The girls basketball season tips off this week. Here are previews of teams in the Kane County Chronicle area.
Coach: Kevin Jensen
Last season’s record: 19-15
Top returners: Brooke Carlson, jr., G, 5-6; Addi Lowe, jr., G, 5-7; Kylee Gehrt, jr., G, 5-7
Key newcomers: (not in rotation last season): Addie Prewitt, so., G, 5-8; Sarah Hecht, so, F, 6-1
Worth noting: Without question, Batavia is going to be strongly in the mix for a postseason run with Carlson back for her third varsity season. Among the top point guards in the DuKane Conference, Carlson could eclipse 1,000 career points by midseason and also is on pace to break the program’s assist record. Carlson averaged 16.2 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 3 steals a game last season. Batavia loses Tessa Towers’ defense and paint dominance, but still retains plenty of guard depth and shooting with Gerht, Lowe and others expected to emerge. Prewitt is a projected starter alongside Carlson and Gerht.
Coach: Collin Kalamatas (fourth season)
Last season’s record: 23-10, 15-3 FVC (second)
Top returners: Page Erickson, sr., G; Samantha Origel, sr., G; Emma Payton, jr., F
Key newcomers: Kenzie Andersen, jr., G; Emersyn Fry, jr., G; Jordyn Charles, fr., G
Worth noting: The Rockets beat Boylan 57-37 last season to win the Class 3A Boylan Regional final in a game that was close until the fourth quarter. It was the second straight regional title for Burlington. Taylor Charles, the 2022 Kane County Chronicle Girls Basketball Player of the Year, graduated and is playing at Princeton. She averaged 13.5 points and 11.7 rebounds a game. The Rockets return two starters and three off the bench. Their top three scorers all graduated. Erickson, Origel and Payton all averaged more than four points a game. Origel had 24 3-pointers and Payton had 21. “This is a really close group of kids, many of whom are tight off the court, and I think that will help contribute to positive things we see on the floor,” Kalamatas said. “We graduated about 70% of our scoring from a year ago, so the beginning of the season is going to be huge for these girls to establish themselves in some new roles.”
– Alex Kantecki
Coach: Sarah Meadows
Last season’s record: 25-5
Top returners: Cassidy Arni, sr, F, 6-1; Leah Palmer, jr., G, 6-0; Lauren Slagle, sr., F, 6-1
Key newcomers: None
Worth noting: Geneva is returning a ton of starting experience from last season, headlined by Arni, Palmer and Slagle up front. Arni, a three-year starter, averaged 14.4 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2.5 steals and three assists a game last season. Caroline Madden, Rilee Hasegawa and Kinzie Gracey also bring plenty of shooting and spacing to the floor and should fill heavy varsity minutes for the Vikings, who reached a sectional semifinal last season.
Coach: Brian Claesson (first year)
Last season’s record: 18-13, 11-3 in I-8 (second)
Top returners: Lexi Schueler, jr., PG; Kailey Plank, sr., G; Kendra Brown, so., G
Key newcomers: Brigid Gannon, sr.; Berlyn Ruh, jr.; Emily Kunzer, jr.
Worth noting: After nine years as an assistant with the boys program, Claesson takes the reins of the girls varsity team. The team doesn’t have a lot of size, but is fast. Their speed should lead to fast break opportunities, so look for the Knights to be running up and down the court. ”We are not the biggest team, but we are quick,” Claesson said. “We are definitely going to have to use our quickness to our advantage defensively by pressing and trapping, which hopefully lets us run in transition as well.”
– Eddie Carifio
Coach: Emily Duckhorn (second season)
Last season’s record: 21-12
Top returners: Grace Stumm, sr., G, 5-7; Brooke Pfeiffer, sr., G, 5-7; Maggie Seraphin, sr., C, 6-0; Ellie Baum, sr., G, 5-7; Alex Kackert, sr., G, 5-6; Megan Molenhouse, jr., G, 5-7
Key newcomers: Tes Ketterman, jr., F, 5-10; Erin Murray, jr., F, 5-9
Worth noting: In her second year leading the program, Duckhorn faces a new challenge as the Royals enter the GCAC White Division. The Royals have plenty of speed and bring back quality depth. “We are looking to keep the same high tempo by forcing turnovers and getting up the floor in transition,” Duckhorn said. “This conference will be challenging and will hopefully be an important steppingstone to success in the state series.”
– Bob Narang
Coach: Mike Tomczak
Last season’s record: 18-18
Top returners: Alyssa Hughes, sr., G, 5-7; Julia Larson, sr., G, 5-7; Reagan Sipla, jr., F, 6-1; Katrina Stack, jr., F, 6-2
Key newcomers: Laney Stark, jr., G, 5-5; Hannah Ganser, so., G, 5-7; Mia Hoppes, jr., G, 5-5
Worth noting: St. Charles North graduated standouts in Erin Stack, Morgan Klug and Eva Saltsman, but brings back plenty of experience headlined by Hughes, a four-year starter. Hughes, an electric shooter from three-point range, set the program three-point record last season. Sipla continues to ascend as a top-end player and will be a matchup problem for opposing teams. Stack showed big improvement in the summer.
Coach: Josh Foster
Last season’s record: 22-7
Top returners: Emma Yakey, sr., G, 5-9; Alexis Maridis, jr., G, 5-2; Lexi Diorio, jr., G, 5-8
Key newcomers: Corinne Reed, so., F, 5-10; Brooklyn Murphy, so., G, 5-8
Worth noting: The Saints are going to have to make up for some key graduation losses from last year’s sectional champion that was headlined by four-year starter Torrie Kortan. St. Charles East brings back three who played heavy minutes in DiOrio, Maridis and Yakey, who are all capable shooters and athletic. Yakey and DiOrio have three-point range. Maridis is a crafty guard who can draw defenders to the paint. “There is going to be some adjustment as people are learning new roles or taking on more responsibility,” Foster said.
Coach: Jeff Gerdeman (ninth season)
Last season’s record: 20-13, 9-1 Metro Suburban (first)
Top returners: Katherine Lilly, sr., F, 5-10; Leann Ringsrud, sr., F, 5-7; Natalie Doyle, jr., G, 5-6; Halle Rubino, jr., F, 5-6; Dolly Smith, jr., G, 5-4
Key newcomers: Ellie Bielenda, jr., G, 5-2; Lynsey Cleveland, jr., G, 5-7; Stephanie Sullivan, jr., F, 5-8; Riley Austin, so., G, 5-9; Téa Rubino, so., G, 5-7
Worth noting: St. Francis, which is coming off a 20-win season and conference championship, lost three senior starters, but returns All-Conference selection Lilly and team co-MVP Smith in addition to welcoming back Doyle from a knee injury. Lilly and Smith enter their third year on the varsity. Lilly brings scoring, rebounding and disruptive defense. Smith was the team’s leading 3-point shooter last season and is a steady ballhander. Doyle was off to a great start last season before being sidelined by injury, but worked her way back into form. Cleveland and Sullivan will provide a spark off the bench. Sophomores Austin and Rubino are a powerful scoring duo to replace the graduated seniors. “We’re cautiously optimistic for the season,” Gerdeman said. “We lost leadership and intensity, but gained young, athletic and hungry players.”
– Bob Narang