Coach: Brendan Lyons.
Last year: 18-12, 5-7, fourth in West Suburban Gold; lost 71-51 in Class 4A Batavia regional final.
Top players: Mike Pudlo, sr., F; Adem Mehmeti, jr., G; Connor Palesch, sr., G; A.J. Parnell, sr., G; Vito Ciaccia, sr., G; Albert White, sr., F; Guillermo Rizo, sr., G; J.T. Daniels, jr., F; A.J. Carlson, so., G; Robert Roszkiewicz, fr., F.
Scouting report: Gutted by graduation, the Blazers rebuild with only a few familiar faces. "We're treating it as a blank slate," Lyons said. Ninety percent of last season's scoring and rebounding is gone and one of the team's returners, Pudlo, is nursing an injury suffered in the off-season. That leaves the Blazers thin on experience, but there's potential to put points on the board. Palesch knocked down 10 3-pointers last season, and Parnell also can hit 3s. Mehmeti spent 13 games up on varsity as a sophomore. The high motor, athleticism and physicality of Ciaccia, White and Daniels will come in handy. Rebounding with an undersized group and taking care of the ball with a new backcourt will be critical. "Each group raises the bar a little higher, and this group wants to do the same thing," Lyons said.
Coach: Gene Heidkamp.
Last year: 23-7, 6-3, tied for third in East Suburban Catholic Conference; lost 64-55 to Wheaton North in Class 4A York regional final.
Top players: David Buh, sr., G; Colin Crothers, so., C; Jacob Petrovic, sr., G; Jake Ronneberg, sr., G; Will Engels, jr., F; Ben Cooney, sr., G; Connor Reid, sr. G; Shane O'Mara, jr., F; Matt Boyle, sr., F.
Scouting report: The Redwings aim for a ninth straight 20-win season, but they'll need to do it without graduated Jack Nolan and Liam Lyman, the last remnants of the second-place 4A team two years ago. "It's going to be challenging," Heidkamp said. "It's going to be a process." Two key players return. Buh contributed in nearly every game last year, and he's ready to expand upon his perimeter play. Crothers, at 6-foot-7, missed a good chunk of last year with mononucleosis. Regarded among the state's top sophomore posts, he'll need to have a big year for Benet to be successful. Benet must complement Crothers with another strong perimeter group, this time from Petrovic, Ronneberg, Reid and others. "We'll have different lineups out there," Heidkamp said. "When everyone's back and healthy, we could play 10 guys."
Downers Grove North
Coach: Jim Thomas.
Last year: 19-8, 8-4, tied for second in West Suburban Silver; lost 36-35 to Hinsdale South in Class 4A Downers Grove North regional semifinals.
Top players: Semaj Henderson, jr., G; Eddie Boston, jr., G; Scott Jakobsze, jr. F; Keenan Davis, sr., F; Mychale Hyland, sr., G; Jake Rozema, sr., G; Drew Cassens, so., F; Ryan Force, jr., G; Connor Illyavi, jr., G; Ryan Featherstone, jr., F.
Scouting report: With one of the area's top backcourts -- Henderson and Boston -- the Trojans look primed for their fourth straight winning season. "I don't know if there's another backcourt as good as this one," Thomas said. "We'll rely on them to get us going." Henderson already holds offers from Northern Illinois and Western Illinois after last season averaging 10 points. Boston, who averaged 8 points, is on the verge of receiving offers. Davis, one of only four seniors on the team, returns for a third varsity season. Jakobsze provided key minutes late last season as a sophomore. Newcomers include Hyland, a transfer from Montini, and Cassens, the lone sophomore up on varsity. "There's a lot of room for growth," Thomas said. "I think we'll be tough."
Downers Grove South
Coach: Kris Olson.
Last year: 18-12, 9-3, tied for first in West Suburban Gold; lost 54-50 to Hinsdale Central in Class 4A West Chicago regional semifinals.
Top players: Wes Hooker, jr., G; Blake Thoren, sr., G; Patrick Shaughnessy, sr., G; Eldwin Neritani, sr., F; Justin Eagins, jr., G; J.T. Jablonski, jr. F.
Scouting report: The Mustangs' two-year run of Gold titles comes with a cost this season. Only one starter remains from last year and there are only four seniors on the roster. Still, there's an energy. "We're inexperienced and that'll be a challenge," Olson said. "But every guy on our team has a chance to contribute this year from top to bottom." Hooker is the lone returning starter, which is saying something considering he was a sophomore on a team loaded with senior talent. A shooter with the ability to get to the basket, Hooker started the last handful of games last year. Thoren got experience at the point in the last month. Like Hooker, Eagins also was brought up from the sophomore team late in the year. With Eagins and Shaughnessy's ability to shoot as well, this team will be more perimeter oriented. "I'd like to see us be scrappy and relentless," Olson said.
Coach: Chaz Taft.
Last year: 8-19, 1-11, seventh in Metro Suburban Blue; lost 59-55 to Prosser in Class 4A Fenton regional quarterfinal.
Top players: Jose Alvarez, so., G; Jeff Andrews, jr., G; Isai Gomez, so., C; Diamon King, so., C; Amari Reed, sr., G-F; Ivan Sosa, so., G.
Scouting report: From Taft's list of players mentioned above it seems the Bison are looking toward the future -- though he said they're welcoming the challenge right now. Five sophomores and a freshman are on the varsity roster, but Taft likes their work ethic and dedication as they execute his tough man-to-man defense. There is some height, with a handful of players going 6-3 and up. And there is Reed. The 6-3 swingman was an all-Metro Suburban Blue selection last season at IC Catholic Prep, averaging 9.5 points, 5.1 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.3 blocks, 1.2 blocks and making 54 percent of his 2-point shots. Whether handling the ball on the perimeter, on the block with his back to the basket or facing the hoop, Reed will operate wherever Taft feels he matches up best alongside his young teammates. "They're really looking forward to the challenge of playing up and being successful," he said.
Coach: Scott Miller.
Last year: 3-26, 2-8, tied for fifth in Upstate Eight Valley; lost 64-42 to DeKalb in Class 4A York regional quarterfinal.
Top players: Kenny Adams, sr., G-F; Antonio Davis, jr., C; Korvante Davis, sr., F; DaRon Hall, so., G-F; Anthony Janega, sr., C; Jeremy Johnson, jr., G-F; Alijah Nelson, so., G; James Peterkin, sr., C; Anthony Shockey, jr., C.
Scouting report: The Rams are poised for a major turnaround after the kind of career year no coach wants. Losing multiple key players to injury and discipline gave others minutes. Now Miller has his type of team: 10 deep, varied skills, able to extend defense and run, long, tested and hungry. It's hard to top the back court of explosive defensive whiz Adams, shooter Hall and all-UEC Valley point guard Nelson, offered by Chicago State. Korvante Davis is an improved wing, and football linebacker Shockey adds inside grit. The 6-5 Antonio Davis, 6-5 Janega and 6-4 post Peterkin -- last year's leader averaging 11.9 points, 6.4 rebounds -- lend decent height and athleticism. Rebounding should pick up and teamwork has clicked, the hurdles mainly consistency and simply finishing. "It's more going to be the mental part of it," Miller said.
Coach: Joe Larson.
Last year: 12-15, 5-11, tied for sixth in DuPage Valley Conference; lost 54-52 to Lyons Twp. in Class 4A Downers Grove North regional quarterfinals.
Top players: Lee Rady, sr., F; Jakious Lee, sr., G; Darryl Creamer, sr., F; Noah Callahan, sr., G; Tony Wilder, sr., G; Wyatt MacGaffey, sr., G; Zach Allen, sr., F; Jimmy Zay, jr., G.
Scouting report: Very little returns from last year's team, but the Panthers are still ready to play what's become their standard up-tempo style. "We definitely have quickness and athleticism," Larson said. "That'll help us make up for our lack of size." Lee, a point guard, saw time in every game last season and Rady appeared in most games. While Lee looks to pass first, Rady will be knocking down shots from mid-range to the 3-point line. MacGaffey and Zay also need to contribute from the perimeter for a team with little post size, although Creamer will see time inside. The Panthers will rely on high-energy guys like Callahan and Allen as well as strong defenders like Wilder. "We'll need to pick up the pace and spread people out," Larson said. "But it'll take time. We definitely have to take advantage of the practice time we have."
Coach: Wade Hardtke.
Last year: 14-15, 7-5, third in Metro Suburban Blue; lost 50-49 to Marengo in Class 3A Genoa-Kingston sectional semifinal.
Top players: Tristan Blake, sr., F; Antonio Carter, jr., G; Kevin Enright, jr., G; Cole Hardtke, jr., F; Ryan Harrington, jr., C; Paris Holmes, sr., G; Tavion Keith, jr., G; Matt LaMontagna, sr., G; Tommy Powers, jr., F; Spencer Pyle, jr., C; Brandon Whiteside, sr., G.
Scouting report: Point guard Enright and shooting guard Whiteside played every game last season. Otherwise questions arise mainly inside after the graduation of program rebounding king Charlie Bair. Players such as 6-2 Downers North transfer Blake, sturdy 6-2 Pyle, 6-7 Harrington and 6-4 Cole Hardtke, the coach's son, look to answer those questions for a team that has won two straight regionals. On the other hand Wade Hardtke thinks this junior- and guard-heavy squad may be the quickest he's had, hopefully scrappy defensively and pushing the ball offensively. Whiteside averaged 14.6 points, 1.6 steals and hit 41 3-pointers. "We certainly have the tools and the athleticism, it's just how quickly we can adjust to varsity basketball," Hardtke said.
Coach: Tim Hoder.
Last year: 13-15, 3-9, tied for sixth in West Suburban Silver; lost 48-39 to Wheaton Warrenville South in Class 4A West Chicago regional semifinals.
Top players: Evan Taylor, jr., G-F; Jay Ludington, sr., G; Dre Thomas, sr., G; Nick Dwyer, sr., G; Tyson Harris, sr., G; Kyle Dell, jr., G; Caden Phillips, jr. F; Carter Lindstrom, jr., G; Ben Reifel, sr., G.
Scouting report: After a strong sophomore season on varsity, Taylor's on the verge of a breakout year. Standing 6-foot-6 with a 6-9 wingspan, Taylor already has a half dozen Division I college offers. "He's gotten bigger, more explosive," Hoder said. "He's on a lot of people's radar." Last season Taylor averaged a team-high 13.6 points and 6.8 rebounds, but he's the lone returning starter and needs support. While the Hilltoppers will show various types of lineups, Taylor will be the heart of it all. Ludington and Thomas played some last year, and they'll add more than solid defense. Dell and Lindstrom are two of the team's best shooters. Phillips, who played a handful of varsity games as a sophomore, is a 6-5 post presence. "We've got a lot to work with, but we're untested," Hoder said.
Coach: Nick Latorre.
Last year: 16-12, 8-4, tied for second in West Suburban Silver; lost 30-28 to Wheaton Warrenville South in Class 4A West Chicago regional final.
Top players: Trevor Hamilton, sr., G; Matt Rush, jr., G; Matt Guglielmo, sr., G; Mac Quast, so., F; J.P. Hoffman, sr., F; Danell Nicholson, jr., G; Ryan Isaacson, so., F; Charlie Lyne, jr., G; Justin Bradshaw, jr., G.
Scouting report: The Red Devils were so deep with senior guards last season. Now we get to see the talent that was waiting behind them. Hamilton is a three-year varsity member who will lead the way. "We're going to be a lot different team this year," Latorre said. "But I think we have some players who could step up." Hamilton had a great off-season after averaging 6.2 points and 3 rebounds as a junior. Rush was right behind Hamilton with 5.3 points a game. The returning scoring drops off after that, but there's experience with 6-foot-5 Quast, who appeared in 21 games as a freshman, and Gulielmo, who stood out on the junior varsity team. Isaacson, at 6-6, is another sophomore with size. "We might struggle to score a lot so we'll have to be a good defensive team," Latorre said.
Coach: Brett Moore.
Last year: 19-12, 9-3, tied for first in West Suburban Gold; lost 55-53 to Wheaton North in Class 4A Hinsdale Central sectional semifinals.
Top players: Zion Griffin, sr., F; Aaron Tims, so., F; Robert Barnes, sr., G-F; Ramon Norman, sr., G; Kaleb Thomas, sr., G; Joe Mazzei, sr., G; Lazerrick Mosley, sr., F; Billy Durkin, so., G.
Scouting report: The Hornets have one of the state's top senior players in 6-foot-5 Griffin, who signed with Iowa State, but will it be enough to match and exceed last year's success? "We're like an old young team," Moore said. "We know what we have with Zion, but we've written out 12 different backcourt possibilities. It's a matter of who's going to emerge." Griffin was tremendous last year while averaging 17.1 points and 8.2 rebounds, and he exploded in the off-season while garnering numerous Division I offers. He'll be dangerous in the post, with his mid-range game and on the perimeter. Barnes is the other experienced member of the team who played every game last year. Mazzei bolsters the backcourt by returning to the program after a year away. Gerkin should help immediately, especially with his outside shot. In time, 6-6 Tims will be a force.
IC Catholic Prep
Coach: T.J. Tyrrell.
Last year: 21-8, 10-2, tied for first in Metro Suburban Blue; lost 66-44 to Orr in Class 2A Guerin sectional semifinal.
Top players: Kris Askew, sr., G; Kevin Cheng, sr., G; Griffen Eichhorn, sr., G; Nico Gaudio, sr., F; Alex Meurer, sr., F; Pat Shannon, sr., G; Zen Tverdokhlib, sr., F-C.
Scouting report: Tyrrell seeks a fourth conference title and third regional title in his six seasons. Adding heft is new assistant Tom McCormack; the retired Conant coach won a regional in his lone ICCP season in 1984-85. Though undersized, losing Luke Ricobene to injury and Amari Reed to transfer, a strong summer plus the desire to find the open man and play team defense may translate to another 20-win season. All-Metro Suburban Blue seniors Cheng and Meurer, the former a 2-guard and the latter a heady 6-3 forward, averaged 11.2 and 10.3 points, respectively. Tyrrell sees more offense in Askew's future and likes how the 6-1 Gaudio and 6-3 Tverdokhlib battle inside. The Knights' depth is not great but their buy-in and discipline are. "There's a winning mentality in the program which is a great mindset to have coming into a season," Tyrrell said.
Coach: Josh Virostko.
Last year: 15-15, 7-9, third in DuPage Valley Conference; lost 33-23 to Conant in Class 4A Robert Morris sectional semifinals.
Top players: Diamante Smith, sr., F; Brady Olenek, sr., G; Dan Spejcher, sr., G; Aun Amir, sr., F; Solomon Sangobowale, sr. F; Max Ellenbecker, jr., F; Tommy Zakic, jr., F; Luke Sgarbossa, so., G.
Scouting report: Five three-year varsity members return, but one question hangs over all that experience. How will the Lancers replace graduated leading scorer Garrett Fant? "That's a tough loss," Virostko said. "Scoring could be an issue for us." Fant scored twice as much as anyone else on last year's regional title team, but the potential exists for several players to combine to fill that void. Spejcher, for example, averaged 15 points in the playoffs, while Smith's season average was 6.6 points despite dealing with injuries. Olenek is an experienced point guard and Sgarbossa was one of the team's most consistent summer players. Amir and Sangobowale also have been up on varsity since sophomore year. "Athleticism won't be a problem," Virostko said. "Getting them to play together might take some time."
Coach: Mark LaScala.
Last year: 19-12, 7-4, sixth in Interstate Eight Conference; lost 45-39 to Bishop McNamara in Class 2A Seneca sectional semifinal.
Top players: Elisha Basnight, jr., G-F; Jay McGrath, jr., G-F; Cameron Stitt, sr., F; Devin Tincu, sr., F; Jonas Wilke, sr., G; Connor Webb, so., G; Jakub Kowal, jr., C.
Scouting report: It's a pretty clean slate for Lisle, which graduated the top four scorers from its first regional champion since 2004. This group shares the ball well and brings height -- thus the Lions' first intrasquad dunk contest on Tuesday. Gone is mainstay Mark McGrath but back is kid brother Jay McGrath, who averaged 4.7 points, 3.1 rebounds and hit 28 3-pointers. It'll be important for McGrath and the slashing Stitt to stay healthy after suffering football injuries. St. Joseph transfer Basnight is finding his way on a roster with 6-5 Webb and 6-3 Wilke, Lisle's tallest point guards in years. Add the driving Kowal and Tincu and Wilke's shooting, and LaScala sees athleticism, players who can stretch the floor, rebound and challenge passes. All of them were complementary players last season, so roles must be defined. "I do think we'll be very balanced," the coach said.
Coach: Matt Walpole.
Last year: 10-20, 5-11, tied for sixth in DuPage Valley Conference; lost 76-34 to Naperville North in Class 4A Batavia regional semifinal.
Top players: Cory Adams, sr., G; Maurice Barnes, jr., F; Brad Hartje, sr., F; Ethan Helwig, jr., G; Nick Herrmann, sr., F; Manny Hess, jr., F; Jens Petersen, jr., F.
Scouting report: Team play and more height fuel Walpole's second season -- hopefully edgier on defense after allowing 63.7 points on average in his first. The transfer to Naperville Central of Payton Thorne and Jayden Reed will both hurt and provide others opportunities. Returning starter Helwig, second on last season's team at 11.7 points a game, added a midrange game and defense; energetic 6-3 returning starter Hess hit the weights and bulked up his shooting. Hartje didn't get a ton of minutes but 74 percent foul shooting is always welcome. Inside-out 6-7 presence Petersen and 6-5 Barnes provide height Metea lacked last season. An unselfish if overall inexperienced club will use ball movement rather than speed to get the best shot. "With this group and the way they're coachable and hungry," Walpole said, "I want us to stay in games for a chance to win at the end."
Coach: Daryl Thomas.
Last year: 11-17, 1-8, ninth in Chicago Catholic League North; lost 63-47 to Burlington Central in Class 3A Marmion regional semifinal.
Top players: Jamari Harris, jr., G; Yousuf Mitchell, sr., F; Luke Morrill, jr., G; Matt Morrissey, sr., F; Fred Stokes, jr., F; Anthony Thompson, jr., G; Scott West, jr., G; Fred Wu, jr., C.
Scouting report: Changes in Lombard: Three of last season's top players plus a 6-8 junior transferred out. Thomas is not dismayed. "I want to have kids who want to be here," he said. Two include Morgan Park transfer Harris and 6-6 move-in Wu, who deepen a roster Thomas thinks will play hard defense and score within the offense. The Broncos (and St. Francis) also shift to the newly configured CCL White with teams nearer their competitive level. Point guard Thompson, 6-5 Mitchell and 6-4 workhorse Morrissey return from last year's varsity, which welcomes gritty guards Morrill and West and the 6-5 Stokes, whom Thomas called the summer's biggest surprise. Controlling tempo by pressing and trapping is a goal, and the coach is drilling crunchtime execution. "It's a more defensive-oriented team, so it's going to be fun," Thomas said.
Coach: Pete Kramer.
Last year: 10-17, 5-11, tied for sixth in DuPage Valley Conference; lost 50-47 to York in Class 4A York regional quarterfinals.
Top players: Ben Wolf, sr., F-C; Kurt Kozarits, sr., F-C; Dillon Kane, sr., G-F; Daniel Raab, sr., G; Chris Conway, so., F-C; Cameron Dougherty, so., G-F; Mekhi Robinson, so., G-F; Tyler O'Brien, sr., G; Nick Baskin, sr., F.
Scouting report: Six-foot-eight Wolf, committed to Northern Michigan, leads the area's biggest team -- one that will create huge matchup problems for opponents. "We've got a lot more size and length," Kramer said. "It'll be a different look, but it'll be interesting to see how we play these guys." Kozarits stands 6-7 while the three sophomores -- Robinson, Dougherty and Conway -- are all at least 6-5. Wolf, who last year averaged 11.8 points and 4.4 rebounds, will have a ton of post support. That'll also loosen up the perimeter, where Raab, Kane, Baskin and O'Brien have 3-point potential. Unlike last season when defenses could load up on a couple of players, the entire lineup has scoring potential this year. "We'll be pretty young this season," Kramer said. "But the good thing is that they'll have a chance to learn."
Coach: Jeff Powers.
Last year: 25-6, 13-3, second in DuPage Valley Conference; lost 83-57 in Class 4A Northern Illinois University supersectional.
Top players: Chris Johnson, sr., C; Tom Welch, jr., F; Jack Hill, sr., G; Jayden Dvorak, sr., G; Kevin Lang, sr., G; David Kushner, sr., G-F; Marcus Lemanski, sr., F; Jared McIntyre, sr., G; Ryan Laurenzo, sr., G; Joe Bell, sr., F; Jack Barry, sr., G.
Scouting report: Few teams can match the post tandem of 6-foot-7 Johnson, who last year averaged 9.9 points and 4.5 rebounds, and 6-6 Welch, who added 6.5 points and 3.3 boards. "Teams are definitely going to focus on Welch and Johnson," Powers said. "We have guys ready to step up." Ten seniors graduated headed by do-it-all wing Mitch Lewis, so there's some rebuilding to do in the backcourt. Hill, the team's best perimeter shooter, is poised to take over at the point. Dvorak, Lang and Kushner all bring athleticism. Six-six Lemanski, who didn't play last year, also can shoot. McIntyre adds depth as a transfer from Proviso East. The Huskies may not be favored right now to win another sectional title, but watch out in March. "They've got something to prove this year," Powers said.
Coach: Todd Sutton.
Last year: 15-16, 6-10, fifth in DuPage Valley Conference; lost 64-54 to West Aurora in Class 4A Plainfield North regional final.
Top players: Austin Filo, jr., F; Carson Grieman, sr., C; Noah Herdman, sr., G; Ryan Lake, sr., G; Dubem Ogbuefi, sr., C; John Poulakidas, fr., G; Robby Reetz, sr., F; Stephen Ruiz, sr., F; Jonathan Tan, sr., G.
Scouting report: Sutton, an Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame inductee with 560 overall wins and 398 at Neuqua Valley, likes this group's scoring capability, chemistry and smarts. Otherwise with Herdman the sole returning full-time starter and 6-2 point guard Tan having started part-time it's an overall inexperienced team that must round out other areas to maximize its potential. Namely, rebounding, where Ogbuefi, Grieman, Filo and Ruiz, all 6-4 to 6-6, could help. Herdman's 6.5-point average and 33 3-pointers lead all returners. Poulakidas, Lake and Reetz will get their perimeter shots, though with the inexperience an offensive system had yet to be solidified. Inevitably it will come down to the basics -- sharing the basketball, playing defense and rebounding. "We do those three things and we'll be happy," Sutton said.
Coach: Erin Dwyer.
Last year: 12-17, 3-6, seventh in Chicago Catholic League North; lost 72-49 to Glenbard South in Class 3A Marmion regional semifinal.
Top players: Danny Blank, so., G; Mike Cascella, jr., G; Matt Cooney, sr., G; John Detloff, sr., C; Patch England, jr., G; George Hamman, sr., G; Andrew Harvey, sr., F; Alex Rueth, sr., F; Bryce Walker, so., C.
Scouting report: In their final year in the CCL before heading to the Metro Suburban, the Spartans return their top six players from last season plus several who came off the bench. It's a tall group, from 6-2 point guard Cooney to 6-4 top scorer Harvey to 6-5 banger Detloff and 6-6 newcomer Walker. Harvey led last year's club at 11.7 points, with 5.2 rebounds, while Cooney added 2.3 steals and Detloff 5.6 rebounds. Dwyer, in his third season here, likes the jump his seniors have made since last year, particularly in the weight room. There's quickness, length, flexibility, multiple shooters, depth, rebounding potential and team ownership. Handling the ball, playing better defense and spreading the ball around are keys. "The big thing is playing unselfish and being able to make the next pass," Dwyer said.
Coach: Scott Plaisier.
Last year: 17-11, 8-4, second in Metro Suburban Red; lost 53-52 to IC Catholic Prep in Class 2A IC Catholic regional final.
Top players: Justin Baez, jr., G; Chris Brooks, jr., G; Michael Martens, sr., G; Ty Merrick, sr., G; Brandon Orange, sr., C; Matt Owens, so., G; Michael Thomas, sr., G.
Scouting report: Most recently former York coach John Daniels' assistant at Stagg, Plaisier follows the successful nine-year run of Jack LeGrand, who resigned to focus on his athletic director post. Plaisier (sounds like "pleasure") looks to pressure foes with fast-paced offense. The Trojans' new, college-size court may be an advantage. All-Metro Suburban Red center Orange, 6-7 and 225 pounds, averaged 8.3 rebounds and 14.5 points on 62 percent shooting. He has since added wing skills. Combo guard Merrick and Thomas each averaged 3.8 points last season; Plaisier likes Thomas' abilities on both ends of the court. The feisty Martens might be the defensive pest Timothy usually brings as it battles Chicago Christian and Ridgewood for the MSC Red title. "The key for us is our ability to play together and really be good teammates," Plaisier said.
Coach: Jason Mead.
Last year: 8-19, 3-13, ninth in DuPage Valley Conference; lost 50-43 to Addison Trail in Class 4A Batavia regional quarterfinal.
Top players: Eric Cannon, jr., G; Eric France, sr., F; Cole Gregorio, jr., G-F; Mikhil Khanna, jr., G-F; Derrien Porter, jr., G; Kyle Schroeder, sr., F; Marcus Skeete, so. G-F; Nick Stokes, sr., G; Caymen Woods, jr., G-F.
Scouting report: In his second year Mead's emphasis is to create a culture of leadership, teamwork and effective practices that results in finishing games, playing solid defense and providing "a more positive experience" overall. Cannon is on board, a bulldog all-DVC point guard who brings great work ethic in his third season as a starter. Stronger and more vocal, the Warriors' main scorer looks to add to last season's 10 points a game on top of 3.1 assists. Skeete, 6-2, scored 15 points with 10 rebounds and 3 steals when he was promoted from a good sophomore team for the Warriors' playoff game. Schroeder is a tough glue guy, but for an overall short team juniors like Porter and Woods need to bring it. That starts in practice and especially on defense and commitment. "We're definitely on track in that regard," Mead said.
Coach: Bill Recchia.
Last year: 16-12, 2-8, tied for fifth in Upstate Eight Valley; lost 49-47 to Glenbard West in Class 4A West Chicago regional quarterfinal.
Top players: Jason Gimre, sr., G; Raed Haroon, so., G; Isaac Nelson, jr., G; Sam Ricci, jr., G-F; Luke Seeman, sr., G; Jordan Wilkins, jr., G.
Scouting report: Over the past two seasons 2016-17 All-Area Team captain Tai Bibbs, now a freshman player at Columbia University, led the Wildcats to a 38-19 record. How they'll play without him is a question. One unquestioned strength is shooting ability. Gimre made 67 3-pointers on 38 percent shooting beyond the arc, returning an 11.2-point average. The hustling Seeman made 41 percent of his 3-pointers while averaging 3.6 assists. Wilkins may look to loft it more often after hitting 47 percent of his 3s in low attempts. Nelson, Wilkins and Ricci, who made 53 percent of his 2-point shots, look to take the next step from their varsity experience as sophomores. Except for the 6-4 Ricci, however, the top returners don't get taller than 6-1 Nelson. That makes ball possession, defense and team rebounding critical. "We've got to do the little things right," Recchia said.
Coach: Craig Etheridge.
Last year: 10-18, 3-8, tied for eight in Interstate Eight Conference; lost 39-33 to Timothy Christian in Class 2A IC Catholic regional semifinal.
Top players: Caden Anderson, jr., G-F; Ben Ledwon, sr., G; Matt O'Leary, jr., G; Alex Pietrzak, so., G; Troy Schlicher, jr., G; Michael Thompson, jr., G; Jaden West, jr., G; Tyreke Winston, sr., G.
Scouting report: Returning five full- or part-time starters, the Sentinels target the Interstate Eight's top four. As Etheridge said, the only thing the 6-3 Anderson hasn't done is grow taller. The three-year starter averaged 15 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.1 blocks, hit 36 3-pointers and joined O'Leary and Schlicher all over 2.2 assists a game. Pietrzak comes off the bench to join a crew of potential scorers including Thompson and slashing guard West. Topping out vertically with Anderson, athletic Westmont will rely on the press, up-tempo offense and solid ball handling. A new half-court read-and-react offense will take time to implement, but team unselfishness helps. Having two seniors in the top rotation also gives this group legs. "If we can get things going this year, it bodes well for next year," said Etheridge, who needs 22 wins for 300.
Coach: Steve Thonn.
Last year: 6-21, 2-10, sixth in Metro Suburban Blue; lost 69-54 to St. Francis in Class 3A Marmion regional quarterfinal.
Top players: Marcus Bult, so., F; Jack Dykema, jr., G-F; Stephen Garrison, sr., F-C; J.D. Gunn, sr., F; Jimmy Paganis, jr., G; Krzystoph Simmons, sr., G; Noah Starkey, sr., G; Josh Walraven, sr., F; Jayston Williams, sr., G-F.
Scouting report: The Warriors' fourth coach in six seasons, former Arena Football League coach Thonn was named interim coach this spring after two seasons assisting. Anchored by Gunn and bolstered by Williams' return after two years at Montini, he's got a multitude of players standing 6-2 to 6-4 that provide versatility. The 6-4 wing Gunn, a third-year starter, averaged 11.6 points and 8.7 rebounds last season. The Warriors also bring back their Nos. 2-3 scorers in the 6-2 Dykema and Paganis. The heady Paganis and 6-3 Williams are solid shooters and Williams can guard players inside, very handy for a team lacking a true post. Using their versatility, Thonn plans for the Warriors to push the pace offensively before falling into a motion or set-based half-court offense. "That's probably the football offensive coordinator in me," he said.
Coach: Dave Brackmann.
Last year: 24-6, 12-4, third in DuPage Valley Conference; lost 77-72 to Naperville North in Class 4A Hinsdale Central sectional final.
Top players: Deng Reng, jr., F; Josh Sorenson, sr., F; Mason Biegalski, sr., G; Brayden Anthony, sr., G; Jacob Schauer, jr., G; Matthew Brend, jr., G; Drew Arbogast, sr., F; Trenton Hegranes, sr., F.
Scouting report: Despite graduating their top four scorers, the Falcons have good reason to believe they can achieve last season's success. "It's hard to replace what we had, but I think we can be pretty good," Brackmann said. Reng, a 6-foot-7 wing, is ready for a breakout year and already holds a scholarship offer from UAB. Six-seven Sorenson, who averaged 5 points and 4 rebounds, also has high expectations. Biegalski, a strong shooter, would have started for many teams last season but was behind standout seniors. Anthony is another gritty senior with experience. The junior class went unbeaten at the sophomore level despite Reng being up on varsity. Schauer and Brend will contribute immediately. "We've got a winning culture right now, and hopefully we can string together some success," Brackmann said.
Coach: Mike Healy.
Last year: 29-2, 16-0, first in DuPage Valley Conference; lost 40-35 to Naperville North in Class 4A Hinsdale Central sectional semifinals.
Top players: Jake Healy, sr., G; Chase Stebbins, sr., G; Parker Robinson, sr., G; Zach Harris, sr., F; Paul Cuddihee, sr., F; Matt Brodhead, sr., G; Will Buxton, sr., G; Jeff Kratz, jr., G; Joe Ives, jr., G.
Scouting report: The Tigers hope to keep the momentum going from last year's dream season. Three returning starters in Healy, Stebbins and Robinson are a great starting point. "They're very self motivated and know what to do," coach Healy said. "We wouldn't have had the year we had without them." Healy and Stebbins combined for 80 3-pointers last year while Robinson averaged 7 points and is ready to step up at point guard for graduated Drew Healy. Replacing Dillon Durrett's 17 points and 5 rebounds, though, won't be easy. Harris and Cuddihee will be much improved. An extremely competitive group, the Tigers won't give up the DVC title without a fight. "You want to use last year the best way you can, but this is a new group," Healy said. "They want to make their own memories."
Coach: Chris Perkins.
Last year: 24-5, 9-3, tied for first in West Suburban Gold; lost 81-67 to Addison Trail in Class 4A Batavia regional semifinals.
Top players: Ethan Schuemer, sr., C; Sikander Zafar, sr., F; Matthew Myers, sr., F; Matas Masys, jr., G; Neil Paxton Jr., sr., G; Marshawn Phillips, sr., G; Martique Barksdale, sr., G; Diyahvion Skinner, sr., F; Terry Lewis, sr., G; Scott Tumilty, jr., G; Jack Hines, jr., G; Charlie Flak, jr., F.
Scouting report: Get ready for more history. Last season the Warriors won the most games in program history as well as their second Gold title in three years. This may be their best team yet with the entire starting lineup and sixth man returning. "This is probably the most expectations we've had since I've been here," Perkins said. Six-foot-six Schuemer, who last year averaged 16.5 points and 9.4 rebounds, is one of five third-year varsity members. That list includes Masys, who knocked down 57 3-pointers. Myers and Zafar are steady contributors on the wing, while Paxton Jr. returns to the point. Phillips was last year's third-leading scorer. "The biggest thing is we have to keep working," Perkins said.
Coach: Vince Doran.
Last year: 14-16, 5-7, fourth in West Suburban Silver; lost 54-34 to Benet in Class 4A York regional semifinals.
Top players: Angelo Martucci, sr., G; Nick Kosich, jr., G; Erik Cohn, jr., G; Nate Lyons, sr., G; Sam Walsh, jr., F; Mike Pedote, jr., G; Danny Morrissey, sr., G; Nate Shockey, so., G; Jeff Grace, fr., G.
Scouting report: A good team with only four seniors will continue to get better throughout the season thanks to a combination of experienced youth and players coming back from injury. "If we can mesh and play together, we could be dangerous," Doran said. Now that Kosich and Pedote are back from last year's season-ending injuries, York will have one of the area's strongest and deepest backcourts. With Martucci, Cohn and Lyons also returning, the Dukes' guards return 30 points a game. Morrissey, Shockey and Grace add to the talent. If there's a concern, it's in the post. In fact, there often will be five guards on the court at the same time. Walsh, at 6-foot-5, is the team's tallest player. Team rebounding and interior defense are question marks. "This will be the smallest team I've had, but that also has its benefits," Doran said.
-- Dave Oberhelman and Kevin Schmit