Boys basketball season tips off this week. Here are previews of teams from the Kane County Chronicle coverage area.
Coach: Jim Nazos
Last season’s record: 16-14
Top returning players: Nate Nazos, sr., G, 6-0; Jacob Aseltine, sr., G, 6-1; CJ Valente, sr., F, 6-6
Top new player: Josh Kahley, jr., G, 6-0
Worth noting: The Bulldogs have a really strong nucleus back for another season. Nate Nazos, an all-DuKane Conference selection last season, is back after averaging 9.1 points and 4.6 assists a game. The guard position has a lot of shooting and depth. Jacob Aseltine (7 points, 4 rebounds average) is another key scoring option. CJ Valente (7.3 points, 4 rebounds) is a strong force inside. Jax Abalos, one of the rising juniors in the area for the Class of 2025, is poised for a breakout season. Add in the bevy of players who will filter in from football season and Batavia should be a tough matchup every night.
Coach: Brett Porto (15th season)
Last year’s record: 29-6, 16-2 FVC (champion)
Top returning players: Jake Johnson, jr. F, 6-5; Caden West, jr., G, 5-10; Myles Lowe, sr., F, 6-7; Patrick Shell, jr., F, 6-4; Lucas Lemon, sr., G, 5-9; Aidan Wilson, sr., F, 6-10; LJ Kerr, jr., G, 5-10; Jordan Moore, jr., G, 6-1; Logan Goff, jr., F, 6-4
Top new players: Patrick Magan, so., F, 6-4; Benneck Braden, fr., G, 6-2; Jake Boer, so., G, 6-0; Jack Person, so., F, 6-3; Stefan Meseldzida, so., F, 6-2; Cash Cumpata, fr., G, 5-10; Ryan Carpenter, fr., G, 5-10
Worth noting: The Rockets are 45-8 since joining the FVC in the 2019-20 school year and are three-time defending league champions. They are 43-2 over the past three seasons. Kane County Chronicle Boys Basketball Player of the Year Drew Scharnowski, a 6-9 forward, graduated and is playing at NCAA Division I Belmont. Forward Nic Gouriotis and guards Matthew Lemon and Nolan Milas are the other notable graduation losses. Johnson hit 57 3s to lead Central and is one of the area’s best shooters, hitting 87.5% of his free throws. West is the other returning starter, while Shell and Lowe got some time off the bench. Porto is 296-117 at Central, his alma mater, an average of 21 wins a season (and the COVID-19 season of 2021 was half a season).
Coach: Scott Hennig
Last season’s record: 25-10
Top returning players: Tommy Diamond, sr., F, 6-3; Jack Hatton, jr., G, 6-1; Hudson Kirby, jr., F, 6-5
Top new players: Luke Matan, sr., F, 6-5; Gabe Jensen, so., G, 5-10; Drew Conley, jr., F, 6-8
Worth noting: The Vikings graduated four starters from last year’s sectional final team, but bring back three starters in Diamond, Hatton and Kirby who played significant minutes last season to lead the way. Diamond, a three-year starter and top-end rebounder, pairs well with Hatton and Kirby in an athletic trio. How the point guard position is stabilized will be key after the graduation of Mick Lawrence. The Vikings showcase a lot of size and shooting and will see how the rotation fills out off the bench.
Coach: Ernie Colombe (fifth season)
Last season’s record: 26-6, 14-0 Interstate 8 (first place)
Top returning players: Troyer Carlson, sr., G; Parker Violett, sr., F; Freddy Hassan, jr., F. Evan Frieders, so., G; Brad Franck, sr., G; Luke Reinert, jr., G
Top new players: Brayden Seaton, jr., G; Isaiah Gipson, so., G; Jake Buckley, so., C; Jeffrey Hassan, fr., F
Worth noting: It’s hard to say a 17-year-old is a “savvy vet,” but if there is one, it’s Carlson, who is leading a team that was perfect in conference play last season but lost to a tough Marmion squad in the Class 3A Burlington Regional title game. Colombe said this is a team with a more than competent second unit with new stars ready to step up.
“This is a great group of young men,” Colombe said. “They work extremely hard and are unselfish. This team is also very deep. Carlson and Parker Violett have started since their sophomore seasons and will be relied on again this year. Freddy Hassan and Evan Frieders look like they are ready for breakout seasons.”
– John Gaillone
Coach: Joe Piekarz
Last season’s record: 23-12
Top returning players: Evan Stumm, sr., G, 6-2; Matthew Stewart, sr., G, 5-11; Christian Stewart, sr., G, 5-11; Logan Hubble, sr., F, 6-7
Top new players: Caden Anderson, jr., G, 6-0; Braden Harris, so., G, 6-2; Matthew Murray, jr., G, 6-1
Worth noting: The Cadets achieved a historic run last year en route to a sectional title and supersectional berth. The vast majority of its production has graduated with Jabe Haith, Trevon Roots, Collin Wainscott, Jacob Piceno and others moving on. Stumm, a high-potential shooter and the sixth man last year, figures to be the top candidate to lead the team. Hubble is expected to be a rebounding and defensive presence. Anderson is another player who projects to get plenty of playing time.
Coach: Rob Klemm
Last season’s record: 18-17
Top returning players: Brad Monkemeyer, jr., F, 6-3; Jacob Vrankovich, sr., F, 6-2; Andrew Wolfsmith, jr., F, 6-4
Top new player: Cooper Jensen, so., G, 6-3
Worth noting: Klemm takes over for Pat Woods, who announced his departure over the summer after 12 seasons at St. Charles East. Last season, the Saints made a late surge to a sectional final appearance. They graduated a bulk of the scoring and contributors from that team. Monkemeyer and Vrankovich headline a largely inexperienced varsity group. Monekemeyer and Vrankovich are athletic forwards who can push the pace of the offense.
Coach: Tom Poulin
Last season’s record: 6-24
Top returning players: Danny Connolly, sr., G, 6-3; Parker Reinke, sr., F, 6-5; Jake Furtney, sr., F, 6-5; Luke Holtz, sr., F, 6-5
Top new players: Augie Hoffman, jr., G, 6-2; Colin Hopp, jr., F, 6-3; Cam Vine, jr., G, 6-5; Jake Love, so, G, 6-1
Worth noting: The North Stars are looking to move forward from last year’s tough season and reestablish their culture. St. Charles North has four seniors in the starting lineup and features a lot of size and athleticism. Furtney is a physical presence inside. Reinke and Holtz offer plenty of shooting. Connolly is an athletic guard.
Coach: Erin Dwyer (eighth season)
Last season’s record: 13-19, 6-6 in the Metro Suburban Blue
Top returning players: Aaron Cook, sr., G; Dylan Ston, sr., F; Patrick Spahn, sr., F; Niko Quaranta, jr., G; Anthony Quaranta, jr., F; Gavin Mueller, so., F
Top new players: Kelton McEwen, sr., G (transfer from Bartlett); Owen Gjerde, jr., F; Nate Silagi, so., G
Worth noting: After somewhat of a rebuilding season last year, the Spartans’ hopes of bouncing back received a big boost with the transfer of sharpshooting senior guard McEwen, who earned all-Upstate Eight Conference and all-state honorable mention honors as a junior. Veterans Cook (6-6), Ston (6-4), Mueller (6-6), Spahn (6-3) and the Quaranta brothers figure to complement McEwen’s strong outside shooting skills. St. Francis is returning to the Chicago Catholic League this season. “That will bring some major competition with the likes of Brother Rice (30-5), Mt. Carmel (27-7), De La Salle (22-12) and DePaul Prep (2A state champion, 23-12),” Dwyer said. St. Francis opened its season against South Elgin on Nov. 21 at the Bob Schick Thanksgiving Tournament in Geneva. “We play in the York (Jack Tosh) Holiday Tournament, too, which has several top programs in the state,” Dwyer said. “The philosophy is simple – we want to expose our team to the best competition we can possibly schedule. In the long run, it is great for the kids and prepares the team for the postseason.” In January, St. Francis will travel to Indiana to face nationally ranked La Lumiere (4th in the nation).