Losing two college-bound players and top scorers would be worrisome for most girls basketball programs.
Southeast Raleigh? Not as much.
The Bulldogs, back-to-back 4A state runners-up, rely on depth and defense to consistently pump out one of the state’s best teams.
The program reloads this year with Jada McMillian (7.9 ppg) and Kia Abrams (7.1 ppg) back.
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Last year’s final N&O top 15
1. Southeast Raleigh (26-4): Tamia Hicks, Danica Lucas and Shannnon McLeod will also be asked to expand their roles.
2. Chapel Hill (24-3): The 3A state runners-up have made it to the title game in three straight seasons. Senior Autumn West (9.5 ppg) and sophomore Alliya Chaplin (7.8 points, 6.5 rebounds) return to the starting lineup.
3. Athens Drive (22-6): The only starter returning is sophomore Robin Gallagher (5.6 ppg).
4. Broughton (20-7): The top returning scorer is Katie Wadsworth (12.0 ppg).
5. Millbrook (24-2): The Wildcats return N.C. State recruit Kai Crutchfield, a junior who averaged 10.5 points and 3.5 assists per game last year. All-district picks Sis Norman and Dazia Powell, both juniors, are also back.
6. Riverside (22-3): Point guard Zaria Rogers, a senior, returns coming off 13.6 points and 4.2 rebounds per game. Senior Ariel Wilson averaged 8.8 points an 4.8 rebounds.
7. Hillside (21-4): Junior Elisia Grissett averaged 14.8 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. JaKelbi Lewis had 9.7 points and a whopping 6.7 assists and 4.3 steals per game.
8. Ravenscroft (25-5): The Ravens return four of their top five scorers: Madison Taylor (9.4 ppg), Erin Hughes (8.0), Nandi Traywick (7.2) and Alexis Hunter (6.1).
9. Bunn (25-1): Precious Walker, a senior, was an all-district pick after averaging 15.9 points a game. Sophomore Bernadette Cooke averaged 12.0 plus a whopping 6.6 steals.
10. Northwood (22-5): Junior Kristian Eanes was the teams leading scorer (14.6 ppg) and senior Jazmine Atkins the leading rebounder (7.8 points 6.5 rebounds). Junior Bryn Aydt (10.1 points) and junior Jazanae Billings (6.4 points) also return.
11. Corinth Holders (19-7): Maddy Gladwell (6.2 ppg) is the top returning scorer.
12. East Wake (18-7): Angel Rizor (10.7 ppg) and Tamira Knuckles (8.1) are back.
13. Cardinal Gibbons (19-7): Olivia Smith, a senior, leads the Crusaders into 4A play with 22.6 points, 8.5 rebounds and 4.0 steals per game.
14. Apex (16-8): The Cougars graduated seven seniors but return senior Elle Hepburn (10.0 ppg) and junior Kimberly Schuh (6.0 ppg).
15. Roxboro Community (28-4): The Bulldogs are led by sophomore Elana Ingram (19.1 points, 7.4 rebounds, 4.4 assists) and junior Mya Johnson (11.4 points, 6.3 rebounds).
Other teams to watch
Cary Christian (15-13): The Knights bring back all-state point guard Grace Smith (15.4 points, 4.1 steals) and post player Emily Clarkson (6.2 points, 8.7 rebounds).
Cleveland (19-6): The Rams return Myrayna Watkins (13.4 ppg) and Miranda Hinton (10.4).
Durham Academy (17-9): The Cavaliers bring back four starters with Liz Roberts (17.0 ppg) leading the way with Imani Spence (6.8 rebounds), Erin Dilweg (6.8 rebounds) and Izzy Strigel (7.4 points).
Franklin Academy (23-3): The Patriots are led by Brianne Henderson (6.8 points, 7.4 rebounds) and Abby Keel (7.8 points, 8.3 rebounds.
Green Hope (13-9): The Falcons are led by junior point guard Kelly Fitzgerald (14.7 ppg) and also return Rachel Argabright (9.0 ppg) and Allie Winiecki (7.8 ppg).
Holly Springs (17-7): Senior point guard Brianna Tate led the Golden Hawks in points (14.0), steals (4.0) and assists (2.7). Senior Caila Spruill (8.0 points, 7.2 rebounds) also returns.
Jordan-Matthews (19-8): The Jets return senior Odyssey Dunn (13.5 points, 5.6 rebounds) and junior Sarah Morse (8.9 points).
Knightdale (17-8): Mikaya Wilson (12.0 ppg) and Melody Prichard (10.4 ppg) are among the four returning starters.
Leesville Road (15-11): Kelly Funderburk, a junior, averaged 13.6 points per game for the Pride, which brings back Shea Plocharczyk (9.4 ppg), Allie Moss (7.1) and Lauren McNamara-Clement (6.6).
Rolesville (10-14): Junior Jaylin Powell averaged 16 points and 7.1 rebounds per game. Morgan Brown (8.8 ppg), Valencia Carroll (6.9 points, 8.8 rebounds) and the rest of the entire team returns.
South Johnston (14-10): Brings back Anna Webster (19.0 points, 7.6 rebounds) and McKinley Johnson (10.0 ppg).
Southern Durham (13-11): Sophomore Marissa Mackins (14.6 points) and senior Addis Lemons (10.1 points, 10.9 rebounds) give the Spartans a 1-2 punch.
Southern Vance (14-11): Carrington Matias poured in 13.7 points per game and handed out 5.0 assists. Canaan Dale posted 12 rebounds per game and 7.9 points, while Ayeshia Teasley had 8.3 points per game.
Union Pines (21-5): Returns all-district picks Nyona Shields (16.2 points, 5.2 assists), a junior, and senior Maresa Smith (9.4 points, 7.3 rebounds). Senior Samantha Ring (11.8 ppg) also returns.
Individuals to watch
Tiffany Bartholomew, Sr., St. David’s: Averaged 16.6 points and 8.5 rebounds for the 22-4 Warriors.
Shantel Bennett, Jr., Lee County: Led the Cape Fear Valley Conference with 17.2 points per game.
Ali Cyr-Scully, Jr., East Chapel Hill: Already the school’s all-time leading scorer, she averaged 26.4 points per game last year.
Kristi Demski, Sr., Trinity Academy Raleigh: Averaged 23.9 points, 9.6 rebounds, 4.8 steals and 4.2 blocks for the Tigers.
Ciara Edmonds, Sr., Kestrel Heights: Kicked in 22.6 points and 11.8 rebounds per game.
Liz Layne, Soph., Jordan: Averaged 11.3 points and 4.1 rebounds per game for the 16-8 Falcons.
Brianna Lee, Sr., Enloe: Posted 13.8 points and 6.7 rebounds per game.
Carol-Anne Obusek, Sr. Grace Christian Raleigh: Averaged 16 points and 12.2 rebounds per game.
Jada Peebles, Fr., Wakefield: Committed to N.C. State in seventh grade.
Brooke Sanderson, Sr., East Wake Academy: Averaged 14.2 points and 11.3 rebounds per game.
Alissa Smalls, Soph., Heritage: Led the Huskies with 14 points and six rebounds per game.
Tarica Worney, Sr., Triton: Averaged a double-double – 15.4 points and 13.0 rebounds per game.