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2013-'14 Season Coverage
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Girls basketball: Scouting the MSL West
 

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Girls basketball: Scouting the MSL West
 

MID-SUBURBAN WEST

Barrington

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Coach: Babbi Barreiro (21st season)

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

Graduated players: Maddie Bartz, Emily Gerber, Kelly Hauser, Ashley Heine, Alexa Resch, Katherine Sodeika

Returning players: Brooke Gunderson (5-11 Sr. G), Angie Kirchoff (5-10 Sr. G), Aoife Callanan (5-9 Sr. G), Cassidy Goldsmith (5-11 Sr. F), Carrie Madden (5-6 Sr. G), Bailee McDonald (6-0 Jr. F), Kelly Katis (5-5 So. G), Megan Talbot (6-1 So. F)

Newcomers: Lauren Pector (5-9, Jr. F), Lauren Kozel (5-8 Jr. F), Tamara Zivak (5-10 Jr. F), Megan Presti (5-6 Jr. G), Abigail Elo (5-5 So. G), Auri Grayson (5-8 So. G)

Outlook: The Fillies hope to contend for the MSL West, returning some key players from last year's team that won 15 games. All-area pick Angie Kirchoff, who will be a co-captain with Brooke Gunderson, averaged 9.2 ppg while playing multiple positions on the floor. "She is looking better than ever," said Barrington's Babbi Barreiro, the dean of MSL coaches who begins her 21st season. "Megan Talbot and Bailee McDonald did some really great things in the post last year. Gunderson and Callanan are shooting well and Cassidy Goldsmith will look to do some nice things in post." Barreiro also says Carrie Madden is a quick guard who can do some good things defensively while Kelly Katis will handle the point guard position. Barreiro also has some younger players who can give the Fillies some different looks on the floor. "I've been very impressed with the kids' work ethic and team chemistry and dynamics," Barreiro said. "The kids have set some goals for the season and are really looking forward to it. We feel we should be right there in the thick of it for the division race. I am really looking forward to this group and like where it's headed."

Conant

Coach: Dan Travers (ninth season)

Last year's record: 13-15, 3-7

Graduated players: None

Returning players: Morgan Ritzier (5-8 Sr. G-F), Sarah Mazurek 5-9 Sr. F), Lexi Zades (5-6 Jr. G), Alissa Wachal (5-10 Jr F-C), Dee Dee Durr (5-10 Jr F), Katie Lomas (5-10 Jr. F), Haley Anderson (5-11 Jr. F-C) Sidney O'Keeffe (5-1 Jr. G), Kim Zaucha (5-7 Jr. F), Nireet Dhillon (5-7 So. G).

Newcomers: Danielle Engelbreit (5-4 Jr G), Brianna Murphy (5-9 Jr. F-C), Andrea Palazzo (5-5 Jr. G), Jorri Wachal (5-9 Fr G-F), Megan Kilgore (5-6 Jr. F), Janina Holmquist (5-7 Sr. F).

Outlook: Conant coach Dan Travers sees a lot of potential for this year's team With his entire roster back from a 13-15 season, the Cougars expect to improve upon last year's accomplishments, especially in the postseason. Lomas (10 ppg), an all-area selection, had ACL surgery in June. "Katie is practicing now, but we're being careful with her," Travers said. "We want Katie playing when she is healthy and physically ready to go, so our timetable is not completely set with her." O'Keeffe, who played a key role last season, will miss this year due to ACL surgery. "So we will start the season regrouping and determining roles," Travers said. Sarah Mazurek, an all-area special mention selection in volleyball, is in her third season on the varsity basketball team. She and Morgan Ritzier were captains last season. "Both of these young ladies will play a tremendous role in leading us and helping develop us into a stronger team," Travers said. The Cougars also return Haley Anderson and Alissa Wachal, who each saw significant time in the post as starters or top subs last year. The offense will be run by sophomore point guard Nireet Dhillon with help from Lexi Zades and Dee Dee Durr, who both can be key players. Up from the sophomore team are Danielle Engelbreit, Brianna Murphy, Andrea Palazzo and Kim Zaucha. Filling out the roster is freshman Jorrie Wachal and senior Janina Holmquist, who is an exchange student from Finland. "Both of these ladies could provide the bench support needed to be a balanced team," Travers added. "I'm really excited about this season's opportunities. We have a good group of ladies who can play basketball." Travers believes he has plenty of depth. "If we can knock down some fourth-quarter shots, we should be able to compete with the good teams not only in our conference but in our Thanksgiving and Christmas Tournaments as well," he said.

Fremd

Coach: Dave Yates (seventh season)

Last year's record: 26-8, 8-2

Graduated players: Ashley McConnell, Catherine Ernst, Emma Hanson, Sidney Sek, Marilyn Lortz (5-10 Sr. G), Bernie Williams, Ashanti Lewis

Returning players: Haley Gorecki (6-0, Jr. G), Hannah LaBarge (5-11, Sr. G), Erica Simios (6-0 Sr. F), Brianna Lewis (5-2 So. G), Erin Lenahan (5-10 So. G), Emily Bieda (5-6 Jr. G), Katie Zara (5-8 Jr F)

Newcomers: Bryana Hopkins (6-2 So F), Julia Wacker (6-2 So. C), Grace Tworek (6-2 Fr. F), Carrie Happel (5-7, Jr. G), Caroline Macius (5-10 Jr. F), Megan Chernich (5-9 Jr. F)

Outlook: The defending Mid-Suburban League champs are young but talented. Returning is two-time all-area pick Haley Gorecki, a junior who has received an offer from Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma. "We will be a very young squad with only two seniors," said Fremd coach Dave Yates. "But it's the tallest and most talented team I have had at Fremd." That says a lot considering Yates has guided Fremd to four straight MSL West titles and two overall league titles. "This group had a very successful summer and did so playing without Bryana Hopkins (transfer from Barrington) or Hannah LaBarge," Yates said. "I think we will reach our potential as soon as we get a better understanding of what it takes to be a good defensive team." Yates has very strong ballhandlers, great size and a very deep group of players who can score. "Haley, Hannah (LaBarge), Erica (Simios) and Bri (Lewis) all saw significant minutes last year," the coach said. "They have all worked very hard this off-season at getting better and are excited to move into bigger roles with this year's team." When Gorecki missed a few week at midseason due to an ankle injury, LaBarge stepped into the lineup. "Hannah did a great job when Haley was out," Yates said. "She is a very good defender who has significantly improved her offensive game. Hannah was in Spain (exchange student) all summer so we really missed her presence this summer." Simios played heavy minutes off the bench in the post last year. "She made great strides throughout the season and continued that this summer," Yates said. "Her leadership has been outstanding. Big things are expected of her." MSL fans will remember Lewis, a freshman, hitting the game-winning 3-pointer in overtime when Fremd edged Rolling Meadows for the conference title. "Brianna came a long way last year," Yates said. "Everyone remembers the shot against Meadows but she is a very difficult matchup against on both sides of the ball. More bad news for her opponents: she got contacts this off season and has made huge strides in shooting and decision making." Yates will look for improvement with each game. "I feel like this group will get better with every game," he said. "They have been very coachable and have had a great preseason. We have some very talented newcomers who will have a big impact on this team."

Hoffman Estates

Coach: Mike Nocella (seventh season)

Last season's record: 11-15, 4-6

Graduated players: Destinee Young, Becca Stoczynski, Tiffany Pitter, Shante Hill, Salena Martinez, Audreanna Luna, Rachel Mirabile, Audreanna Luna, Jackie Nailor

Players returning: Andrea Wolinski (5-6 Sr. G-F), Mary Saitta (5-8 Jr. G-F)

Newcomers: Sara Ishak (5-6 Sr. G), Juniors: Markia Anderson (5-8 Jr G-F), Taylor Bellows (5-7 Jr. F), Erica De La Cruz (5-9 Jr. F), Caitlyn Farina (5-6 Jr. G), Heaven Robinson (5-5 Jr. G), Alessandra Sisto (5-7 Jr. F), Hannah Dusharm (5-6 So. G), Erin Hanson (5-6 So. G), Alexis Morris (5-7 So. G), Jennifer Nailor (5-9 So. Fr), Maya Bowens (5-10 Fr F), Monraia Wilson (5-6 Fr. G)

Outlook: Coach Mike Nocella, who also spent 11 years as the head coach at Prospect where he guided the Knights to a pair of division titles, enters his seventh year at Hoffman with a very young and small team. "We have a lot of young ladies with a good work ethic," he said. "And they have the potential to improve both skills wise and knowlege-wise as the season progresses." The Hawks graduated their three top scorers. All-area selections Young and Stoczyski were longtime varsity players. Young, now at Old Dominion, finished her career with 1,383 points, third best in school history. Stoczynski, scored 306 points in the MSL last winter with 227 rebounds, 67 assists, 51 steals and 25 blocks shots. Wolinski and Saitta saw significant playing time last season. "We need to find out who we are and what is going to define us as a competitive team." Nocella said. "Only time will tell."

Palatine

Coach: Mark Johnson (first season)

Last year's record: 20-10

Graduated players: Nia Pappas, McKenzie Wiedemann, Jamie Lloyd, Marissa Masini, Kendelle Springer

Returning players: Erin Mayer (5-9 Sr. F), Morgan Radtke (5-8 Sr. G), Sami Heuertz (5-5 Sr. G), Morgan Gallagher (5-7 Sr. G-F), Kirsten Allen (5-4 Sr. G), Bridget Ryan (5-4 Sr. G), Rachel Fritz (5-5 Sr. G), Monica Masini (6-0 Jr. F-C), Anna Wozniak (5-11 Jr. F), Carrissa Multon (5-9 So. F)

Newcomers: Kenisha Anderson (5-4 Sr. G), Haley Madison (5-8 Jr. F), Katie Conklin (5-4 Jr. G), Maria Charlier (5-4 Jr. G), Gracie Grana (5-6 Jr. F)

Outlook: Johnson begins his first season as the Pirates coach after serving as an assistant for the past seven years. He has also been the school's boys golf coach since 2008. Johnson, who graduated from Beecher High School and Bradley University, served as the head girls basketball coach at his prep alma mater from 1995 to 2002 where he also taught social studies. During that time, his squads won five River Valley Conference North Division championships and were the 2002 regional champions. In the fall of 2002, he joined the social studies department at Palatine. He sees plenty of potential in his first team, which graduated all-area selections Nia Pappas (more than 1,100 career points) and McKenzie Wiedemannn (10.5 ppg). "This can be an excellent group," Johnson said. "They have size, strength and some speed, and most importantly they have heart." Masini is expected to return from an injury. She had 11 double-digit scoring games, including a season-high 16 points against Rockton Hononegah. Mayer had a career-high 15 points against state power Rolling Meadows while Radtke tossed in a personal best 12 against Stevenson. "We are learning a new system and that will take some time, but I expect this team to be very competitive as the season progresses," Johnson said. "I'm looking for our seniors to be leaders for us and so far they all have done an excellent job displaying leadership skills both on and off the floor. When Monica returns from her injury she is going to bring some tremendous energy and give us a bigger presence on the inside."

Schaumburg

Coach: Curtis Goodwin (first season)

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

Graduated players: Riley Williams, Amanda Kelly, Carly Brossard, Jasmine Bethea, Vicki Frullani, Jackie Gallis, Holly Giglio

Returning Players: Melanie Meyer (Sr.), Alyssa Pinones (Sr.), Jada Blackwell (Jr.), Brittany Reinhart (Jr.), Nina Nykaza (Jr.), Taylor Helton (Jr.).

Newcomers: Jessica Harberts (Jr.), Lillian Chavarria (Jr.), Tatiana Doroskin (Jr.), Kelsey Hill (Jr.), Kayla Karbowski (Jr.), Paige Alt (So.), Mallory Gerber (Fr.)

Outlook: It's a new coach and many new players for Schaumburg this season. "We are young but as we build chemistry and solidify our identity as a team both offensively and defensively, I think we can be very competitive," said first-year coach Curtis Goodwin. "We have athletes who are versatile as basketball players allowing us to provide different looks and match ups throughout the course of a game which is a positive." Jada Blackwell, a key member for Schaumburg's volleyball team, was an all-area guard last season, averaging 12.1 points, including a career-high 25 against Palatine. She also averaged 4.8 rebounds, with 22 assists and 16 steals. "Obviously, we have some players coming back from last year's team and we will look to them for leadership," Goodwin said. "But with such a new crop of players in terms of experience, we may have different players step up for us on any given night." The Saxons' goal is to continue to get better as a team each day. "And we want to try to put ourselves in a position to be competitive with each team we step on the court with," said Goodwin, who served as the head girls basketball coach at Belvidere High School for the past two seasons. His teams compiled double-digit wins each year. Goodwin, a 2004 grad, played point guard for his Libertyville High School basketball team, which was coached by his father Jim at the time. He then played guard at Maryville University (St. Louis). Like his father, Curtis is also a math teacher. He received his master's degree in education from Trinity International University in Deerfield.

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