Scouting the Mid-Suburban League East
Buffalo GroveCoach: Steve Kolodziej (7th season)
Last year's record: 5-25, 1-9
Graduated players: Alyssa Floro
Returning players: Kendra Lee (5-11 Jr. G-F), Jackie Bickhaus (5-6 Sr. G), Macy Floro (5-6 Jr. G), Alyssa Ramos (5-8 Jr. G), Sydney Fortman (5-9 Sr. F), Megan Fontanetta (5-2 Jr. G), Zori Angelova (5-11 Jr. F), Heide Schmit (5-9 Sr. G), Hannah Young (5-7 Sr. G), Jackie Lavigne (5-9 Sr. G)
Outlook: As he begins his seventh season, Bison coach Steve Kolodziej returns five players (Lee, Bickhaus, Floro, Ramos and Fortman) who have each started more than 25 career games. Three have been two-year starters. "We're super excited about the potential this season," Kolodziej said. "We went through a lot of growing pains last season that should give us good experience and perspective for this season." Lee was an all-area selection, finishing in the top ten of six MSL East categories. She averaged 10.1 points per game and 7.3 rebounds while combining for more than 100 steals and deflections. "This group may be the most committed we have had here in a while," said Kolodziej, who guided the Bison to a MSL East crown in 2016. "They completed shot charts this summer, they are lifting three days a week and doing two days of speed agility a week. With some fine tuning, hard work and attention to detail, we should see some drastic improvements within ourselves and each other. The drive behind this group is impressive and it's only a matter of time until we find out what we are made of."
Elk Grove Coach: Jennifer Buxton (5th season)
Last year's record: 15-15, 3-7
Graduated players: Zoe Blomquist, Sydney Marquis, Emma Simmons, Bailey Smola.
Returning Players: Olivia Masnica (5-4 So. G), Isabella Tierney (5-8 So. G), Alyssa Trausch (5-8 So. F), Kaitlyn Ingebrigsten (6-0 Jr. F), Madilyn Korkis (5-6 Jr. G), Megan Murray (5-5 Jr. G), Rachel Kandefer (6-0 Sr. G), Jaela Priester (5-7 Sr. G).
Newcomers: Lili Duckmann (5-7 Fr, G), Sarah Burkhardt (5-5 Jr. G), Bridget McGarry (5-11 Jr. F)
Outlook: The Grenadiers return a lot of youth from last year's .500 ballclub and coach Jen Buxton is excited to call for an up-tempo pace from her players. Back to help the offense is Murray, an all-area selection last year who averaged 12 points, 7 rebounds and 3.4 steals. Kandefer and Tierney also helped spark the offense. "Each year our goal is to compete in our tough conference," said Buxton, who starred at Buffalo Grove as an all-area basketball and volleyball player before studying at the University of Illinois. "We want to improve our record each year. We want to be more consistent in our scoring offensively and the girls have put in a lot of time in the off-season improving their games. We are looking forward to a productive year."
HerseyCoach: Mary Fendley (21st season)
Last year's record: 15-13, 8-2
Graduated Players: Erin McGrath, Katie McGrath, Sarah McGrath, Claire Rogowski, Maesyn Benjamin, Haley Skiko
Returning Players: Mary Kate Fahey (5-7 So. G), Emily Collins (5-7 Sr. G), Janine Boyan (6-0 Jr. F), Sydney Hemenway (5-4 Sr. G), Maddie Jacobsen (5-10 Sr. F), Chelsea Manoj (5-3 Sr. G), Emily Born (5-6 Sr. G)
Newcomers: Mary McGrath (5-11 So. F), Aya El-Fiky (5-11 So. F), Jordan Carlquist (5-6 Jr. G), Jessie Carlquist (5-5 Jr. G), Brianna Luciano (5-7 Sr. G), Claire Stollfuss (5-7 Jr. F)
Outlook: Can it be déjà vu for the Huskies? One year ago, not many expected Hersey would win the MSL East after graduating four starters. But coach Mary Fendley guided the Huskies not only to the East crown but the overall MSL title with a 43-31 win at Palatine. Now the Huskies find themselves in the exact same position -- beginning the season with only one returning starter again. That returnee is sophomore Fahey, an all-area guard as a freshman who collected 139 points, 43 assists, 23 steals and 30 rebounds in her rookie campaign. Fahey scored a career-high 17 points in a win over East co-champion Rolling Meadows in Game 5 of the division last year. "We will try to battle against five other East teams who all have a legitimate chance to win the division," said Fendley, the dean of MSL East coaches who owns a 420-128 record in her past 20 seasons. "There will be no nights off for any of the teams in our division," Fendley added. "Our schedule is stacked. We play some of the top teams in the state, including Maine West, New Trier and Mother McAuley, plus the teams at the Montini Christmas tournament."
ProspectCoach: Marie Miller (1st season)
Last year's record: 16-10, 7-3
Graduated Players: Emily Frasco, Marghertie Pettenuzzo, Elizabeth Fanslow, Sara Biesterfeldt
Key Returning Players: Ashley Adams (5-8 Sr. F), Kayla Byrne (5-8 Sr. G/F), Abbey Danciu (5-6 Sr. G), Jessica Kowalczyk (5-6 Sr. G), Stephanie Kowalczyk (5-6 Sr. PG), Tia Sadlon (6-1 Sr. F), Helen Siavelis (5-4 Sr. PG)
Newcomers: Jolene Neuhalfen (5-3 Jr. PG/G), Amanda Behles (5-5 Sr. G), Eliot Dojutrek (5-7 So. PG/G), Mia Gusloff (5-10 So. F), Sarah Skaggs (5-7 Jr. G), Olivia Accardi (5-5 Jr. G), Meghan Prisby (5-5 Jr. G), Lizzie Heiss (5-10 Jr. F), Ellebn Sherwood (5-6 Jr. F)
Outlook: As she begins her first season in charge of the Prospect program, Marie Miller has several returning players with some strong senior leadership. Among the returnees is all-area guard Ashley Adams, who averaged 8,8 points and collected 94 rebounds as a junior. Adams shot 43 percent while also collecting 24 assists, 27 steals and 14 deflections. "We do have girls adjusting to new roles with a changing program," said Miller, who is one of Prospect's all-time leading rebounders who went on to play at Eastern Illinois. "We're learning a new offensive system and defensive discipline."
Rolling MeadowsCoach: Ryan Kirkorsky (7th season)
Last year's record: 21-9, 8-2
Graduated Players: Natalie Anderson, Caili Hosler, Hannah Joyce, Mallory King, Melissa Spiwak, Miyah Ruiz
Returning Players: Mallory Brand, (6-0 Sr. F), Alexa Davis (5-7, Sr. PG), Kristin Dillon (Sr. 5-6, G), Lily Greifenstein (5-6 Sr. PG), Kathleen Maltese (5-8, Sr. G), Elise Kowalski (5-11 Sr. F), Susannah Holifield (5-10, Jr. F/G), Bridget Rolla (5-7, Jr. PG/G, injured)
Newcomers: Kelsie Campbell (5-7, Jr, G), Sam Elenz (5-7, So. G), Moira Hickey (5-6, Fr. G), Alison Sellergren (5-7, Fr. G), Madison Aiello (5-3, Jr. G), Kelly Boyle (5-7, Jr. G), Colleen Cox (5-10, Jr G/F), Sarah Ingemunson (5-7, Jr. G/F)
Outlook: The defending MSL East co-champs are excited to start another bid for the division crown. "We're excited to start another journey and focus on what we can control each day," said veteran coach Ryan Kirkorsky, who also spent four years in charge of the Elk Grove program before arriving at Meadows. The Mustangs return two of the best guards in the area with Davis and Greifenstein, who was an all-area selection a year ago averaging 12.7 points and 2.5 rebounds. She also had 47 steals and 37 assists. "As two of our captains, they will be asked to lead us on and off the court," said Kirkorsky, whose team suffered a major loss with a knee injury to guard Bridget Rolla. "Obviously the injury to Bridget is a big loss but she will work her way back to being one of the top players in the conference." Holifield returns as a versatile starter. "We're looking forward to her asserting herself even more," Kirkorsky said. "We have a tremendous group of seniors (Brand, Dillon, Kowalski and Maltese)." Brand and Kowalski (three-sport athlete) played important minutes for the Mustangs last year. "In addition, we have a hungry group of young players who are ready to make an impact," Kirkorsky said. "Our conference and nonconference schedule will challenge us each night, and we're excited to prepare for those challenges."
WheelingCoach: Matt Weber (5th season)
Last year's Record: 15-14, 3-7
Graduated Players: Nansy Velev
Returning Players: Nosa Igiehon (6-0 Sr. F), Tommy Helms (5-6 Sr. G/F), Morgan Collar (5-11 Jr. F), Chloe Drozdz (5-3 Jr. G), Sophia Stanke (5-7 Jr. G/F), Lauryn Webb (5-10 Jr. F), Karina Gomez (5-4 Sr. G),
Newcomers: Stephanie Peterson (5-9 Jr. G/F), Naomi Metellus (5-4 Jr. G), Dani Moser (5-8 Fr. G), Sam Janulis (5-9 Fr. G/F), Nichole Niznik (5-4 Fr. G), Ashley Yasak (5-9 Fr. F)
Outlook: Wheeling coach Matt Weber spent this fall as the receivers coach for Prospect's football team. Now he hopes to receive big efforts from his girls basketball team which returns four starters and six players with varsity experience. Igiehon and Collar each averaged more than 10 points last year. "They are very athletic and will be our two point players," Weber said. An all-conference selection, Igiehon also pulled down an average of 5 rebounds last year along with 3 blocks per game. "Our bench will be young (four freshmen will see time) and it will need to mature quickly," said Weber, who has a 62-55 record in his four seasons. "We plan on being very aggressive and hardworking on defense and running the court and scoring in transition. Drozdz gets the call as the Wildcats' new point guard (Nansy Velez graduated and is now at Carthage). Stanke and Helms should be able to spread the offense for the Wildcats and keep defenses honest with their 3-point shooting.
Central Suburban North
Maine WestCoach: Kim de Marigny (3rd season)
Last year's record: 32-2, 10-0
Graduated Players: Alisa Fallon, Catherine Johnson, Allison Pearson, Bianca Mando, Jessica Reidl, Gaby Alvarado, Marissa Fucarino
Returning Players: Rachel Kent (5-11 Sr. F), Angela Dugalic (6-4 Jr. F), Lena Albo (5-8 Jr. G), Dylan Van Fleet (5-8 Jr. G), Vanessa Reyes (5-9 Sr. F), Ellie Centella (5-10 Sr. G), Sarah Magnoni (5-7 Sr. G), Jocelyn Jacob (5-7 Sr. G)
Newcomers: Maria Buniao (5-5 So. G), Jane Rothweiler (5-6 So. G), Rachel Gorcyka (5-11 Sr. F), Melissa Gomez (5-8 Jr. G), Brianna Hernandez (5-8 So. G), Yessenia Vilchis (5-8 Sr. G)
Outlook: The Warriors are coming off one of their finest seasons in years as they took third place in the Class 4A state tournament, losing to only one team all season (Geneva). In fact, the Warriors have won 37 of their last 40 games with all three losses to Geneva. "We lost some very good players from last year's third-place team," said Warriors third-year coach Kim deMarigny, who graduated all-area standouts Alisa Fallon, Catherine Johnson and Allison Pearson. "However, we are also returning some very good, experienced players who would love to continue to work hard and be as successful as possible." Two of those are all-area selections Dugalic and Kent, who was the co-captain for the 2018 Daily Herald Northwest all-area team. Kent, a St. Louis recruit, went over 1,000 career points last winter as a junior while averaging 11.1 points per game. Dugalic, a junior being sought after by major colleges, averaged 10.7 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.8 steals and 1 blocked shot.
West Suburban Gold
LeydenCoach: Stephanie Kuzmanic (5th season)
Last year's record: 11-17
Graduated players: Pamela Colmenares (Triton College), Amalia Figueroa, Alexia Samuel, Megan Michorczyk
Returning players: Yaritza Frias (5-5 So. G), Gabriela Hurtado (5-11 Sr. C), Kassandra Perez (5-4 Sr. G), Jenny Molini (5-5 Sr. G), Ivanna Hernandez (5-6 Sr. F)
Newcomers: Jamyah Tate (5-5 G), Karina Villagran (5-7 F), Rebecca Perez (5-5 G), Evelyn Abundes (5-6 G), LaNia Harris (5-6 F), Janelle Caraballo (5-2 G), Nathalie Ovalle (5-3 G), Anixa Cisneros (5-9 F), Leah Ferrici (5-5 G)
Outlook: Former Wheeling and Carthage standout Stephanie Kuzmanic begins her fifth season at Leyden with an athletic group which likes to play an up-tempo game. "We will emphasize defense and utilize our speed to control the tempo and score in transition," said Kuzmanic, who graduated all-area guard Figueroa, who averaged 10.3 points and shot over 40 percent as a senior. "We will rely on the veteran leadership of Frias, Hurtado and Perez, who got a substantial amount of playing time last year. We will combine that with a very talented incoming group of juniors."