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2014-'15 Season Coverage
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Girls basketball: Scouting Northwest
 

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Girls basketball: Scouting Northwest
 

MID-SUBURBAN WEST

Barrington

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Coach: Babbi Barreiro (20th season)

Last year's record: 13-18, 4-6

Graduated players: K.D. Madden, Nicole Collins, Natasha Singh, Brooke Fanslow, Samantha Carmen, Abby Taplett

Returning players: Maddie Bartz 5-10 Sr. F), Emily Gerber (5-9 Sr. G), Kelly Hauser (5-6 Sr. G), Ashley Heine (5-5 Sr. G), Alexa Resch (5-10 Sr. F), Katherine Sodeika (5-9 Sr. G), Brooke Gunderson (5-10 Jr. G), Angie Kirchoff (5-10 Jr. G)

Newcomers: Aoife Callanan (5-9 Jr. G), Rachel Cheever (5-8, Jr. F), Cassidy Goldsmith (5-11 Jr. F), Carrie Madden (5-6 Jr. G), Bailee McDonald (5-10 So. F), Kelly Katis (5-5 Fr G), Bryanna Hopkins (6'0 Fr. F), Megan Talbot (6-0 Fr F)

Outlook: As she begins her 20th season, the dean of MSL coaches Babbi Barreiro welcomes back eight players from a year ago, including five who saw considerable playing time. Also, eight newcomers joining the squad, including three freshman. Barreiro, a former standout multiple-sport athlete at Elk Grove, has been pleased with what she has seen in the preseason. "They are working hard, competitive and seem to be learning how to work together," Barreiro said. "As you know, we view the season as a marathon and not a sprint, so it will take some time for kids to fall into their roles and that is just fine." Barreiro sees a very competitive MSL West. "I view our nonconference games to be competitive, too," she said. "The Bison Thanksgiving Tourney is always great competition and gives us a gauge right off the bat." Barrington has joined the Dundee-Crown Charger Classic over the Christmas break for the first time. "That will definitely be a lot of fun and great competition, too," Barreiro said. "As for the MSL West, we see no reason that we can't be in the hunt along with a few other teams. Fremd and Palatine should be pretty strong, but truthfully, I don't really see any 'down' team in the West division."

Barreiro likes the mix of her players' ages. "I think we will have some young players coming in that will be a great compliment to our returners," she said. "The key will be how well and how quickly they can adjust to life at the varsity level and to life with each other. So far they are working very hard and I love what I see. The conference will be tough this year, but we look to be in the thick of it. That is the goal for us every year and this year we are really looking forward to it."

Conant

Coach: Dan Travers (eighth season)

Last year's record: 9-19, 2-8

Graduated players: Allie Bauch, Alexis McCutcheon, Ashley Bartuch, Natalie Kutramanes, Barb Linderman, Brittany Hoffman

Returning players: Sidney O'Keefe (5-0 So. G), Morgan Retzer (5-8 Jr G), Sarah Mazurek (5-9 Jr. G), Katie Lomas (5-10 So G-F)

Newcomers: Nireet Dhillon (5-7 Fr G), Dee Dee Durr (5-10 So G-F), Sarah Manczko (5-11 Jr. F), Zades Lexi (5-6 So. G), Haley Anderson (5-11 So. F-C), Julia Catalano (5-7 Jr F), Lily Chavarria (5-6 So. G), Alissa Wachal (5-10 So. F)

Outlook: The Cougars are one of the youngest teams in the area. They do not have a senior on the roster (four juniors, seven sophomores and one freshman). Lomas (three double-figure scoring games as a freshman), Retzer, O'Keefe and Mazurek are the returning players. "We have several sophomores and freshmen who played on the sophomore team last year," said coach Dan Travers. "We have more depth than in the past and we're going to try to play more girls with a faster offensive tempo." Travers said the Cougars will have to play solid defense with zone traps or pressure man-to-man. Mazurek, who handled the point last season, will see more time on the wing so she can be more involved in the offense. Lomas has the ability to play inside or out on the wing which can create matchup problems for opponents, Retzer has improved her shooting touch so Travers hopes that can open up the inside for Wachcal and Anderson.

O'Keefe, Zades and Dhillon will operate at the point and look to push the ball up the floor. "I really like our quality of depth this year," Travers said. "Hopefully, we can sub more with very little or no drop off skill. We have a good range of inside and outside players which allows us to play a variety of different lineups." Travers believes he can stay competitive with a small or big lineup. "Coach Ron Theberge (assistant) and I are really excited about this team and the potential we have," Travers added. "We know it will be tough going against teams with more experience, especially in the MSL. But if the girls keep working to get better as individuals and as a team, we could make this an exciting season."

Fremd

Coach: Dave Yates (sixth season)

Last year's record: 22-6, 10-0

Graduated players: Jessi Wiedemann, Sarah Macius, Tiffany McKenzie,

Kara Kirchner

Returning players: Ashley McConnell (5-9 Sr. G), Catherine Ernst (5-7 Sr. G), Haley Gorecki (6-0 So. G-F), Emma Hanson (5-9 Sr. F), Sidney Sek (5-9 Sr. F), Marilyn Lortz (5-10 Sr. G), Bernie Williams (5-9 Sr. G-F), Shannon Wittel (5-10 Jr. F)

Newcomers: Ashanti Lewis (5-9 Sr. F), Hannah LaBarge (5-10 Jr. F), Erica Simios (5-11 Jr. F), Alyssa Wisniewski (5-9 Jr. F), Katie Zara (5-8 So. F), Emily Bieda (5-6 So. G), Erin Lenahan (5-10 Fr. F), Brianna Lewis (5-2 Fr G)

Outlook: Four starters return for the defending MSL West champs, who lost by only 1 point (52-51) in overtime to Rolling Meadows in the conference championship game. Mid-Suburban West "Player of the Year" Ashley McConnell (15 points, 3 assists, 3 rebounds, 2 steals) begins her fourth season in the Vikings' backcourt. She is being courted by numerous D-1 colleges. "Ashley's recognition speaks for itself," said Fremd coach Dave Yates. "She continues to get better every day and I am excited to see her continue to grow as a player this year," Another D-I prospect who returns is Gorecki, who averaged 13 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals. "Haley has tremendous college interest for a player so young," Yates said. "She had a great rookie campaign for us and I am excited to see her perform this season with some experience under her belt." Williams averaged 5 points and 4 rebounds as a starter last winter. "Bernie thrived in her role last year," Yates said. "She has put a ton of work into expanding her game. She led us in scoring multiple times this summer and I feel like she is excited to go out in a big way her senior season."

Lortz, who was an all-area setter for the Vikes' volleyball team, also returns to a starting role. "Marilyn was a rock last season," Yates said. "I really felt like she was an unsung hero for us last year. She is an excellent post defender and has expanded her offensive game over the off season." With the four starters back and seven of its top ten, Yates has plenty of experience returning for his sixth season. "This group has had a great couple of weeks of practice," the coach said. "A big positive with a veteran group returning is that they already understand the little things you work on all season long trying to get an inexperienced group to understand." Yates calls this his deepest team at Fremd. "They compete every day and our depth has created an atmosphere in which I really feel like we are getting better each time we step on the court," he said. "This group is excited for the season to begin and is very excited to have another strong season."

Hoffman Estates

Coach: Mike Nocella (sixth season)

Last season's record: 12-17, 3-7

Graduated players: Mary Pettit, Sara Burns

Returning players: Destinee Young (6-0 Sr. F), Becca Stoczynski (6-0 Sr. G-F), Tiffany Pitter (5-4 Sr. G), Shante Hill (5-7 Sr. G-F), Salena Martinez (5-4 Sr. G), Andrea Wolinski (5-6 Jr. G), Audreanna Luna (5-8 Sr. F)

Newcomers: Emmrose Garret (5-3 Jr. G), Sara Ishak (5-6 Jr. G), Mary Saitta (5-9 So. G-F), Kaela Worman (5-8 Jr. G-F), Rachel Mirabile (5-8 Sr. G-F), Miriah McIntosh (5-8 Jr. F), Andrea Wolinski (5-6 Jr. G), Audreanna Luna (5-8 Sr. F), Jackie Nailor (5-8 Sr. F), Banke Oginni (5-10 Jr. F)

Outlook: The Hawks feature one of the most formidable front lines in the area with Old Dominion recruit Young and all-area volleyball player Stoczynski. Young averaged 16 points and 11 rebounds as a junior while Stoczynski was the team's No. 2 scorer and rebounder. Young scored 20 or more points five times last season, including a season-high 30 against Addison Trail while Stoczynski clicked for a season-high 22 against Zion-Benton. "We have our two leading scorers and rebounders back from last season," said Hawks coach Mike Nocella. "We also have five girls who gained varsity experience last year. If we can put it all together we will be a force to reckon with." The Hawks finished third in the Elk-Grove-Lake Park-Hoffman Estates Thanksgiving tournament a year ago and were consolation champs in the Mundelein Holiday tourney before capturing the championship of the Bradley-Bourbannais Holiday tourney.

Palatine

Coach: Leslie Schock (fourth season)

Last year's record: 18-11, 6-4

Graduated players: Julie Johlie, Kaitlyn Burke, Laura Schweikert, Katelyn Mayer

Returning players: Nia Pappas (5-6 Sr. G), McKenzie Wiedemann (5-9 Sr G), Jamie Lloyd (5-8 Sr, F), Marissa Masini (5-9 Sr, F-C), Kendelle Springer (6-2 Sr, C), Morgan Radtke (5-8 Jr. G), Monica Masini (6-1 So. C)

Newcomers: Bridget Ryan (5-5 Jr, G), Erin Mayer (5-9 Jr, F), Kirsten Allen (5-6 Jr. G), Sami Heuertz (5-6 Jr, G), Morgan Gallagher (5-8 Jr, G), Rachel Fritz (5-8 Jr, F), Anna Wozniak (5-11 So, C), Carissa Molton (5-9 Fr, F)

Outlook: With co-captains Pappas (four-year starter) and McKenzie Wiedemann (three-year starter), the Pirates have a lot of experience leading the team this year. Pappas, who has committed to Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, has continued to improve and coach Leslie Schock believes the senior guard looks even more dominant as an offensive threat than last season when her 144 points were the most scored by any player inthe Mid-Suburban West. She averaged 14 points a game, including a career-high 26 in a 45-39 overtime win over Hoffman Estates. Pappas also rang up 22 with 6 3-pointers in a 39-27 win over Deerfield. Wiedemann has worked on her offensive skills in the off season and was one of the top defenders in the MSL last year. Schock said returning center Monica Masini had a great summer with her AAU team and has improved tremendously. "Also, by the end of last season Morgan Radtke was playing some solid minutes and will contribute even more this year," Schock added.

Newcomer Ryan is expected to provide a spark defensively and Allen, Heuertz and Lloyd will provide more of an outside threat than the Pirates had last year. Schock hopes Gallagher will be able to contribute returning from a knee injury at the end of her sophomore season. Also Mayer could get some solid minutes with her ability to rebound and get to the rim. Molton, Wozniak, Marissa Masini and Springer give the Pirates a little more size and strength inside than last year. Unfortunately, Fritz will be sidelined this year due to shoulder surgery. "But she is a positive, supportive addition to the team," Schock said. "We want to continue our tradition of playing hard-nosed man-to-man defense. We look to run in transition. We have more depth this year, more guards who can score, and more size inside. We will need to continue to improve fundamental individual skills while also coming together and executing on offense."

Schaumburg

Coach: Ashley Berggren (fifth season)

Last year's record: 15-14, 6-4

Graduated players: Aubrey Lopshire, Sam Mellert, Kelly Skorczewski, Alyssa Saklak, Jenna Gerber

Returning players: Riley Williams (5-6 Sr. G), Amanda Kelly (5-7 Sr. G), Carly Brossard (5-8 Sr. F), Melanie Tomaszewski (5-9 Jr F), Jasmine Bethea (5-7 Sr. G), Jada Blackwell (5-10 So G-F), Madison Laramie (5-9 So. G), Vicki Frullani (5-8 Sr. G-F), Jackie Gallis (5-8 Sr. G), Holly Giglio (5-10 Sr. F-C)

Newcomers: Melanie Meyer (5-11 Jr. F-C), Jasmine Garcia (5-3 Jr G), Brittany Reinhart (5-8 So. G), Taylor Helton (5-10 So. F-C), Dylan Yakich (5-3 Jr. G), Becky Carbonara (5-5 Jr G-F), Alyssa Pinones (5-11 Jr. F-C)

Outlook: The Saxons will be led by senior all-area guard Kelly (13.4 ppg, 3.3 steals), who has been a conference leader in steals and 3-point efficiency for three seasons. She will be complimented on the court by seniors Brossard and Williams (3.2 assists, 2.1 steals, 5.7 points) and junior Laramie, another 3-point shooting threat. Brossard is expected to provide leadership with a strong knowledge of the game. Blackwell (6.2 points, 2.2 rebounds) has the potential to be a top player in the conference with her versatility in the paint and consistent 3-point shooting. Tenacious defense will be Schaumburg's asset along with its arsenal of 3-point shooters. Unfortunately, junior Selena Pastor and sophomore Nina Nykaza will be sidelined with ACL injuries.

Berggren, a former standout forward for Barrington and all-American at Illinois (Big Ten Player of the Year as a junior), added that Reinhart should provide a spark off the bench, defensively and offensively. And Berggren will look to Meyer to provide some solid work on the boards. Berggren, who was a talented two-way player for the Chicago Force's women's football team this summer, has taken the Saxons from a 6-win season in her first year to a 15-14 run last season.

MID-SUBURBAN EAST

Buffalo Grove

Coach: Steve Kolodziej (first season)

Last year's record: 6-25, 2-8

Graduated players: Morgan Angotti, Becca Appelt, Emily Cho, Kelsey Meyer

Returning players: Carly Cheever (5-8 Sr. G-F), Bailey North (6-0 Sr. F), Amanda Salzman (5-5 Sr. G), Mary Zawlocki (6-0 Sr. F), Alyssa Mills (5-11 Sr. F), Kim Herzog (5-3 Jr. G), Julie Jambrone (5-4" So G), Courtney Meyer (6-1 Jr. G)

Newcomers: Sara Brawley (5-5 Jr. G), Angela Budimir (5-8 Jr. F), Bri Kolbus (5-5 So. G), Maddie Callahan (5-7 So. G), Stephanie Leitner (5-9 Jr. F), Kendall Marthaler (5-10 Jr. F), Natalie Dimitrov (6-0 FR F).

Outlook: With five returning seniors, the Bison hope to contend in the Mid-Suburban West under first-year coach Steve Kolodziej. "We will count on their leadership," Kolodziej said of North, Cheever, Salzman, Zawlocki and Mills. Mills, Zawlocki and North were key members of the Bison volleyball team which took second place in the MSL West and advanced to the regional championship. As a junior, North led the Bison in scoring and rebounding. The hardworking center also shot 81.6 percent from the free throwline (80-of-98).

"The girls have done nothing but work hard and buy in to what we are trying to do, Kolodziej said. "In order for us to be successful, we have to play great defense, rebound the basketball, and limit our turnovers." The rookie coach expects a balanced offensive attack. One of the strengths of our team is our depth," he added. "We have eight to ten girls who we will be rolling in and out and playing lots of minutes." North has been playing on the varsity since her freshman season. A strong rebounder and scorer, she scored in double figures 20 times as a junior, including a season-high 19 points against Maine West. Kolodziej, who quarterbacked Schaumburg to the 1999 Class 6A title game, has served as an assistant in the program for the past seven years and has taught match for the same amount of time. He studied the subject at Illinois State, where he was a scholarship football player.

Elk Grove

Coach: Kathie Swanson (first season)

Last years record: 14-14, 2-8

Graduated players: Maryanne Bartello, Liz Bowman, Claire Flood, Kathleen O'Brien., Lindsey Vaccarino

Returning varsity players: Diamond Boyd (5-10 Sr. F), Kari Czeszewski (5-7 Sr. G) Kelly Naughton (5-6 Sr. G), Stephanie Solis (5-2 Sr. G), Melissa Solorio (5-11 Jr. G-F), Taylor Brown (5-5 Jr. G), Amber Lindfors (6-4 So. C)

Newcomers: Isabel Velazquez (5-1 Sr. G), Yamilex Garza (5-5 Jr. G), Maddie Siebert (5-4 Jr. G-F), Majorie Sloan (5-5 So. G), Alex Masnica (5-5 Fr. G)

Outlook: As she begins her first season directing the Elk Grove program, former Libertyville coach Kathie Swanson gets a core group of players who have a lot of varsity experience and played substantial minutes together last year. "This is a talented and hardworking group of kids who have the potential to do a lot of good things," she said. "I have enjoyed working with them so far. They are very receptive to coaching and learning new things." Boyd returns after an all-area season in which the senior forward developed into one of the premier players in the area. She averaged 14.9 points, 8 rebounds, 2.2 steals and 1.2 assists. Boyd scored a season-high 24 points against Hoffman Estates.

Naughton, a defensive gem who enjoyed five double-figure games as a junior, including a season-high 21 against Glenbrook North, has committed to Division I Jacksonville State in Alabama. Lindfors showed superb promise as a freshman and Solorio produced multiple double-figure scoring games including a career-high 19 points against Harlan. "The challenge is taking the next step by developing more leadership and consistency in order to translate what we do in practice to games," Swanson said "If that occurs, I expect this team to be very competitive in the MSL East and try to go farther in the IHSA playoffs."

Hersey

Coach: Mary Fendley (15th season)

Last year's record: 16-14, 5-5

Graduated players: Jen Hall, Corinne Busby, Maggie Hogen, Erin Hartwig

Returning player: Renee Poulos (5-8 Jr. G-F), Morgan Harris (5-6 Jr. G), Alysia Zaucha (5-5 Jr. G), Meg Cerniglia (5-10 Sr. G-F), Erica Hill (6-0 Jr. C), Casey Weyhrich (5-5 Jr. G), Sara Bayerle (5-8 Jr. G-F), Ashley Raulli (6-0 Sr. C)

Newcomers: Lora Kelly (5-11 Sr. F), Bridget Kelly (5-10, Sr, F), Annie Korff (5-9 So. G), Sara Thompson (5-8 Jr G), Delaney Parker (5-5 FR. G), Maggie Berigan (5-11 Fr.)

Outlook: As she begins her 15th season, the dean of MSL East coaches Mary Fendley returns eight players who she says have great attitudes and good work ethic. "They work well together and communicate well on defense," said Fendley, a high scoring guard for Rolling Meadows High School where she also starred in swimming and softball. "We are hopeful that we can frustrate some teams with aggressive defense." The Huskies lost a lot of scoring due to graduation (especially guard Jen Hall and forward Maggie Hogen). Fendley believes the players in this year's group are eager to prove they can be go-to offensive threats. Poulos, Cerniglia and Raulli showed they are capable of scoring in double figures last season. Poulos had 10 points against Crane, Cerniglia connected for 11 against Crane and Willowbrook and Raulli netted 14 against Elk Grove. Cerniglia, a returning starter, is sidelined with a concussion and will probably not be able to start the season on time.

Prospect

Coach: Ashley Sandstead-Graham (first season)

Last year's record: 16-13, 7-3

Graduated players: Jessica Petrovski, Christian Brucci, Maura Benson

Returning players: Adriane Falagario (5-5 Sr. G), Michele Molini (5-6 Sr. G), Trisha Benson (5-10 Jr. F), Taylor Will (5-10 So. G)

Newcomers: Rachel Suarez (5-4 Sr. G), Kristen Frasco (5-2 Jr. G), Brooke Greco (5-7 Jr. G-F), Marissa Pacini (5-8, Jr. G-F), Catherine Sherwood (5-11 So. F), Christina D'Anza (5-11 So. F)

Outlook: Former Buffalo Grove all-state guard Ashley Sandstead-Graham takes over the reigns as the Prospect coach and welcomes back four girls who played key roles for the Knights a year ago. Will, an all-area selection, enjoyed one of the most productive seasons for a freshman in Prospect history. She was second on the team in every category with 9.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, 6.0 blocks, 1.5 assists, 1.3 steals and 68.5 percent at the free throw line. Will also shot the most free throws on the team (74-of-108). Molini was one of the top 3-point shooters in the Mid-Suburban League as a junior. She made 49 and converted 44 percent from the 3-point range and also averaged 10 points and 1.5 assists. Falagario made 21-of-22 free throws against Wheeling (75-70 overtime win) when she delivered a career-high 29 points.

"Our backcourt this year is going to be tough," Graham said. "Adriane and Michele bring a lot of returning varsity experience to the team and Taylor had a great freshman season last year." Benson provided inside scoring and rebounding off the bench a year ago. "The girls have done a great job learning our offensive and defensive systems and building on what we had implemented this summer," Graham said. "Our strengths of this team are going to be our ability to run the floor and play good hard-nosed defense. Overall practices have been very competitive and the girls have worked extremely hard." The rookie coach, who assisted hall of famer Tom Dineen at Stevenson the last three seasons, calls her first team a positive and fun group. "We are really looking forward to competing in the tough Mid-Suburban League," Graham said.

Rolling Meadows

Coach: Ryan Kirkorsky (first season)

Last year's record: 25-5, 9-1

Graduated players: Amanda Gunn, Josie Suchecki, Julie Unti, Ann Marie Lynch, Emma Simonson

Returning players: Morgan Keller (6-0 Sr C), Alexis Glasgow (5-11 Jr. G), Jackie Kemph (5-6 Jr. G), Jenny Vliet (6-2 Jr. G)

Newcomers: Sami Kay (5-5 Jr. G), Allie Kemph (5-6 Jr. G), Ashley Montanez (6-1 Jr. F), Katie Shewmon (5-11 Jr., F), Chloe Prodanovic (5-5 Jr. G), Elizabeth Vasilogambros (5-4 Jr. G)

Outlook: The Mustangs feature a new coach and familiar players. Ryan Kirkorsky takes over at Meadows after guiding Elk Grove the past four seasons. Kemph, the 2012 "MSL East Player of the Year", Glasgow and Vliet return after all-area seasons as sophomores when they helped lead Meadows to its first MSL crown in school history. "Obviously, our three returning juniors are very skilled and receive a lot of attention," Kirkorsky said. "But ultimately the key to our success will be the contributions of the other players on the roster." Keller, an all-area volleyball player, Montanez, and Shewmon are talented post players. Kay, Allie Kemph, Prodanovic and Vasilogambros are a good mix of guards who bring different strengths to the lineup. "Our players have high expectations, and we've discussed our goals, but our only concern is getting better each day in practice," Kirkorsky said. "Every game in the MSL is a battle, and our kids know that they are going to get the opponent's best every game. They are looking forward to that challenge."

Wheeling

Coach: Julissa Hernandez (third season)

Last Year's Record: 15-19, 5-5

Graduated Players: Kellie Kuzmanic, Leah Malsom, Dee Hanna, Cindy Salgado, Nia Evans

Returning Players: Deanna Kuzmanic (5-9 So. G), Brie Majkowski (5-10 Sr. F), Jessi Zuba (5-11 Sr. F), Elizabeth Smith (5-9 Jr. G-F), Hailey Dammeier (5-7 So. G-F), Hannah Dobrowski (5-9 So. G), Kaitlyn DeBusk (5-2 Sr. G)

Newcomers: Alanah Greenberg (6-1 So. C), Theresa Godlewski (5-7 So. G), Gianna Calistro (5-3 Jr. G), Caitlyn Slussar (5-2 Jr. G), Nicole Zlotnikova (5-3 So. G), Brittany Roman (5-10 Jr. F)

Outlook: After ending last season as one of the best Cinderella stories in IHSA history, Wheeling returns to take care of some unfinished business. "We got a little taste of what could have been last season and we are ready for more," said Wildcats coach Julissa Hernandez, whose Wildcats started the state playoffs at 10-18 and in a play-in game before missing a trip to the state finals by one win. The Wildcats have three returning starters from their sectional championship team which lost to Loyola in the Stevenson supersectional.

All-area and all-conference player Deanna Kuzmanic will lead the Wildcats again this year at the point guard position while captains Majkowski and Zuba will control things inside. Hernandez expects Dammeier to provide some offense and continue her solid defense after a year on the varsity. The coach said Smith and Dobrowski will look to break into the top five while newcomers Greenberg and Godlewski also can make an impact. "While we may look young on paper, under the leadership of Majkowski, Zuba, Kuzmanic and Smith, the team is ready to continue its hard work and commitment to defense," said Hernandez, a former standout point guard for Lake Park, who led the Lancers to a sectional championship her senior year. "Our team philosophies and pride on defense took us far into the tournament last season. We are excited to see where it takes us this year."

NORTHEASTERN ATHLETIC

Christian Liberty

Coach: Steve Rowland (fifth season)

Last year's record: 15-13, 2-5

Graduated Seniors: Jayna Rowland, Carly Baric, Megan Krizanovic

Returning Players: Shelbi Hernandez (5-11 Jr. C), Vivian Barclay (5-6 Jr. G), Megan Sullivan (5-5 Jr. G), Jessica Moriarty (5-5 So G)

Newcomers: Samantha Amedin (5-5 Fr. G), Jessica Brzeski (5-9 Fr. F). Vanessa Alas (5-3 Sr. G).

Outlook: One year after stepping down as the girls coach to help with the CLA junior varsity boys basketball team for one season, coach Steve Rowland returns. He will welcome back four starters. "So we will be an experienced team," he said. "We have both an inside and outside game with Shelbi (Hernandez) in the middle and three really good outside shooting guards." The focus, as always will be defense. "We want to clamp down on the defensive side of the ball," Rowland said. "We can score offensively but how we play defense will be a big focus for us this season." The Chargers are going to create a new attitude on defense. "I am really excited about these girls and their potential," Rowland said. "There is an intensity with this group this year that I haven't seen before. I'm looking forward to teaching and watching these girls play."

WEST SUBURBAN GOLD

Leyden

Coach: Drewann Pancratz (first season)

Graduated players: Jeanine Hannoun, Ruba Saleh, Josie Rojas, Ashia Driver, Andrea Genovesi

Returning players: Victoria Galizia (5-4 Sr. G), Stephanie Muralles (5-7 Sr. G), Kathy Wojtulewicz (5-9 Sr. F), Silivia Vasquez (5-7 Jr. G), Liz McCluskey (5-10 Jr. F)

Newcomers: Alyssa Aiello (5-7 Jr. G), Justyna Chojnowski (5-10 Sr. F), Jr. PG Renee Dionisio (5-5 Jr G), Norma Herrera (5-7 Jr. F), Jennifer Lazcano (5-7 Jr. F), Courtney Kost (5-7 Jr. G), Ashlee Wiggins (5-5 So G), Alondra Chavarria (5-7 So. G)

Outlook: Former Schaumburg High and Carthage College volleyball/basketball standout Drewann Pancratz takes over the Leyden program. Pancratz, whose mother Jeanette is the longtime successful volleyball coach at Schaumburg High School, said the Eagles are extremely excited about the upcoming season. "We had a very successful summer and we are looking to continue to build from there," said Drewann, a former guard and setter in high school and college. "Our team concepts and ability to work together have been our biggest strength thus far." Pancratz expects the four seniors on her first team to establish the foundation of the program. "Along with significant contributions from our juniors, we are expecting our two sophomores (Wiggins and Chavarria) to play a vital role in our team's success this year," she added.

CENTRAL SUBURBAN NORTH

Maine West

Coach: Derril Kipp (32nd season)

Last year's record: 13-17, 9-1

Graduated players: Amanda Hoye, Libby Krcik, Sara Stepanovich, Megan John

Returning players: Bridget Burger (5-4 Sr. G), Georgia Petersen (5-8 Sr. G), Taylor Iacullo (5-6 Jr. G), Ashley Collins (6-0 Sr. F), Brittany Collins (6-2 Jr. F), Lexi Prosperi (5-7 Jr. G), Samantha Whalen (5-10 Sr. F), Julia Huinker (6-3 Jr. C)

Newcomers: Kelly Adamek (5-8 Jr. F), Abby Herling (5-7 Jr. G), Paulina Kulikowska (5-7 Jr. G), Erin Ross (5-4 Jr. G), Tanja Vukasin (5-10 Jr F)

Outlook: The defending Central Suburban North champs appear set to make a strong bid for their 25th conference title under hall of fame coach Derril Kipp (733 wins). Last winter, Brittany Collins led West with 16 points and 11 rebounds per game and scored 105 points in one week, including a career-high 28 points against Maine East and personal high 18 rebounds against Niles West with 23 points. She had 23 double-doubles and is on track to become the school's all-time leading scorer. Among the D-I schools in pursuit are Colorado and St. Bonaventure. "Brittany is going to score a lot of points and gets a lot of rebounds," Kipp said. "People will really have to concentrate on her, She is one of the best players in state and I think she will prove to be one of the more highly-recruited kids in the area." And the Warriors have a solid supporting cast.

"We're faster and we've got more size than we've had," Kipp said. "It's just a matter of putting it all together." Kipp expects the Warriors to move the ball faster on offense with better passing and scoring chances. "We'll be better all around," he said. "We still play a horrendous schedule. Our first seven games are against top quality teams." Kipp also expects Ashley Collins (Brittany's older sister) to be a double-figure scorer. Prosperi started every game last season so Kipp is also looking for big things from her. Burger also saw starting time a year ago, filling in for Megan John (injury during second half of season). Vukasin and Ross were top players for the sophomore squad last winter and will compete for a starting role. "Both can score and do really nice things so we have better depth than last year, too," Kipp said. "Last season was Julia Huinker's first on the varsity and she has really improved and she is one of the taller girls in the area at 6-foot-3. I've been very pleased with what we've done in practice so we'll see what happens."

EAST SUBURBAN CATHOLIC

St. Viator

Coach: Christina Jost (first season)

Last year's record: 18-14, 3-7

Graduated players; Colleen Dunne, Annie Campbell, Katie Gavin, Lauren Rooney, Stephanie Mazanek, Mallory Hess, Morgan Hess

Returning players: Hannah Scheller (5-8 Sr. G), Erin Fabbri (5-8 Jr. G), Justice Johnson (5-10 Sr. F), Samy Stanley (5-7 Sr. F), Michelle Presslak (5-10 Sr. F), Jennie Horstmann (5-5 Sr. G)

Newcomers: Susie Moynihan (5-6 So. G), Kelsey Trimble (5-10 Jr. G), Didi Aburaad (5-5 Jr. G), Maddie McAteer (5-10 So F), Jessica Hohlweg (5-9 So. F), Colleen Dempsey (5-10 Jr. F)

Outlook: St. Viator is optimistic under first-year coach Christina Jost, who has been the head coach of the girls basketball programs at the University of the Ozarks and Northern New Mexico College the last six years. Many local fans will remember Jost as a four-year starting guard for Buffalo Grove High School and a softball catcher for the Bison. She also started at guard for four seasons at West Virginia Weselyan. The Lions will bring a strong commitment to a newly-established program. "I am thrilled about having the chance to join the St. Viator program and look forward to watching this program grow and prosper into the prominent contender I believe it can be." Jost said.

The Lions graduated seven seniors so it will be a new look as Jost welcomes back five seniors (Horstmann, Johnson, Presslak, Scheller and Stanley) to help fill those spots. "Jenny and Justice saw good minutes last year on the floor and we will look for them to build on that experience," Jost said. "Jenny has great range and we'll look to Justice to control the boards for us. I think Michelle is going to surprise a lot of teams this year with her talent on the blocks, while Samy and Hannah bring a strong leadership and work ethic that we want our seniors to have." The Lions also have a talented junior, Fabbri, who was an ESCC All-Conference selection a year ago. "Erin is a talented wing with an uncanny sense to find the ball off the rim or loose balls on the floor," Jost said. "She's a tremendous young lady, who I feel has the ability to help lead our team to much success this season."

The Lions' junior class also includes Abudaard, Dempsey and Trimble. "Didi does a nice job of seeing the floor and setting up her teammates for success. Kelsey has great range and anticipates well on the defensive end, while Colleen will provide us with solid play at the post." Sophomores Hohlweg, McAteer and Moynihan will be looked upon to contribute solid minutes this season. "Our three sophomores will be asked to provide our team with big play this season, which I believe all three are very capable of, Jost added. "Jess, Maddie, and Susie have been working extremely hard since day one and I'm excited about watching them grow within our program the next three years." The Lions face a challenging schedule but look forward to the competitiveness of the ESCC. "I've always believed that to be the best, you have to go up against the best, and I feel we'll have the opportunity to do that this year," Jost said. " I'm excited about what our team is capable of this season and am anxious to see us make big strides this year." Jost wants to establish a first class program that is about defense, rebounding, and scoring the basketball. "We hope to stay fundamentally sound defensively, while causing teams to turn the ball over and holding our opponents to one shot possessions," she said. "Offensively, we're about scoring the basketball and to do that, we want to be patient, make every possession count, and commit to taking care of the basketball."

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