2023-24 Northwest Herald boys basketball preview capsules

Marian Central's Cale McThenia drives to the basket assigns DeKalb's Sean Reynolds  during a Central High School’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Boys Basketball Tournament game Friday, Jan. 13, 2023, at Central High School in Burlington.


Burlington Central

Coach: Brett Porto (15th season)

Last year’s record: 29-6, 16-2 FVC (champion)

Top returning players: Jake Johnson, jr. (F, 6-5); Caden West, jr. (G, 5-10); Myles Lowe, sr. (F, 6-7); Patrick Shell, jr. (F, 6-4); Lucas Lemon, sr. (G, 5-9); Aidan Wilson, sr. (F, 6-10); LJ Kerr, jr. (G, 5-10); Jordan Moore, jr. (G, 6-1); Logan Goff, jr. (F, 6-4)

Top new players: Patrick Magan, so. (F, 6-4); Benneck Braden, fr. (G, 6-2); Jake Boer, so. (G, 6-0); Jack Person, so. (F, 6-3); Stefan Meseldzida, so. (F, 6-2); Cash Cumpata, fr. (G, 5-10); Ryan Carpenter, fr. (G, 5-10)

Worth noting: The Rockets are 45-8 since joining the FVC in the 2019-20 school year and are three-time defending league champions. They are 43-2 over the last three seasons. … Northwest Herald Player of the Year Drew Scharnowski, a 6-9 forward, graduated and is playing at NCAA Division I Belmont. F Nic Gouriotis and Gs Matthew Lemon and Nolan Milas are the other notable graduation losses. … Johnson hit 57 3s to lead Central and is one of the area’s best shooters, hitting 87.5% of his free throws. West is the other returning starter, while Shell and Lowe had some time off the bench. … Porto is 296-117 at Central, his alma mater, an average of 21 wins a season (and the COVID-19 season of 2021 was half a season).


Coach: Adam McCloud (eighth season)

Last year’s record: 10-22, 7-11 FVC (eighth place)

Top returning players: Jake Hornok, sr. (G, 6-2); PJ Weaver, sr. (F, 6-2); Spike Boyd, jr. (G, 5-8)

Top new players: Ryan Elbert, sr. (F, 6-3); Justice German, jr. (G, 6-0); Jack Rocen, sr. (F, 6-1); AJ Berndt, so. (G, 6-0); Adam Bauer, so. (F, 6-5)

Worth noting: McCloud feels like the Trojans have good depth and a lot of players will see time. … Hornok hit 58 3s (shooting 41%) and averaged 12.5 points a game for C-G. He earned All-Area honorable mention. … Weaver and Boyd also bring experience back for the Trojans and each hit 39% on 3s. … C-G lost 6-6 Zach Bauer to graduation and 6-7 Reece Ihenacho, who is concentrating on track and field. Sophomore Adam Bauer will give C-G some height inside with his brother gone.

Crystal Lake Central

Coach: Dan Oziminski (first season)

Last year’s record: 7-25, 0-18 FVC (10th place)

Top returning players: Jake Terlecki, sr. (G, 6-2); Preston Mast, sr. (G, 6-2); Owen Kaiser, sr. (G, 6-2); Drew Welder, sr. (G, 5-9)

Top new players: Jackson Hopkins, jr. (G, 6-4); JJ Parrish, jr. (C, 6-8); Anthony Martini, jr. (G, 6-1)

Worth noting: Central has some good size and will rely on Terlecki, Mast and Hopkins for its scoring. … Oziminski says Welder and Kaiser “have proven they can have breakthrough moments and impact games for the Tigers.” … Oziminski was an assistant the last four seasons with Joe Capalbo. They switched roles this year. … Parrish is the grandson of the late Jerry Sloan, a Bulls great and a Basketball Hall of Famer after his many years coaching the Utah Jazz.

Crystal Lake South

Coach: Matt LePage (12th season)

Last year’s record: 25-9, 13-5 FVC (second place)

Top returning players: AJ Demirov, jr. (G, 6-0); Christian Rohde, sr. (F, 6-8); James Carlson, sr. (G, 6-6); CJ Regilio, sr. (F, 6-7)

Top new players: Colton Hess, sr. (F, 6-5); Tony Santarelli, jr. (G, 6-5); Michael Prokos, sr. (G, 6-1); Carson Trivellini, fr. (G, 6-1); Cooper Buelna jr. (F, 6-4)

Worth noting: The Gators won a Class 3A regional title, their first regional since 2002. Four starters, including four-year starter Cooper LePage (the coach’s son) graduated from that team, but the Gators have one of the FVC’s best players in Demirov and plenty of height. … Carlson, Regilio and Rohde all got minutes last season for a team that was second in the FVC. … Demirov is lightning-quick and averaged 15.4 points a game while hitting 46 3s. It is his team to run now in his third varsity season.

Dundee-Crown's Kali Freeman tries to drive to the basket under Prairie Ridge's Cade Collins during a Fox Valley Conference basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022, between Dundee-Crown and Prairie Ridge at Dundee-Crown High School in Carpentersville.


Coach: Lance Huber (21st season)

Last year’s record: 15-15, 8-10 FVC (tied for sixth place)

Top returning players: Zach Randl, sr. (G, 5-10); Kali Freeman, sr. (G, 6-1); Jude Arsenault, sr. (F, 6-3); Jared Russell, jr. (G, 5-11); Terrion Spencer, jr. (G, 5-10)

Top new players: Zion Jackson, jr. (G, 5-10); Hayden DeMarsh, jr. (F, 6-1); Andre Simpson, jr. (G, 5-7)

Worth noting: The graduation losses of 6-8 Kuba Senczyszyn (9.9 ppg., 7.7 rpg.) and 6-6 Tyler DiSilvio (9.7 ppg.) will hurt the Chargers most, as they were the top two scorers and rebounders. … Randl and Freeman are returning starters and played a lot as sophomores too. … Russell led the area in free-throw percentage (88.9%). He and Spencer also played key roles off the bench for the Chargers. … “Jude Arsenault will give us a little size, but we will need to play big as a team to make up for our loss of size,” Huber said. “I am confident the guys we have will play hard, smart and together and leave it all on the floor.”


Coach: Mike Featherly (fifth season)

Last season’s record: 17-17, 10-8 FVC (tied for fourth place)

Top returning players: Nick Louis, sr. (G); Daniel Luckett, sr. (G); Ryan Regalado, sr. (G); Adrian Ugochukwu, sr. (F); Luke Lacke, sr. (F); Elijah Dollete, sr. (G)

Top new players: Chayse Gray, jr. (G); Jaden Nelson, jr. (G); Ryan Prowicz, jr. (G)

Worth noting: The Whip-Purs will rely heavily on Louis, Luckett and Regalado, all third-year varsity players, as there will be a lot of new players stepping into integral roles. … “Practices have been competitive with great energy,” Featherly said. “This should be a competitive year in the Fox Valley Conference and we are hoping to be in the mix.”


Coach: Collin Kalamatas (first season)

Last year’s record: 22-11, 12-6 FVC (third place)

Top returning players: Ethan Blackmore, sr. (G, 6-0); Lucas Crosby, sr. (G, 6-2); Omare Segarra, sr. (G, 6-1); Carter Schaap, sr. (F, 6-4); Ryan Sweeney, sr. (F, 6-2); Bryce Walker, sr. (G, 5-9)

Top new players: Sheldon Aninagyei-Bonsu, jr. (F, 6-2); Jeff Cruickshank, sr. (G, 6-0); Logan Darragh, jr. (C, 6-6); Will Dillon, jr. (F, 6-3); Christian Wilson, jr. (G, 6-2)

Worth noting: The Red Raiders won a Class 4A regional title last season and have gone 104-43 over the last five seasons, 49-17 over the last two. … The Red Raiders graduated forwards Ian Ravagnie (12.8 ppg., 65 3s) and Noah Only (9.4, 65 3s), their two leading scorers. … Crosby, Blackmore and Segarra all started last season, and Walker likely would have started, but was recovering from a broken leg. … The Raiders may look simliar to last season when they often had different players lead them in scoring each night. Crosby (9.1, 43 3s) is their returning scoring leader. … Kalamatas takes over for Will Benson, who left Huntley after nine seasons to take the Stevenson job. Kalamatas, a 2005 Huntley graduate, coached Burlington Central’s girls for the last four seasons. … “The great part about this group is that we don’t rely on one person to do all of our scoring,” Kalamatas said. “We share the ball, spread out the scoring and really work hard to find the open man offensively.”

Jacobs' Ben Jurzak grabs Huntley's Bryce Walker\s arm as he drives to the basket during a Fox Valley Conference boys basketball game Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023, at Huntley High School.


Coach: Jimmy Roberts (11th season)

Last year’s record: 16-16, 10-8 FVC (tied for fourth place)

Top returning players: Ben Jurzak, jr. (G, 5-11); Treval Howard, sr. (G, 6-3); Emaan Thomas, jr. (G, 5-9); Max Fessler, sr. (G, 6-3); Mark Takasaki, sr. (F, 6-2); Nolan Roper, jr. (G, 6-2); Jake Bouchard, sr. (F, 6-4)

Top new players: Andrii Tymoshcuk, jr. (F, 6-5); Jordan O’Connor, jr. (G, 6-3); Cam Arthur, jr. (F, 6-4)

Worth noting: The Golden Eagles lost two of the best shooters coach Jimmy Roberts has had in his time at the school in graduated Brett Schlicker and Jackson Martucci. Schlicker hit 101 3s (11.7), Martucci hit 57 (10.7, missed nine games). They rarely missed from the free-throw line. … But most of their other top players return, led by Jurzak (10.1, 54 3s) and Howard. Emaan Thomas and Nolan Roper were on varsity as sophomores. … “We have experienced guards returning,” Roberts said. “Max Fessler will be a big contributor this year as a senior. We do have some size, we will need to replace the leadership void.”


Coach: Corky Card (first season)

Last year’s record: 13-19, 5-13 FVC (ninth place)

Top returning players: Marko Visnjevac, sr. (G, 6-0); Hayden Stone, sr. (F, 6-4); Marcus Honea, sr. (F, 6-4); Tyler Hurckes, sr. (G, 5-10); Kyle Maness, jr. (G, 5-10); Caleb Jett, jr. (G, 6-4); Carter Sites, jr. (F, 6-4); Adam Anwar, so. (F, 6-7)

Top new players: Marko Stojich, jr. (G, 6-0); Dylan Hurckes, jr. (G, 6-1); Adam Bronowicki, jr. (F, 6-3)

Worth noting: The Warriors won the most games they have since 2018 (19-10) and have most of their players returning. … The biggest addition is Card, one of the FVC’s winningest coaches in his 15 years at Prairie Ridge, where his teams were 251-182. He left Prairie Ridge in 2017, coached at Dunlap for four years and now returns to the area. … Visnjevac was one of the area’s best shooters at 16.7 ppg. and 79 3s. … Stone is a great leaper inside and Anwar got a lot of time as a freshman and could be one of the FVC’s best big men. … Jett also has size and was a starter last season.

Prairie Ridge

Coach: Ryan Smith (sixth season)

Last year’s record: 14-19, 8-10 FVC (tied for sixth place)

Top returning players: John Fuery, sr. (G, 6-3); Ben Gablenz, jr. (G, 6-3); Angel Rodriguez, sr. (F, 6-2); Owen Gray, sr. (F, 6-2)

Top new players: Eli Loeding, so. (G, 6-3); Sam Kirk, jr. (G, 5-11); Luke Muse, jr. (G, 6-0); Luke Vanderweil, so. (G, 5-10)

Worth noting: James Muse (14.6 ppg., 8.7 rpg.) was a three-year standout and a key graduation loss for the Wolves. Samuel Loeding (9.8 ppg., 37 3s) is another key loss. … Fuery (8.6, 56 3s) and Gablenz (8.0, 32 3s) were big contributors who are back. … Prairie Ridge made it to the last two Class 3A regional championship games, but came up short in both games. … Smith likes that the Wolves will be challenged right away at Geneva’s Bob Schick Thanksgiving Tournament. … “We have a lot to learn, but I am confident in who this group can become in February,” Smith said.



Coach: Brian Heidtke (first season)

Last year’s record: 6-22, 2-8 KRC (fifth place)

Top returning players: Adam Cooke, jr. (G, 6-2); Ryan Bennett, jr. (G, 5-11); Landon Crone, jr. (G, 5-8); DeAndre Keller, jr. (G, 6-1)

Top new players: Martin Quintero, sr. (G, 5-8); Gio Esquivel, sr. (G, 5-8); Coen Dacy, sr. (G, 5-11); Joseph Vasquez, sr. (G, 5-7); Gilberto Castaneda, sr. (F, 6-4); Tyler Rife, jr. (G, 5-8)

Worth noting: Heidtke takes over as head coach this season for the Hornets with Aaron Cruz as his assistant. … There are five seniors who did not play last season, so there will be some catching up to the speed of the varsity game for the Hornets. … Leading scorer Myles Brincks (13.8 ppg) graduated, but Cooke was second leading scorer at 11.0 and returns to lead the Hornets.


Coach: Mike Toussaint (13th season)

Last year’s record: 17-14, 8-2 KRC (second place)

Top returning players: Ben Person, sr. (G, 6-4); Kyle Patterson, sr. (G, 6-1); JT Schmitt, jr. (G, 5-11)

Top new players: Riley Johnson, jr. (G, 5-11); Jarrel Albea, so. (G, 6-0); Jayce Schmitt, so. (G, 6-0); Ashton Stern, so. (G, 6-3); Payton Fiene, sr. (F, )

Worth noting: The Skyhawks were hit hard by graduation with Dylan Schmidt, Jake Metze, Ian Boal and Jacob Welch, all three-year varsity starters, moving on. Schmidt was a 1,000-point scorer and an All-Area first-team player. … Person, Patterson and JT Schmitt played a lot in the rotation and will lead the Skyhawks. … Toussaint said Albea, a transfer from Zion-Benton, will make an immediate impact on both ends. … Toussaint thinks JT and Jayce Schmitt could be the first brothers backcourt Johnsburg has had. … Fiene missed his junior season with a broken leg from soccer and is back.


Coach: Adam Webb (second season)

Last season’s record: 1-31, 1-9 KRC (sixth place)

Top returning players: Drew Johnson, sr. (G, 5-8): Grant Aubry, sr. (C, 6-5); Derek Bibbings, jr. (F, 6-5); Hunter Vazzano, jr. (G, 6-1); Michael Kirchhoff, jr. (F, 6-2); Jett Lesiak, so. (F, 6-2)

Top new players: Ollie Nichols, so. (G, 5-9); Sam Vandello, fr. (F, 6-2)

Worth noting: The Indians struggled last season and avoided going winless late in the year with a victory over Richmond-Burton. … Webb likes that several players return with significant varsity experience. … Bibbings hit 39 3s last year and is a player Webb feels can have a breakout year. … Webb sees Vazzano and Kirchhoff as players who will make an impact for the Indians as well. … “Good things will happen when you bring an effort and want-to like this group of players does,” Webb said.


Coach: Rich Petska (first season)

Last season’s record: 8-22, 4-6 KRC (fourth place)

Top returning players: Jeff Barthel, sr. (G, 5-10); Deegan Cooley, sr. (G, 5-8); Dane Gardner, so. (G, 6-0); J.T. Groh, sr. (F, 6-0); Mason Kulidge, sr. (G-F, 6-1); Maddox Meyer, sr. (G, 5-10); Luke Robinson, so. (F, 6-4); Ryan Saranzak, sr. (G, 6-0); Tanner Thompson, sr. (F, 6-5); Ryan Wisniewski, jr. (F, 6-2)

Top new players: Luke Johnson, so. (G-F, 6-1); Jack Meyer, jr. (G, 6-0); Jace Nelson, fr. (F, 6-5); Gavin Radmer, fr. (G, 6-0)

Worth noting: R-B returns four starters from last season and is loaded with seniors in significant roles. … Maddox Meyer led the Rockets at 10.9 ppg. and hit 58 3s. … Petska takes over for Brandon Creason, who stepped down after 14 seasons to become an administrator in District 157. … “We are a veteran team with a lot of younger players filling many key roles,” Petska said. “Our senior guards are going to be the determining factor in our success this year.”


Coach: Ryan Starnes (second season).

Last year’s record: 10-21, 6-4 KRC (third place)

Top returning players: Spencer Cullum, sr. (F, 6-6); Keaton Perkins, sr. (G-F, 6-2); Trent Butler, sr. (F, 6-4); Sam Chapman, sr. (G, 6-1)

Top new players: Max Beard, fr. (G, 6-2); Collin Greenlee, jr. (G, 5-10); Tony Grzetic, jr. (F, 6-0)

Worth noting: The Blue Streaks bring back four veterans, led by Cullum, an All-Area second-team player, and add some new players who should help a lot. They should be a contender in the KRC. … Cullum is a third-year starter and has 865 career points. He averaged 15.7 points, 8.0 rebounds and hit 67 3s. … Beard and Greenlee will be threats from the outside, which should help open things up for Cullum, who scores all over the floor.

Woodstock North

Coach: Josh Jandron (first season)

Last season’s record: 16-15, 9-1 KRC (KRC champion)

Top returning players: Cade Blaksley, sr. (G-F, 6-4); Tyler Ward, sr. (F-C, 6-4); Trevor Mark, sr. (G, 5-11); Logan Schwoch, sr. (G-F, 6-2)

Top new players: Hayden White, jr. (F, 6-2); Elijah White, jr. (G, 5-10); Colin Brodzik, jr. (G-F, 6-2)

Worth noting: The Thunder had a great six-year run under former coach Dale Jandron, whose son Josh now takes over. North is two-time defending KRC champion. Josh Jandron is the Thunder’s career scoring leader at 1,113 points. … North graduated several of its top players, most notably All-Area first-teamer Cesar Ortiz, who was fourth in the area at 19.6 ppg. … Josh Jandron sees Blaksley as tough to defend no matter where he is on the court and the Thunder’s best offensive player. … Ward will be a defensive anchor for North.


Marian Central

Coach: Sean Stochl (first season)

Last season’s record: 14-19

Top returning players: Christian Bentancur, sr. (F, 6-5), Cale McThenia, sr. (G, 6-3); Braedon Todd, sr. (G, 6-0)

Top new players: Finn Pivnicka, jr. (F, 6-3); Derek Leitzen, jr. (F, 6-2); Quinn Brady, sr. (G, 6-2)

Worth noting: The Hurricanes have been building for three seasons with Bentancur and McThenia as their top players and now get to open in a new conference with them leading the way. … Bentancur will play tight end at Clemson in football; McThenia will play quarterback at Northern Iowa. Bentancur has 1,459 career points and a realisitic shot at reaching 2,000. McThenia has 982 to start the season and led the ‘Canes with 83 3s last season. They combined to average 40.5 points a game last season. … Stochl is a 2005 Marian graduate who takes over as coach now. … The Hurricanes are playing now in the Chicagoland Christian Conference, a 10-team league, after playing an independent schedule last season.



Coach: Rick Peterson (third season)

Last year’s record: 11-18, 4-2 NAC (third place)

Top returning players: Nolan Vanderstappen, sr. (F, 6-4); Ben Vole, sr. (G, 5-9)

Top new player: Fabien Carreno, so. (F, 6-2)

Worth noting: The Giants had their top finish last season since joining the NAC in 2007. … Parker Elswick (15.8 ppg., 75 3s) and Justin Gritmacker (13.7, 31 3s) were big graduation losses for A-H. … “We have just two returning boys with varsity experience, so we’re a brand new team,” Peterson said. “We’ve gotten better each year so far and I am looking forward to watching them grow, gain confidence and become better and stronger individuals.”