Coach: Tom Dineen (fifth season)
Last season: 20-9, 10-2 in NSC Lake, won Class 4A Wheeling regional, lost to Rolling Meadows in Libertyville sectional semifinals
Key losses: PG Kari Moffat (Lehigh), F Alex Elzinga (Army), G Paige Freudenberg, G Haley Umans
Returning players: Jr. G Sophia Way, Jr. G Taylor Buford, So. G Jessica Burke, So. G Chloe Ekenberg, Jr. G Melanie Despinich
Newcomers: Sr. G Dana Morgan, Fr. G Ashley Richardson, Jr. G Emily Merrick, So. G Janine Fajardo, Fr. G Madison Wicklund
Outlook: Replacing four-year starting point guard Kari Moffat, who earned a scholarship to Lehigh, won't be easy. So Tom Dineen won't even try. "It's going to be sort of point guard by committee," said the hall-of-fame coach, who also graduated all-conference forward Alex Elzinga. "I don't want to put all of that burden on one person." Dineen returns a pair of good junior guards in Sophia Way (5-8) and Taylor Buford (5-10), both of whom have been on varsity since their freshman year. Way had a breakout sophomore campaign, netting all-area and all-conference honors after averaging a team-leading 11.1 points and hitting 31 3-pointers. Buford picked up honorable mention all-conference honors. "I'm expecting big things out of the two of them," Dineen said. Sophomore guard Jessica Burke (5-8) came up around Christmas and got more and more minutes as the season went on, eventually earning a start in the Patriots' regional championship game. "Very steady, a very calming influence," Dineen said. "She handled the ball well, made real good decisions, took good shots. She didn't force anything." Burke, Way and sophomore Janine Fajardo (5-5) all can bring the ball up the court. Fajardo is a newcomer to watch. "Man, is she quick," Dineen said. "She goes." Freshman Ashley Richardson (5-6) is another capable ballhandler, while fellow ninth-grader Madison Wicklund (5-10) also earned a varsity spot. The only senior is Dana Morgan (5-9), who played JV last season after coming off a knee injury. Dineen started Way, Buford, Burke, Fajardo and junior veteran Melanie Despinich (5-11) in the Patriots' season-opening loss to Trinity on Monday. "We're going to be small," Dineen said. "But this is probably the best shooting team and the best ballhandling team I've had since I've been at Stevenson." The former Buffalo Grove coach has won 20 or more games in each of his four seasons at Stevenson. Sophomore Chloe Ekenberg, who was on varsity last season, is Dineen's tallest player at 6 feet. "But to be quite honest, we're 10 guards," Dineen said, laughing. "They're all interchangeable."