Scouting Wauconda

 
 
Updated 11/15/2018 2:12 PM
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  • Wauconda's Kiley Szmajda returns for her sophomore season after starting on varsity as a freshman.

      Wauconda's Kiley Szmajda returns for her sophomore season after starting on varsity as a freshman. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

WAUCONDA

Coach: Jaime Dennis (10th season)

Last season: 14-14, 6-8 in NLCC, lost to St. Viator in Class 3A Wauconda regional final

Key losses: G Po Kimbell (Benedictine University), F Elise Deaver

Returning players: Sr. F/G Allie Tylka, Sr. G Dakota Thompson, Jr. F Morgan Lung, So. G Maddie Carver, So. G Ella Karg, So. F Kiley Szmajda

Newcomers: Jr. F Audrey Deaver, Jr. G Karly Pikel, Jr. G Grace Poduch, Jr. G Jennifer Rudd, Fr. G/F Mackenzie Arden, Fr. G/F Jessie Pakaski

Outlook: Statistically, there was no better player in the NLCC last season than Allie Tylka. Without question, her numbers stood out. All the 6-foot forward/guard did was average 18.1 points, 10 rebounds, 3.8 steals, 2.8 assists and 2.6 blocks per game in her third season as a varsity starter. And now that she is the Bulldogs' first Division I player this century, the target on her back might be even bigger. "It's a blessing and a curse," said coach Jaime Dennis, smiling. "But she was the best player in the conference last year, so she had a target on her back. She's not a secret. We need some of the younger ones to step up because they can. They're capable of taking the pressure off her a little bit. I think some kids are going to surprise some people. (Opponents) are going to be worried about Allie and not realize that we got some other kids that can score. But Allie's tough to stop, even when you put your best guard on her." Tylka committed to Flordia Atlantic University in the summer and planned to sign her letter of intent this week. She and 5-1 guard Dakota Thompson are the Bulldogs' only seniors. The good news is, sophomores Ella Karg, Kiley Szmajda and Maddie Carver all played heavy minutes last season. The Bulldogs missed point guard Karg (concussion) down the stretch, as they lost three of their final four games. Like last season, freshmen will get an opportunity to show they can handle varsity ball. Dennis said freshmen Mackenzie Arden (5-8) and Jessie Pakaski (5-9), a pair of Wauconda Middle School graduates, have fit in nicely. Both are multiple-sport athletes, as Arden played volleyball in the fall, while Pakaski ran cross country and qualified for the sectional (Thompson did too). The newcomers along with Tylka should make the Bulldogs competitive in the NLCC again this season. "I'm really pleased with this group right now," Dennis said. "There's good leadership and energy in the gym. Even though most of them are sophomores and freshmen, they still got good work ethics."

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