NORTHEASTERN ATHLETICChristian Liberty ChargersCoach: Jed Bennett (6th yr.)
Last year: 9-19
Top returners: Jesse Castro (5-7, Sr. G.), Steve Ringstrand (6-5, Sr. F), Joel Roberts (6-2, Sr. G.)
Key varsity additions: Jeremy Ligon (6-5, Sr. F), Isaiah Jaime (5-7, Jr. G), Trevor Jones (6-2, Jr. G.), Gabe Jimenez (6-0, Jr. G.), Rob Litzenberger (6-1, Fr. G)
Outlook: This could be an exciting year of the Chargers. Christian Liberty features some exciting guard play, some big men and what could be the best depth in the school's history. "We're looking to be one of the top four teams in the Northeastern Conference," said Charger coach Jed Bennett. "After one week of practice there is a lot of excitement with this group. They are showing a lot of energy and focus. This could be one of the best teams we've had."
Guard Jesse Castro's a three-year veteran and will run the show for the Chargers. Castro is closing in on being the school's top scorer and is about 250 points away from that coveted mark. Castro averaged 17 points last season.
"Jesse has done so many good things for us. He knows how to spread the floor and penetrate and then dish of if the shot's not there," said Bennett.
Steve Ringstrand at 6-5 averaged almost a double-double most of the season and will look to keep up the improvement from his previous two seasons. Joel Roberts, who missed part of last season with an ankle sprain, will work opposite Castro.
Bennett feels that Jeremy Ligon at 6-5 will help Christian Liberty have the advantage over other teams on the boards and inside on the offense."
"Jeremy is developing his shot, and if he come around we'll have an advantage over others teams in our conference," said Bennett.
Trevor Jones, a 6-2 junior, could make a major impact for the Chargers. Bennett describes Jones as strong with good size. Gabe Jimenez is another junior who has impressed during practice. As the season goes on, Bennett feels freshman Rob Litzenberger (6-1) will pick up valuable minutes.
"Our strong point is that we have some real good players on this team," said Bennett. "On defense we will be able to mix it up, showing different defenses. We just have to be able to learn to play together."
One of the other changes Bennett and the Chargers made is the schedule.
Instead of playing at the Buffalo Grove Round Robin, Christian Liberty will travel to Danville to play at Schlarman High School with other smaller schools. The Chargers would routinely start out 0-4 playing Class 4A teams.
"We wanted to look for something special for the kids. A road trip like this will be good for the players. It really seemed like a good fit for us," said Bennett.
Over the Christmas break, the Chargers will host their own two-day tournament and will play four games.