As exciting as the 2011-12 season was for Aurora Central Catholic Chargers -- 25 wins, a fourth-place finish at the Class 2A state tournament, first Aurora team to make it to state -- the team didn't waste any time turning the page to the next chapter.
When Aurora Central returned from state, coach Mark Fitzgerald had T-shirts to hand out that said "Tradition Never Graduates." So even though the Chargers lost four starters from that team including Jackie Cardona, the second-leading scorer in school history, Fitzgerald wants his team to set their goals high again.
"It is my hope that the work of my excellent staff of lower level coaches as well as several talented underclassmen will help us to continue our surge," Fitzgerald said.
While the Chargers need to fill shoes of a tough inside game Ashley Wilk and Katilyn Rosa, Cardona's versatility and the shooting of Tesa Alderman, Fitzgerald does have senior captain guard Alex DeCraene, senior captain guard Lisa Rodriguez and sophomore guard Gabi Alfaro back from the state team.
The Chargers will look to newcomers Kalie Soris, a sophomore guard, sophomore forward Natalie Droeske and Alex Horton, a sophomore forward/center, to make an immediate impact. They'll need to replace 57 percent of last year's scoring and 72 percent of the rebounding.
"While these are tremendous losses we are still extremely optimistic that the 2012-13 version of Chargers basketball will be very competitive," Fitzgerald said. "We will be returning two outstanding starters from last year's team in captains Lisa Rodriguez and Alex DeCraene and the talented sophomore Gabi Alfaro who logged a lot of minutes last season appearing in 32 games."
Both Horton and Droeske are 5-foot-11 sophomores, and juniors Jennifer Alderman and Maggie O'Brien will provide more depth.
The Chargers face another challenge moving up to Class 3A this year.
"This will put us back in competition for postseason advancement with the likes of perennial conference powerhouse Montini and two-time 2A state champion Quincy Notre Dame who was also moved up," Fitzgerald said. "Add a very strong Kaneland team and we will have our work cut out for us.
"This year's team will be extremely quick and we must be aggressive to make up for a lack of varsity experience."
Coach: Mark Fitzgerald
Last year: 25-8
Key players: Alex DeCraene (sr., G), Lisa Rodriguez (sr., G), Gabi Alfaro (so., G)
Skinny: A new cast tries to keep the Chargers rolling