Boys basketball season tips off this week. Here are previews of teams in the DuKane Conference, and Burlington Central, Kaneland and St. Francis from the Kane County Chronicle coverage area.
Coach: Jim Nazos
Last season’s record: 20-11
Top returners: Jack Ambrose, sr., F, 6-4; CJ Valente, jr., F, 6-4
Key newcomers: Ben Fiegel, jr., F, 6-3; Isaac Wit, jr., F, 6-3
About the Bulldogs: Batavia is going to have to develop a new identity and slew of production with the graduations of Trent Tousana, Ethan Ivan, Austin Ambrose and others. Jack Ambrose figures to be the likliest candidate for a breakout season, while Batavia will employ the typical deep bench it always does as a number of it comes from the football team, including Grant Wardynski, Ben Fiegel and more.
Coach: Brett Porto (14th season)
Last season’s record: 31-4, 18-0 Fox Valley Conference, first place
Top returning players: Drew Scharnowski, sr., F; Matt Lemon, sr., G; Nicholas Gouriotis, sr., F; Jake Johnson, so., F; Nolan Milas, sr., G; Mitch Pedrigi, sr., G; Mason Erickson, sr., F; Michael Person, jr., F; Caden West, so., G; Aidan Wilson, jr., F
Key newcomers: Patrick Shell, so., F; Brady Gilroy, jr., G; Myles Lowe, jr., F; Quinton Erickson, sr., F; Jordan Moore, so., G; LJ Kerr, so., G; Lucas Lemon, jr., G
Worth noting: The Rockets are 39-6 in their three seasons in the FVC and are two-time defending champions. They have won 27 consecutive FVC games, with their last loss coming against Huntley 61-43 on Feb. 28, 2020. Scharnowski (6-foot-9) is a threat from all over and will play at Division I Belmont. He averaged 9.2 points and 6.5 rebounds and is the lone returning starter from last year’s school-record-setting team. The Rockets will be tough to match up with sizewise. Scharnowski, Gouriotis (6-5), Johnson (6-5), Wilson (6-10) and Lowe (6-9) give them the tallest roster in the FVC. Lemon, Miles and Johnson saw the most time off the bench for Central last season.
– Joe Stevenson
Coach: Scott Hennig
Last season’s record:
Top returners: Mick Lawrence, sr., G, 6-0.; Jimmy Rasmussen, sr., G, 6-1; Tommy Diamond, jr., G, 6-3
Key newcomers: Luke Matan, jr., F, 6-4; Jack Hatton, so., G, 6-1; Hudson Kirby, so., F, 6-3
About the Vikings: Geneva is returning to standouts from its’ team a season ago, headlined by Lawrence and Rasmussen, who are both three-year starters. Lawrence and Rasmussen averaged a combined 21 points per game last year, so they’ll be looking to continue that production. Geneva employs solid size up and down the roster and also brings back KJ McNeive and Tommy Diamond from last season as well. Hatton is an athlete Hennig recommends to keep an eye on.
Coach: Kevin Tonn
Last season’s record: 15-17
Top returners: JJ Hernandez, jr., 6-5, F; Luke Bonnema, sr., F, 6-4; Zion Reed, sr., G, 5-8
Key newcomers: Josh Abushanab, fr., G/F, 6-4 Maharri Thatch, fr., G, 5-11; Eddy Redento, sr., F, 6-6
About the Panthers: The Panthers will be powered by Hernandez, who was an all DuKane Conference selection as a sophomore last season. Bonnema, Reed and Redento are also going to be relied heavily upon as the Panthers keep up the solid momentum built from last year. Abushanab, Thatch and Schrager will be important depth pieces.
Last season’s record: 18-9
Top returning players: Troyer Carlson, jr., G, 6-3; Johnny Spallasso, sr., G, 6-2; Parker Violett, jr., F, 6-3
Key newcomers: Luke Reinert, so., G, 5-7; Evan Freiders, fr., G, 6-3
Worth noting: Kaneland is returning three starters in Violett, Carlson and Spallasso. Carlson is one of the more athletic guards in the Interstate Eight Conference. Violett is a defensive and rebounding stalwart. Add in a deep bench and favorable height on the perimeter and Kaneland projects for a nice playoff run.
Coach: Billy Pitcher
Last season’s record: 22-8
Top returners: Cam Cerese, jr.,G- 6-2; Tommy Rochford, jr., F, 6-5; Josh Gerber, sr., G, 6-1 & Dennasio LaGioia , jr. G, 6-1
Key newcomers: Pavle Magazin, jr., F, 6-8; Jeremy Zakic, jr., G, 6-1; Matt Geraci, jr., G, 6-1
About the Lancers: Lake Park did graduate its’ top three scorers from last year’s team, so replacing that production will be key to watch early. However, they appear in great shape to maintain a 20-win regular season for a fourth consecutive season. Cerese and Rochford are returning starters, while LaGoia will elevate to a starting role after coming off the bench last year. Lake Park has big guards and shooting ability will be plentiful.
Coach: Tom Poulin
Last season’s record: 15-14
Top returners: Mason Siegfried, sr., G, 5-11; Colin Ross, sr., F, 6-0, Cam Ring, sr., G, 6-0, Steven Litteral sr., C, 6-6
Key newcomers: Parker Reinke, jr., F, 6-5; Daniel Connolly, jr., G, 6-2; Luke Holtz, jr., C, 6-5
About the North Stars: St. Charles North graduated eight seniors from last year’s team, so replacing all that production is going to be North’s early test. Mason Siegfried is back to handle point guard duties and should be a stabilizing force while the rest of roles get figured out. North does showcase some size with Litteral, Reinke and Holtz in the fold, so rebounding could become a strength.
Coach: Pat Woods
Last season’s record: 4-25
Top returners: Jack Borri, sr., G, 6-1; Eddie Herrera,, sr., G, 6-2; Steven Call, sr., G, 6-1,
Key newcomers: Bradley Monkemeyer, so., 6-3, Jacob Vrankovich, jr., G, 6-2
About the Saints: St. Charles East is looking to move forward from a rebuilding year and it could surprise some come DuKane Conference play. The Saints bring back three starters in Borri, Herrera and Call and will be working in a solid rotation as it progresses with an up-tempo style of play when it saw a deep postseason run three years ago. Keep on eye on Call, who earned the team’s most improved player award last season for a jump up. Trenton Bush and Drew Clarke are others who could earn some minutes.
Coach: Erin Dwyer (eighth season)
Last season’s record: 28-8, 10-2 Metro Suburban Blue, second place
Top returning players: None
Key newcomers: Aaron Cook, jr., F, 6-5; Dylon Ston, jr., F, 6-4; Patrick Spahn, jr., G, 6-3; Niko Quaranta, so., G, 5-10; Gavin Mueller, fr., F, 6-5
Worth noting: The Spartans lost almost their entire team from last season because of graduation, and Illinois football recruit TJ McMillen will not play basketball this season. Luke Ahern, Will Lyzun and Colin White will play major roles as core seniors this year, Dwyer said. “We’re going to have a mix of freshmen through seniors on the court, but the kids have done a nice job,” Dwyer said. “Our focus is on daily and weekly improvement. We will have a lot to prove.”
– Bob Narang
Coach: Dave Brackmann
Last season’s record: 7-23
Top returners: Troy Janiak, sr., G, 6-1; Jack Speers, jr., G, 6-1
Key newcomers: Ryan Arakawa, jr., G, 5-9
About the Falcons: Wheaton North experienced a bit of a down season last year, but could rebound in a competitive DuKane Conference. The Falcons graduated a bit of senior experience last year with Noah Froebe and others leaving the mix, but Janiak and Speers should help stabilize the losses.
Coach: Mike Healy
Last season’s record: 29-3
Top returners: Braylen Meredith sr., G, 6-5; Colin Moore, sr., G , 6-0 Jake Vozza, sr., G, 6-1
Key newcomers: Max O’Connell, jr., G, 6-1; Luca Carbonaro, so., G, 5-10
About the Tigers: Wheaton South will have to replace a ton of high-quality minutes from last year’s supersectional berth Tigers team that took the Conference by storm and was one of the most consistent teams around. Gone are the likes of Matt Sommerdyke, Rourke Robinson, Danny Healy and more, but Meredith does come back with extensive minutes, as does Moore and Vozza. As long as the Tigers stay true to its’ tough rotations and defensive-minded system, Wheaton South should still maintain as one of the top teams.