The girls basketball season is under way. That much is certain. How good the three programs in the Ahwatukee Foothills area can become is not.
The potential is definitely there, but so are youth and injures.
Throw in some demanding schedules and where Desert Vista, Mountain Pointe and Horizon Honor end up at the end of the year is tough to tell.
Desert Vista, which went 18-9 and lost in the first round of the state tournament, has the biggest turnover, losing seven seniors and junior Simone Westbrook, who decided not to play this season after averaging 16.5 points, 3.9 assists, 3.8 rebounds and 3.8 steals a game.
"It's one of those years where we won't really have one star," Desert Vista coach Rachel Proudfoot said. "We have a core of players who are willing to work beyond their potential."
With only two seniors on the roster the team has a chance to work for the future while playing in the now.
"We are young, energetic and work hard," Proudfoot said. "Those are three things that are good building blocks."
Juniors Jaymee Brugman, a 6-foot-1 forward/center, and Tinisha Toussaint, a 6-2 center, provide the size needed inside. Brugman averaged 6.4 points and grabbed 5.4 rebounds, and Toussaint saw limited minutes but showed promise as a rebounder.
Five-foot-7 sophomore guard Kylie Butler, who averaged 5.0 points and 3.5 rebounds, should flourish with the ball in her hands more often.
The rest of the roster includes seniors Cieara Spooner and Lauren Slater, three juniors, three sophomores and two freshmen, including 5-4 guard Emily Wolph.
"They have gone through a tough preseason regimen that will have them strong and in better shape," Proudfoot said. "I am excited about what this team can become."
Mountain Pointe coach Trevor Neider has a more defined roster heading into the season after a 25-4 region-winning season.
"We accomplished a lot last season, and the girls are planning to repeat as (East Valley) Region champions and make the state playoffs," second-year coach Trevor Neider said. "We have very high expectations."
Senior Nikki Villescaz was a second-team all-region pick last season but is recovering from an anterior cruciate ligament as is senior Cree Christian, her second one.
The 5-5 Villescaz averaged 12.8 points and 3.1 steals a game last season. She is joined by all-region honorable mention pick Aleks Cataruzolo, who averaged 5.9 points, and part-time starters from last season in sophomore Ashley Clubb and senior Shaniqua Jones.
"They give us a lot of team unity, and they are a real close group," Neider said. "They are very coachable and dedicated to the team."
The potential of the team lies in the underclassmen. The Pride, which is playing in the Queen Creek Turkey Shootout and the Scottsdale Holiday Tournament, will count on two freshmen and three sophomores to be heavy contributors.
That group includes sophomore Michelle Luna, a projected starter, and Caitlyn Hetrick and freshmen Maddy Sulka and Kaylah Lupoe, a projected starter. Junior Melissa Gibson is also in the mix for important minutes.
"All of these girls had real strong summers and improved a lot," Neider said. "We will be counting on them to contribute right away."
Horizon Honors is coming off as 12-12 season that included a Class 2A state tournament win.
The Eagles return two of last season's top players as senior point guard Sarah Fletcher, who averaged 10.0 points, 3.0 assists, 2.1 steals and 3.5 rebounds, while 6-0 senior center Sara Ellenberger was a beast on the boards, averaging 9.8 rebounds and 9.1 points.
Both should benefit from the presence from shooters junior Taylor England and sophomore Gina Garvey, both of whom averaged 3.7 points a game in limited roles.
It will give Horizon Honors a chance to continue its up-tempo style.
"I am excited to see how fast we can play and how well we knock down the 3-pointer," coach Nate Agostini said. "All five players on the court have a realistic chance at making the 3-pointer and have the ability to drive to the basket."