Top returning players: Lenee Beaumont, jr., (G, 6-0), Morgan Demos, sr., (C, 6-2), Margaret Temple, sr., (G, 5-11)
Top new players: Emma Webb, sr., (G, 5-11), Olympia Kokkines, sr., (G, 5-11), Samantha Trimberger, jr., (F, 6-0), Emilia Sularski, so., (G, 5-11), Magdalena Sularski, so., (G, 5-10)
Worth noting: Benet won the East Suburban Catholic for a fourth year in a row and returns a trio that includes Beaumont, who holds offers from multiple Big East, Big Ten and SEC schools – including Tennessee – and Demos, who is committed to the U.S. Naval Academy, giving the Redwings a highly formidable inside-out combo. Benet was reassigned to Class 3A, but petitioned the IHSA and will remain in Class 4A, Kilbride said. Kilbride said Benet has good length and should shoot the ball well. “We’re working hard, day by day, brick by brick,” he said. Kilbride said teams to keep an eye on in the ESCC are Carmel, Marist, Nazareth and St. Viator. The Redwings are 190-27 with four sectional titles and two state titles (three trophy finishes) in Kilbride’s seven seasons. Benet has one alum playing professionally (Kathleen Doyle in Turkey), plus 12 girls on college rosters, including seven at the Division I level.
Downers Grove North
Coach: Stephen Bolt (10th season)
Last season’s record: 10-3, 5-1 WSS (co-champion)
Top returning players: Kate Gross, sr. (G, 5-10); Ryann Wendt, sr. (G, 5-11); Ella Sebek, sr. (G, 5-6); Eleanor Harris, sr. (C, 6-1); Vanesa Linge, sr. (C, 6-0); Kyla Wilkerson, sr. (G, 5-6); Maggie Fleming, jr. (F, 5-10)
Top new players: Hope Sebek, so. (G, 5-7); Kaitlyn Parker, so. (G, 5-8); Lillian Boor, so. (F, 5-10)
Worth noting: Behind its stifling defense, Downers Grove North has posted a record of 60-19 over the past three seasons. That includes a trio of top-3 finishes in conference, with the Trojans winning a share of the title last year. The team accomplished that without a senior on the roster and was set to bring back eight players with vast experience before losing junior Violet Mitchell to a torn-ACL. Gross (8 ppg last season) and Wendt (11 ppg, 6 rpg) are four-year varsity players while the other five, including Harris (6 ppg, 6 rpg) enter their third seasons. ”It will be a fun experience to be able to coach these girls in a full season for their senior year,” Bolt said. “They are such a close-knit group and it will be fun to see how great they can become by the end of the season.”
Top new players: Na’Kiyah Robertson, jr. (F/C, 6-0); Kaitlyn Vincent, jr. (G, 5-6).
Worth noting: Downers Grove South begins life without Meghan Stapleton (now at Loras), a four-year varsity player who went over the 1,000-point plateau last season while averaging 17 ppg. Also graduated is Ashley Lang, now playing at Augustana. But the Mustangs do bring back eight players from a year ago, including Petring, an all-conference selection last season. Eslit joins Petring in the backcourt while newcomer Robertson gives the team a scoring option in the paint. With a group of athletic players, creating turnovers on defense will be key along with limiting them on the offensive end. ”With the shortened season last year and some new girls,” Long said, “our early season games will be a wake-up call in terms of what we have to work on.”
Coach: Nicole Miller (15th season at school, 25th year coaching)
Top new players: Ashley Bylsma, sr. (G, 5-5); Jasmine Dhamers, jr. (G, 5-6); Bella Lee, jr. (F, 5-10); Gabby Walton, soph. (F, 5-10)
Worth noting: The Rams lost 12 players to graduation from last spring, notably Glenbard East’s all-time leading scorer Lauren Huber. “We have a lot of new players to varsity – 10 to be exact – so we are excited to see their debut on the court,” Miller said. “The girls are fast and athletic. It is hard to tell what we have until we get some games under our belt.” Glenbard East opens the season at its own annual District 87/Rachel Bach Tournament Nov. 20-23.
Coach: Eric Daca (first season)
Last season’s record: 10-6 overall, 8-1 UEC
Top returning players: Amelia Lake, jr. (G, 5-7); Brittany Miller, sr. (F, 5-9); Allie Mizwicki, so. (G, 5-7)
Top new players: Bailey Cloutier, sr. (F, 5-9); Brooklynn Moore, fr. (C, 5-10)
Worth noting: Daca takes over for Morgan Eufrasio, who guided the Raiders to two Class 3A state tournament appearances (second in 2019, third in 2018) and amassed a 109-33 record in five seasons. Eufrasio resigned earlier this year to spend more time with her family. Daca is not a stranger to the Raiders, having coached at the JV level for the past few years. He also spent five seasons as the sophomore boys basketball coach at Romeoville. “We have an all-new coaching staff,” said Daca, whose team lost all-state guard Lauren Cohen to graduation. The Raiders placed second to Bartlett in the UEC race last spring.
Coach: Kristi Faulkner (fifth season)
Last season’s record: 9-7, 2-4 WSS (fifth)
Top returning players: Emmie Roberts, sr. (G, 5-4); Sophia Brown, jr. (G, 5-8); Kennedy Brandt, jr. (G/F, 5-10); Mackenzie Cater, jr. (G/F, 5-9); Anastasia Andrianopoulos, jr. (G/F, 5-8); Allie Murphy, so. (G, 5-8)
Top new players: Julia Benjamin, fr. (5-6 G); Hannah Roberts, fr. (5-8 G)
Worth noting: Glenbard West, which has four straight winning seasons under Faulkner and five overall, brings back virtually its entire roster from last season, though returning starter and captain Kendall Walch is out with a knee injury. Roberts, Brown and Cater all enter their third year on the varsity, with Loyola-bound (for soccer) Roberts an all-conference selection last season and Brown the team’s returning leading scorer. Brandt, Andrianopoulos and Murphy will also play key roles for what should be a balanced offensive squad. ”We are really excited for the season,” Faulkner said. “We have versatility, young talent, great leadership and a lot of heart on this year’s team.”
Worth noting: Hinsdale Central took a big step forward in last year’s shortened season and with a strong core returning could take another this winter. The Red Devils bring back a host of productive players, with six who are entering their third year on the varsity. Monyek averaged 14.3 points and 7.9 rebounds a game last season. Randle, Sarros and Howe all averaged around 6 ppg with Sarros also leading the team in rebounding. Blessed with good team speed, the team is placing an emphasis on defense. ”We are looking forward to a full season and showing growth in all phases of the game,” Persinger said. “We play in a great conference and we want to go out each night and compete at a high level.”
Worth noting: In rebuild mode the last couple of seasons, Hinsdale South looks to make a jump this winter behind an experienced group of players. The Hornets feature a smaller roster but only lost two players to graduation from a year ago. Patoni and Baranauskas enter their third year of varsity basketball while Lavorato and Flowers both saw action as freshmen in the shortened last season. ”We have a great group of girls returning for the Hornets this year,” Tanaka said. “They care, they work hard and they want to get better each and every day.”
IC Catholic Prep
Coach: Todd Fisher (third season)
Last season’s record: 9-5 overall, 9-3 in conference
Top new players: Allie Geiger, so. (F, 5-11); Kelsey McDonough, so. (G, 5-5); Frances Cook, sr. (G, 5-5)
Worth noting: The Knights graduated stars Gia Gaudio and Alia Johnson, but the cupboard is far from bare. Wagner is a four-year starter and sophomores Raffaelli, Geiger and McDonough are poised to make a major impact. ICCP will host a Thanksgiving tournament with Timothy Christian. Sixteen teams will participate, including Marian Catholic, Niles North, Rosary, Reavis and DePaul Prep. “We’ve had some great practices, but for us, it’s taking the next step for a lot of these players,” Fisher said. “We’ve got a hungry bunch of kids who want to do well.”
Coach: Tracy Rainey
Last season’s record: 6-7
Top returning players: Bella Kedryna, jr. (G, 5-9); Brooke Panush, jr. (F, 5-10); Kaya Stropus, sr. (G, 5-8); Jackie Wenci, sr. (G, 5-8)
Top new players: Abbey Lakikas, so. (F, 5-10); Lexi Reyna, fr. (G, 5-4)
Worth noting: Lemont has a great foundation to build on with seven seniors returning, several of whom have been regular contributors. Stropus should lead the way after averaging nearly 15 points and also leading Lemont in both rebounds and steals. Kedryna was an all-conference performer as a freshman and is looking to bounce back from injury. Lemont also doesn’t lack for size with a number of players standing 5-foot, 10-inches or taller.
Coach: Meghan Hutchens (fourth season)
Last season’s record: 13-3, 5-1 WSS (co-champions)
Top returning players: Ally Cesarini, jr. (G, 5-8); Izzy Lee, sr. (F, 6-0); Hailey Markworth, sr. (G, 5-10); Olivia Mezan, sr. (G, 5-7); Ella Ormsby, jr. (G, 5-8)
Top new players: Elin O’Brien, so. (G, 5-10); Kennedy Wanless, so. (G, 5-7); Nora Ezike, fr. (F, 6-1); Anna Bryant, sr. (C, 5-10)
Worth noting: After finishing as the runner-up in the conference in 2019-20, Lyons Township grabbed a share of the WSS title last season. The Lions graduated a strong senior class, which included 16 ppg scorer Lindsey Hahn, but return a talented group. The roster is headlined by Winona State-commit Markworth and University of Missouri-St. Louis-commit Mezan along with Cesarini, Lee (U of I soccer commit) and Ormsby. Balance is a definite strength of the team with contributions expected from a whole host of players, both on the perimeter and in the paint. “I’m honestly so excited for our kids this season,” Hutchens said. “They have the chance to play again in front of their family and friends, compete against teams in and out of our conference and play LT basketball.”
Coach: Shannon Herold (second season)
Last season’s record: 6-9, 2-8 GCAC Red (sixth place)
Top returning players: Shannon Blacher, jr. (G/F, 5-11); Victoria Matulevicius, so. (G/F, 5-8); Sawyer White, sr. (G, 5-8); Samantha Mogilinski, sr. (G, 5-7); Maren Hoovel, jr. (G, 5-8); Alyssa Epps, so. (F, 5-9); Riley White, so. (G, 5-5).
Top new players: Shea Carver, fr. (G, 5-8); Audrey Kinney, fr. (F/G, 5-8).
Worth noting: The Lady Broncos were extremely young during last school year’s shortened season, with zero returning starters from the previous season. Montini finished 6-9 but showed significant improvement toward the end of the season. “The positive to last year was that the young team was able to get significant playing time which should pay dividends this year,” Herold said.
Blacher, who averaged 13.4 points and 7.9 rebounds as a sophomore, is a potent offensive player with the ability to score around the basket and shoot 3-pointers, and is a good rebounder and long and active defensively. Matulevicius, a crafty scorer and playmaker, averaged 14 points and 6.6 rebounds as a freshman and received international experience this summer playing for the U-16 Lithuanian national team at the FIBA Championships in Spain. Sawyer White is in her fourth varsity season, and like Blacher brings experience from Montini’s 2019 state team. Epps and Riley White received a good deal of playing time in the shortened season and will be counted on for contributions. Carver and Kinney lead a strong freshman class and both will see plenty of action.
Coach: Kristeen Anthonsen (third season)
Last season’s record: 0-10, 0-6 WSG (seventh)
Top new players: Aaliyah Knazze, fr. (G, 5-2); Vivian Tapia, sr. (G, 5-6)
Worth noting: Morton features another large roster this season, with 16 players on the team. The Mustangs have many new faces who will be expected to contribute this year. One of those is Knazze, a freshman point guard who will be looked at to handle the ball and also score. Another is Tapia, who didn’t play last season, but will have a major scoring role. The team doesn’t possess a lot of size so using their speed and quickness will be key as well as limiting turnovers on offense. ”Our team has versatile players that like to get out in transition and push the pace,” Anthonsen said.
Coach: Eddie Stritzel
Last season’s record: 8-4, 4-3, East Suburban Catholic
Worth noting: Nazareth returns its top eight players from last season. “We should be one of the top teams in the Chicago area,” Stritzel said. “We are young, but we have lots of experience with the COVID year. I’m impressed with how multidimensional we are. We can play multiple styles.” Dray was all-ESCC as a freshman after averaging 10 points a game. Carstensen also averaged 10 points, while Scully averaged 8 points and Workman averaged 6 points. Workman is committed to the University of Chicago. “Other kids are being highly recruited by numerous Division I schools,” Stritzel said. Austin averaged 6 points, while Wilson averaged 4 points. Stritzel said Nazareth, Benet, Marist, Carmel and St. Viator should all battle for the ESCC championship.
Coach: Jeff Gerdeman
Last season’s record: 10-6 overall, 9-4 in conference
Top returning players: Lauren Bruce, sr. (G, 5-7); Katie Anne De Craene, sr. (G/F, 5-9); Sara Dziengel, sr. (F, 5-9); Dolly Smith, so. (G, 5-4)
Top new players: Katherine Lilly, jr. (F, 5-10); LeAnn Ringsrud, jr. (G/F, 5-6); Natalie Doyle, so. (G/F, 5-6); Halle Rubino, so. (F, 5-6)
Worth noting: After a late-season call-up to varsity her freshman year, De Craene returns as a senior captain. “She excels on both ends of the floor. On offense, Katie can score from inside and out; on defense, she can guard any position,” Gerdeman said. “The key to our season will be how quickly and how well we can generate team chemistry,” Gerdeman added. “If the first week of practice is any indication, we could surprise a lot of our opponents. We are looking to play up-tempo on both offense and defense, which should be fun for the girls to play and fans to watch.”
Coach: Jill Groenewold (third season)
Last season’s record: 14-2 overall; 10-2 in conference
Top returning players: Maddie Drye, jr. (G, 5-9); Grace Roland, jr. (C, 6-1); Tegan Gunn, sr. (G, 5-4); Ella Vander Molen, sr. (G, 5-6); Cailey Schuurman sr. (F, 6-1)
Top new players: Sami Drye, fr. (G, 5-6); Mili Martens jr. (G, 5-5)
Worth noting: “All my 6-footers are gone,” Groenewold said with a laugh. That includes Greta Hoogstra, who is playing volleyball at Colgate, and Hannah Schuringa, who averaged 20 ppg last year and is playing at Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights. Maddie Drye said the example those players provided are already paying dividends. “They were just good all-around people,” she said. “Me and some of the other girls were able to see their example of how hard they played and use that and have another great season.”
Coach: Thomas White (second season)
Last season’s record: 0-13 overall, 0-11 in conference
Top returning players: Jordan Karesh, sr. (F, 5-7); Dieillza Dalipi, jr. (C, 5-10); Jillian Mackinnon, jr. (G, 5-5)
Top new players: Payeton Pickens, fr. (G, 5-5); Dasha Savchuk, fr. (F, 5-6); Evalise Papish, so (G, 5-6); Danielle Hoover, fr. (F-C, 5-8)
Worth noting: It was a tough go of it in White’s first season. Not only was there the COVID-19 pandemic to contend with, the team only had seven players. But things are looking up. First and foremost, he said, “we’re excited to have 14 players which allows us to scrimmage and have subs and play an energetic style.” Karesh is a four-year player who has played every position for the Sentinels. Expect to see her at all five again this season, but start at small forward. Papish transferred in from Morton.
Top newcomers: Sara Abdul, fr. (G, 5-7); Zoey Bohmer, so. (F, 5-11); Eden Pearson, jr. (G, 5-8)
Worth noting: The Falcons graduated a group of seniors that went 72-26 over their four-year careers. Wheaton North will look to contend behind returning four-year year varsity starters Hyde and Gaither. Hyde and Gaither have been top players in the DuKane Conference throughout their career and it’s expected they’ll help usher in the newest era of Falcons. Hyde, last year’s DuKane Conference Player of the Year, is a four-year varsity starter who averaged 20.1 points as a junior and made 54 3-pointers at a 38.5% rate. “The Falcons have some young talent that will continue to improve as the season progresses. Freshman Sara Abdul and Sophomore Zoey Bohmer will look to be key contributors to the Falcons,” Eaton said.
Wheaton Warrenville South
Coach: Rob Kroehnke
Last season’s record: 9-8
Top returners: Lily Huntzinger, sr (G, 5-9).; Hannah Struebing, so. (F, 5-10)
Worth noting: WW South will be looking to build upon a steady season with a team headlined by DePauw recruit Huntzinger. Struebing, Campbell Bastian, Farrell and Economos will be key contributors for a team looking to make a splash in conference play. “[We have] good experience returning and promising newcomers. [We are also] looking forward to a full schedule,” Kroehnke said.
Coach: Terry Harrell (13th season)
Last season’s record: 14-2, 6-0 WSG (champions)
Top returning players: Sophie Sullivan, sr. (G, 5-7); Cali Kenny, so. (G, 5-10); Elle Bruschuk, so. (G, 5-11); Sara Stout, jr. (F, 5-10)
Top new player: Hannah Kenny, fr. (G, 5-8)
Worth noting: With two conference championships in the past three years, Willowbrook is clearly a program on the rise. Despite the graduation of three-year varsity players Steph Dasbach and Grace Tumilty, along with Taris Thornton, the Warriors have the pieces in place to make another run. Leading the way is Sullivan, who averaged 15.6 ppg last season after transferring in from Montini. Cali Kenny burst onto the scene as a freshman and finished with a 22-point performance in the WSC championship win over Lyons and now her younger sister Hannah joins the team. Bruschuk will step into a starting role after being a key contributor off the bench. ”We are a very skilled and quick team,” Harrell said. “If we are able to compete on the glass consistently, we will be successful this year.”
Coach: Brandon Collings (fifth season)
Last season’s record: 12-2, 5-1 WSS (co-champions)
Top returning players: Mariann Blass, jr. (G, 5-8); Lizzie Baldridge, jr. (G, 5-9); Stella Kohl, so. (G, 5-10); Erin Powers, sr. (G, 5-8)
Top new players: Katie Sosa, jr. (G, 6-0); Hannah Meyers, so. (G, 5-6); Angelina Downer, so. (F, 6-1)
Worth noting: York looks to continue its run of success under Collings, which has included an overall record of 75-33 and consecutive conference titles in his four years as coach. But this Lady Dukes team will look vastly different after the graduation of back-to-back strong senior classes. The team returns only four players with varsity experience but one important one is Blass, who averaged 11.5 points while shooting over 40% from the 3-point arc last year. Point guard Baldridge will step into an expanded role after totaling 5.1 ppg as a sophomore as will Kohl (3.5 ppg) and Powers. ”We will be a very young and inexperienced team,” Collings said, “but we will be talented. We will be an extremely athletic team that will look to play at a fast pace at both ends of the floor.”