Scouting Fox girls basketball
For all the Thanksgiving, Christmas and postseason tournaments that have been lost this year, at least teams can still look forward to playing their conference rivals.
It's a new one, but you can't ask for a much better start to a rivalry than Dundee-Crown and Burlington Central.
Thanks to a matchup at DeKalb's MLK event, the teams met three times last year in the Rockets' first season in the Fox Valley Conference. Burlington won two of the three, but it was the Chargers who prevailed at 17-1 to BC's 16-2 to take the FVC crown.
Dundee-Crown (29-7) also had an excellent postseason, winning a Class 4A sectional championship. With both teams returning key players from those teams, their FVC matchups should be a highlight of this unique season.
All-Area captain Alyssa Crenshaw, a walking double-double for the Chargers, and point guard Gianine Boado are four-year varsity players. Boado missed most of her junior season with a knee injury; she will play next year at Morton Community College. Crenshaw is committed to St. Xavier.
Senior Arysia Harris also is back while the newcomers include junior Kate Raby and seniors Dana Cornwell and Gabby Biachi.
"Not taking any moment or day for granted," said D-C coach Sarah Teipel.
BC coach Collin Kalamatas welcomes back senior guard Elana Wells, a three-year All-Area player who will play college basketball at the University of Indianapolis. She averaged 17.1 points and 3 assists last year.
The Rockets (29-5) also return Avery Andersen, who was off to a fast start in her first 5 games last year before tearing her ACL. They add junior Taylor Charles, a junior with a long list of Division I offers who started last year on Montini's state team.
"She has blended in perfectly with our girls in the early going of our season," Kalamatas said. "Short season or not, we're happy to be back."
Elsewhere in the FVC, Steve Raethz brings a 361-265 record into his 22nd season at Huntley. The Red Raiders (20-14) should add plenty to that total behind three four-year varsity players -- Kamsi Nwogu, Raquel Radermacher and Ashley Guazzo. Sophomore Carley Faulkner was just cleared to play after tearing her ACL last summer. Seniors Sara Rysavy, Francesca Romano, Kendall Krich and Riyana Walker, junior Nicole Flaherty and sophomore Jessie Ozzauto also return.
"We have a nice mix of returning players and key contributors coupled with some solid newcomers and additions to our team," Raethz said.
Hampshire (16-15) tied for fourth last year behind Davidison commit and 3-time All-Area center Kelby Bannerman. Seniors Jessie Dumoulin and Layla Tiongco and sophomore Ceili Ramirez also return. Freshmen Avery Cartee and Ashley Herzing, junior Katie Heine, senior Casey Meyers and sophomores Lexi Kagel, Kaitlyn Milison, Emily Mohr, Alex Montez and Lia Saunders will look to carve out their roles.
Brooke Kuffel, a Wisconsin softball commit, Ava Sevcik and Emily Rich give Crystal Lake South (16-17) three returning starters. Kree Nunnally should provide a lift returning from an injury.
Jacobs (7-24) coach Jonathon Reibel likes the leadership from seniors Brooklyn Krahl, Haley Schaffer, Jasmine Tanada and Paige Anderson, and junior returnee Mackenzie Leahy. Sophomores Arianna Corrado and Janae Gillus and juniors Ella Tamburrino, Janaya Banks, Leslie Argomaniz, Addison Gurney and Bridget Grady join the varsity.
Cary-Grove coach Tony Moretti will look to junior Emily Lukowski (14 ppg, 6 rpg), senior Lauren Passaglia (7 ppg, 7 rpg) and Lilliana Kurth (8 ppg) to lead an otherwise young and inexperienced squad.
Bartlett (24-9) has a one-two punch like few others with a pair of Division I guards, senior Lexie Sinclair (St. Bonaventure) and junior Kenzie Hare (St. Louis). Senior Dani Hedeen is another varsity veteran for the three-time defending conference champs.
Seniors Trinity Reyes, Kylie Walker and Cierra Thomas will play a lot for a team that has added Geneva and all three Naperville schools to its nonconference schedule.
"We are looking forward to the challenge of playing a ton of basketball in such a short season," first-year coach Kristi Ragan said.
South Elgin (22-10) finished second in last year's race. The Storm returns junior Ella Winterhalder, an all-conference selection who led the team in scoring at 15 ppg. She set the school record with 80 3s.
Coach Dan Mandernack also pointed to junior Caroline Croft, sophomore Raina Yang and transfer Zoie Lewis from Burlington Central as players to watch.
"All our players did a great job of player development," Mandernack said. "The good got great and poised for a huge year."
For the first time in 15 years, coach Dr. Nick Bumbales is starting a freshman at Elgin (4-27). That would be 5-foot-3 guard Jocelyn Bardesi who will be joined by seniors Sabrina Moskow, Takara Campbell, Delfina Jorgensen, Jessica Nino, Noelia Arzola, Lily Genel and Emma Carrero, and junior Jasmine Patel.
Larkin returns senior Kathy Garcia, juniors Candace Newman and Jamylin Deleon and sophomore Baylei Johnson (9 ppg, 10.5 rpg). Coach Steve Knapp has a newcomer in every class: senior Diana Acosta, junior Karina Acevedo, sophomore Chelsea Herrick and freshman Morgan Miller.
Mandy Mien is gone after four excellent seasons at point guard for Streamwood (12-17). Senior forward Vivian Sumoski (5 ppg) is the only returning starter but has really improved according to coach George Rosner, now in his 40th season. Other Sabres to watch include junior guard Sayuri Ishakawa, 6-2 senior Nicole Beach, Sam DeMarco, Sirah Dixon, Brooke Walsh, Morgan Beto and Alyessa Santiago. Rosner said he likes his team's depth and team speed.
Geneva (25-7) shared the DuKane title with Lake Park, then caught a bad break in the postseason when its best player Lindsay Blackmore suffered a season-ending injury in the regional final.
The Vikings do have four key players back from a team that reached a sectional final without Blackmore: senior guards Kate Palmer and Kelly McCloughan, junior Zosia Wrobel and sophomore Cassidy Arni. Coach Sarah Meadows is excited about them all.
"Kate has matured as a player every year," Meadows said. "Kelly brings grit, speed and heart to this team. Zosia is going to have a great year and can score so many different ways. She has great length and can play inside and out. And Cass is an amazing athlete, a very skilled basketball player."
Senior all-DuKane performer Tatum Settlemyer and Bemidji State commit Talia Pellegrini are back for St. Charles North (20-12) along with junior point guard Emma Ludwig who made all-conference as a freshman before missing her sophomore season with a torn ACL.
The North Stars also will look to sophomore Alyssa Hughes, senior Makenna Collins and junior Erin Stack along with two freshmen, Reagan Sipla and Katrina Stack, to contend in the rugged DuKane Conference.
"We think we will be extremely competitive this season," coach Mike Tomczak said.
Mike Murphy, recently the St. Charles East boys assistant, moves over to become the Saints girls coach. He'll have junior guard Torrie Kortan leading the way, an All-Area selection last year after averaging 11 points, 5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 3 steals a game.
Senior forward Makenna Brown (5 ppg) and sophomore forward Emma Yakey (6 ppg, 41 3s) also started last year. Murphy said senior guards Vivian Di Giovanni and Abi Saxe are poised to make contributions while freshmen Alexis Maridis and Lexi DiOrio should play significant roles.
Batavia (11-18) has to replace all-around standout Erin Golden but has all-DuKane junior center Tessa Towers (12 ppg, 8 rpg, 1.5 bpg) and junior guards Claire Nazos and Alyssa Sarik to build around. Coach Kevin Jensen is looking to junior forward Jacque Schroeder, junior guard Nicole McLaughlin and senior guard Morgan Haug to take on bigger roles. And he's quite excited about what Brooke Carlson will bring as a freshman at point guard.
"We have a chance to make a significant jump this year," Jensen said. "The DuKane Conference has a bunch of strong teams as usual. We think we have a chance to be much closer to the top than last year."
In Class 1A, the lack of a state series is a blow to Aurora Christian. The Eagles went 30-6 last year and took fourth in state with four starters back.
"Obviously, we had state championship aspirations," Eagles coach Burney Wilkie said. "Our returning starters all put in a ton of work in the off-season."
Wilkie said he believed senior Anna Griffin, who has committed to the University of Virginia after breaking the school's single-season scoring record last year (641 points), would have had a chance at Ms. Basketball.
The Eagles also return junior forward Thaya Luse who averaged 13.1 ppg and 9.1 rpg. Junior guard Lexi Lamanna already holds the career assist record at Aurora Christian with 324 and is also a deadly 3-point shooter while sophomore guard Aspen Weeks made IBCA 3rd team all-state as a freshman averaging 10.3 ppg.
Down the road, Rosary coach John Rutter begins his second season after going 15-16. He'll look to sophomore Macey DeMoss, junior Lauren Hawkins, junior Emily Hurst and senior Megan Cibulskis.
Harvest Christian is coming off a 16-8 season with a pair of all-conference starters back: Alex Shepherd and Missy Fuja. Madison Ellett plus newcomers Maya Dagamac and Katie McClure are others to watch.
St. Edward (11-18) returns seniors Ariann Franco, Mia Castro and Ella O'Neill and juniors Brooke Biggins and Alexia Alfaro.
"We are small but mighty with returning guards who pride themselves on disrupting and pressuring our opponents," coach Michelle Dawson said.
Two more to watch
West Aurora (21-9) returns two starters, both all-conference selections: senior Jalyssa Carrasco and junior Riley Mont. While the Blackhawks are otherwise young, Carrasco will play next year at Morton College after averaging 10.4 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists. Mont should be one of the best players in the Southwest Prairie Conference after averaging 17.2 points as a sophomore.
At Kaneland (19-13), senior Chloe Conley is returning from an ACL tear that kept her out nearly all of last year. She'll join with three returning starters: senior Kylie Holubecki (all-conference), junior McKenzie Schueler and senior Kelsey Modaff to make up a team that should be competitive in the Interstate 8. Other returners in the rotation will be junior Megan Noel, senior Nora Crimmins, sophomore Katharine Marshall and senior Sarah Elliott.
Editor's note: Repeated efforts were made to contact every school in the Daily Herald coverage area.