Scouting the Mid-Suburban East
Buffalo GroveCoach: Keith Peterson (6th season)
Last year' record: 17-10, 6-4)
Graduated players: Jack Vaselaney, Mac Camardo, Caleb Mayhorn, Zach Fricke
Returning players: Mike Nowakowski (6-0, Sr.), Ethan Soifer (6-0, Sr.), Tom Trieb (6-2, Sr.), Giankarlos Rodriguez (5-10, Sr.), Connor Adams (5-11, Sr.), Nate Cole (6-4, Jr.), Michael Mandell (6-1, Sr.), Luke Muscarello (6-1, Sr.)
Newcomers: Kam Craft (6-4, Fr.), Alex Berk (5-9, Jr.), Matthew Brunelli (5-11, Jr.), Noah Smith (6-1, Jr.), Tyler Fricke (5-11, Jr.), Alex Solberg (6-0, Jr.), Tyler Kipley (5-11, Jr.), Sloan Kipley (6-0, Jr.)
Outlook: Things might have been brighter for the Bison had one senior not sustained a broken hip in the second game of the football season. Trieb, an all-around basketball player, hopes to be playing in the latter stages of December. "With Trieb not playing it kind of changes what our rotation would be," said Buffalo Grove coach Keith Peterson, now at the helm for his sixth season. "The players are coming along. They are learning the different defenses that we'll show and what my expectations of them are." Buffalo Grove is champing at the bit to see how freshman Kam Craft, a 6-4, forward performs. "He's going to start for us," said Peterson. "Kam's going to be an exciting player to watch. This is going to be a good year for him to learn in." Peterson has his starters lined up with Craft, Nowakowski, Brunelli, Tyler Kipley, and Nate Cole. Nowakowski is the only senior. The juniors are going to bring a lot to the table. As sophomores they set a school record for wins in a season and Peterson feels that will be helpful. "They had a great year last year. Still it's a big jump going to varsity ball and it will be a learning curve. We're not that big of a team but were going to push the pace and see if we can get the other teams to play at our pace," said Peterson. "I think we're going to be a fun team to watch." Nowakowski's improvement over the summer stood out for Peterson. "He developed into a quiet leader. He really picked up his game during the summer months," said Peterson. The Bison reserves will be a little deeper with Adams, Muscarelllo and Rodriguez all having some experience from last season. Peterson still sees Prospect as the team to beat followed by Rolling Meadows and Hersey. "This year's conference race will be a battle every week," said Peterson. "It really wouldn't surprise be if the East conference winner went 7-3 or even 6-4." Buffalo Grove kicks off the season Monday when it hosts the Bison Classic, facing Grayslake Central, Zion-Benton, Naperville Central and Glenbrook South. Over the Christmas holiday the Bison return to the Hardwood Classic at Wheeling.
Elk GroveCoach: Nick Oraham (1st season)
Last year's record: 2-25, 0-10
Graduated players: Dylan Ingebrigtsen, Shivam Amin & Jacob Hartness
Returning players: Mark Matos (5-10, Jr.), Sean Cherry (6-1, Sr.), Ryley Rathman (6-2 Sr.), Dylan Elsner (5-8, Sr) Matt Crimmins (6-2, Sr.)
Newcomers: Ryne Singsank (6-8, Sr.), Tim Varga (6-4, Sr.), Mike Achanzar (6-0, Sr.), Brandon Burns (6-1, Soph)
Outlook: The last two seasons have not been kind to the Grenadiers, who have gone 3-51 and 0-20 in the Mid-Suburban East. New head coach Nick Oraham, who spent the last two years as head coach at Dixon, is looking to turn things around. The good thing is that there's talent to do it. The question will be how long will it take to mesh. "We know it's going to take some time getting everything together and there is going to be an adjustment period," said Oraham. "Right now the players understand that losing is not going to get us to the top of the mountain. They know that good shots and reps matter and we're going to have competitive practices. They learned over the summer that the team is greater than an individual. I bring a positive attitude to practice every day and I want that to carry over to them" Two fairly sized factors will be the return of 6-foot-8 center Ryne Singsank and 6-4 Tim Varga, who both decided to not play last season. Both were starters on the freshman and sophomore teams. Singsank will be pitching for Southern Illinois after graduation and Varga was an all-conference football player. They will give the Grenadiers height and strength around the basket. Sparkplug Sean Cherry returns as a starting guard and will be flanked with promising sophomore Brandon Burns. "Burns could be a key player for us," said Oraham. "He's got a good understanding of the game and I look for him to become a starter." Mike Achanzar will most likely be a starter at the other guard. Mark Matos, along with seniors Riley Rathman, Dylan Elsner and Mat Crimmins all return with some playing time from last year's squad. Elk Grove will use both man-to-man and a 1-2-2 ball press defenses to keep offenses honest. "We just have to trust in each other and by mid-season we could have a say in the conference race," said Oraham. Besides the MSL East slate, the Grenadiers have some interesting nonconference matchups including home games against Wheaton North, Geneva and Niles West. Away games include Glenbard East, Fenton, Naperville Central, Downers Grove North and Lake Forest. The Grenadiers are going back to the reorganized Fenton Thanksgiving Tournament and will continue to participate at York over the Christmas holiday.
HerseyCoach: Austin Scott (1st season)
Last year's record: 9-18, 5-5
Graduated players: Joe Nugent, Johnn O'Shea
Returning players: Davis Belford (6-3, Sr.), Rocco Ronzio (6-2, Sr.), Matt Hanushewsky (5-10, Sr.), Jason Schmidt (6-1, Sr.), Jace Coffaro (6-2, Sr.), Jacob Kluczewski (6-4, Sr.) Ryan Verhulst (6-3, Sr.)
Newcomers: James Nolan (6-3, Jr.), Brent Wolff (6-0, Jr.), Alec Naumowicz (6-5, Jr.), Clay Augustyn (6-0 Jr.)
Outlook: This will be head coach Austin Scott's first varsity basketball season. Scott has surrounded himself with some very good returnees from last year's squad and a few assistant coaches who know their way around the court. Scott will be assisted by his father, Dave, who piloted the Maine South Hawks for several years. Also coming back to help will be longtime Hersey coach Don Rowley. Add Mike White, a graduate of Hersey's last basketball team to make it downstate, and you have sound advice. "I am just excited and fortunate to inherit a team with this many talented players," said Scott. "It has been a smooth transition for me." And from what Scott has observed it's still the same Huskie hard-nosed players battling in practice. "From the seniors to the juniors they make every practice competitive," said Scott. "They are maximizing their efforts on the court in practice every day. Our juniors are the same way. They are not intimidated and they go hard." Scott mentioned that as a strong point the ball sharing has impressed him. The Huskies are looked at as being the team to beat in the Mid-Suburban East with an array of returning players. Matt Hanushewsky had some brilliant games last season and will be looked to as one of the Huskies' leaders. Davis Belford brings strong athleticism and Rocco Ronzio returns with a solid season under his belt. Jason Schmidt and Jace Coffaro may round out the starting five. Jacob Kluczewski is another senior who will push for playing time along with the solid group of juniors. "I'm going to be trying to inject a different type of energy and togetherness with this team as a unit,"said Scott. "They are really a great bunch of kids and respect the other teams. They go to their games and support them." The Huskies' new era will start next week at a new venue. Hersey dropped out of the St.Patrick/Glenbrook North Thanksgiving Tournament in favor of Palatine. Hersey will face off with DuSable, Stevenson, Jacobs, and York. "The Palatine tournament will be a good test to see how good we can be," said Scott. The Christmas holiday road trip to Pekin will continue. Hersey's nonconference games will give the Huskies some good tests. Trips to Maine West, Grayslake Central, Fenwick, Jacobs, Glenbrook South and Notre Dame are on tap. Home contests find neighborhood rival St. Viator, Liberytville, and several Mid-Suburban League crossovers.
ProspectCoach: John Camardella (12th season, 194-112)
Last year's record: 22-6, 10-0
Graduated players: David Swedura, Tim Lussenhop, John Czeslawski, Luka Djago, John McLachlin, Patrick McPartin
Returning players: Jon Kreidler (6-4, Sr.), Sam Murray (6-1, Sr.) T.J. Johannesen (5-11, Sr.), Ben Miller (6-3, Sr.), Michael Slupski (6-1, Sr), Jack Schneider (6-2, Sr.), Ben Zellmer (6-2, Sr.)
Newcomers: Matthew Woloch (6-1, Jr.), Steve Mack (6-1, Jr.), Adam Barich (6-2, Jr.), Rob Lombardo (6-5, Jr.), Zach Zel (6-2, Jr.), Brian Dini (6-5, Jr.), Matthew McAleer (6-2, Jr.), Ben Osowski (6-0, Jr.), Colin Carroll (6-4, Jr.)
Outlook: "The first month of the season is going to be big for us," said Knights coach John Camardella. "With only one starter back we just need to learn to be competitive and grow together." That's what Camardella said before the season last year. The Knights only went 22-6 and swept through the Mid-Suburban East on their way to the overall Mid-Suburban crown. This year's lone returning starter is senior Jon Kreidler. Kreidler was an all-MSL selection as a junior. Not bad for a player who was told in grade school he might never play basketball again due to a back ailment. Sam Murray was one of Camardella's top reserves last season, shooting 37 percent beyond the arc and 47 percent inside. T. J. Johannesen played in all games as a back up to David Swedura. Miller, Slupski, Hiskes, and Schneider will be fighting it out for the fifth spot behind Zellmer. "This group is mirroring last year's team in the fact that they are a solid passing team," said Camardella "I think our fans can expect to see contributions from many different players. They have shown a willingness to work together and do what it takes for this team to be successful." The Knights are going to be looking at a new offensive set where Kreidler will be the key player in the offense. "It's new X's and O's for us," said Camardella. "We really feel Jon will be able to handle the running of it. The seniors are committed to make a good run this year. I know there is going to be a lot of competition in the conference race." The Knights, who have won 9 of the last 11 divisional crowns and three overall championships, have a nice group of juniors who just need varsity experience -- Matt Woloch and Ben Osowski at guard and a pair of 6-5 forwards in Rob Lombardo and Brian Dini to go with 6-2 Matthew McAleer. Prospect will be tested early at the St. Viator Thankgiving Tournament facing Evanston, Conant, Libertyville, and St. Viator. Over the Christmas holiday Prospect returns to the Wheeling Hardwood Classic. Nonconference games include Niles North, Lyons, Glenbrook North and South, Stevenson, Maine East and and Maine West.
Rolling MeadowsCoach: Kevin Katovich (18th season)
Last Year's record: 15-12, 7-3
Graduated players: Gio Carrillo, Ryan Carney, Joe Coen, Willis Goodwin, Drew Neville
Returning players: Max Christie (6-6, Soph), Sean Nolan (6-1, Jr), Javonte Warrenner (6-0, Sr.), Matt Schoessling (5-9, Sr.), Billy Millar (6-4, Jr.), T.J. Williams (5-9, Sr)
Newcomers: Jace O'Hara (5-10, Sr.), Jonah Ogunsanya (5-7, Jr.), Brandon Zuniga (6-3, Jr.), Daniel Sobokowicz (5'10, Soph), Niseoseni Oseni (5-6, Jr)
Outlook: The Mustangs bring back one of the top rated sophomores in the state of Illinois in Christie. That's been enough for the rest of the Mustangs to be highly motivated for the upcoming year. "These players are very excited about this season," said coach Kevin Katovich, now in his 18th season at the helm. "The other players know that with Max on the floor and the attention he will draw it will provide them with opportunities to perform." Katovich is prepared for gimmick defenses and straight up play the opponents will throw at the Mustangs. "The way that we are approaching things is we want to put the kids in the best position to win games," said Katovich. Rolling Meadows will feature a young team class- wise with seven of its top 10 players underclassmen -- but the experience is there. Nolan, Schoessling, Millar, Williams and a much improved Warrenner return as the core group from last year. "Warrenner had a strong offseason for us," said Katovich. "I think he will have a breakout season for us. We look for him to grow and improve each game." Katovich is looking forward in seeing how six of the Mustangs' football players will be able fill roles. "With Christie being our point guard, I think it will be difficult for teams to stop him," said Katovich. "He is a natural at that position. He's very level-headed and he does everything the right way. We want to make sure all his teammates are included." Katovich is looking at Hersey as the favorite in the MSL East with Prospect, and the Mustangs in the hunt. He expects Wheeling, Buffalo Grove and Elk Grove to have a say in the conference race. Rolling Meadows opens at the newly organized Chuck Mitchell Tournament at Fenton next week. The Mustangs will start off with Francis Parker, West Chicago, and Montini in pool play before the finals. Rolling Meadows will again participate at the York holiday tournament where they should be a big crowd draw. The Mustangs' nonconference opponents include, MSL crossovers in Palatine, Conant, and Schuamburg. Wheaton Academy, Maine West, Cary-Grove, Glenbard South, Deerfield and Niles West make up the rest of the schedule. "We are just really excited to get going, " said Katovich.
WheelingCoach: Michael O'Keeffe (4th season, 27-57)
Last year's record: 8-20, 2-8
Graduated players: Phil Bucko, D.J. Godlewski
Returning players: Michael Best (6-2, Sr.), Jeremy Kim (5-9, Sr.), Joe Jordan (6-3, Soph), Brandon Zettek (6-2, Sr.), Ivan Muro (6-5, Sr.)
Newcomers: Kuba Ciepiela (6-3, Sr.), Cade Zalewski (6-3, Jr.), Erick Konrath (5-9, Jr.), Ben Stravinskas (6-3, Jr.), Christian McLaughlin (6-1, Jr.), Javen Rein (6-1, Jr.), Solomon Hudson (6-0, Soph)
Outlook: Wheeling coach Michael O'Keeffe is looking forward to this season knowing that his top three players return in Best, Kim, and Jordan. Zettek and Muro received plenty of playing time in the second half of the year that will prove to be valuable. "We're going to have some balance on the floor with our size and movement," said O'Keeffe. "We're thinking that we're going to be able to pick up the pace. We have size to block out, we have good shooting guards and we can rebound." Best, who's coming off another strong football season at quarterback, will pick up where left off last season. Best averaged almost 17 ppg in the second half of the year. Kim can shoot well from long range and has worked over the offseason on driving to the basket and kicking the ball off. Jordan, who as a freshman last year learned the ropes of varsity ball, will look to be a factor on offense. A strong rebounder, he will be able to initiate the fast break. "Zettek is going to be our hustle guy," said O'Keeffe, "while Muro with his big wide body has really worked on his screening technique. He has really made big strides since last year." O'Keeffe will work with the reserves but sees a great future for sophomore Solomon Hudson. Hudson has strong athletic ability and is able to get to the rim. "These players are hard workers, they have great character and are good students. They listen to the coaches, " said O'Keeffe. "We think that this can be one of our better years." The Wildcats start off the season at the Northridge Prep tournament and then will play host to the Hardwood Classic in late December. Wheeling toughed up its nonconference schedule with Johnsburg, St. Patrick, Maine East and Maine West. Conference-wise O'Keeffe looks at Hersey, Rolling Meadows, and Prospect as the teams to beat.