Last year: 17-11, 4-8 West Suburban Gold
Coach: Bill Heisler, 6th season (74-69)
Top players returning: 6-4 C Nick Best (7 ppg, 7 reb.), 5-10 PG Adrian Vallejo, 6-1 G Aaron Stocks.
Outlook: The Eagles hope to handle the loss of graduated all-area players Omar Lozoya and Jonny Woolf with emerging leaders Nick Best and Adrian Vallejo. "Nick is a big, strong kid," said coach Bill Heisler of the 6-4 center. "He really set the tone for us in preseason practice. He brings it every day, and we're looking to him for leadership. Last year, he did everything but score." Vallejo will handle the point guard duties, and returning G Aaron Stocks will be a big part of the offense. "We have high expectations for (Nick and Adrian)," Heisler said. "They both played well over the summer. How they meet the challenge in large part is how successful we are this year." Three players are battling for the two remaining starting spots, 6-4 sophomore F JoQuill Meeks and guards Marcos Herrera and Gio Romero. "JoQuill shows flashes, but we have to get him more consistent and used to the varsity pace," Heisler said. "How he progresses through the learning curve is a big question mark." Of the guards, Heisler likes what he sees. "Both those guys can really shoot it. We'll decide which guys can guard the best to get the last spots," Heisler said. "We're trying to get these guys to understand that. We've been successful forcing turnovers. We've used a zone press and do a lot of different schemes out of the zone, and it's been pretty good for us the last couple of years." This season, the Eagles may look a little different on offense. "The last couple of years, we had guys who could make plays. We'll be more set oriented this year," Heisler said. "Have lot of guys who can do some things but no one who could break someone down like Jonny could. We'll be an equal opportunity offense." With the number of shooters, Vallejo could have plenty of assist opportunities. "We have guys who can stand around the 3 and knock it down. Gio, Marcos and Aaron can shoot the basketball," Heisler said. He hopes his team can break into the top tier of the West Suburban Gold. "It's loaded," Heisler said. "In the past, it was incredibly top-heavy. Now, from top to bottom, it's loaded. There is Proviso East, Hinsdale South, Morton and Willowbrook. In the past, we have been fighting to break into the top tier along with Willowbrook and Addison Trail. Our league is scary this year. There are no gimmes." The Eagles open Monday in the Battle of the Ridge at Ridgewood against Wheeling in the hopes of repeating as champions of that season-opening tournament.