Sigonella’s Fabiola Mercado-Rodriguez goes up for a basket Friday, March 4, 2022, at the DODEA-Europe Division II basketball championships. The Jaguars are back to Division III this season for the championships and could be considered a favorite.

Sigonella’s Fabiola Mercado-Rodriguez goes up for a basket Friday, March 4, 2022, at the DODEA-Europe Division II basketball championships. The Jaguars are back to Division III this season for the championships and could be considered a favorite. (Kent Harris/Stars and Stripes)

A new season means new expectations as the DODEA European girls basketball campaign begins this weekend.

All three returning champions – Stuttgart in Division I, American Overseas School of Rome in Division II and AFNORTH in Division III – lost key portions of their teams, and they will be hard-pressed by rivals on the hardwood floors this season.

Here are capsules of each team that responded to inquiries from Stars and Stripes:

Division I


The Raiders experienced an up-and-down 2021-2022. COVID-19 impacted their season, forcing them to miss games, and they lost two tournament games in the final seconds. On a positive note, they finished with a winning record during the regular season.

This year, coach Aaron Scalise is looking forward to a full season, as well as winning those close games. He also pointed out the Raiders will return to the brand of basketball expected from the program during his six years as the varsity coach.

Kaiserslautern will turn to seniors Lena Herrman and Se’maiya Farrow, juniors Emma Arambula and Rihanna Martin, and sophomore Elizabeth Marriott from the 2021-2022 squad. Joining them are Cambrielle Sanders, juniors Kimberly Guzman and Gabrielle Myrick, and freshman Hazel Sanders.


The Panthers face a tall task in repeating as Division I European champions, but that won’t stop them from trying.

Stuttgart will turn to returners Bella Henderson and Icsiss Perez to lead the way. Haley Wells, Kinsey Heaton and Ella Kirk, a transfer from Wiesbaden, also will have an impact for the Panthers in 2022-2023.


The Warriors enter the season with a new coach in Kristin Kachmar, but they are hoping to carry on the standard set last campaign, when Wiesbaden went 14-2 and finished runners-up in the Division I European tournament.

Leftover from that squad is senior shooting guard McKinley Viers, who averaged seven rebounds and six steals per game in 2021-2022. Senior center Lyndsey Urick missed last season due to an injury, and she returns to provide height in the low block.

Juniors Gwen Icanberry and Kayla Pham will be promoted from the JV to the varsity team. At point guard, Kachmar said freshman Brandi Stanford is showing much potential.

Division II

American Overseas School of Rome

The Falcons lost three key players from last year’s European South (Division II) title winners, but they will have plenty of firepower returning to keep them competitive in 2022-2023.

Clara Clayton, MVP of the European tournament last season, will lead the charge. She is joined by Nissi Dauda, Claire Sheklton and Caitlin Duggan.

AOSR adds a pair of transfers in Maria Paz Abikzer from Canada and Annika Sedono, while three freshmen and a pair of players new to the game round out the roster.


The Saints struggled in 2022-2023, going 3-8 in the regular season and 1-4 in the postseason.

The good news for Aviano is five players return after the learning experience. They are Lanaia Burkes, Maliyah Leyva, Grace O’Connor, Mayci Salmon and Alayna Williams.

Coaches Jonathan Jones and Enid Derricott are hoping those five, combined with several promising freshmen, will lead to a productive year.


The Falcons return to European play this season after putting together an Island championship in 2021-2022.

They will host Aviano and travel to Sigonella in January, giving them an opportunity to stack up against European competition prior to the tournament in February.

First-year coach Chad Shryock inherits a solid core this year with 40 points per game returning. Senior Natalie Kuzhangaira is set to pace Bahrain with her 15 points, Anya Dinklet brings back 15 and sophomore Dalisa Lewis will chip in after averaging 10 points per game last season.

Shryock said that core will be surrounded by talented newcomers. Among them are sophomores Gabriela Vargas, Jasmin Courts and Juliana Mohamed; juniors Madeline Armes, Imani Frierson and Coral DiDomenico; and senior Ameera Trady.


The Royals are banking on the bonds they are creating heading into the season to help them on the court as the squad has many players new to the sport.

Marymount has experience in the form of returners Lavinia Myers, Sol Giannetti, Ludovica Nati and Nicole Ferlaino. Joining the team for 2022-2023 are Xiomara Galinas, Daila Galinas, Eunice Wambura, Isabella Rizvi, Lavinia Farina, Gabriela Malouin and Beatrice Lucie-Smith.

First-year coach Theodore Estandante Byers said he anticipates the Royals to be resilient and employ grit to make them a formidable opponent.


The Wildcats might need a few months to gel, but first-year coach James Davis said they hope to be firing on all cylinders by mid-February for the tournament.

Naples will lean on returners Emma Kasparek, E.J. Kennicott, Anais Navidad, Ju Ju Martinez and Kennedy Rascoe. The quintet played for the 2021-2022 team that took third place in the European South tournament.

Surrounding those five will be one senior and six freshmen.


Edward DeMeritt led the Rota girls basketball program to two European championships during his first stint as coach from 2005-2017.

Following a five-year hiatus, DeMeritt comes back to take over the Admirals, and he foresees it be a multiyear process.

Fortunately for him, he said, Rota’s squad is young, meaning he can look to the future. Most of the roster is filled with underclassmen.

Returners include senior Victoria Bonavita; juniors Alana Geylani, Sophia Dickutt and Elsie Bond; and sophomores Allie DeMeritt and Rachel Owins. The Admirals also expect to see good things from junior transfer Maddie Lewis and freshman Jourdan Timmons.


Things were going the Cougars’ way until the semifinals of the 2021-2022 European South championship. They posted a 10-1 regular season and went 4-0 in pool play, but consecutive losses to Sigonella and Naples dropped to Vicenza to a fourth-place finish.

That disappointing end sits in the back of Vicenza’s mind, and the Cougars will hope to build off their performance during the first 16 games heading into this season.

Despite being young, Vicenza can take heart in junior point Addie Kropp, who earned all-tournament honors, and Rylyn Bragg. Also coming back are senior Sara Fitch, junior Laurel Gill and sophomores Mackenzie Blue, Maya Fitch and Julia Rudy.

The Cougars also get a boost from sophomore forward Marely Denton, who didn’t play last season due to an injury.

Division III


Coach Matt Wise isn’t counting his chickens before they hatch.

Sure, the defending Division III champion Lions bringing back eight players, including three starters – seniors Sheckinah Boswell and Paula Bohlen and junior Izzy Guest. Joining them are Kailey Koger, Finja Liebing, Selah Skariah and Charlotte Paquin.

AFNORTH’s experienced squad also will add depth with senior Meadow Vanheuckelom, sophomore Maggie Masse and freshman Elsa Stubbendorf.

Despite all that, Wise said he knows the competition will be fierce in Division III this season, and it will take a lot of work to repeat as winners. He stressed the team will try to improve and be ready come tournament time in February.


The Dragons enter their first full campaign since the COVID-19 shutdown in 2020 with perhaps the most inexperienced team in the division.

Alconbury has just one returner in senior forward Eleni Politis. And she didn’t get the chance to participate in the European tournament after a 1-6 regular season.

Add to that a roster in which more than half consists of underclass (with five freshmen) and many never have played before, Alconbury coach Duke Eidt has a hard time gauging where the Dragons are heading into the season.

Although all just joining the team this season, the Dragons have other two seniors – forwards Aleesa Fromm and Alondra Acosta – and junior guard Sander Paige and junior center/forward Madeline Zinkard to give the squad a solid core of upperclassmen.


The Cougars took second place in last’s European tournament, and they will try to take the next step with a solid group of returners – none of which are seniors.

Ansbach will be led by juniors Laila McIntyre, Kylah Tuazon and Trinity Batin and sophomore Grace Robinson. Joining them are juniors Nadyah Pustillo and Annika Asbury, sophomore Ansley Bird, and freshmen Kennedy Lange, Mya Henderson and Lily Gaspay.


Expect a typical Buccaneer squad this season, according to coach Phillip Loyd – one that is young and improves throughout the season.

From last year’s third-place finishers, only senior guards Janiyah Spruill and Adrianna Lopez return.

Joining Baumholder this season are seniors Ashanti Santiago, Natalia Pardo and Alex Barreto, junior Gabrielle Williams, and six freshmen – Krisida Joy Fejeran, Arlene Coronel, Jezania Gibson, Kawther Al Qurashi, Addabella Anku and Alondra Aguillen.


Monique Jones enters her second season at the helm of the Hohenfels program, seeking to improve on a fifth-place finish last season.

The Tigers bring back three players in Kariana Jones, Alana Teo and Kyara Gonzales. Joining the squad this season are two transfers and a freshman.


Because of COVID-19 restrictions, the Jaguars played up a division in 2021-2022, and they put together special postseason, finishing runners-up to AOSR. They did so without getting a chance to play games until February.

Sigonella returns all the critical players and are determined to win the Division III tournament this season, according to coach Michelle Chandler.

All-Division II tournament selection Fabiola Mercado-Rodriguez leads the way, and she is joined by the rest of last season’s starting lineup in seniors Layla Denton and Cesca Catibog, junior Laney Reardon and sophomore Riley Denton. Also returning are senior Hannah Gildea and sophomore Charlize Caro.

The Jaguars add junior Alexandra Alonso to the mix, a transfer from Okinawa.

While playing in Division III again, Sigonella will have just four matchups against such opponents during the regular season. The rest of the schedule will be against Division II schools.


Coach Chris Howard’s team faces a large learning curve, even though the Sentinels bring back a lot of experience.

The reason for that is their relative youth. Spangdahlem doesn’t have a senior returning and will rely on starters from last year – junior Maddiysn Glover and sophomore Izzy Bodily – to pace the team.

Fellow returners junior Lizzy Koenig and sophomores Caleya Morton, Gabby Schmidt and Miranda Valles are expected to step up this campaign. Junior newcomer Talyssa Link also will play a role.

author picture
Matt is a sports reporter for Stars and Stripes based in Kaiserslautern, Germany. A son of two career Air Force aircraft maintenance technicians, he previously worked at newspapers in northeast Ohio for 10 years and is a graduate of Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism.

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