Archbishop Mitty won a state Division II girls basketball championship last season. Factor in the return of four starters along with the addition of a talented freshman and it's not hard to see why the Monarchs top the Mercury News rankings.

Mitty played an arduous nonleague schedule and came out of it 7-3, with the losses to strong, out-of-the-area competition. The Monarchs will be tested again Saturday in a West Catholic Athletic game at St. Ignatius.

"I always try to schedule the toughest nonleague schedule available to prepare us for the rigors of the WCAL," Mitty coach Sue Phillips said.

Mitty returns junior wing Kelli Hayes, the Mercury News player of the year as a sophomore, point guard Vanessa Garner, shooting guard Emily Dinger and defensive standout Kalyn Simon. Freshman guard Jahnay Anderson is second on the team in scoring.

The Santa Clara Valley Athletic League's De Anza Division was the top public schools league last season with Gunn, Palo Alto and Wilcox vying for the title. Gunn went on to defeat Palo Alto for the CCS Division I title. But this season Wilcox is off to a 13-0 start and looks like the league favorite. The Chargers are led by center Joesetta Fatuesi, a two-time all-Mercury News first-team selection. And first-year coach Kevin White believes a supporting cast is in place with point guard Shania Ratliff, shooting guard Caitlin Brown and sophomore post D'arrian Jackson.

Lynbrook (10-2), led by senior forward Jackie Hudepohl, and Gunn (7-3) would appear to be the other primary contenders for the De Anza Division title.

Westmont (8-3) got an early step up in the Blossom Valley Athletic League Mount Hamilton Division with its win Wednesday over Branham. The Warriors have one of the most prolific scorers in the CCS in junior guard Savannah Scott. Santa Teresa (7-4), Piedmont Hills (8-3) and Branham (10-1) should be the other top teams in the division.

The West Bay Athletic League is always strong in girls basketball and this season is no exception, with Eastside Prep, Pinewood and Menlo School among the top contenders. Eastside (8-4) lacks depth with just a seven-player roster but possesses athleticism and size with center Hashima Carothers, who is averaging 14.9 points and 10.1 rebounds per game. Four-time state champion Pinewood (8-3) is led by sisters Leeanna and Gabi Bade and point guard Marissa Hing. Menlo (8-3) is led by senior center Drew Edelman (23.2 points, 13.6 rebounds per game.)

Burlingame (10-1) looks to be the top team in the Peninsula Athletic League South. The Panthers began the season 10-0 before losing to an 11-1 Campolindo team in the West Coast Jamboree Emerald Division championship game. They are led by Dana Michaels, one of the top 3-point shooters in the CCS, averaging over five 3-pointers a game, and guard Lauren Rally. San Mateo has perhaps the best player in the PAL South in high-scoring Alana Simon.

Westmoor, with four players scoring in double figures, appears to be the favorite in the PAL North.