Coach: Rob Schader.
Last year: 10-17, 3-9, sixth in West Suburban Gold; lost to Batavia in the Class 4A regional semifinals.
Top players: Diamond Pikulyk, sr., F; Alyssa Pham, sr., G; Marie Baumgartner, sr., G; Jasmin Mehmeti, sr., F; Diana Graciano, sr., F; Nicci Scorza, jr., G.
Scouting report: "We return six players from last year's team and they all played a ton of minutes for us as juniors along with Nicci, who is a sophomore," Schader said. "They are a very close group that loves to compete. If we stay healthy and out of foul trouble, this year should be fun." The group of varsity returners will get a boost from some talented newcomers, including junior guards Vencenza Zaccaro, Aliyah Ochoa and Kayla Metallo, and junior post players Berenice Beremun, Patrycja Sawina and Alexa Giometti.
Coach: Joe Kilbride.
Last year: 32-3, 7-0, first in East Suburban Catholic Conference; Class 4A champion.
Top players: Katie Jaseckas, sr., C; Ali Kramer, sr., G; Emma Lyne, sr., G; Tsimba Malonga, jr., G; Kendal Schramek, sr., F; Lauren Stack, so., C.
Scouting report: Benet is aiming for its third consecutive state championship, but it will have to do it this year without all-state point guard Kathleen Doyle, now at Iowa. The Redwings have plenty of talented and experienced players back, however, starting with Jaseckas and Schramek. "While we have a lot of things to figure out with this group, I think Katie Jaseckas and Kendal Schramek are not given the respect they deserve and Tsimba Malonga is going to surprise a lot of people," Kilbride said. "In addition we have senior leaders who can really play in Emma Lyne and Ali Kramer, plus three sophs and two frosh who all have the potential to play (Division I) basketball. So while we have a long way to go and a lot to figure out, I expect us to be a very good and deep team by February." Expect the Redwings to continue to run and put up big numbers offensively. The 3-point line will get a workout again too.
Downers Grove North
Coach: Stephan Bolt.
Last year: 19-9, 7-5 fourth in West Suburban Silver; lost to Kenwood in a Class 4A regional final.
Top players: Brigid Miller, sr., G; Julia Kramper, so., G; Hannah Ilyavi, sr.; G; Julie Pospisilova, jr., G/F; Savannah Shephard, sr., F/C; Colleen Miller, sr., G; Quinn Stephens, so., F.
Scouting report: The Trojans suffered heavy graduation losses, but there is a lot of talent returning and a few additions who will make a difference. Most of the girls can hit from outside. Bolt believes the keys to the season will be defense, toughness underneath and team chemistry. "We're a physically talented team," Bolt said. "However, a lot of kids are stepping into new roles. We have decent size, but we'll win if we can play tough." Returnees Brigid Miller, Kramper and Ilyavi all matured over the summer. Pospisilova, who moved in from the Czech Republic, is a good all-around player, and Shepard, is a tenacious rebounder who is back from an ACL tear.
Downers Grove South
Coach: Lyndsie Long.
Last year: 14-14, 5-5 fourth place in West Suburban Gold; lost to Lyons Township in the Class 4A regional semifinal.
Top players: Addyson Wesolowski, sr., G; Kasandra Rugienius, sr, G/F; Jen Masello, jr., C; Maggie Greco, so., G; Holly Lueken, so., F; Amy Ganschow, sr., G.
Scouting report: This could be a big year for the Mustangs who have the height, talent, depth and versatility to accomplish great things. Wesolowski, a combo guard, was all-conference. Rugienius provides strong leadership and has a deadly outside shot. Masello, a 6-foot-1 soccer player, is a presence inside and an all-conference candidate. But the big news could be 6-1 sophomore Lueken, a future star with a multitude of skills. Ganschow, who was out last year with an ACL injury, is a great addition. "Our goal is to compete for the conference title," Long said. "Our challenge is to step up in the big games."
Coach: Tim Anderson.
Last year: 3-25, 0-14 in Metro Suburban Conference West Division; lost to St. Charles East in the first round of Class 4A regionals.
Top players: Krysta Wilson, sr., G/F; Danielle Shawaluk, sr., G; Ashley Lira, so., G; Jamie Minard, jr., G; Jenny Sanchez, sr., G.
Scouting report: With eight returning players back, including four starters, the Bison look to make a nice jump in the win column this season. "We're all excited about the upcoming season. We're going to be much improved," Anderson said. "If you look at our record last year we struggled at some things, but it was a wonderful group of kids to coach. They kept their head up and they played hard all the time." Wilson, a four-year varsity player, is the team's best shooter. Sanchez will be in charge of much of the ballhandling duties with Shawaluk, Lira and Minard also strong with the basketball in their hands. Without a boatload of height, Fenton will count on a versatile lineup and a strong defense. "The key for us this year is going to be our defense," Anderson said. "I can't pick right now who's going to be our high scorer, but I'm more excited to see who's going to be ours steals leader and who's going to be our defensive stopper, because that's where our success will lie."
Coach: Don Finnie.
Last year: 19-11, 7-3, second in Upstate Eight Conference Valley Divison; lost to Montini in Class 4A regional final.
Top players: Faith Davies, jr., F; Sam Dooley, jr., G; Katie Hansen, jr., F; Dana Plotke, sr., F; Briana Raysby, so., F; Kate Tadda, sr., F; Tori Tyler, jr., F.
Scouting report: After the second-best season in program history, the Rams start over with a mostly new group of players. Seniors Plotke and Tadda and junior Hansen will be joined on the varsity by a group of juniors who won the conference sophomore championship last season. "It's kind of like we're rebuilding again this year. A lot of juniors on the team," Finnie said. This group will face a schedule made tougher this season plus an always competitive conference schedule. "It's not an easy schedule," Finnie said. They will start with defense as their biggest strength. "It's one of the taller teams that I've ever had," Finnie said, adding they are also quick and athletic. "Hopefully, they'll be as tenacious as the other teams I've had on defense." Raysby is a 6-footer, and Hansen and Plotke also bring good height to the court. Dooley is a left-handed point guard who got some experience with the varsity late in the season along with Raysby.
Coach: John Chamberlain.
Last year: 17-11, 9-7, fifth in the DuPage Valley Conference; lost to Batavia in the Class 4A regional finals.
Top players: Zakiya Newsome, sr., G; Lauren Lee, jr., F; Leah Miller, jr., G.
Scouting report: With four of their five starters back after a solid season, the Panthers look to be in good shape. But they will have to replace two-time All-Area and three-time all-DVC performer Jennifer Deegan. "The hope here is that the learning curve of playing without last year's stalwart leader and captain doesn't take too long," Chamberlain said. "There will likely be improvement throughout the season as we learn a new way to play." Newsome, Lee and Miller will each have to up their scoring and rebounding averages to make up for the loss of Deegan's numbers, while freshmen Brea King and Neveah King are expected to contribute right away as newcomers to the program. "I'd like our hustle and toughness to ramp up to a higher level than it has been. Hopefully, we will be playing our best basketball at the end of the season," Chamberlain said.
Coach: Morgan Kasperek.
Last year: 18-11, 12-2, tied for first in Metro Suburban Conference West Division; lost in Class 3A sectional semifinals.
Top players: Gianna Anderson, jr., G; Maggie Bair, so., C/F; Mady Carli, jr., G; Sarah Cohen, jr., G; Ally Daca, jr., F; Akayhla Dixon, fr., G; Ashley Dodge, jr., F.
Scouting report: This year's starters know what it's like to play at the varsity level. Though they're all still young -- there are no seniors on the roster -- they all started most or all of the season last year, earning a wealth of experience, which means the coaches don't have to explain as much. "They know what to expect and how to practice," Kasperek said. It also means they should have a much better start than they did last season when November was a struggled. Bair, Daca and Dodge provide height, and they can all run when Cohen and Carli push the ball upcourt. Anderson and Dixon will help off the bench. But defense is where Kasperek expects the most improvement. "Defensively, they're a weapon because they're all pretty quick. They can cut down the angles because they're so long," Kasperek said of her front line of Daca, Dodge and Bair. Carli and Cohen will key the defense at guard, however. If that happens, the Raiders could go far. "I want to make a deep run in the state tournament. That's what we're talking about with the girls," Kasperek said.
Coach: Karen Persinger.
Last year: 13-16, 3-9, seventh in West Suburban Silver; lost in Class 4A regional semifinal.
Top players: Sammy Harris, jr., G; Cameron Kruse, jr., G; Catherine Reedy, sr., G; Samantha Skirvin, sr., F; Jamiyah Thomas, so., F; Cali Villasenor, sr., G.
Scouting report: The Hilltoppers showed a lot of progress last year after a difficult season in 2014-15. They hope to keep that progress going this season. That starts with being more competitive in the league. "The kids have embraced that," Persinger said. "They have embraced the challenge of it. I told them this is our year to step up and show (Silver rivals) where we're at." The Hilltoppers have a core of four players who played regularly last year and who will be counted on to ease the transition for the newcomers: Reedy, Skurvin, Harris and Villasenor. As for the new players to the varsity, Persinger is eager to see "how they handle the speed of the varsity game and how quickly they transition into what we want to do." Reedy showed last year she can put the ball in the basket, and Kruse also can score. But the other end of the court is more important to the Hilltoppers' progress plan. "We're still going to hang our hat on our defense and put some pressure on the other team, force them to play our tempo," Persinger said.
Coach: Tom McKenna.
Last year: 14-17, 4-8 fourth in the West Suburban Silver; lost to Proviso East in a Class 4A regional final.
Top players: Riley Burr, sr., F; Paige Bareck, sr., G; Elle Schaefer, sr., G; Grace Hartzman, sr., G; Abbi Shaker, sr., F; Alex Hughes, jr., F.
Scouting report: The Red Devils have the depth and experience to win a lot of the close games that didn't go their way last year. Returning starters and team leaders Bareck, who can shoot and distribute, and Burr, who is a threat from both inside and outside, will lead the way. Both plan to play in college. "We have depth, athleticism, speed and skills," McKenna said. "We had a successful summer and we have experience and great chemistry." The Red Devils are a confident, cohesive group, and they have their eyes on the conference title and a regional championship.
Coach: Jen Belmonte.
Last year: 19-10, 7-3, second place in West Suburban Gold; lost to Morton in Class 4A regional semifinal.
Top players: Erin Collins, sr., F; Francesca Markos, so., G; Emily Koziol, so., G; Julie Mitchell, sr., F; Natalie Spencer, Sr., G; Evelyn Edmond, jr., F; Aurora Korfist, fr., G.
Scouting report: The Hornets will be a high-energy crew both on offense and defense. All of last year's starters graduated, but Collins and Koziol were key contributors off the bench. Markos and Edmond were the top players on last year's strong sophomore team. "We don't have a big star, but a lot of talent and versatility," Belmonte said. "We play a run-and-gun offense and we do a lot of trapping and pressing on defense that should lead to many transition layups." The Hornets will be focused on catching and passing up-tempo conference rival Proviso East and then making it out of the regional.
IC Catholic Prep
Coach: Kelsey James.
Last year: 12-16, 3-9 in the Metro Suburban Conference West Division; lost to Fenwick in Class 3A regional final.
Top players: Claire Gibler, jr., G/F; Tess Reardon, sr., G/F; Jaida Smith, so., G; Sophie Zanoni, jr., G.
Scouting report: The Knights are facing a new dynamic this season. They lost three post players to graduation and don't have much height. James looks to run the floor more and be more aggressive on the defensive side. IC will be tough to match up against because it will play four guards at all times. Those guards will be expected to attack the basketball more, trying to open some shots for three-year starter and last season's leading scorer, the 5-foot-10 Gibler. She averaged 12 points a game as a sophomore along with 10 rebounds. "This year we will look to get more steals and beat people on the boards. We intend to do all the little things," James said.
Coach: Brian Rupp.
Last year: 15-14, 10-6, fourth in DuPage Valley Conference; lost in Class 4A regional semifinal.
Top players: Emily Golab, sr., F; Camryn James, jr., G; Sarah Ludwig, sr., G; Nicole Riley, sr., Daina Riser, jr., G/F; G; Darrione Rogers, fr., G/F; Carson Vance, jr., G.
Scouting report: Get used to hearing a lot about Rogers. Rupp calls her a special player who plays in the style of LeBron James. "She's the real deal," he said. "It's no joke." Rogers will be the Lancers' best player since Samantha Arnold went to the University of Michigan. Rogers will play guard, but at 5-foot-11 she can post up too. She's a great passer, so good that her teammates will need to learn to expect passes they've never received before, Rupp said. She can also create her own shot in the lane or make the 3-pointer. "It's going to make my life pretty easy because there are going to be times I'm just going to let her go to work," Rupp said of Rogers, who already is getting a lot of interest from major Division I colleges. There's good talent around her also, starting with Vance, much improved at point guard. James and Golab will provide energy, rebounding and scoring in the post. "We're not quite as strong down low, but we've got a mix of girls that can definitely plug and play in those areas that we're pretty confident about," Rupp said.
Coach: Nick Balaban.
Last year: 17-10, 7-4, third place in Interstate Eight Conference; lost to Bishop McNamara in Class 2A Wilmington regional semifinal.
Top players: TyAnn Le-Grand Melton, sr., G; Natalie Takahashi, jr., G; Abbey Kretman, sr., G; Nicole Cyranoski, sr., G.
Scouting report: Le-Grand Melton, Takahashi, Kretman and Cyranoski will all play crucial roles as the Lions navigate their 2016-17 season. Both LeGrand-Melton and Takahashi have been named all-conference the past two seasons. Balaban called the 5-foot-9 LeGrand-Melton the most complete player on the roster. "She led the team in rebounding, blocked shots and steals. For us to be successful, she will continue to be an integral part and focal point of our team this upcoming season," Balaban said. Takahashi returns to run the point after leading the team in scoring, assists and free-throw percentage last winter. "She'll be expected to guide the team's offense by scoring and by creating shots for all of our offensive weapons, as well as continuing to be tenacious on the defensive end," Balaban said.
Coach: Cedric Williams.
Last year: 8-19, 4-11, sixth in DuPage Valley Conference; lost to Joilet West in the Class 4A regional quarterfinals.
Top players: Janiece Thomas, sr., G; Skye Lane, sr., C; Ashley Konkle, so., F; Bri Hall, sr., F; Jamairrah Woods, jr., G/F; Aaliyah Johnson, sr., G.
Scouting report: Konkle is back after earning all-DVC honors as a freshman. Along with Lane and Hall, she gives the Mustangs plenty of size and strength down low. "We've got a lot of height inside, and Ashley Konkle is coming off a great freshman year," Williams said. "Skye Lane has gotten better over the course of the year and so she'll be a big force inside from a defensive standpoint and a rebounding standpoint." Thomas has developed into a solid point guard, and with four starters back the team looks primed to step up in the DVC. "We've just got to make sure we're doing the right things, and we need to make sure we've got the right chemistry and having a great attitude and giving everything we have on a daily basis," Williams said. "So we can get better going down the stretch, especially playing in the DVC. With those games, every night you have to bring your 'A' game. We have to prepare ourselves for that from a mental standpoint."
Coach: Jason Nichols.
Last year: 31-3, 7-0, first in GCAC Red; lost in Class 4A supersectional to Trinity.
Top players: Kaylee Bambule, sr., G; Claudia Kunzer, sr., G; Lindsey Jarosinski, jr., C; Nikki Oppenheimer, sr., G; Aaliyah Patty, jr., F; Illysse Pitts, jr., G; Zoe Zacker, so., G.
Scouting report: Some things change, but this doesn't: Montini should go deep into the postseason and could win another state title. "I think we've got a good team," Nichols said. "How good will be determined by how healthy we stay and how much we improve." One player who has improved a great deal is the 6-foot-3 Patty. "Aaliyah Patty had a huge summer. She made incredible strides. I'm excited by where she's at," Nichols said. With the 6-5 Jarosinski she gives the Broncos the ability to play either a two-post or a one-post offense. "We're going to give people different looks," Nichols said. Both posts have received numerous scholarship offers from major Division I colleges. The Broncos still can shoot the 3-pointer also, especially players like Bambule (signed with Ohio University), Oppenheimer (Syracuse) and Zacker. Kunzer (South Dakota State) provides the energy, and Pitts will lead the bench crew, which will be young. If there's one area where Nichols wants to see his team improve from last year it's defense. The Broncos have probably their toughest schedule yet, including two trips to Kentucky.
Coach: Andy Nussbaum.
Last year: 23-9, 13-3, third place in the DuPage Valley Conference; lost to Bolingbrook in the Class 4A Lemont regional final.
Top players: Lucy Schmid, so., F; Mia Lakstigala, jr., G, Erin Moran, sr., G; Olyvia McGuire, so., C.
Scouting report: The Redhawks return four of their top eight players from last season's outright conference champs. Schmid and Lakstigala started all last winter and Lakstigala was the Redhawks' leading scorer, averaging just over 14 points per game. Schmid at 6-feet-2 and McGuire at 6-0 provide Naperville Central always needed height. "We're a little bit bigger than last year," Nussbaum said. "We have good size and have always been a pretty good shooting team." Naperville Central's ability to put a lineup out on the court depending on the situation will continue. The Redhawks will be tested at their annual Tip-Off Tournament with Benet, Oswego East, Bartlett and Batavia providing big challenges. "We will find out very quickly what we will be like," Nussbaum said. "With as many players that we have returning, we have a chance to be reasonably good. It's a marathon, one game at a time. But I believe we will be up to the challenge."
Coach: Jason Dycus.
Last year: 12-13, 5-11 in the DuPage Valley Conference; lost to Neuqua Valley in Class 4A Yorkville regional semifinal.
Top players: Morgan Lockridge, sr., F; Chloe Kotrba, sr., F; Cami Bilardello, sr., G; Sadie Jurkovic, jr., C; Lauren Platou, jr., G.
Scouting report: Dycus is happy with the makeup of this team, although it will have to replace scoring capability lost to graduation. Jurkovic returns after averaging 8 points and 8 rebounds last season. The Huskies should be stronger on the perimeter, and they will emphasize running the court. Defensively, Dycus will stress to his team the need to create turnovers for easier looks at the basket. "We are graduating 24.5 points per game from our seniors last year, so we need to make up quite a bit of scoring and it will be fun to see how our team develops," Dycus said.
Coach: Mike Williams.
Last year: 24-7, 9-3, second in the DuPage Valley Conference; lost to Benet in the Class 4A sectional semifinals.
Top players: Megan Keefer, sr., G/F; Makinzie DeHaan, sr., F/C; Megan Callahan, jr., G; Rachel Lee, jr., G; Taylor Crowley, jr., G; Rachael Tait, jr., G/F.
Scouting report: Senior leaders DeHaan and Keefer are back to lead the way along with a deep, talented junior class. But the Wildcats will have to learn to play without the departed Division I backcourt of Myia Starks and Kai Moon. "What we'll have is a strong group of individuals, but we won't have those superstars, which is all right," Williams said. "Everyone is going to have opportunities to take that big shot." Keefer, a four-year varsity player, is solid inside and outside, DeHaan is tough in the paint, and shooting guard Callahan returns after knocking down some big shots last postseason. Tait, a transfer from Benet, brings a lot of intensity and intangibles to the floor.
Coach: Melissa Taylor.
Last year: 21-11, 7-3, sixth in the GCAC Red; lost in the Class 3A sectional semifinals to Rockford Boylan.
Top players: Mia Mazza, sr., G; Antwainette Walker, jr., G/F; Isabel Bettag, sr., G; Madison Wisted, so., G.
Scouting report: Expect major offensive and defensive contributions from seniors Bettag and Mazza, junior Walker and sophomore Wisted. The 5-foot-10 Walker can do a little of everything on the floor, and a deep experienced backcourt will help plenty. Six seniors are on the roster after the Spartans claimed their first regional championship in 13 years last season. "We have exceptional leaders from all levels, which keeps everyone on the same page and enhances our opportunities to accomplish more," Taylor said. "Our team's camaraderie is incredible, which makes the bond between teammates unbreakable." Taylor expects this year's team to carry on after last year's successful campaign, saying: "It's a seasoned and talented returning squad with a few exceptional add-ons. We are getting after it right away, and the ladies have no limits to achieving their potential this season."
Coach: Michele Strube.
Last year: 13-15, 8-4, third place in Metro Suburban Conference East Division; lost to Christ the King in a Class 2A regional final.
Top players: Allison Zeilstra, sr., G; Olivia Hoekstra, sr., G; Ava Venema, sr., F; Tyra Hopson, sr., G; Emily DeBoer, jr., C; Heidi Westra, so., G; Jordyn Strube, so., G.
Scouting report: The Trojans are big (four girls over 6 feet tall) and they're quick and skilled. Guard Zeilstra and Hoekstra have all-conference ability, and they'll lead a team that is looking to overwhelm the opposition in transition. They love to run. The defense keeps the team in every game. Venema, who has taken off two years to concentrate on volleyball, will be a force inside. "She's athletic, aggressive and can jump," Strube said. "She'll control the boards and be a troublemaker on defense." The Trojans' goal is to win conference and go through to the sectional.
Coach: Dave Owles.
Last year: 4-23, 0-16 in the DuPage Valley Conference; lost to Lemont in the first round of the Class 4A regionals.
Top players: Abbey Glavin, sr., G; Brooklynne Wilson, sr., F; Gina Palasz, jr., F; Caleigh Cramer, jr., G.
Scouting report: With nine returners from last year's varsity, plus another transfer (Sam Garcia) with varsity experience, it's a very different outlook for the Warriors compared to 2015-16 when only Glavin had previous varsity experience. "With that experience comes optimism and enthusiasm for the upcoming season," Owles said. "Although last year saw very few wins, we finished the season playing very competitive basketball, and that has carried over through the summer and into the fall." Led by the overall effort and leadership of four-year varsity player Glavin, the quickness and defense of Jabria Dampier at the point, the inside scoring ability of Wilson and Palasz, and the outside shooting of Cramer, Olivia Josephson, and junior Doyin Dada, the Warriors expect to make big strides offensively, an area of struggles last year. "Expectations in general are much higher this year as we look to significantly improve on last year's win total in the DVC and overall," Owles said.
Coach: Kim Wallner.
Last year: 3-24, 0-10 in Upstate Eight Conference Valley Division; lost to Wheaton North in Class 4A Bartlett regional quarterfinal.
Top players: Sofia Radice, jr., G; Sierra Koenig, jr., G; Delaney Doell, sr., C; Sam Wiegele, jr., G; Catherine Miller, jr., F.
Scouting report: Wallner sees improvement in all of the returning players from last season. But certain things have to happen if the Wildcats are to see an improvement in their won-loss record. The West Chicago coach is stressing to the squad that better defense and rebounding are the most crucial things to focus on. "We should be improved in our 3-point shooting and I am hoping we have a balanced attack on offense. We will run when we can, but also rely on controlling the tempo so scores do not get up in the 60s," Wallner said. The Wildcats obviously hope to duplicate many times throughout the season the level of play they showed Tuesday in a 55-36 opening night victory over Nazareth. The team shot 70 percent during the crucial third quarter, dominated on the boards and defended strong throughout the game.
Coach: Jeff Pearson.
Last year: 15-13, 8-3 tied for second in the Interstate Eight Conference, lost to St. Joseph's in a Class 2A sectional semifinal.
Top players: Allie Kraft, jr., F; Kaitlyn Niemer, jr., G; Sarah Schlacks, sr., G; Donna Lalonde, jr. G; Kailee Schacht, jr., C; Rachel Chorney, sr., F/C; Sydney Pardy, jr., G/F.
Scouting report: The Sentinels are in rebuilding mode. They are a work in progress depending on a strong junior class. "We have new leaders and a lot of players stepping into new roles," Pearson said. "And we're a little short on depth. We're just looking to get better every day." The coach expects breakout seasons from veterans Kraft and Niemer. Schlacks is a multisport star who brings smarts and toughness to the backcourt. Schacht is a college volleyball prospect who will be a force inside. Pardy returns from an ACL injury and could be the dominant player. It will be interesting to watch this developing squad grow during the season.
Coach: Tory Gum.
Last year: 17-10, 6-6 in the Metro Suburban Conference West Division; lost to Kaneland in Class 3A Burlington Central regional semifinal.
Top players: Emily Renn, sr., G; Meredith Bult, sr., F; Lizzy Swoboda, jr., G; Chrislyn Herring, sr., G.
Scouting report: It's a new era for the Warriors as Gum takes over after Beth Mitchell stood down after nine seasons. Gum has much to work with, including good team speed and experience on a roster with seven seniors. But the offense will have to replace the scoring from last season generated by the graduated Jamie Netzley and Elizabeth Melby. Both are playing college basketball, with Netzley at Taylor University and Melby at Calvin College. Wheaton Academy will play an up-tempo style. Renn is the top returning scorer at 5.0 points a game and also averaged 3.2 rebounds. Swoboda is the top returning rebounder at 3.5 rebounds. "We work consistently on our shooting percentage to make up for our loss of scoring. We strive to be good on defense this year and with our team speed hope to create turnovers," Gum said.
Coach: Dave Eaton.
Last year: 12-16, 7-9, tied for third in DuPage Valley Conference; lost in Class 4A regional semifinal.
Top players: Sophie Ahlberg, jr., G; Nikki Baird, so., F; Bella Mullaney, sr., F; Hannah Swider, jr., G; Matti Zander, so., G.
Scouting report: Wheaton North played a lot of young players last year, and with only two seniors on the roster, the young players will see a lot of time again this year. "We're still a pretty young group," Eaton said. "They know our expectations so it doesn't matter if you're a freshman, sophomore, junior or senior." As always the Falcons will play tough, in-your-face defense, whether they're at home or on the road in the always-tough DuPage Valley Conference. "That's a side of the ball I think you can win a lot of games on," Eaton said. "Our defense travels." The Falcons have players who can score, though, not that they spend much time worrying about that side of the ball. "They're very unselfish, almost to a fault. They don't care who scores, they want to win," Eaton said. Swider and Baird, a 6-footer who can shoot the 3-pointer, will be the primary options offensively, and Ahlberg has learned a lot about how to lead the offense. All three had great summers, Eaton said.
Coach: Rob Kroehnke.
Last year: 18-10, 11-5, third in DuPage Valley Conference; lost to Bartlett in Class 4A regional final.
Top players: Maria Dohse, so., G.; Mira Emma, so., G; Jayla Johnson, jr., F; Kiersten King, jr., F; Jayne LaBelle, sr., F; McKenzie Stebbins, so., G; Sarah Struebing, sr., G; Kennedy Youngblood, jr., G.
Scouting report: Wheaton Warrenville South will pick up this season where it left off last year. "We're looking pretty good," Kroehnke said. "We're young, we're athletic." The Tigers have their entire starting lineup back from the end of last season, but with last year's experience to build on. Johnson remains the focal point, a strong presence in the low post who made 50 percent of her shots. LaBelle also works hard down low. Emma will run the point and be one of the players who look to open things up with some 3-pointers. "I've got some more shooters now, so it's a good complement, because obviously Jayla's established herself so far and is only going to get better," Kroehnke said. The Tigers will look to change things up regularly on defense to give opponents different looks. Their aim is a 20-win season, but the schedule won't make it easy.
Coach: Terry Harrell.
Last year: 8-20, 5-7, fourth in West Suburban Gold; lost to Glenbard West in Class 4A regional quarterfinal.
Top players: Grace Chantos, sr., Sara Fitzgibbon, fr., G; Shannon Knudtson, fr., G; Hanna Konrath, so., G; Kellsie Kraabel, sr., G; Cece Lizasuain, so., F; Maureen Schmid, so., F.
Scouting report: Despite big graduation losses from last year's team, Harrell is optimistic about this group of young players. "They will surpass expectations that most people have of them," Harrell said. The Warriors will start two seniors, Kraabel and Chantos, the one returning starter who has turned into a scorer this year. Konrath played as a freshman on the varsity last year, but she is much improved. Konrath is one of six underclassmen who will play this year. She has been shooting the lights out in practice so far, and Harrell sees that continuing now that games have begun. "If it does she'll have a heck of a year," he said. Konrath is not the only strong shooter on the team. Schmid can stretch defenses, while Lizasuain will provide strength in the low post. "We have a bright future," Harrell said, noting other talented athletes in the pipeline, "but we hope to have a bright year this year too."
Coach: Maggie Ely.
Last year: 15-16, 3-4, fourth place in West Suburban Silver; lost to St. Charles North in a Class 4A regional quarterfinal.
Top players: Caylin Rufus, jr., G; Danielle Dennis, jr., G; Jaclyn Saco, sr.; G; Jenna Dvorak, sr., F; Madison Park, jr., G.
Scouting report: A strong man-to-man defense will carry the Dukes this year. With veteran leadership, good size and many players who can hit from the perimeter, the York attack will be built on transition created by its energetic defense. The top two scorers, Dennis and Rufus, are back, and Dvorak returns after concentrating on soccer last year. At 6 feet Rufus creates some challenging mismatches for the opposition. "The girls have played together for a year so they work well together," said first-year coach Ely. "If our bench develops and we peak at the end of the season, we can go far in February."
-- Stan Goff, Orrin Schwarz, Neil Shalin, D.J. Wanberg