Coach: Bryan Tucker (18th year, 5th at Barrington)
Last year: 18-11, 6-4 MSL West
Top returning players: Zach Bart (6-4, C), Austin Madrzyk (6-2 G), Jack McAndrews(6-0 G), West McDonald (6-3, F)
Outlook: The Broncos will be looking to replace one of their most athletic teams in recent years. That group was led by three-year starter Brad Zamseil, who took his 17.6 scoring average and 4.6 assists per game to Miami of Ohio. Barrington will counter with four seniors who saw action last year, including center Zach Bart, who was named to the all-area team. Bart, who averaged 11.6 points and shot nearly 60 percent from the field; will be the featured player in the Barrington offense. In order for defenses not to sag on him, guards Austin Madrzyk and Jack McAndrews along with forward West McDonald need to bring their game up to a whole new level. "The biggest challenge for this team will be our inexperience and trying to replace our point guard from last year," Barrington coach Bryan Tucker said. "Brad was a three year starter who was all-conference and all-area for three years and you just don't replace that right away." It will be a youth movement from there for Tucker and the Broncos, and patience will be a plus for a group short on varsity experience. Tucker will look to juniors Tristen Becker, Torico Jones, Scott Bennett, Chris Lester, Calvin Goldsmith, Matt McAndrews, Justin Hennenfent, Jake Orr, Luke Johnson and Chad Shechtman to fill out his lineup. Sophomores Rapolas Ivanauskas, Will Reinhard and Ben Weber will also be in the mix for playing time. "I think teams will just play us straight up, since we lost some pretty athletic kids from last year," Tucker said. "We are young and inexperienced with just two returning starters. It will take some time to get us playing together, but I am hoping we will get there sooner than later."
Coach: Tom McCormack (30th year, 29th at Conant)
Last year: 16-14, 4-6 MSL West
Returning starters: D'Angelo McBride (6-4, F, 10 ppg), Joe Ranallo (6-0, G, 10 ppg), Kevin Copher (5-10, G 4 ppg), Danny Sotos (6-4, G/F, 7 ppg), Ryan Blaha (6-4, F, 3 ppg), Mike Upchurch (5-8 G)
Outlook: With six players returning who saw tons of time last year, Conant figures to be the hunt for the MSL title. The Cougars, who lost just Robert Hudson from last year's starting lineup, don't figure to start a player over 6-foot-4, but that didn't matter 20 years ago when McCormack led a similarly sized team in height and experience downstate and finished 27-3. "We are fast, experienced and deep," said McCormack, who is the dean of coaches in the Northwest suburbs. "Our biggest challenge is to rebound with bigger teams." McCormack has a trio of 6-foot-4 forwards to keep opponents off the glass. D'Angelo McBride, who played wide receiver and cornerback on the Cougars' football team, figures to hit the boards hard while Danny Sotos and Ryan Blaha will also be factors. McCormack can also go to his bench and call on 6-9 Jordan Hughes to help clog the middle. The Conant backcourt is also solid when McCormack wants to go small and fast. Kevin Copher, Joe Ranallo and Mike Upchurch are dynamic in attacking on both ends of the court as the Cougars expect to continue their pressure, trapping defense. Chris Dulce, who is a junior, and sophomores Palmer Graham and Kyle Bradley will give the Cougars even more athleticism on the court. Jae Pyun, Jake Bean, Ryan Bucz, Matt Fauth, Drew Lydon, Dylan Ziegler and Bryce Buchwalter will add some depth. The Cougars will get an early test when they meet state-ranked St. Viator next Saturday in tournament play.
Coach: Bob Widlowski (11th year)
Last year: 19-10 overall, 8-2 MSL West
Returning players: Riley Glassmann (6-5, G, 15.7 ppg.), Ben Carlson (6-6, F, 8 ppg), Matt Ochoa (6-6, F), Xavier Williams (6-2, G), Tom Cordell (6-6 F), Garrett Groot (6-0, G), Jalon Roundy (6-1, G), Connor Peters (6-2, G), Joey Weber (6-2, F), John Magnani (6-2, F).
Outlook: It will be the land of the giants when teams take the court against the Vikings. Fremd features a frontcourt of 6-foot-8 Ben Carlson, who recently signed with Indiana Wesleyan, 6-6 Matt Ochoa and 6-6 Tom Cordell. Add in Division 1 guard prospect Riley Glassmann, who is 6-5, and teams will have a tough time getting inside against the Vikings. Xavier Williams, who is 6-3, will join Glassmann in the backcourt. "We have quite a bit of experience back from last year," Fremd coach Bob Widlowski said. "And we have lots of size to go with that experience." Glassmann, who is a three-year starter for the Vikings and averaged 14 points last year, is the straw that stirs the drink in the Vikings' offense. "Riley has tremendous talent," Widlowski said. "We count on him to do many things for us." The Vikings will be looking to overcome the loss of Kevin Kubis, Mike Krupka and all-area forward Sean Benka, who averaged 7.7 points. But 6-6 sophomore Pat Benka looks to take over the void left by his brother while Garrett Groot, Jalon Roundy, Connor Peters, Joey Weber and John Magnani, who all saw action last year, give the Vikings even more experience. Zach Schoffstall, JT Kating, Ryan Kraske, Matt McElheny, Austin Park , Mike Pautler and Brian Cull add some depth for the Vikings, who won the Waukegan tournament this summer. The Vikings will need to be road warriors for a while, because they play just one home game out of their first 14 games of the season. "We hope to use a lot of different combinations out on the floor this year," Widlwoski said. "As always, the conference looks to be very tough and competitive this season."
Coach: Luke Yanule 3rd year
Last year: 4-21, 0-10 MSL West
Returning players: Jordan Robinson, (6-3 F), Trevor Pye (6-0 G), Sabren Burns (6-4 F), Matt Kilarski (6-4, F), Iziah Robinson (5-10 G)
Outlook: The Hawks will try a formula of experience and youth in 2013 to get themselves out of the basement of the MSL West. Jordan Robinson and Trevor Pye were stalwarts last season while Kilarski and Izoah Robinson will also start for Yanule's team. Hoffman will also look to sophomores to claim a large share of the playing time. The Hawks will look to Jorden Thornton, who is 5-10 and will start at point guard. Brandon Hall, a 6-5 forward, Dante Cleveland, a 6-3 forward, and 5-10 guard Robert Jacobs should also see significant minutes. Juniors Curtis Pasluscka, Chris Conway, Hardik Patel and Andrew Vesper along with seniors Odell Andrews, Shamoon Malik and Rainier Del Rosario hope to provide some needed depth. "We are learning how to blend a mix of experienced seniors with a young group of juniors and sophomores with limited varsity experience," Yanule said. "The question is: Can we embrace adversity as an ally and not an enemy?" Hoffman Estates, which lost 6-6 Joe Biko to graduation, will need to answer that question early. They are hoping to be in form by the time they reach Christmas, where the Hawks will move from the Elgin tournament to Glenbard West. Yanule hopes that his team will be able to gel before then. "Teams will throw lots of things at us," Yanule said. "But we're better equipped to handle those challenges now. The boys are working hard. It should be exciting for us this year."
Coach: Eric Millstone, 6th year
Last year: 17-13 (6-4 in MSL West, tied for 2nd)
Returning players: Chris Macahon (6-1, G, 10 ppg), Dondre Watson ( 6-0, G, 4 ppg), Nolan Gavin (F, 6-2), Mike Williams (Jr, F, 6-4), Kyle Leber (G, 5-8), Scott Fife (G, 6-1)
Outlook: Graduation and transfers were not kind to the Pirates, who had the best year for the program in the last eight seasons. Gone are Greg Grana, Josh Baldus, Andy Macahon, Jordan Jarrett, Nick Refka, Kevin Riggs and Matt Szablowski. But the biggest loss came this past summer when all-area and Divison I prospect Roosevelt Smart transferred to St. Viator. But Millstone feels his team can overcome the losses and make progress. "This team really enjoys competing for one another," Millstone said. "It's an unselfish group and if we can replace the leadership and toughness left by last year's seniors, it could be a fun year." That fun can really start when the Pirates score over 50 points. Last year, Palatine was 3-7 when it didn't break the 50-point barrier."We proved that we can play on ice," Millstone said. "But we need to be able to play in the mud if we really want to be successful. I think our guys understand the importance of toughness and discipline and how they factor into winning low-scoring games." Chris Macahon, who was all-area and averaged 10 points and 3½ assists returns at the point. Dondre Watson, Kyle Leber and Scott Fife along with sophomore Matt Ulrich give Palatine a formidable backcourt. Justin Chaney and Ryan Frankel also provide some depth at guard. Mike Williams and Nolan Gavin return up front, to be joined by Trey Shepard, RJ Smith, Jordan Pitts, Kevin Burke and Adam Poklop. "We think we've got some kids who can get out and run," Millstone said. "But we also know the teams on our schedule aren't just going to get out of the way and let us do that. I think it's just a matter of persistence at that point, and being able to stick to the pace that we're comfortable with and playing at that pace for as long as we can."
Coach: Matt Walsh
Last year: 19-10 overal, 8-2 MSL West
Returning players: Josh Rahn (6-4, Sr., F), Matt Rushing (6-0, Sr. F), Brendan Parker (6-3, Jr., G), Johnny Flynn (6-6, Sr., C)
Outlook: It will tough for Walsh to replace Kyle Bolger and his 15.6 points and 47 percent shooting percentage. Bolger, who was the MSL West Player of the year last year along with all-area teammates Jimmy Lundquist (47 3-pointers last year) and Cole Reyes (10.4 ppg.) are gone from a team that won the MSL title for a third consecutive year. Walsh will be leaning on 6-foot-4 Rahm and Rushing, who both played significant minutes last season while Parker, who was sophomore last year, stepped in and gave the Saxons significant minutes. "We are really excited about the season," Walsh said. "We have a good mix of kids with experience and are looking forward to the new guys, who will get their first taste of varsity experience." Walsh will look to 6-6 Johnny Flynn to patrol the paint. The Saxons feature a bevy of guards led by seniors Bryce Carlson and Ty Henry. Forwards Nick Starkey (6-1) and Brad Schwind (6-0) won't tower over their foes but will still be tough on the boards. The duo will also see significant time while junior guards Sean Palmer, Adan Lewis and Connor Geraghty and forward Jared Lingl will also be in the mix. "We have lots of guys with program experience," Walsh said. "We believe in what we do here. Our kids are accustomed to winning and we have had a lot of success the last few years." Demetrios Roumbos and Charlie Quilico, along with Marquis Woodard and sophomore Chris Mullaney, are some of the players Walsh is hoping can step in and give the Saxons a lift. "We are focused on being the best team we can be," Walsh said. "The kids are working hard and we can't wait to get started."