"The first few years we were winning two or three games a year," Manzoni said. "Now things are starting to change."
LAST YEAR. Despite losing three starters the year before, the Braves went 13-11 overall and 11-8 in the Tri-County Conference's Royal Division. They finished in third place behind Pennsville and Woodstown. "Last year we lost three starters and we were rebuilding," Manzoni said.
PLAYERS LOST. Things are not much different this year. Again, three players have been lost to graduation, including the Braves' second leading scorer and their best ball-handler.
Gone are Laura Scardino, who was the Braves No. 2 scorer and averaged nearly 10 points a game. Also lost was point guard Kelly McNulty, who did most of the ball-handling, and Hope Negro, who saw action as a reserve forward.
PLAYERS RETURNING. There are four letter-winners returning from last year - Karen Dilmore, Tammy Dantinne, Crystal Gibson and LaTonya Sampson.
Dilmore, 5-9, was the Braves' leading scorer a year ago, averaging 13.3 points per game and 14 rebounds as a junior forward. Dantinne, a 5-2 senior guard, is in her second year as a varsity starter.
Gibson, a 5-11 forward, in her fourth year in the program and second on the varsity level, is the one Manzoni may be expecting to provide leadership on the floor.
"She is very smart and she doesn't make many mental mistakes. She is very valuable on the floor that way," said Manzoni.
Sampson, a 5-11 junior forward, started at the end of the year and showed a lot of improvement, according to Manzoni.
"She earned the starting position last year and we are looking for her to do some good things this year as well," he said of Sampson.
NEWCOMERS. Manzoni and her squad are not in a bad position. The Braves picked up two players in Robin Yancy and Gina Pileggi, who played as freshmen and opted to take last year off before returning to the gym for their junior year.
"Robin (a 5-6 junior) will be one of our guards, probably a shooting guard," Manzoni said. "Gina (a 5-0 point guard) is a good overall athlete and we're hoping she can help us out."
Another newcomer who is expected to do well is 5-11 junior Marylee Pondo, who will play either center or forward.
STRATEGY. "We hope to be .500," Manzoni said. "We have to play good defense. I'm big on defense. I don't care how many points we score, we still have to keep the other team from scoring less than us. In order for us to do that we have to be aggressive on defense and play consistent. That is the biggest key."
OUTLOOK. "My annual picks are always Clearview and Pennsville," she said. ''Kingsway also moved into our division, so that should be another tough two games. I think we'll have to see how fast we develop and play together as a team. We could surprise some people."