MID-SUBURBAN EASTBuffalo GrovesCoach: Steve Kolodziej (fifth season)
Last year's record: (25-5, 10-0)
Graduated players: Maddie Welter, Sammy Stejskal, Natali Dimitrova, Amanda Kowalski, Cassie Berman
Returning players: Georgette Topalis (5-8 Sr. G,) Megan Gamber (5-8, Sr. G), Kendall Prochaska (5-9, Sr. F), Alyssa Floro (5-6, Jr. G)
Newcomers: Kendra Lee (5-10, Fr. F-G), Macy Floro (5-7, Fr. G), Alyssa Ramos (5-7 Fr. G), Jackie Bickhaus (5-7 So. G), Sydney Fortman, (5-9, So. F), Lucia Faraci (5-7, Jr. G), Gina Bolis, (5-9 Sr. F), Allie Chessick (5-6, Sr. G)
Outlook: Not too many teams can say they graduated a pair of 1,000-point scorers as the Bison did in Welter and Stejskal, who were both all-area along with Dimitrova (7.9 points, 5.9 rebounds). But last year's MSL East champion and Lake Zurich Class 4A regional champion does return all-area guard Topalis, who will be the leader of this team. She had two game-deciding baskets against Hersey last year and scored a career high 19 points against Rolling Meadows. "We anticipate a high-energy, young team full of potential," Kolodziej said. "Our goals are to improve each and every day and find a way to win in a very competitive MSL East that is loaded with talented teams. Our teams strengths will be: athleticism, speed."
Elk GroveCoach: Jen Guth (third season)
Last year's record: 4-22, 1-9
Graduated players: Carly Crothers, Alyson Czyewski, Mackenzie Flannery, Alex Masnica, Taylor Matos, Sarah Paushcer, Brandy Richardson, Abbey Sloan. Returning players: Jenny Banak (5-4 Sr. G), Isabel Michniak (5-8, Sr. F), Leilani Rivera (5-7 Sr. G-F), Zoe Blomquist (5-9 Jr. G-F), Bailey Smola (5-9 Jr. F), Rachel Kandefer (6-1 So. G) Newcomers: Erin Allegretti (5-5 Sr. G), Emma Simmons (5-3 Jr. G), Holly Olson (6-1, So. F), Megan Murray (5-3, Fr. PG), Emily Sitkowski (5-4 Fr. G) Outlook: As she begins her third season, Guth has more players on the floor capable of scoring points. "Each game someone new could step up to be the threat," said Guth, a former Buffalo Grove High School standout forward. "This team has balance and they have great chemistry together." Gith said she is looking for the Grens to push the ball up the floor and pressure teams with their quickness. "We play in a tough conference but we hope to be competitive and play solid fundamental basketball," Guth added. "I am really looking forward to this season and working with this great group of girls. They are hard-working kids with great attitudes and willingness to learn and compete at a higher level."
HerseyCoach: Mary Fendley (19th season)
Last year's record: 25-5, 8-2
Graduated players: Maggie Berigan, Claire Niemczyk, Delaney Parker, Susan Lindstrom
Returning players: Erin McGrath (5-11, Jr. F), Carly Cooper (5-6, SR. G), Claire Gritt (5-10. Sr. G), Gina Miklasz (5-7, Sr. G), Carly Silva (5-5, Sr. G), Andrea Cannon (5-9, Sr. G), Maesyn Benjamin (5-7, Jr. G), Kelly Weyhrich (5-4, Sr. G), Katie McGrath (6-0. Jr. F), Kendall Palmer (5-10. Sr. F)
Newcomers: Haley Skiko (5-9. Jr. F), Claire Rogowski (5-7, Jr. G), Sarah McGrath (5-10, Jr. F), Sydney Hemenway (5-6 Fr G)
Outlook: The Huskies return a lot of experience from the backcourt that helped them win a Class 4A regional last winter. Leading the way are all area selections Weyhrich, Miklasz and Gritt. "They all handle the ball really well, which gives us many options," Fendley said. "Carly Cooper adds tenacious defense, and can hit shots when we need her to do so." Erin McGrath provided the Huskies a lot of quality minutes last year as the first
player off the bench. Katie McGrath and Cannon are also expected to be in the mix this year as tough post players. Rogowski (sister of former Huskies all-stater Megan) is a standout 3-point shooter who can make defenses stretch out. "We have loaded our schedule with as many competitive teams as we could," Fendley said. The Huskies will be in the Fremd Showcase, Lake Zurich Shootout, Montini Invite, Subway Shootout and have nonconference games with New Trier and Glenbrook South. "We hope to be very competitive in the league and at the state level," added Fendley, whose roster includes 12 multiple sport athletes (most 3-sport) from the 14 players. Fendley begins her 19th season with a career record 378-166. In five of the last six years, the Huskies have been knocked out of the state tournament by the team that finished second in the Class 4A state tourney: Fremd (2015, 2016), Rolling Meadows (2013, 2014) and Zion-Benton (2011).
ProspectCoach: Gabrielle Lovin (second season)
Last year's record: 11-18, 2-8
Graduated players: Brenda Kendziera, Angelina Villasin, Angela Roman, Clare O'Carroll, Olivia Sykes, Nikki Matters
Returning players: Kendra Gancarz (5-6, Sr. G), Emily Frasco (6-0, Jr. G), Haley Will (5-9 Sr. G), Margherite Pettenuzzo (5-7 Jr. G), Mary McKenna (5-8, Sr. F), Maggie Determann (5-8 Sr. F), Eileen Donohue (5-7 Sr. G)
Newcomers: Mandy Withey (5-11 So. F), Sara Beisterfeldt (5-8 Jr. G), Erika Andre (5-6 Jr. G), Lizzie Fanslow (5-8, Jr. F)
Outlook: Lovin expects the Knights to be strong at moving the ball up the court quickly and playing intense defense. Senior guard Haley Will returns after missing last season with illness. "We are happy to see her back on the court a bit," said Lovin, the third-leading all-time scorer (1,304 points) in Prospect history. "She is a natural leader who conducts the court all game. Her intensity on defense is great." Withey, whose uncle Paul starred for the Knights boys basketball team as a center in the 1970s, is a sophomore making her varsity debut. "We are excited to see what dynamic Mandy will bring this season," Cottrell said. "She transitions well and has a knack for the ball." The Knights are also hoping for a healthy season from Emily Frasco, who dislocated her kneecap and tore ligaments last season. "Her inside/outside game brings depth to our team.," said Cottrell, who expects hard work from her team day in and day out. "We will be stronger than we were last year. We are trying to build a program while doing all the small things right. We are looking to compete with the front-runners in our conference if we can stay healthy."
Rolling MeadowsCoach: Ryan Kirkorsky (fifth season)
Last year's record: 19-10, 6-4
Graduated players: Hannah Mickey, Megan King, Meghan Slowik
Returning players: Morgan Campagna (5-11, Sr. F), Kelsey Nallon (5-8 Sr. G), Katherine Nolan (6-1 Sr. F), Clare Preissing (5-4 Sr. G), Kyra Spiwak (5-9, Sr. G), Caili Hosler (5-9 Jr. F), Melissa Spiwak (5-6 Jr. G)
Newcomers: Natalie Anderson (5-8 Jr. G), Hannah Joyce (5-1 Jr. F), Mallory King (5-8 Jr. G), Miyah Ruiz (5-8, Jr. G), Alexa Davis (5-6 So. G), Lily Greifenstein (5-4, So. G
Outlook: The Mustangs return three starters from a team that won nearly 20 games. The trio includes all-area guard Spiwak, who averaged 16.2 points, 4.1 rebounds, 4 assist and 1.9 steals while shooting 48 percent from the floor. "She is one of the best players in the area and has produced on a daily basis for us over the last two years," said coach Ryan Kirkorsky. "She's improved in seeing the floor and knowing when to facilitate and when to score." Also back is Nolan, a Loyola recruit. "She is one of those rare post players who can do anything on the floor," Kirkorsky said. "She can guard anyone on the floor, she's extended her shooting range, and she can dominate in the post." The third returning starter is Campagna, an all-area selection who averaged 8.8 points and 8.7 rebounds. "Morgan is a magnet to the ball," Kirkorsky said. "She's a tremendous rebounder, a lockdown defender, and has become a skilled offensive player on the inside and outside. Our seniors (including Nallon and Preissing) have shown tremendous leadership, and we're expecting the other players on our roster to step in and play at a high level." The Mustangs should contend for the MSL East crown. "We don't talk about our goals often," Kirkorsky said. "We ask our kids to compete and improve each day, and we feel we'll get the results we deserve. We know we will be challenged by our rigorous schedule in and out of the conference."
WheelingCoach: Matt Weber (third season)
Last year: 13-16, 3-7
Graduated players: Michaela Vasey, Daniella Pierini
Returning players: Nansy Velev (Jr 5-7 G), Ayana Blair (5-4 Sr. G-F), Christina Pierini (5-5, So. G), Nosa Igiehon (5-11 So. F/C), Kari Webber (5-10 So. F/C), Melissa Claver (5-10 Sr. F), Shannon Kennedy (5-6, Sr G), Kourtney Schuetz (5-7 Sr. G/F)
Newcomers: Morgan Collar (5-10 Fr. F/C), Sophia Stanke (5-6 Fr. G/F), Chloe Drozdz (5-3 Fr. G), Dakota Medrano (5-10 Jr. F/C)
Outlook: The Wildcats return four starters from last year (Velev, all-area Claver (14.4 ppg, 7.1 rpg), Kennedy and Schuetz). Igiehon, Blair, Pierini, and Webber also have varsity game minutes. Newcomers Medrano, Stanke, Collar and Drozdz will be looking to add depth to the Wildcats' rotation. "In order for us to be successful we have to out work our opponents and play with a high basketball IQ," coach Matt Weber said. "We have to be willing to sacrifice our own personal agendas for the betterment of the team." Weber said the seniors have to be leaders on and off the court. "And we need full team contribution," he said. "If the team stays focused on our goals and we work in practice as hard as we do in the games good things can happen."