2017-'18 Season Coverage
updated: 11/18/2013 1:51 AM

Girls basketball: Scouting the MSL East

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Buffalo Grove

Coach: Steve Kolodziej (second season)

Last year's record: 10-18, 3-7

Graduated players: Carly Cheever, Bailey North, Amanda Salzman, Mary Zawlocki, Alyssa Mills

Returning players: Julie Jambrone (5-7 Jr. G), Maddie Welter (5-9 So. G), Angela Budimir (5-10 Sr. F), Maddie Callahan (5-8 So. G), Courtney Meyer (6-1 Sr. F), Stephanie Leitner (6-0 Sr. F), Bri Kolbus (5-6 Jr. G), Natalie Dimitrova (5-11, So. G), Kim Herzog (5-4 Sr. G)

Newcomers: Sammy Stejskal (5-9 So. G), Teagan Hutchings (5-10 Jr. F), Lauren McCourt (5-7 Jr. G), Kristen McClellan (5-7 Jr. G).

Outlook: As he begins his second season directing the Buffalo Grove program, former Schaumburg standout quarterback Steve Kolodziej expects a high-energy group that plays extremely hard. "We have quite a bit of depth and a lot of girls committed to the game," said Kolodziej, who graduated all-area center Bailey North from his first team. North was a four-year starter who scored more than 1,000 points in her career and averaged 10.6 points and 7.1 rebounds. Jambrone had 12 double-digit scoring games as a sophomore, including a career-high 19 against Hersey (triple overtime) and Wheeling. Welter had a career-high 19 against Lake Zurich while Herzog netted 11 points against Libertyville and Cary-Grove. "We are working to improve each day as individuals," said Kolodziej, who quarterbacked the Saxons to the 1999 Class 6A state championship football game against Naperville Central. "We feel we have quite a bit of potential as a group this winter."

Elk Grove

Coach: Kathie Swanson (second season)

Last year's record: 19-11, 7-3

Graduated players: Diamond Boyd, Kari Czeszewski, Kelly Naughton, Stephanie Solis, Isabel Velazquez,

Returning players: Melissa Solorio (5-11 Sr. G-F), Taylor Brown (5-5 Sr. G), Maddie Siebert (5-5 Sr. F), Amber Lindfors (6-4 Jr. C), Alex Masnica (5-5 So. G)

Newcomers: Shay Bender (Jr. G) Dorothy Christoforou (Jr. G), Carly Crothers (SO. G), Sarah Pauscher (So. F-C), Cassie Slattery (So. G), Abbey Sloan (So. G), Jenny Banak (Fr. G)

Outlook: With a mix of experienced players and a lot of youth, coach Kathie Swanson expects this to be a season where the Grenadiers' focus on learning and growth. "It is up to our veteran players to show leadership and to help guide the younger players to learn quickly and to integrate themselves into our system," she said. "This will be a process that will require patience." Solorio, Brown, Siebert, Lindfors and Masnica all have varsity experience. "Fortunately, we have some players with a lot of varsity experience who have the ability to be leaders both on and off the court," added Swanson, who had a very successful run as Libertyville's head coach before winning 19 games in her first year at Elk Grove. "We are looking for them to rise up to them challenge and help make our team better. If that happens, I expect this team to achieve tremendous growth and be competitive this season."


Coach: Mary Fendley (16th season)

Last year's record: 16-12, 5-5

Graduated players: Meg Cerniglia, Ashley Raulli, Lora Kelly, Bridget Kelly

Returning players: Delaney Parker (5-5 So. G), Renee Poulos (5-8 Sr. F), Morgan Harris (5-6 Sr. G), Anna Korff (5-9 Jr. G), Alysia Zaucha (5-5 Sr. G), Sarah Thompson (5-8 Sr. F), Maggie Berigan (6-0 So. C)

Newcomers: Juliette Vainisi (5-7 Jr. G), Kelly Weyhrich (5-2 Fr. G), Calire Gritt (5-9 Fr. G), Kristen Jackson (5-9 Jr. G), Venus Jones (5-11 Jr. F), Halle Lyon (5-10 Jr F), Emma Slosar (5-7 Jr. F)

Outlook: Coach Mary Fendley likes the mix of youth and veterans she will direct for her 16th team at Hersey. One of those veterans is all-area guard Morgan Harris, who led the Huskies with 12.6 ppg, last winter. "Morgan was our primary scorer last year but she should have more help this year," Fendley said. "We will usually have five kids on the court who can score, and are willing to run." Poulos can score inside. "Renee has started most of our games since her freshman year, so she really has a good grasp of our expectations, and what it takes to be successful," said Fendley, who owns a career mark of 304-149. "We know we have a pretty tough schedule but we hope to be competitive against everyone," Fendley said. "We have a really nice mix of younger and older players. Our returners come with experience and leadership, while our newcomers have skills and enthusiasm."


Coach: Ashley Sandstead-Graham (second season)

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

Graduated players: Adriane Falagario, Michele Molini, Rachel Suarez

Returning players: Marissa Pacini (5-10 Sr G-F), Taylor Will (5-11 Jr. G), Catherine Sherwood (6-0 Jr. F), Christina D'Anza (6-0 Jr. F), Nikki Matters (5-7 So. G)

Newcomers: Mallory Gonzalez (5-10 Sr. G-F), Hannah Grott (5-7 Jr. G), Katie Olson (5-5 Jr. G), Maddie Mantych (5-10 Jr. F), Brenda Kendziera (5-9 So. G), Clare O'Carroll (5-10 So. F), Haley Will (5-10 Fr. G)

Outlook: As she begins her second season directing the Prospect program, coach Amy Graham likes the way her team has been preparing. "Practices have been extremely intense, positive and competitive," said Graham, a former Buffalo Grove all-state guard. "The girls have worked hard and are building on everything we implemented over the summer." The Knights return two key starters in Taylor Will and Catherine Sherwood. "As sophomores they were tremendous for us and as juniors we are expecting even more production and leadership from them," Graham said. Mallory Gonzalez is expected to be a key addition to for the Knights, "We are looking forward to her wearing a Prospect uniform," said Graham, who also believes young guards Hayley Will (freshman) and Nikki Matters (sophomore) can make an immediate impact. Marissa Pacini will also play a key role in her second season. "We should have the ability to be able to get out in transition and play good, hard-nosed, pressure defense," Graham said. "This is such a great group of kids who truly enjoy each other's company and love the game of basketball. We are really looking forward to competing in the tough Mid-Suburban League."

Rolling Meadows

Coach: Ryan Kirkorsky (second season)

Last year's record: 30-4, 10-0

Graduated players: Morgan Keller

Returning players: Alexis Glasgow (5-11 Sr. G), Sami Kay (5-5 Sr. G), Allie Kemph (5-6 Sr. G), Jackie Kemph (5-6 Sr. G), Ashley Montanez (6-1 Sr. F-C), Katie Shewmon (5-11 Sr. F), Elizabeth Vasilogambros (5-5 Sr. G), Jenny Vliet (6-2 Sr. F).

Newcomers: Jamie Berry (5-4 Jr. G), Eliana Psarros (5-1 Jr. G), Nore Rasche (5-7 Jr F), Hannah Mickey (6-0 So. F)

Outlook: The Class AA state runner-up appears primed for another big season. Only one player graduated from last year's record-setting team that won 30 of its 34 games, falling by 1 points in state title game to Marian Catholic, which hit a shot with 0.07 seconds left in regulation. "We have eight returning seniors who can all contribute in a variety of ways," said Mustangs second year coach Ryan Kirkorsky, who spent four years as the Elk Grove head coach before arriving at Meadows. "Glasgow (Northwestern recruit), Kemph (St. Louis) and Vliet (St. Louis) deservedly get a great deal of attention. They are three of the best players in the state and have all improved their games since last year." But Kirkorsky says the key to his team's success will be the contributions of the rest of the roster. "Montanez (Indianapolis) can dominate on both ends of the floor," the coach said. "Kay is playing with great confidence. Vasilogambros is another offensive weapon who has diversified her game. Shewmon is a physical post presence with a nice shooting touch and Allie Kemph improves our team play every time she steps on the floor." Kirkorsky's has four underclassmen on the team. "The three juniors (Berry, Psarros and Rasche) have made us better each day and Mickey has a chance to be a special player." Meadows had never won a sectional until last season. "We had an amazing run," Kirkorsky. "But this is a new season with a new set of goals." The Mustangs' number one objective is to compete as hard as possible every day in practice. "We know that we will get everyone's best every time we step on the floor," Kirkorsky said. "And we want our kids to embrace that challenge."


Coach: Julissa Hernandez (fourth season)

Last year's record: 7-22, 1-9

Graduated players: Kaitlyn DeBusk, Brie Majkowski, Jessi Zuba

Returning players: Gianna Calistro (5-3 Sr. G), Hailey Dammeier (5-7 Jr. G), Hannah Dobrowski (5-9 Jr. G), Deanna Kuzmanic (5-9 Jr. PG), Brittany Roman (5-11 Sr. F), Caitlyn Slussar (5-2 Sr. G), Elizabeth Smith (5-8 Sr. F), Nicole Zlotnikova (5-3 Jr. G)

Newcomers: Melissa Claver (5-9 Fr. F), Lani Greenberg (6-2 Jr. C)

Outlook: Wheeling is hoping for an injury-free 2013-14 season this year. "I am very excited to see what the girls can do this season if everyone stays healthy," said Wildcats coach Julissa Hernandez, whose Wildcats lost three players last season to a broken leg and ACL injuries. "We have a lot of experience on our side with most of our starters returning and we are ready to lead on defense." Hannah Dobrowski, Hailey Dammeier, Elizabeth Smith and Brittany Roman will direct the Wildcats this year as team captains while all-area and all-conference Deanna Kuzmanic will handle the point position. "The captains' leadership and hard work have set the example for all of the girls in the program to follow," Hernandez said. "If every girl on our team can commit to defense and focus on the fundamentals on both offense and defense, we will have a successful season." Returners Dammeier, Dobrowski, Kuzmanic, Roman, and Smith will look to score this season while Gianna Calistro, Caitlyn Slussar and Nicole Zlotnikova will look to break into the top five. Newcomers Melissa Claver and Lani Greenberg will control things inside along with Roman. "Every practice is a competition and the girls know this," added Hernandez, a former standout point guard for Lake Park. " Every drill is for game minutes. Those that commit to defense and the fundamentals will see the most court time."

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