chargers lost four seniors from last year, most importantly Nneka Anuruonye, who made all-state last year and now plays at UNC Greensboro.

A younger Providence Day team will rely on Mitchell and lone senior Sarah Burnick to lead the squad to another state title. The Chargers do have young talent, especially in 6-foot-3 freshman Jatarie White.

United Faith Christian

Coach: Renea Steele.

2009-10 record: 16-8 (second round of NCISAA 1A tournament).

Key player: Gabby Catanzaro - Senior point guard will be expected to step up and lead a young Falcon team.

The Falcons return four players under first year head coach Renea Steele, but there are only seven players on the roster. One of them, senior Savannah Grandy, won't be able to play until January after an ACL injury from playing soccer last year.

Catanzaro will be the leader on the floor this year and freshman Lacy Lockhart, who played on varsity as an eighth grader, will need to step up.

With a small roster, Steele wants to set a slow tempo during the game and focus on playing tough defense.