The girls basketball season is underway. Here are preview capsules for teams in the Suburban Life coverage area.
Coach: Joe Kilbride
Last season’s record: 25-8, finished second in Class 4A
Top returners: Emilia Sularski, sr., G; Magdalena Sularski, sr., G/F; Lindsay Harzich, jr.
Key newcomers: Aria Mazza, jr., G; Shannon Earley, sr.
Worth noting: The Redwings lost Ms. Basketball and do-it-all point guard Lenae Beaumont to graduation, but Emilia Sularski and her sister, Magdalena Sularski, are both ready for an enhanced role and both are quality long-range shooters. Mazza, a transfer from Conant, is a player to watch because of her shooting and ability to score points in bunches. Earley, who committed to play lacrosse for Notre Dame, is another key addition. “We’re hoping to pressure on defense, play fast and spread the floor on offense,” Kilbride said. “We’re a young team playing one of the toughest schedules in the state. We look forward to finding our stride in February.”
Coach: Stephan Bolt
Last season’s record: 21-9, 8-4
Top returners: Kaitlyn Parker, sr., G; Hope Sebek, sr. G; Annie Stephens, sr., F; Lilly Boor, sr., F; Abby Gross, jr. G.
Key newcomers: Campell Thulin, fr., G; Ady Fanta, so., G; Finley Werner, so., G/F.
Worth noting: All-conference selection Parker headlines the returnees for a team with aspirations for another 20-win season. “We’re a hardworking and cohesive group of both skilled and versatile basketball players with some more depth than we had last season,” Bolt said. “We have a great group of returning players, including four tremendous seniors. We plan to take pride on the defensive end and hope to be at our best come the end of the season.”
Coach: Lyndsie Long
Last season’s record: 17-14, 10-2
Top returners: Allison Jarvis, sr., G; Megan Ganschow, so., F/C: Hayven Harden, jr., F/C; Addison Bryant, sr., F; Liz Rous, sr., G; Jakylah Thomas, so., G.
Worth noting: Three-sport standout Emily Petring has graduated, but with four starters back from a 17-win team, the Mustangs have their sights set on a 20-win season to go with a long playoff run. Jarvis is a player to watch in the conference. “The team put a lot of work in in the offseason and look to be a threat on both ends of the floor,” Long said. “With multiple scoring threats, the Mustangs look to be a fun team to watch. Allison Jarvis has dedicated lots of time to improve her shooting consistency and finishes around the basket. Megan Ganschow is both a threat on the defensive and offensive end. She’s a competitor and does whatever it takes to win games. Addison Bryant is a force on the boards. She looks to average 10 rebounds per game. Hayven Harden has improved drastically over the last two years. With her quick first step, we look to utilize Havyen both inside the paint and on the perimeter.”
Coach: Lenae Fergerson
Last season’s record: 19-16
Top returners: Grace Kapsch, sr., G; Keira Kapsch, jr., F; Heaven Lee, jr., G; Zoe Dray, so., G; Cammie Molis, so., G.
Key newcomers: Darryelle Smith, so., G; Mia Hernandez, jr., G.
Worth noting: The Friars aim to take it up a notch this season, both in tempo and in the win column after missing the 20-win mark by one victory. “The Friars will play an uptempo game this year,” Fergerson said. “We will be counting on the seniors for leadership and stability and with the talented group of younger players to complement them, we expect to have many positive outcomes as the season progresses.”
Coach: Nicole Miller
Last season’s record: 20-11, 15-3 UEC
Top returners: Catey Carney, sr., G; Ciara Johnson, sr., G; Gabby Walton, sr, post; Livia Robbins, sr., G-F; Christina Chiero, sr., G; Veronica Witt, jr., F
Key newcomers: Erin Brown, jr., F; Taylour Hodges, jr., G; Sarah Crocker, so., C; Teagan Murphy, fr., G; Lilly Carver, fr., G
Worth noting: Carney is a four-year varsity player and was a unanimous all-UEC pick as a sophomore and junior. She already has broken the school’s all-time 3-point record. Johnson is a three-year starter, as is Walton, an honorable mention all-UEC pick last year. Robbins is in her third year on the varsity. “We are returning a strong senior class with a lot of experience on the floor combined with younger talent bringing intensity, speed and skill,” Miller said. Miller noted Glenbard South will be a top contender in the conference. “This year’s team has great potential to leave its legacy in girls basketball at Glenbard East. Keep on the lookout for them,” Miller said.
– Mike Miazga, Daily Herald
Coach: Eric Daca (third season)
Last season’s record: 25-6, 17-1 UEC champion
Top returners: Allie Mizwicki, sr.; Sofia Alcala, sr.; Brooklynn Moore, jr.; Jamie Mizwicki, so.
Key newcomers: Rheayanna Ferguson, so.; Molly Purse, so., 6-0, C; Kaitlin Erickson, fr., 5-4, PG
Worth noting: Allie Mizwicki and Moore were unanimous all-UEC picks. Jamie Mizwicki made the all-UEC team and Alcala was an honorable mention selection. Ferguson is returning from a season-ending knee injury and was the team’s starting point guard. “She is back on the floor and ready to play,” Daca said. “I’m excited to see how Rheayanna performs.” Daca has eight returning players, including five returning starters. “We have a team of athletic players that can play multiple positions and we have a deep bench that can help,” Daca said. Allie Mizwicki and Alcala have been on the team since freshman year and Daca has coached them since sixth grade as part of the Raiders feeder program. Daca said Glenbard East and Larkin will be teams to watch in the conference. “I believe we can be in contention for the top spot in the conference again,” he said. “Glenbard East will be a top contender with their main core of players returning and Larkin also has a young group of talented players.”
– Mike Miazga
Coach: Kristi Faulkner
Last season’s record: 21-11
Top returners: Sydney Nimsakont, sr., G; Carina Cudzillo, sr., C; Lauren Escalante, jr., G; Julia Benjamin, jr, F; Makenna Yeager; Mya Austin; Hannah Roberts
Key newcomer: Ellie Noble
Worth noting: The Hilltoppers suffered significant graduation losses, but the influx of players ready to take the next step along with newcomers is a good sign. Nimsakont is a three-level threat with her ability to shoot and penetrate. Escalante is a scrappy point guard who can get to the rim, while Benjamin, Yeager, Austin and Roberts will receive plenty of playing time. “We’re really excited for the season,” Faulkner said. “We have versatility to go with young talent, great leadership and a lot of heart on this year’s team.”
Coach: Erin Navolio
Last season’s record: 11-19
Top returners: Grace Dolan, jr., G; Maya Gin, jr., G; Julia Sherpitis, jr., G; Greta Dani, sr., F; Katherine Skinner, so., F; Luella Sheehan, sr.
Worth noting: The Red Devils return six players with varsity experience to go with four players who received playing time on the junior varsity. “We have a great group of hardworking and committed girls,” Navolio said. “Each of them has spent significant time during the offseason working on their individual skills. … This season we will continue to work on our defensive strategies, being patient with the ball and communicating on the court. We want to continue to grow into a more competitive program.”
Coach: Scott Tanaka
Last season’s record: 19-11
Top returners: Amelia Lavorato, sr., G; Amerie Flowers, sr., F; Maeve Savage, so., G/F; Hailey Goins, so., G.
Key newcomers: Brynn Diedrich, fr., G; Marit Haile, jr., F; Kallie King, jr., G; Kaleia Lin, so., G; Molly Curley, so., G; Alexis Kuhlman, so., G.
Worth noting: The Hornets have a good blend of experience and incoming youth, led by Lavorato. The senior point guard is a two-time all-conference player. Flowers, a Benedictine recruit, and Maeve Savage are key returnees. “We have great senior leadership this year and a ton of underclassmen that want to learn and get better,” Tanaka said. “All the teams in our conference will be a tough challenge, most notably reigning champions Downers Grove South and Willowbrook.”
Coach: Todd Fisher (fifth season)
Last season’s record: 15-17, 0-8 Metro Suburban Blue
Top returners: Allie Geiger, sr., F; Kelsey McDonough, sr., G; Analisa Raffaelli, sr., G; Maura Grogan, jr., F
Key newcomer: Mary Kate Hilgart, so., F
Worth noting: Fisher (456-235 in his coaching career) returns a strong nucleus from a team that won 15 games a year ago and advanced to a regional final. McDonough was an all-conference selection after averaging 9.5 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.2 assists and two steals. Geiger, who played in the Class 1A state tennis singles tournament this fall, averaged 10.1 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 3.3 steals. Raffaelli, another three-sport athlete at the school, averaged 9.2 points and 3.5 assists. Grogan averaged 5.3 points and five rebounds as a sophomore. “We return 10 players with varsity experience from last season and a lot of them have been playing together since their freshman year,” Fisher said. “They have been working hard and are determined to have a successful season.” The Knights are in their first season in the Girls Catholic Athletic Conference. “I’d like to think with our experience we can be contenders,” Fisher said. Fisher noted the team is loaded with multi-sport athletes who have experienced great success in their other sports. “We have a number of multi-sport athletes who have earned success in their high school career,” he said. “A number of players have had success in tennis, cross country, volleyball, softball, soccer and track and field at the state level.”
– Mike Miazga
Coach: Tracy Rainey
Last season’s record: 19-11
Top returners: Lexi Reyna, G, jr.; Gia Pontrelli, G, sr.; Magdelene Mikroulis, G, so.; Abbey Lakickas, C, sr.; Lauren Tracy, G, jr.; Leah Plahm, C, jr.
Key newcomer: Jess Winstrup, C, jr.
Worth noting: With the graduation of South Suburban Player of the Year Bella Kedryna, Lemont is looking to its varsity returners for a spark on both ends of the floor. “Lexi Reyna, Abbey Lakickas and Mags Mikroulis all have the ability to score inside and out and will hopefully use their varsity experience to their advantage,” Rainey said.
– Rob Oesterle
Coach: Meghan Hutchens
Last season’s record: 28-5, 12-0
Top returners: Nora Ezike, jr., G/F; Kennedy Wanless, sr., G; Elin O’Brien, sr., G; Emma O’Brien, so., G; Avery Mezan, so., G.
Key newcomers: Gwen Smith, so., G; Fiona Sullivan, so., G.
Worth noting: After an almost 30-win season, the Lions lost some key players who helped them to an undefeated showing in conference. The good news is Ezike is back. The 6-foot-2 junior is one of the top players in Illinois in her class with double-digit offers including Michigan, Kentucky and Illinois. Wanless and Elin O’Brien along with Emma O’Brien and Mezan round out a solid group of players with big goals. “This season will display our versatility in what players can show on the court,” Hutchens said. “Nora is ready to show off her game this season. She has worked incredibly hard in the offseason to build depth in her game. Kennedy Wanless and Elin O’Brien, although very different players, have proved to become solid leaders and consistent players on the court for us.”
Coach: Shannon Spanos
Last season’s record: 27-8, lost in Class 3A supersectional
Top returners: Victoria Matulevicius, sr., G; Alyssa Epps, sr., G; Shea Carver, jr., G; Jordan Mogilinski, jr., F; Lily Spanos, jr. G; Audrey Kinney, jr., F.
Key newcomers: Nikki Kerstein, jr., G.
Worth noting: The Broncos welcome back Matulevicius, a 1,000-point plus career scorer, to lead a team oozing with potential to make noise in the playoffs. Epps, an Illinois Wesleyan recruit, is also among the returnees. The big addition is the arrival of Deerfield transfer Kerstein. The junior is capable of playing both guard spots and her ability to score and push the pace will open up the floor for her teammates. “We have a number of juniors who have had a lot of playing time over the last two years, so that will make our bench very deep and strong,” Spanos said. “We will get points from a number of different players. We expect to play fast and score a lot of points.”
Coach: Logan Brown
Last season’s record: 9-21
Top returners: Aaliyah Knazze, jr., G; Vianey Gutierrez, jr., G; Allison Bonin, jr., F; Alicia Maciel, sr., F.
Key newcomer: Amira Harris, sr., G/F.
Worth noting: Knazze is back after leading the Mustangs in almost every major statistical category last season. Her presence and leadership at the point guard spot is a big key for the Mustangs. Gutierrez is another starter back with experience, along with Maciel. Bonin and Harris also are key players. “With three returning starters, we are looking to have a successful season,” Brown said. “I’m expecting our team to go out and compete on a night in and night out basis. I’m excited to see the combo of Aaliyan and Amira finally get to see the floor together. Both of them have the ability to change the outcome of the game with their play.”
Coach: Eddie Stritzel
Last season’s record: 35-1, Class 3A state champion
Top returners: Olivia Austin, sr., F; Amalia Dray, sr., G; Danni Scully, sr., F; Mary Bridget Wilson, sr., G; June Foley, sr., G.
Key newcomers: Sophia Towne, fr., G; Sam Austin, fr., G/F; Jane Manecki, so., C; Stella Sakalas, so., G/F; Lyla Shelton, so., G; Allia Von Schleggell, jr., G.
Worth noting: The Roadrunners are stacked and experienced – two traits that should lead to another long playoff run – with almost the entire rotation committed or receiving offers or college interest. The senior group of Austin (Dartmouth), Dray (Boston College), Scully (Ohio) and Wilson are looking to add to the Roadrunners’ trophy case. The Roadrunners have a number of young and talented players that will push for playing time. “We have good team chemistry with multiple years of state experience and depth,” Stritzel said. “We expect to get better throughout the season and compete at a high level.”
Coach: Jordan Mack
Last season’s record: 11-19
Top returners: Emily Organ, sr., G/F; Niamh Larson, sr., G/F; Mayan Corvarrubius, sr., G; Alyssa Morris, jr., G.
Key newcomer: Arianna Hudson, so., G/F.
Worth noting: The Bulldogs bring back some veteran leadership to raise expectations for a winning season and to compete in the Metro Suburban Conference. Organ led the Bulldogs in points and rebounds last season. ”Emily will anchor our offense and defense,” Mack said. “We are led by a strong core of seniors, but we also expect returning junior Alyssa Morris and newcomer Arianna Hudson to provide some big roles. Our strength this season will be our transition offense and chemistry on and off the court. Hopefully, this can propel us to success in late February.”
Coach: Jeff Gerdeman (10th season)
Last season’s record: 17-15, 6-2 Metro Suburban Red champion
Top returners: Riley Austin, jr., G-F; Lynsey Cleveland, sr., G-F; Natalie Doyle, sr., G-F; Molly Quinn, sr., F; Tea Rubino, jr., G; Dolly Smith, sr., G; Steph Sullivan, sr., F
Key newcomers: Arianna Naples, jr., G; Marianna Golden, jr., F; Mia Quartanta, so., G; Ashley Powell, so., G-F; Megan Maertens, so., F
Worth noting: Smith, a four-year varsity player, was the team MVP last year after leading the Spartans in assists. Cleveland was named most improved. Austin was an all-MSC Red selection after averaging 10 points and leading the team in steals. Doyle earned all-conference honors and led St. Francis in rebounds. Rubino was yet another all-MSC Red pick, averaging 10 points. She led the team in 3-pointers. Sullivan was one of the team’s top reserves. Naples is a transfer returning from injury. “We had a great summer and first week of practice,” Gerdeman said. “I am impressed by the team’s athleticism and hard work, as well as greatly improved coachability, comradery and unselfishness. We’re hoping to use team speed, determined effort and athleticism to dictate a fast pace. This is probably our most skilled team and best-shooting team in the last four years.” Gerdeman said he’s assembled a tough nonconference schedule to challenge the team, plus St. Francis is now in the Girls Catholic Athletic Conference White Division. “We anticipate each division game to be a battle, regardless of whether it is ACC, De La Salle, ICCP, Resurrection, Rosary or St. Francis,” he said. Austin and Rubino were the top two scorers as sophomores last year.
Coach: Jill Groenewold (sixth season)
Last season’s record: 20-9, MSC Blue champion
Top returners: Taylor Parker, sr.; Andrea Stob, sr.; Sami Drye, jr.
Worth noting: The Trojans lost a bunch from last year’s team – six contributing players to be exact – including all-state award recipients Grace Roland and Maddie Drye. Seniors Parker and Stob will anchor the team, along with second-year starter Drye. “The rest of the roster will be grounded in many younger players who bring a lot of enthusiasm and quickness to the team,” Groenewold said. “We’re excited to start the season. Much of our success will depend on solid defensive efforts and playing an up-tempo game while understanding key situations in games. The three returning starters will be asked to contribute heavily in leadership and in the scoring column.” The Trojans are part of the newly formed Chicagoland Christian Conference “where we hope to be competitive,” Groenewold said.
– Mike Miazga
Coach: Tyler Bantz (second season)
Last season’s record: 16-15
Top returners: Sara Abdul, jr. G, 5-3; Zoey Bohmer, F, sr. 5-11; Mira Spillane, sr. G, 5-11
Worth noting: The Falcons bring back a lot of experience and scoring from last season. Abdul, now in her third season, averaged 14.9 points and 3.2 steals a game last year. Bohmer averaged 10.5 points and 5.3 rebounds. Spillane scored 7.3 points a game. Guard Eden Pearson, who graduated, was a defensive force on the floor, so how she is replaced will be something to watch.
– Jacob Bartelson
Coach: Kasey Gassensmith (first season)
Last season’s record: 8-24
Top returners: Brooke Ittersagen, jr., G, 5-7; Emily Troia, jr. G., 5-5; Hannah Struebing, sr., G, 5-7
Key newcomers: Ashlyn Adams, jr. G, 5-6; Abby Keighron, so., G, 5-4
Worth noting: There is a new look on the Wheaton Warrenville South bench. Longtime coach Rob Kroehnke retired after 33 seasons. Gassensmith, a former Tigers standout and previously an assistant coach, takes over the program. The Tigers return four of their five starters from last season and expect to have some good bench production as well. Ittersagen, Troia and Struebing are all veteran pieces on the varsity and bring a solid mix of shooting and athleticism. Team chemistry is expected to be a strength moving forward.
– Jacob Bartelson
Coach: Daniel Bannon
Last season’s record: 14-17, 8-4
Top returners: Elle Bruschuk, sr., G/F; Tia Kelly, sr., G.
Key newcomers: Ayanni Gusman, jr., G; Kendall Medinger, jr, G; Joelly Maciewski, so., F; Lorali McIntyre, jr., F.
Worth noting: The Warriors don’t have a wealth of returnees, but bring back Bruschuk, a Wright State recruit. The four-year varsity starter is coming off a big junior season after leading the team in almost every key statistical category. Kelly is the other key returnee. “We’re very excited about the upcoming season,” Bannon said. “We have a very athletic, competitive and positive group of juniors this year. They’re eager to learn, compete and get better. Strong defense will be our foundation this season. This will be a fun group to watch develop alongside the growth and leadership of Elle Bruschuk.”
Coach: Brandon Collings
Last season’s record: 25-7, 12-2
Top returners: Stella Kohl, sr., G; Hannah Myers, sr., G; Anna Filosa, jr., G; Mia Barton, sr., G/F; Mia Pretzie, sr., G.
Key newcomers: Olivia Silkaitis, so., F; Avery Larma, fr., G/F; Ellie Kehoe, so., G/F; Cate Carter, fr., G; Amelie van Heukelum, so., F.
Worth noting: Kohl, who signed to play soccer with Loyola, and Myers, a DePauw recruit, are among the most experienced returnees. A four-year varsity player, Kohl has a wealth of big-game starting experience. Meyers is a returning team captain who averaged nine points a game last season. Filosa is back after averaging six points a game last season. “We’re returning three very talented players from last year’s team, but we will be very inexperienced after that,” Collings said. “Our success will depend on the strides that our six underclassmen make throughout the season.”