Scouting the East Suburban Catholic Conference
Benet Academy RedwingsCoach: Joe Kilbride
Last season's record: 11-1, ESCC champions
Top returning players: Lenee Beaumont, jr., (G, 6-0), Morgan Demos, sr., (C, 6-2), Margaret Temple, sr., (G, 5-11)
Top new players: Emma Webb, sr., (G, 5-11), Olympia Kokkines, sr., (G, 5-11), Samantha Trimberger, jr., (F, 6-0), Emilia Sularski, soph., (G, 5-11), Magdalena Sularski, soph., (G, 5-10)
Worth noting: Benet won the East Suburban Catholic for a fourth year in a row and returns a trio that includes Beaumont, who Kilbride said has offers from multiple Big East, Big Ten and SEC schools, and Demos, who is committed to the U.S. Naval Academy -- giving the Redwings a highly formidable inside-out combo. Benet was reassigned to Class 3A, but petitioned the IHSA and will remain in Class 4A, Kilbride noted. Kilbride said Benet has good length and should shoot the ball well. "We're working hard, day by day, brick by brick," he said. Kilbride said teams to keep an eye on in the ESCC are Carmel, Marist, Nazareth and St. Viator. The Redwings are 190-27 with four sectional titles and two state titles (3 trophy finishes) in Kilbride's seven seasons. Currently, Benet has one alum playing professionally (Kathleen Doyle in Turkey), plus 12 girls on college rosters, including seven at the Division I level.
Carmel CorsairsCoach: Ben Berg
Last season's record: 6-10, 2-5 East Suburban Catholic
Top returning players: Jordan Wood, jr., (F-G, 6-5), Grace Sullivan, sr., (C, 6-4)
Top new players: Mia Gillis, jr., (PF, 6-1), Ashley Schlabowske, soph., (PG-SG, 5-6), Anna Hartman, soph., (PG-SG, 5-6), Kyla Smith, jr., (SG, 5-5)
Worth noting: Wood, a Michigan State commit, averaged 15.4 points, 6.9 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game last year, while Sullivan, headed to Bucknell University, averaged 12 points and 6.5 rebounds and earned Daily Herald All-Area honors. Both were named to the Champaign News Gazette all-state honorable mention team. "The strengths of our team are the size and experience in our frontcourt and our speed in the backcourt," Berg said. Berg is also high on the progress Gillis and Schlabowske have made. "I am impressed with our team's willingness to adapt to whatever the situation is and compete a high level daily," Berg said. Berg noted Benet and Marist are teams to watch in the ESCC. "I believe we can compete with them this year," he said.
Marian Central HurricanesCoach: Ryan Sasis
Last season's record: 3-10, 0-7 East Suburban Catholic
Top returning players: Abby Todd, sr., (F), Jordan Kratochvil, jr., (G-F), Madison Kenyon, soph., (F)
Top new players: Kerri Johnson, jr., (G), Michaela Johnson, soph., (G), Lucy Iden, soph., (F), Ella Notaro, soph., (G), Kiara Kelly, soph., (G), Juliette Huff, fresh., (G-F), Abbey Miner, fresh., (G), Madeline Sasis, fresh., (G), Adriana Wrzos, fresh., (F)
Worth noting: Sasis calls Kenyon an excellent two-way player. "Madison makes great decisions with the ball and can defend multiple positions," he said. Huff, a freshman, is strong in the lane and can shoot the 3, Sasis noted. "Juliette is versatile, agile and plays with passion," he said. Sasis likes his team's work ethic heading into the season. "Our ladies work hard, they are eager to learn and love to compete," said Sasis. "Quitting is not an option for this special group. I am most impressed with the special camaraderie that exists between our players. They understand that if they want to achieve success, they must trust each other and work together as a team every night." Sasis sees Benet, Marist and Nazareth Academy as top-tier East Suburban Catholic contenders.
Nazareth Academy RoadrunnersCoach: Eddie Stritzel
Last season's record: 8-4, 4-3, East Suburban Catholic
Top returning players: Amalia Dray, soph., (G, 5-8), Dannie Scully, soph., (F, 6-0), Caroline Workman, sr., (F, 5-11), Grace Carstensen, jr., (G, 5-9), Olivia Austin, soph., (F, 6-0), Mary Bridget Wilson, soph., (G, 5-6)
Worth noting: Naz returns its top eight players from last season. "We should be one of the top teams in the Chicago area," Stritzel said. "We are young, but we have lots of experience with the COVID year. I'm impressed with how multidimensional we are. We can play multiple styles." Dray was all-ESCC as a freshman after averaging 10 points a game. Carstensen also averaged 10 points, while Scully averaged 8 points and Workman averaged 6 points. Workman is committed to University of Chicago. "Other kids are being highly recruited by numerous Division I schools," Stritzel said. Austin averaged 6 points, while Wilson averaged 4 points. Stritzel said Benet, Marist, his team, Carmel and St. Viator should all battle for the ESCC championship.
St. Viator LionsCoach: Jason Raymond
Last season's record: 9-8, 4-3 ESCC
Top returning players: Joy Bergstrom, sr., (G), Nora Ahram, sr., (G), Mia Bergstrom, soph., (G), Katie McCormick, jr., (F), Livia Saliturro, sr., (G), Brook Davis, sr., (F), Kyra Hatch, sr., (G), Sydney Grant, sr., (G)
Top new players: Allia Von Schlegell, fresh., (G), Grace Gerdes-Grabowy, fresh., (G), Meghan Hayes, soph., (G), Molly Craig, jr., (G)
Worth noting: Joy Bergstrom is committed to Division I South Dakota and has 1,259 career points. "We have a great group of playmakers," Raymond said. "It should be tough on defenses to key in on one player. Our ability to share the ball will be a strength this year. This group seems to get along really well both on and off the court. They are very unselfish players. I also like their work ethic. There was a tremendous commitment in the offseason. Players genuinely looked to grow their games this past summer and fall." Joy Bergstrom and Ahram are four-year varsity starters who both played on the 2019 supersectional team. "They are highly skilled on the offensive end and play an exciting style of basketball," Raymond said. Raymond said Benet and Marist are the ESCC favorites. "The usual suspects," he said. "However, there is a lot more balance this year."
Editor's note: Joliet Catholic did not respond to request for information.