By Kevin Schmit and David Oberhelman
Coach: Brendan Lyons.
Last year: 9-21, 3-9, tied for fifth in West Suburban Gold; lost 59-48 to Glenbard West in Class 4A Hoffman Estates regional quarterfinals.
Top players: James Pupillo, sr., G; Joe Kurucar, sr., G; Simon Jakubczak, sr., F; Taylor White, jr., G; Ronald Duling, sr., G; Tyler Gilliam, sr., G; Joe Villasenor, sr., F; Anthony Tawrel, sr., G; Matt Gontarek, jr., G.
Scouting report: This will be the most experienced team the Blazers have enjoyed in many years. Pupillo returns as a fourth-year starter after averaging 16.9 points as a junior. He's been a handful for opposing defenses since he walked in the door at Addison Trail. If he can avoid the nagging injuries of the past few years, the Blazers will have a terrific base for success. They also return their top perimeter shooter in Kurucar in addition to their top rebounder in 6-foot-4 Jakubczak, who last season drew an astounding 49 charges. White was solid as a sophomore and should be more consistent with a year of experience. "These guys compete, they work hard," Lyons said. "And they've been playing together a long time."
Coach: Gene Heidkamp.
Last year: 27-6, 7-1, first in East Suburban Catholic Conference; lost 42-38 to West Aurora in Class 4A Bolingbrook sectional final.
Top players: Sean O'Mara, sr., C; Collin Pellettieri, sr., G; Colin Bonnett, jr., G; Josh Yesufu, sr., G; Liam Nelligan, sr., F; Joe Boyle, sr., G; Dan Roemer, sr., F; Dan Sobolewski, so., G.
Scouting report: Led by 6-foot-9 Xavier-bound O'Mara, Benet's again geared up for a dominant year -- if it can survive another brutal schedule that only starts with the ESCC. Graduating Pat McInerney and three other starters won't be easy, but Benet should be pretty potent offensively with the emergence of Pellettieri and Bonnett. Their mission is to knock down perimeter shots and ease double-teams on O'Mara. Nelligan, who spent the last two years in Singapore, is a welcome addition. At 6-4 he'll help O'Mara on the boards. Benet thrived in the halfcourt last year, but expect more transition from this group. Sobolewski brings more power to the backcourt. "This team has a lot of potential," Heidkamp said. "We'll be building toward the end of the year."
Downers Grove North
Coach: Jim Thomas.
Last year: 11-16, 1-11, seventh in West Suburban Silver; lost 57-46 to Plainfield North in Class 4A Benet regional quarterfinals.
Top players: David Edwards, jr., C; Myles Farley, jr., G; Ray Greco, sr., F; Devin Blake, so., G; Matt Mahlke, so., C; Colin Kramper, jr., G.
Scouting report: Success for the Trojans depends on the health of two key returners from last season. Six-foot-six Edwards is nursing a leg injury suffered during football season, while Farley, also on varsity last year as a sophomore, is recovering from a knee injury and won't be back until the holidays. If and when they do return to full strength, this will be a team on the upswing. The Trojans' youth -- three sophomores will be up -- may require growing pains, but they'll benefit in the long run. Thomas is particularly excited about Blake's potential. As young as the Trojans will be, Greco provides much-needed senior leadership as a three-sport athlete. "We'll be competitive, it's just a matter of what we can do in conference," Thomas said. "We'll be a player in the future."
Downers Grove South
Coach: Kris Olson.
Last year: 15-12, 7-5, third in West Suburban Gold; lost 67-59 to West Aurora in Class 4A WW South regional semifinals.
Top players: Danny Spinuzza, sr., G; Matt Zinnecker, sr., F; Paul Engo III, sr., G; Wes Dahle, sr., G; Kovas Rugienius, sr., F; Darryl Howard, sr., G; Jamaal Harvey, jr., C.
Scouting report: For the third straight time the Mustangs have replaced a retiring head varsity coach with a veteran sophomore coach. Olson brings experience from the high school and college levels and inherits a team filled with players he's already coached. "They've all played for me at the sophomore level so they already understand the culture we're trying to maintain," Olson said. Although four starters graduated, Spinuzza returns at the point for his third varsity season. Zinnecker saw significant time off the bench while Engo III especially has shown improvement on the offensive end. Strength in the post is traditional at Downers South, but the Mustangs are a little thin this year. They'll get help inside from 6-foot-6 Harvey, a transfer.
Coach: Josh Payton.
Last year: 4-25, 2-10, sixth in Metro Suburban Conference; lost 52-36 to Lake Park in Class 4A Proviso West regional quarterfinals.
Top players: Greg Wagner, sr., C; Zach Jakalski, sr., F; Tony Yario, sr., G; Hector Irizarry, sr., G; Brad Leffew, sr., G/F; Rob Kik, sr., G/F; Joey Nixon, sr., G; Johnny Geraci, sr., G; David Alden, jr., G.
Scouting report: With a bigger lineup, the Bison plan to lean on defense and rebounding to improve upon last season's win total. Six-foot-six Wagner, on the heels of a strong summer, aims to be a consistent double-double threat. That'll be made easier by the presence of Jakalski, another 6-6 post player who brings tough defense. Fenton's best defensive player may be Leffew, who can contribute in the frontcourt and backcourt. Irizarry, who averaged close to double-digit scoring at the end of last season, will be critical to Fenton's inside-outside game. Don't expect an explosive offense, though. Fenton knows it needs to keep opponents' scoring in the low 50s. "We know we'll need to play better defense this season," Payton said.
Coach: Scott Miller.
Last year: 20-7, 13-1, first in DuPage Valley Conference; lost 63-50 to Proviso East in Class 4A Schaumburg sectional semifinals.
Top players: Jaron Hall, sr., G; Spencer Trefilek, sr., F; Ramon Nance, sr., F; Tyler Behrendt, sr., F; Mike Finley, fr., G; Patrick Peterkin, so., F; Jack Grigat, so., G; Terrance Lakes, so., G; Chris Ryan, jr., C.
Scouting report: Only a few recognizable names return, but the Rams still plan on vying for a repeat DVC title. Hall, who averaged 13.4 points last year, dominated at times. "We're going to put the ball in his hands as much as possible, and let him create for himself and others," Miller said. A bunch of new faces surround Hall including three members of an overall talented sophomore class. Grigat supports Hall in the backcourt, while Peterkin adds scoring punch from the wing. Finley, at 6-foot-2, is Miller's first freshman to start the season on varsity. An athletic, versatile team plays good defense, but there are unknowns in the post. Ryan, a football player, is 6-7 and 230 pounds but an elbow injury will keep him out of the lineup for the first couple weeks of the season.
Coach: Joe Larson.
Last year: 13-13, 7-7, fifth in DuPage Valley Conference; lost 61-55 to Oak Park in Class 4A Glenbard North regional semifinals.
Top players: Chip Flanigan, sr., F; Justin Jackson, sr., G; Kendall Holbert, sr., G/F; Pasquale Fiduccia, sr., G/F; Jeremiah Fleming, sr., G; Robert Collier, sr., G; Brett Gasiorowski, jr., G.
Scouting report: If you're looking for a darkhorse to win the DVC, this is it. Flanigan, who averaged 17.5 points a game as an All-Area performer last year, is one of four returning starters who combined to average 45 points. Jackson's obviously known for as a prolific football player, but last year he averaged 11 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists. With Fleming and Collier both improved, Jackson won't be counted on as much to handle the ball. Flanigan, at 6-foot-5, can score from everywhere, and he'll get perimeter scoring support from Holbert and Fiduccia. Without a true post presence, team rebounding and defense are crucial. "With the experience and leadership we have, we definitely think we have the skill to win the conference," Larson said.
Coach: Wade Hardtke.
Last year: 9-18, 6-6, fourth in Metro Suburban Conference; lost 57-42 to Orr in Class 3A Glenbard South regional semifinals.
Top players: Chaun Rickette, jr., G; Alex Jeske, sr., G; Connor Willis, sr., F; Tyler Scott, jr., G/F; John Marks, sr., F; Mark Murbach, sr., F; Tyler Schutte, jr., F.
Scouting report: With a thin roster, the Raiders can't afford a single injury. That's why Jeske's lingering back issue from football could become significant. If he misses time, it'll put pressure on inexperienced younger players. The good news is Rickette's ready to go. He was an All-Area pick as a sophomore after averaging 18 points and striking for several 30-point performances. Scott will be a major part of the Raiders' plans. He'll play the point forward role to help ease the ballhandling duties from Rickette and Jeske. Scott also provides perimeter shooting. Potentially tough in the backcourt, the question is whether Glenbard South can match bigger teams in the post. "We're going to be small and scrappy," Hardtke said. "That's where we're going to have to be."
Coach: Tim Hoder.
Last year: 14-13, 4-8, fifth in West Suburban Silver; lost 72-55 to Glenbard East in Class 4A Hoffman Estates regional semifinals.
Top players: Keith Hayes, jr., G; Corey Davis, sr., G; Max Montgomery, sr., G; Reid Colliander, sr., C; Kalen Starkey, jr., F; Alex Passi, so., G; Will Reedy, sr., G.
Scouting report: With Hayes and Davis both returning, the Hilltoppers boast perhaps the area's top backcourt. Hayes averaged nearly 20 points as a sophomore All-Area honoree. Davis, who's really developed as a shooter in the off-season, led the team in assists and rebounds last season. "I think they're as good as any backcourt tandem around," Hoder said. Montgomery's also loaded with perimeter experience. Now that the focus has shifted from past post strength, expect much more transition play. The Hilltoppers do have some size with 6-foot-6 Colliander and 6-3 Starkey, who saw limited varsity time last season. Including Passi, as many as four sophomores may be up this year. "We're going to look a little different and play a little different," Hoder said.
Coach: Tim Latorre.
Last year: 18-7, 11-1, first in West Suburban Silver; lost 55-49 to Geneva in Class 4A WW South regional semifinals.
Top players: Matt Rafferty, jr., F/C; Ian Bunting, sr., F; Jacob White, sr., G; Chase Hamilton, sr., G; George Kiernan, jr., F; Jordan Bradshaw, jr., G; Grant Hutcherson, jr., G; Neven Mulc, jr., G.
Scouting report: If the Red Devils can get healthy -- and stay that way -- they'll be in great shape to defend the Silver title. "I don't think we'll be playing our best ball until January," Latorre said. Hamilton, White and Bunting are all banged up from football while Kiernan, a 6-foot-6 transfer from Nazareth, is out until the holidays with a knee injury. Six-seven Rafferty, who averaged 15.5 points and 10.5 boards, is ready to roll with a handful of Division I college offers in his back pocket. When paired with healthy Kiernan and Bunting, Hinsdale Central will have a dynamite frontcourt. With teams no doubt planning to collapse inside, the Red Devils need a consistent outside presence from Hamilton, who last season knocked down 26 3-pointers, and others.
Coach: Brett Moore.
Last year: 7-19, 3-9, tied for fifth in West Suburban Silver; lost 64-52 to Oswego East in Class 4A Oswego East regional quarterfinals.
Top players: Barret Benson, so., C; Larry Motuzis, sr., F; Marcel Phillips, sr., G; Stefan Kaplarevic, sr., F; Ontario Washington, sr., G; Orlando Brown, sr., F; Brian Kern, jr., G; Tyler Zampa, sr., F.
Scouting report: The program's third coach in as many years, Moore comes to the Hornets after a successful four-year run at Plano that included a regional championship. He takes over a team poised to make a jump in the win column thanks to the return of Benson, a 6-foot-9, 255-pound post who already has garnered significant interest from Division I colleges. While Benson will be the key to success, he'll get support on the perimeter from Motuzis, an all-Gold pick a year ago who led the team with 11.9 points per game and 41 3-pointers. Brown, a transfer power forward, also will take pressure off Benson. "We're obviously looking to get the ball inside," Moore said. "We need to find ways to stop teams from collapsing on Barret."
IC Catholic Prep
Coach: T.J. Tyrrell.
Last year: 22-6, 9-1, first in the Suburban Christian Gold Division; lost to Aurora Christian in the Class 2A Westmont regional final.
Top players: Clark Brinkman, sr., G/F; Rhashaun Epting, so., F; Ross Fleming, sr., G; Will Lyles, so., F/C; Jordan Rowell, fr., F; Sean Sutton, sr., G; Anthony Taylor, sr., G.
Scouting report: After the Knights watched Aurora Christian celebrate a 59-57 victory for the regional title, IC is motivated. The Knights graduated the program's ninth-leading scorer and Gold player of the year in Demetrius Carr but return all-conference picks Brinkman and the 6-3 Epting, who averaged 15.9 and 8.9 points, respectively. Epting is an inside-outside presence who will provide matchup problems and is part of a lanky mix including 6-2 Rowell and 6-3 Lyles. The Knights are very athletic but don't have great height or post defense. They do have a lockdown perimeter defender in Taylor and much experience with Fleming and Sutton alongside Brinkman and Epting. Chemistry and leadership are still in development for a team that will vie for a third straight SCC Gold title.
Coach: Josh Virostko.
Last year: 15-13, 4-8, fifth in Upstate Eight Valley; lost 52-40 to Proviso West in Class 4A Proviso West regional semifinals.
Top players: Sean Moore, sr., G; Marcus McDaniel, jr., G; Mike Karas, jr., F; Connor Vance, jr., F; Melvin Kimbrough, sr., G; John Hower, sr., F; Austin Fortin, sr., C; Chris Filip, jr., C; Mitch Jarosinski, so., C; Dan Hynes, so., G.
Scouting report: Led by Moore, a 6-foot-4, third-year varsity point guard, the Lancers will make an immediate impact in their first season of DuPage Valley Conference competition. "It's no step down from the Upstate Eight," Virostko said. "We're familiar with the DVC teams and know what to expect." Moore is one of the team's few seniors, but he and others need to provide leadership for a group that's junior-heavy with a couple sophomores mixed in. The Lancers will push the ball when they can but their strength is in the halfcourt with physical post players like Hower and Fortin. Last season McDaniel was known for his perimeter defense but he'll be counted on to score more this year.
Coach: Mark LaScala.
Last year: 14-15, 8-3, third in the Interstate Eight Small Division; lost to Immaculate Conception in a Class 2A Westmont regional semifinal.
Top players: Connor Bielat, sr., G; Jeremy Glavanovits, sr., F; Tommy Kuliavas, sr., G; Shane Murray, sr., C; Zach Trussell, sr., F.
Scouting report: Between the 6-foot-6 Glavanovits, the 6-7 Murray and the 6-2 Trussell the Lions should have one of the top frontcourts in the Interstate Eight. Their success may depend on who can shoot and who can play the point guard spot, likely to be an underclassman. Glavanovits returns league averages of 5.3 points and 4.2 rebounds. He had several double-figure games in each and was not asked to score but will be this season. He and Murray should clear the glass and control the lane defensively, provided they stay healthy and out of foul trouble. LaScala hopes for solid perimeter shooting from 6-2 guard Bielat, Kuliavas and whomever else arrives on the wings and in the backcourt. The coach looks for the Lions to be among several teams challenging Plano and Seneca in the I8.
Coach: Bob Vozza.
Last year: 19-10, 9-3, second in the Upstate Eight Valley Division; lost to Waubonsie Valley in a Class 4A Oswego East regional semifinal.
Top players: Nick Dodson, jr., G; Eddie Goldston, sr., F; Sam Hanson, sr., F/C; Nick Klepper, jr., G; Mark Konkle, jr., C; Justin Kuehn, sr., F; Bryson Oliver, jr., G; Marquell Oliver, sr., G; Thomas Putz, sr., G.
Scouting report: The Mustangs graduated eight of 10 top players and all starters but point guard Bryson Oliver, who averaged 4.5 points and 2.9 assists. Without 6-10 Hayden Barnard rebounding and inside defense are keys. The 6-4 Goldston played 10 games last season, and neither the 6-4 Hanson nor 6-2 Kuehn were in the program, but Vozza said 6-5 Konkle had a great summer. Bryson Oliver and his cousin, Marquell, Putz and Dodson (who averaged 3.5 points in all 30 games last year) head a guard-based team heavy on up-tempo offense, pressure defense with scoring by committee. Graduation affected the entire UEC Valley, so Metea's goals include a push for the title. "We always want to be in the discussion," Vozza said.
Coach: Brian Opoka.
Last year: 19-9, 8-2, second in the Suburban Christian Blue Division; lost to Orr in the Class 3A Glenbard South regional final.
Top players: Matt Brachmann, sr., C; Jack Brady, sr., G; Mike Delaplane, sr., G; Tom McGillicuddy, sr., G; Terence Williams, so., G.
Scouting report: The Broncos lost a ton of athleticism and firepower when double-double forward Simmie Cobbs transferred back to Oak Park for financial reasons. "But that should not be what this is about," Opoka said. What he thinks it should be about is a lunch-pail group intent on continuing this former doormat's ascension. They'll need to keep teams from scoring much more than 50 points to succeed. The 6-4 Brachmann is a rare basketball-first Broncos male. His improved midrange shooting should create mismatches after he averaged 12.3 points and 7.1 rebounds. Point guard Williams is explosive and seeks to improve his assist-turnover ratio. Brady, who averaged 3.4 points, is one of those high-character program guys Opoka is now delivering. Not as dynamic as last season but perhaps deeper, more consistent.
Coach: Pete Kramer.
Last year: 18-10, 10-4, third in DuPage Valley Conference; lost 62-36 to Benet in Class 4A Benet regional final.
Top players: Nick Czarnowski, sr., C; Ryan Antony, sr., G; Pat Mahoney, sr., F; Taylor Zelinski, sr., F; Matt Bennett, sr., G; Alex Pomeroy, jr., G/F; Nate Dahl, jr., G/F; Matt Meier, so., G/F; Emmanuel Rugamba, so., G; Tyler Schmidt, sr., F.
Scouting report: After battling through inconsistency last season, the more experienced and talented Redhawks aim to be DVC champions. "It's definitely a goal of ours, but we can't just talk about it," Kramer said. "We have to go out there and do it." Six-foot-nine Czarnowski, a fourth-year varsity player committed to Hillsdale, averaged 14 points and 8.5 rebounds last season. Antony is back for his third year at the point as the Redhawks return six of their top eight players from last season's rotation. Unlike last year you'll see Czarnowski and 6-6 Mahoney in the lineup at the same time. Same with Bennett in the backcourt, who filled in for Antony while he was hurt.
Coach: Jeff Powers.
Last year: 20-9, 9-5, fourth in DuPage Valley Conference; lost 50-43 to Naperville Central in Class 4A Benet regional semifinals.
Top players: Anthony Rehayem, sr., G; Jayson Winick, sr., G; Jelani McClain, so., G; Ashton Elston, sr., G; Nick Lemanski, sr., F; Riley Carlson, sr., C; Deon Merrill, jr., F; Zach Tuxhorn, jr., G/F; Baylor Griffin, jr., G/F; Tyler Bushman, jr., F.
Scouting report: With Rehayem, Winick and McClain all returning, the Huskies' strength clearly lies in the backcourt. Last season the trio combined to average 22 points, 7 rebounds and 8 assists. If Lemanski and Carlson develop in the post -- and if the Huskies can team rebound -- they'll challenge for another 20-win season. "When you've got skilled perimeters you've got a chance to win just about every game," Powers said. "If a couple of our big guys work out we'll be tough." Three transfers -- Griffin, Elston and Merrill -- bring a tremendous boost to the perimeter and in the post. Look for the Huskies to exploit mismatches with their overall athleticism.
Coach: Todd Sutton.
Last year: 28-3, 11-1, first in the Upstate Eight Valley Division; lost to Benet in a Class 4A Bolingbrook sectional semifinal.
Top players: Jacob Eminger, jr., F; Demond George, jr., G; Zach Incaudo, sr., C; Jordan Kedrowski, jr., G; Jack Lendino, jr., F/C; Josh Piotrowski, sr., G; Connor Raridon, jr., G/F; Elijah Robertson, sr., F; Broc Rutter, jr., G.
Scouting report: The Wildcats graduated all five starters, including superstar point guard Jabari Sandifer. Rutter and Incaudo are on injured reserve. It's Neuqua's youngest squad since its first year, said Sutton, 13 wins away from 500. That said, Raridon is long, sound, a potential UEC Valley MVP who will (and will have to) improve upon last season's 4.9 points per game. Robertson only needs consistency and poise to complement his athleticism. Piotrowski, aka "Mr. Hustle," is a bulldog defender on the perimeter. Until the 6-4 Incaudo gets back, 6-2 Lendino plays the post, typifying an overall short group. Sutton calls it a rebuilding year. After winning at least 22 games in 11 of the last 13 seasons, others may see it as reloading.
Coach: Bob Ward.
Last year: 22-8, 5-5, tied for second in the Suburban Christian Blue Division; lost to Limestone at the Class 3A Northern Illinois University supersectional.
Top players: Kevin Blank, sr., G; Killian Brown, sr., C; Nick Fabianski, sr., G; Jeremy French, sr., F; Adam Hart, sr., C; Stu Kurtyka, sr., G; Zach Prociuk, sr., G; Mike Shaw, jr., F; Jason Sullivan, sr., G.
Scouting report: Although Ward graduated all five starters from a supersectional team, St. Francis returns experience, depth and chemistry. Brown, Prociuk and Sullivan played in every game last season; Fabianski, French and Blank all attempted at least 26 shots and helped the junior varsity go 10-1. The 6-foot-4 banger Brown had a far greater impact than his super-sub statistics suggest. Prociuk and Sullivan hope to fill the void of graduated 3-point ace Andrew Kimball. The 6-8 Shaw, back after transferring to, and from, St. Charles North, adds a low-post presence last year's club didn't have. What's left is the teamwork and floor-burn defense that Ward will instill for when the games really matter.
Coach: Jack LeGrand.
Last year: 13-15, 5-7, fifth in Metro Suburban Conference; lost 73-52 to Marshall in Class 3A Marshall regional semifinals.
Top players: Connor VanderBrug, sr., F/C; Wes Ditchfield, sr., F; Justin Rhiner, sr., G; Joe Bishop, jr., G; Rob McGivney, jr., F; Ben Lodewyk, so., G; Khali Valrie, sr., G.
Scouting report: A lack of varsity experience is highlighted by the loss of 1,000-point scorer Danny Leach, who averaged 17.2 points last year. Four starters graduated, but the one returner is 6-foot-6 VanderBrug. Much of the focus will be on the third-year starter who scored 17.7 points and pulled down 7.8 rebounds a game. "We'll go to wherever Connor takes us," LeGrand said. "He's going to attract a lot of attention from teams." LeGrand expects double- and triple-teams for VanderBrug, so a variety of newcomers need to chip in to relieve the pressure. Ditchfield, also a standout soccer player, Rhiner and Valrie combined for only 7 points a game last year, but they're ready to step up. If the inexperienced players come through, the Trojans will be a team to watch.
Coach: Chaz Taft.
Last year: 21-8, 8-4, tied for third in the Upstate Eight Valley Division; lost to Neuqua Valley in the Class 4A Oswego East regional final.
Top players: Jack Cordes, sr., F; Jay DeHaan, sr., G; Matt Gialamas, sr., G; Chris Karkazis, jr., G; Nick Karkazis, sr., G; Logan Yanich, jr., F.
Scouting report: Former South Elgin coach Taft follows the successful term of Steve Weemer, who resigned to pursue administration. Taft's enthusiasm has translated to his players. The Warriors have to replace much scoring and rebounding after graduating the program's No. 2 scorer in Jared Brownridge and nearly a double-double forward in Bryan Jefferson. Cordes, a 6-7 returning starter who averaged 4.9 points and 6.1 rebounds, will be asked to bulk up at least that first stat as well as team leadership. Aside from Cordes and 6-4 Yanich there's not a lot of size, so emphasis will be on man defense, pushing the ball and team rebounding. DeHaan, Nick Karkazis can hit the 3. They work hard, Taft said, and when that happens "the sky's the limit."
Coach: Bill Recchia.
Last year: 5-23, 0-14, eighth in the DuPage Valley Conference; lost to Leyden in a Class 4A York regional quarterfinal.
Top players: Mike Bibbs, so., G/F; Ethan Doell, sr., C; Mitch Henke, sr., G; John Konchar, sr., G/F; Marco Lomibao, sr., G; Ryan Orr, sr., G.
Scouting report: Every opponent knew the 6-4 Konchar was the Wildcats' key player last season and he still averaged team highs of 19.7 points on 52 percent shooting, 8.8 rebounds, 3.4 assists and also led in blocks and steals. Angling for college attention, improved defense combined with continued unselfishness will help. "He's a complete, well-rounded basketball player," Recchia said. Konchar obviously will be the Wildcats' go-to guy again, surrounded by returners who saw minutes: Henke, Lomibao and Orr all averaged 2.4 to 2.5 points and the 6-4 Doell played every game. Six-foot wing Bibb is an athlete. Good shooters, hard-nosed, the Wildcats trade the DVC for the Upstate Eight Valley seeking better luck after four overtime losses, three on last possessions. "This year we want to win some of those games," Recchia said.
Coach: Pete Froedden.
Last year: 19-7, 9-1, first in the Suburban Christian Blue Division; lost to Aurora Central in a Class 3A IMSA regional semifinal.
Top players: Gordon Behr, sr., C; Grant Copple, jr., F; Bennett Fuzak, so., F; Chandler Fuzak, jr., C; Chris Johnson, jr., G; Jacob Lindstedt, jr., F; Josh Ruggles, jr., G; Bryce Sandberg, jr., G; Christian Smith, jr., G; Evan Williams, jr., F.
Scouting report: Froedden, a former Lipscomb University assistant and 14-year prep coach in Tennessee, succeeds the successful Paul Ferguson. Froedden directs a potential powerhouse. Returning 3-point artist Ruggles and the 6-8 Behr, who averaged 15 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2 blocks, is a nice start. Add Froedden's son, Smith, an all-district guard in Tennessee. The Fuzak brothers will play their first high school ball after years with Illinois Crusaders HomeSchool Basketball; Chandler is 6-10 and Bennett 6-7. Along with 6-4 Lindstedt, "We have a little height," Froedden said. Fitting these and other contributors together within a new coaching style is the plan, as is a fifth straight SCC title.
Coach: Dave Brackmann.
Last year: 11-17, 3-11, tied for sixth in DuPage Valley Conference; lost 66-64 to Elk Grove in Class 4A Proviso West regional quarterfinals.
Top players: Matt Biegalski, sr., G; Jake Heggeland, jr., C; Andrew Slivinski, sr., G; Nick Jordan, jr., G; Nick Traversa, jr., F; John Coolidge, sr., G; Mike Cerone, sr., G; Jack Kirschbaum, sr., F; Nathan Houlihan, sr., F; Bryan Knoedler, sr., F.
Scouting report: More than any other area team, the Falcons' fortunes depend on how quickly the football players who advanced to the quarterfinals get into basketball shape. Seven of the team's 17 players are just coming back in addition to 10 sophomores and freshmen at the program's other levels. Once in the fold, though, the Falcons will be solid. Biegalski was an all-DVC pick, and 6-foot-6 Heggeland saw extensive playing time as a sophomore. Last year's team had limited shooting options, but that's different this year with Slivinski's perimeter development. "With our depth we're going to have much more well-rounded scoring," Brackmann said.
Coach: Bob Szorc.
Last year: 7-21, 3-11, tied for sixth; lost 44-33 to Geneva in Class 4A WW South regional quarterfinals.
Top players: Matt Kienzle, sr., G; Aidan Hernandez, sr., F; Joe Metzger, jr., G; Keishawn Watson, jr., G; Brian Summers, sr., G; Gabe Dungan, jr., F; Austin Polezoes, jr., G; Will Granberry, jr., F.
Scouting report: The Tigers look to be improved with Kienzle, who last year averaged 9 points, back for his third varsity season. Hernandez, Metzger and Watson also return a good chunk of experience. "It's amazing what a year does," Szorc said. "I really love our senior class. They've developed into tremendous leaders." Szorc adds juniors Metzger and Watson to the list because of their season under fire as sophomores. Although the Tigers have no players taller than 6-foot-4, they should be able to rebound better with an overall physical backcourt. In addition to needing to improve on the boards, the Tigers must shoot better. They also plan to step up defensively with multiple looks to keep opposing teams out of rhythm.
Coach: Chris Perkins.
Last year: 10-17, 3-9, tied for fifth in West Suburban Gold; lost 67-56 to Lyons Twp. in Class 4A York regional quarterfinals.
Top players: Kyle Rushing, jr., F; Edvinas Mickevicius, sr., G; Chris Poole, sr., G; Jake Bruns, jr., G; Chris Villafuerte, sr., G/F; Chris Roycroft, jr., F.
Scouting report: This will be a completely different team from a year ago. Ninety percent of the last year's scoring graduated, mostly from consistent double-digit scorers Josh Joiner, Tiger Greene and Yashua Trent. With that group team speed was the strength. This year the Warriors will be in halfcourt sets more often. With 6-foot-5 Rushing leading the way, Willowbrook's going to slow things down and take advantage of its better inside game. "We're going to look a lot different," Perkins said. "There will be a lot of new faces out there." One player with vast experience is Mickevicius, a third-year varsity member. He and Poole will be knocking down shots on the perimeter. The Warriors, however, still need an established point guard to emerge.
Coach: Vince Doran.
Last year: 22-8, 8-4, tied for second in West Suburban Silver; lost 43-39 to Oak Park in Class 4A Schaumburg sectional semifinals.
Top players: Frank Toohey, sr., F; Jack Heinle, sr., G; Stanley Roberts, sr., G; Charlie Rose, sr., G; Chris Klos, sr., G; Emmitt McCoy, sr., F; Luke Libert, jr., G; Jayvon Thomas, jr., G; Sean Lyons, sr., G.
Scouting report: The Dukes won't even try to fill the void left by the graduation of David Cohn, last year's All-Area Team Honorary Captain who's now at Colorado State. "Obviously losing David is not replaceable," Doran said. "I think we'll be more balanced with our scoring. Five or six different guys could lead us in scoring on a given night." At the top of the list is 6-foot-8 Toohey, a third-year starter committed to play at Air Force. Last year he averaged 8 points and 7 rebounds. He'll not only get post support from 6-5 McCoy, but the Dukes have several guards capable of chipping in on the perimeter. Rose led last year's team with 41 3-pointers while knocking down 45 percent of his outside shots.
-- Kevin Schmit and Dave Oberhelman