The IHSA girls basketball season is underway. Here’s a look at the DePue, Earlville, LaMoille and Henry-Senachwine/Lowpoint-Washburn girls basketball teams:
DePue Little Giants
Coach: Gilbert Moreno, (fourth season)
Last season record: 8-11, 1-7 Little Ten
Top returning players: Emily Marquez (sr., F); Veronica Fitzgerald (jr., G); Lupita Hurtado (sr., G)
Top new players: Nancy Puga (so., G); Daisy Lopez (sr., F/G)
Worth noting: Marquez is a three-year competitor for DePue who plays hard under the basket, while classmate Hurtado has also been involved with the program for a trio of campaigns and is a fast guard who is a tough defender, according to Moreno. Fitzgerald has competed for two seasons and possesses a fine amount of speed at the guard position. Moreno will rely on the three veteran girls to lead the way for a team that has just 11 players in the program. “We hope to keep growing even with the low number of girls,” Moreno said. “But the key this year is to stay healthy.” DePue will also bank on newcomers Puga and Lopez. “Puga is a fast, hard worker and will fit in with the other guards … and Lopez is a good athlete that will fit in on top and down low,” Moreno stated. The Little Giants will open the season Nov. 19 at LaMoille.
Earlville Red Raiders
Coach: Brandon Skolek (third season)
Last season’s record: 14-10, 6-2 Little Ten
Top returning players: Mady Olson (jr., G); Nevaeh Sansone (jr., F); Lexie Campbell (sr., G)
Top new players: Jessie Miller (fr., G)
Worth noting: Earlville has just nine players on its varsity roster after having lost four starters, including school all-time leading Elizabeth Browder (1,171 pts.) to graduation after the 2021-22 campaign. “Any year after losing Elizabeth Browder … it’s going to be tough,” Skolek said. “Our numbers are lower than we would like, but we have talent returning this year that played a lot of big minutes last year.” That includes Olson, who has been the Raiders’ starting point guard in each of her first two prep seasons. “Mady is a talented point guard who has been a consistent piece of our team so far in her career,” Skolek said. “We expect big things from her this year as she takes a step up after losing Elizabeth and the rest of the good group of seniors we had.” Sansone and Campbell also figure to contribute in pivotal roles, while freshman Miller has impressed Skolek so far in practice during her first year on the prep level. “We will ask Jessie to play a big role immediately as the season gets ramped up,” Skolek said. “We expect this team to compete every night, play tough defense and play hard, smart basketball.” Earlville opens its season Nov. 14 in Aurora at Illinois Math and Science Academy.
Coach: Melissa Dever (first season)
Last season’s record: n/a
Worth noting: This will be LaMoille’s first season of girls hoops since the 2019-20 season when they finished 2-27. It did not field a team during the COVID-19 2020-21 spring season and did not have enough numbers last year. … This year, there are eight girls out — juniors Donna Sloan and Natalie Wamhoff, sophomores Dakota Coffman, Jenna Pinter and Sadie Quest and freshmen Grace Kelly, Ella Ryan and Taylor Wamhoff, who have the most recent basketball experience having played eighth-grade ball last year. … The Lions will play an abbreviated schedule. … Dever, the former Melissa Rotramel, attended LaMoille through her sophomore year before transferring to Princeton. She was a freshman coach at Princeton in 2015-16.
Coach: Erik Greenwood (fourth season)
Last season’s record: 17-10, 8-4 Tri-County
Top returning players: Laney Lester (sr.); Mckayla Frawley (sr.); Kaitlyn Anderson (so.,; Lauren Harbison (so.); Dapheney Kessling (jr.)
Top new players: Rachel Eckert (fr.); Taylor Frawley (fr.); Brooklyn Thompson (fr.); Desiree Couve (so.)
Worth noting: The Mallards return five players who saw significant playing time last season. Greenwood describes Lester as a “good defender and rebounder,” while Frawley is expected to have a bigger scoring role. Anderson and Harbison will step into the starting lineup and Greenwood said will be “a big part of what we do,” and Kessling will provide hustle and defense off the bench. Offensively, Greenwood said the team’s strengths are “up in the air,” but he expects a solid inside scoring presence from Lester and Anderson. “The strengths of our team are going to be our team speed and defense,” Greenwood said. “We are very young as a group and our inexperience will affect us. However, this group works hard and is excited to begin the season.” The Mallards are counting on Lester and Mckayla Frawley, the team’s only seniors, to provide leadership. “Our goal this season is to improve and win games we should win,” Greenwood said. “I’m excited to develop this group and hope we improve dramatically over the course of the season.”