Girls Basketball

2021-22 The Herald-News girls basketball preview capsules

Southwest Prairie

Joliet Central

Coach: Laura Brumfiel

Last season’s record: 10-3

Top returning players: Nylah Davis, jr.; Lovely Tua Link, sr.; Joyce Tua Link, jr.; Lillian Luongsomkham, sr.

Top new players: Mekiyah Davis, jr.; Mahogany Frazier, sr.; Miyah Gooch, jr.; Diamond Samuels, so.; Karyssa Stewart, jr.; Amya Taylor, so.; Arika Taylor, jr.; Aubrey Weems, so.

Worth noting: There’s no question that Joliet Central’s team was senior dominated last season, but coach Laura Brumfiel feels that her group has the potential to surprise some that look past her group.

“This [season] our team will surprise some people. We lost a lot of seniors last [season] but we have a lot of good returners and experienced newcomers,” Brumfiel said. “We have a group of ladies that work extremely hard and strive to get better every single day.”

Joliet West

Coach: John Placher

Last season’s record: 14-1

Top returning players: Destiny McNair, jr. (G, 5-9); Miranda Rosales, jr. (F, 5-10); Caiside Snapp, sr. (G, 5-6); Lisa Thompson, jr. (G, 5-9); Grace Walsh, sr. (G, 5-9).

Top new players: Brook Schwall, so. (C, 6-1);

Worth noting: Walsh and Thompson should make for an absolutely dynamic combo atop the Tigers lineup. Walsh, an Air Force commit, averaged 16 points a game last season, while Thompson is drawing major Division I interest after earning first-team All-State honors a season ago while averaging 21 points a game. McNair also was an All-Conference selection last season.

“We have a lot of experience and talent returning,” Placher said. “It will be an exciting season for the Tigers this year.”

Minooka

Coach: Jeffrey Easthon

Last season’s record: 5-9

Top returning players: Makenzie Brass, so. (F, 5-10); Bri Simmons, sr. (C, 6-0).

Top new players: Kennedi Brass, so. (G, 5-7).

Worth noting: Minooka has to rebuild much of its lineup with just two regulars returning to the fold. But the Indians do have some size, and both Makenzie Brass and Simmons averaged about six rebounds per game last season.

“We are an athletic group of girls who play 2 or 3 sports,” Easthon said. “We look forward to competing in every game and we will see where that takes us. You can see in the first couple of weeks of practice that our girls will work hard.”

Plainfield Central

Coach: Armond Frazier

Last season’s record: 7-6

Top returning players: Grace Bardachowski, sr. (F, 5-9); Aaliyah Frazier, jr. (G, 5-7); Chrissy Frazier, sr. (G, 5-8).

Top new players: Alex Patch, sr. (C, 6-0).

Worth noting: The Wildcats will lean heavily on Aaliyah Frazier, an All-Area player in 2021 and lone returning starter.

“We lost 4 starters from last year and we are a much smaller, but faster team,” Armond Frazier said. “I expect my team to play hard and compete, which will give us a chance to win in most games.”

Plainfield East

Coach: Tony Waznonis

Last season’s record: 1-12

Top returning players: Taylor French, sr. (G, 5-11); Lexis Sepulveda, so. (G, 5-9); Jocelyn Trotter, jr. (G, 5-9).

Top new players: Triniti Jenkins, sr. (G, 5-4); Morgan Stephens, so. (F, 5-10).

Worth noting: Plainfield East is a young group, but has a nice foundation of scoring with French (12.2 ppg last season) and Sepulveda (9 ppg as a freshman) to build upon.

“We are a young team that will play a lot of sophomores and juniors,” Waznonis said. “However, we are athletic and energetic, and will be up-tempo and exciting. We expect to come together as the season goes along, and be competitive every game and be our best at the end of the season.”

Plainfield North

Coach: Michaela Reedy

Last season’s record: 10-4

Top returning players: Yasmine Bryant, jr. (G, 5-7); Sophia Charbonneau, jr. (G, 5-4); Ruby Davis, jr. (F, 5-10); Savannah DiMarco, jr. (G, 5-6); Jessica DiMartino, jr. (G, 5-4); Mary Henry, sr. (G, 5-9); Jayln Patterson, sr. (F, 5-11); Lexi Salazar, jr. (G, 5-7).

Top new players: N/A

Worth noting: The Tigers have a solid returning group, but most of their success will hinge on whether or not Patterson can continue to post the huge numbers she did as a junior.

Plainfield South

Coach: Larry Lanciotti

Last season’s record: 2-10

Top returning players: Keagan Mele, sr. (G, 5-5); Grace Harris, sr. (G, 5-7); Ciara Miller, sr. (G, 5-7); E’Brina Smith, sr. (F/C, 6-0).

Top new players: Jazlyn Foster, so. (F/C, 5-11); Destynia McGruder, so. (F/C, 6-1); Ashley Mezewich, so. (G, 5-7), Demi Page, so. (G, 5-10).

Worth noting: Lanciotti takes over the helm after being an assistant coach for the last three seasons. The Cougars return three starters from last season and add further with the return of Harris, who sat out last season with an ACL injury.

“We are young and athletic, but with new coach we are still learning and growing,” Lanicotti said. “We are looking to be competitive this season after a down year last year.”

Romeoville

Coach: Devin Bates

Last season’s record: 4-9

Top returning players: Alina Anderson, sr. (F); Maya Edrada, jr. (G); Emily Gabrelcik, so. (G); Genesis Sanchez, sr. (C).

Top new players: Tykara Harrison, sr. (G); Fafali Hodogbey, jr. (F); Laila Houseworth, so. (G), Jadea Johnson, so. (G).

Worth noting: Romeoville returns about 22 points of offense from last year, led by the 9 point a game average posted by Anderson. But the Spartans believe they added a solid running mate for Anderson in Plainfield Central transfer Harrison.

“After a 4-9 finish to the 20-21 basketball season, the new look Spartans add a dynamic player in Tykara Harrison to pair with Alina Anderson as a strong 1-2 punch,” Bates said. “These two girls will lead a group of promising athletes into a season with the team mentality being ‘one game at a time.’ This group is really embracing the tough competition and good teams they will run into during the 21-22 season.”

SouthWest Suburban

Bolingbrook

Coach: Christopher Smith

Last season’s record: 10-3

Top returning players: Yahaira Bueno, so. (G, 5-6); Miranda Fry, sr. (F, 5-8); Trinity Hill, sr. (G, 5-3); Jasmine Jones, so. (F, 5-10); Kennedi Perkins, sr. (G, 5-4); Angelina Smith, so. (G, 5-9); Tatiana Thomas, sr. (F, 5-11), Persais Williams, so. (G, 5-8); Kendall Winston, sr. (G, 5-6).

Top new players: Jonniyah Akins, fr. (G, 5-5); Tahj-Monet Bloom, so. (C, 6-3); Leya Ellis, fr. (G, 5-3); Michelle Thomas, fr. (G, 5-3).

Worth noting: Bolingbrook looks to have the components in place to have a very strong season. A pair of returning seniors, Tatiana Thomas and Perkins, should provide the leadership necessary to help the other Raiders along until they acclimate to the varsity level of play. There are a number of underclassmen on the roster that have lots of potential to blend in.

Lincoln-Way Central

Coach: Dave Campanile

Last season’s record: 11-5

Top returning players: Nicole Connolly, sr. (F, 5-8); Sydney Gehrke, sr. (G, 5-9); Azyah Newson-Cole, jr. (G, 5-7);

Top new players: Kiera Hunt, jr. (G, 5-4); Angelina Panos, so. (F, 5-9).

Worth noting: It will largely be a new-look team for the Knights as they graduated eight seniors. As such, a large contingent of sophomores will get an opportunity to log heavy minutes. Two experienced starters do return and junior Newson-Cole will be asked to fill the leadership void left by the large quantity of graduated players.

“Inexperience will hurt us early, but we will be dangerous late due to our athleticism,” Campanile said. “Guard play will be our strength and expect to be able to score better than previous years. We hope to win our first conference title in over a decade, as we were very close to doing so last season and hope to win our first regional since 2008.”

Lincoln-Way East

Coach: Jim Nair

Last season’s record: 1-11

Top returning players: Maggie Grady, sr. (F, 5-8); Hailee Marek, sr. (G, 5-5); Hayven Smith, so. (F, 6-5); Sanai Tyler, jr. (F, 6-1).

Top new players: Lana Kerley, so. (G, 5-10); Morgan Montaque, jr. (G, 5-9).

Worth noting: The Griffins are hoping to turn the corner from a rough season last year and will have the benefit of a significant size advantage over most foes. Rapidly improving sophomore forward Smith, at 6-5, provides quite the post presence while Tyler, at 6-1, is the team’s leading returning scorer.

“The key will be how the team comes together and plays team defense against the tough SWSC Blue,” Nair said. “It will be interesting to see which guards step up throughout the season.”

Lincoln-Way West

Coach: Ryan White

Last season’s record: 13-3

Top returning players: Ava Gugluizza, jr. (G, 5-6); Evan Pittman, sr. (F, 6-2); Allie Wondrasek, sr. (F, 5-9).

Top new players: Caroline Smith, fr. (F, 6-1); Natalia Dynia, jr. (G, 5-6).

Worth noting: Lincoln-Way West took some hits from graduation but still has the nucleus to be a solid team. Guard play is covered with both Gugluizza and Wondrasek (who fired in 36 3-pointers as a junior), and the low block should also be handled rather well once Pittman returns from an ACL injury she suffered in the spring. Smith should add even more depth to the frontcourt ranks.

“With the experience we have coming back from last season, I think we can be very competitive in conference and beyond,” White said.

Lockport

Coach: Dan Kelly

Last season’s record: 10-8

Top returning players: Charlotte Fahrner, sr.; Eiizabeth Sochacki, sr..

Top new players: Patricijia Tamasauskas, jr.

Worth noting: The Porters will lean heavily on an experienced group of guards, especially early on, to lead the way. Sochacki and Fahrner should log plenty of minutes and provide a large chunk of the offensive productivity.

“We expect to have a lot of depth and a balanced offensive attack,” Kelly said. “We hope to play fast to utilize our depth. Our conference is always challenging and we expect to be pushing toward the top of the standings.”

GCAC

Joliet Catholic

Coach: Kaitlyn Williams

Last season’s record: 4-11

Top returning players: Lanie Czerkies, jr. (G, 5-5).

Top new players: Anna Godina, so. (G, 5-6); Layla Pierce, so. (G, 5-6); Faith Pietras, so. (C).

Worth noting: First-year coach Williams believes her team has solid offensive balance that will make the team difficult to defend and feels her team will create extra opportunities with a defensive effort that could force turnovers and lead transition points for the Angels.

“My expectation for these girls is extremely high,” Williams said. “But I know we have the right team to meet them.”

Providence

Coach: Eileen Copenhaver

Last season’s record: 11-6

Top returning players: Gabi Bednar, so. (G, 5-6); Megan Duzansky, sr. (F, 5-9); Kelly Knight, sr. (G, 5-3); Annalise Pietrzyk, jr. (G, 5-9);

Top new players: Laurelei Thormeyer, sr. (G, 5-6).

Worth noting: Providence had a perfect 10-0 record in conference play last season and has an experienced roster back in the hopes of duplicating that feat. The Celtics return four starters led by all-conference performers Pietrzyk and Knight and should be anchors for a deep and experienced team.

“We have 4 returning starters, 8 seniors and talented underclassmen, who will be challenged to mesh their experience to tackle our difficult schedule,” Copenhaver said.

South Suburban

Lemont

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 returning seniors, 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.

Illinois Central Eight

Coal City

Coach: Brad Schmitt (19th season)

Last season’s record: 4-6

Top returning players: Molly Stiles, sr. (F, 5-8); Audrey Cooper, jr. (G, 5-6); Magen Planeta, sr. (G, 5-5); Mia Ferrias, so. (G, 5-9); Kerigan Copes, jr. (G, 5-6); Abby Gagliardo, so. (F, 5-8); Mackenzie Henline, so. (G, 5-6); Makayla Henline, so. (G, 5-6)

Worth noting: Coal City is without an obvious big-time scorer as it starts the season, but Schmitt believes he has multiple players who will be able to assume a role and excel in that spot. ... “We have some young, athletic girls who will need our juniors and seniors to bring them along,” he said. “I think we will score by committee as we don’t have a true 15-points-a-game scorer at this time, but we do have numerous girls who are capable of scoring points each night in various ways.” ... Junior point guard Cooper and seniors Stiles and Planeta will need to step into leadership roles this season for the young Coalers.

Peotone

Coach: Steve Strough

Last season’s record: 10-2

Top returning players: Madi Schroeder, so. (G, 5-10); Mady Kibelkis, jr. (G, 5-8); Jenna Hunter, jr. (F, 5-10); Danielle Piper, sr. (G, 5-5); Marissa Velasco, jr. (F, 5-11)

Top new players: Addie Graffeo, so. (G, 5-5); Ashley Renwick, so. (F, 5-7)

Worth noting: Peotone’s projected starting five is made up entirely of players with previous varsity experience and will look to improve upon a successful campaign during the spring’s shortened season. ... “Bench development and building depth will be key for the Blue Devils as they move through the season,” Strough said. “We have high expectations this season and we are equipped with a team that has demonstrated a lot of versatility in practice. The girls really enjoy playing with one another.”

Reed-Custer

Coach: Shelby Zwolinski

Last season’s record: 6-5 overall

Top returning players: Sylvia Crater, sr. (G, 5-5); Emily Lochner, sr. (G, 5-6); Adrionna Williams, sr. (F, 5-7); Brooklyn Harding, jr. (PG, 5-4)

Top new players: Haley Buchanan, sr. (F, 5-5); Alice Jonasson, sr. (G, 5-6); Addison Harms, jr. (G, 5-1); Caelan Cole, jr. (G, 5-4); Samantha Sprimont, jr. (F, 5-5); Laci Newbrough, jr. (F, 5-9); Mya Beard, so. (G, 5-5); Kaylee Tribble, so. (F, 5-10); Madison Keenan, so. (F, 6-0)

Worth noting: Reed-Custer finished last season in the middle of the conference pack and graduated eight seniors who held key roles on the team. Zwolinski calls this season’s team a great group of returning seniors and juniors that is ready to battle. ... Harding will step into a key role for the Comets and should thrive as a strong perimeter shooter, while Williams, Newbrough and Sprimont will earn their stripes in the paint. ... “This season we are ready to leave it all on the court,” Zwolinski said. “No matter the outcome.”

Wilmington

Coach: Eric Dillon

Last season’s record: 2-8

Top returning players: Anna Liaromatis, sr. (G, 5-7); Breanna Horton, jr. (G, 5-6); Kaitlynn O’Donnell, jr. (G, 5-6); Alexa Clark, jr. (G, 5-5)

Top new players: Lexi Liaromatis, so. (G, 5-6)

Worth noting: The Wildcats are looking to show progress following the spring’s shortened season. Wilmington fielded a young squad and fatigue was a factor because of most of the team playing up a level as freshmen and sophomores. ... Despite having much of its roster playing both varsity and JV games, the ‘Cats were able to end the spring season on a high note with a rivalry win over Reed-Custer. ... “We are looking to show the conference that Wilmington should be a respected opponent and not one to be taken lightly,” Dillon said. “With a guard-heavy roster, we’ll be looking to play fast and get up and down the floor for an exciting style of play.”

Interstate Eight

Morris

Coach: Luke Windy

Last season’s record: 4-12

Top returning players: Savannah Hernandez, Moriah Mayberry, Alexxis McKerrow, Bridget Pellens, Maddy Shannon, Addison Stacy, Libby Wright.

Top new players: Makenna Boyle, Sophie Hipes

Worth noting: Morris is tasked with rebuilding its starting lineup as only Shannon returns as a starter from last season averaging five points and three rebounds a game in her role last year. She’ll be asked to take on a larger role while Boyle, Stacy, Mayberry, McKerrow and Hipes hopefully quickly adjust to getting more minutes. Offensive firepower is an issue for Morris heading into the season, but Windy is hopeful his team’s work ethic will eventually net more opportunities and improvement as the season goes along.

Tri-County Conference

Dwight

Coach: Chuck Butterbrodt

Last season’s record: 6-6

Top returning players: Kassy Kodat, so.; Mikayla Bregin, jr.; Niomza Asllani, so.; Skylar Horrie, jr.

Top new players: Lily Duffy, fr., Brooke Vigna, sr.

Worth noting: Dwight is switching conferences this season as it has moved from the now-defunct Sangamon Valley Conference to the Tri-County Conference. It will be an inexperienced group that makes the change, as the Trojans graduated five seniors and returns just one starter in Kodat. A number of players that earned varsity time last season will be expected to take on larger roles. Vigna, a transfer, should be able to contribute to the cause, while freshman Duffy will likely be added to the mix immediately.