Scouting the Mid-Suburban West
Barrington FilliesCoach: Babbi Barreiro (28th year, 446-391)
Last season: 11-3, MSL West co champs
Top Returning players: Sophie Swanson jr. (G, 5-11), Laura Mahlum, sr. (F, 5-11), Gwen Adler, so. (G, 5-10) Molly O'Riordan so. (C, 6-2), Gracie Stagnito, sr. (G, 5-5), Allison Funk, sr. (G, 5-6), Sydny Louis, jr. (F, 6-2), Lydia Schectma, jr. (G, 5-8), Jasmine McMillan, jr. (G, 5-7), Jessica McMiIllan, Jr. (F, 5-9), Mary Roeckell, sr. (F, 6-1)
Top new players: Tracy Haufschild jr. (G, 5-3), Sarah Bauernfreund Jr, (G, 5-9), Hanna Faulkner, jr. (F, 5-7)
Worth noting: Barreiro says the Fillies are looking forward to playing together this season. She welcomes back Swanson (MSL West Player of the Year) and Mahlim (Illinois Wesleyan recruit) "We hope to pick up where we left off last year," said the hall of fame coach. "This group brings a lot of experience, athleticism and hard work along with some key pieces. We need to play well together. Offensively, we have a few kids who can contribute consistently and on the other side of the ball we should have some aggressiveness and athleticism. This group has been a blast to work with so far. They are driven and hungry and I like where they are going."
Conant CougarsCoach: Todd Strauch (fourth season, 22-44)
Last season's record: 3-10
Top returning players: Samantha Locascio, sr. (F, 5-7), Emily Ytsen, sr. (F, 6-0), Olivia Czarny, sr. (G, 5-6), Asha Cobb so. (G, 5-4), Gracie Rodriguez, sr. (F, 5-8), Mikayla Nelson sr. (F, 5-10)
Top new players: Aria Mazza, fr. (G, 5-5), Kanna Bradarich, fr. (F, 5-10), Lauren Fricke, jr. (G, 5-8), Mikayla Nowicki, jr, (F, 5-10)
Worth noting: Heading into a full season again, the Cougars are looking to mix in some talented younger players with some experienced older girls. "Sam (Locascio) and Emily (Ytsen) had great offseasons and I'm looking forward to seeing how that translates to the season," Strauch said. "Aria and Kanna are talented freshmen and I look forward to seeing how they adapt to the varsity level." Last year was a learning experience for a lot of the returning Cougars. "We look to use that experience to get off to a good start against a tough opening schedule and competitive conference play," Strauch said.
Fremd VikingsCoach: Dave Yates (16th year, 338-118)
Last season's record: 10-3, MSL West Champions
Top returning players: Brianna Wooldridge, sr, (F, 6-2), Anna Schmitt, sr. (G, 5-3), Jill Sheehan, sr. (G, 5-8), Maddie Fay, jr, (F, 6-2), Sam Bodensteiner, jr., (G, 5-9), Norah O'Brien, jr. (G/F, 6-0) Nikki Gonnella, jr. (G, 5-9)
Top new players: Kace Urlacher, jr. (G/F, 6-1), Izzy Zavilla, so. (G/F, 5-11) Brynn Eshoo, so. (F, 6-1)
Ella Todd, fr. (G, 5-11), Ellie Thompson, fr. (G, 5-8)
Worth noting: Fremd returns several players from last season's six-week COVID-19 season. Those Vikes are joined by several talented newcomers who should form a deep, long and skilled group. Fremd will be missing a few players to start the season due to injury but expects them back in the lineup soon. "Brianna and Anna have tremendous experience in our program and are expected to lead this very young group this season," said Yates, who led the Vikings to Class 4A state-runner-up trophies in 2015 and 2016. "Brianna has the potential to be one of the best post players to ever play at Fremd and I am very excited for her senior year. Anna brings energy and passion to our group coupled with blazing quickness." Yates added that his team is very young so it will take time to get everyone acclimated. "But when we get everyone comfortable, look out." he said. "We are excited to be the hunter this year since Barrington returns their entire team from last season. Our goal is to be playing our best basketball come playoffs."
Hoffman Estates Hawks
Coach: Brad Reibel (third season, 4-36)
Last season's record: 2-11
Top returning players: Ashley Oliver sr. (G). Amaya Hendrickson, jr. (F)
Top new players: Jillian Cuartero jr, (G)
Worth noting: Reibel expects Olivero and Hendrickson to have impactful seasons once again and Cuartero will take on a bigger role. "However, our whole roster will be expected to contribute," the coach said. "Our group, as usual, is a hardworking group with great attitudes." Reibel said the standard on which he grades his program is based on how much the team develops over the course of the season. "We expect this group to come a long way from our first day to our last day," Reibel added. "We are very excited to welcome back our returners as well as a group of newcomers that will continue to help build our basketball program."
Palatine PiratesCoach: Mark Johnson (ninth year)
Last season: 8-7
Returning players: Madi Stark sr. (PG, 6-0), Megan Van Brunt, jr. (F, 5-10), Allie Henning, sr. (G, 5-5), Payton Westphal, jr. (F, 5-10), Megan Kim, jr. (G, 5-2), Frankie Henderson, so, (G, 5-6), Caitlin Williams, sr. (G, 5-2), Coralyn Johnson sr. (F, 5-8).
Top new players: Molly Pieper fr. (F, 5-11), Elise Martino fr. (G, 5-4), Lindsay Plourde So, (G-F, 5-7), Lexi Sabado so. (G/F, 5-7)
Worth noting: The Pirates will feature a nice balance of senior leadership as well as young talent. "We play in an extremely tough division of an outstanding conference but we are looking forward to the challenge," Johnson said. Returning to the floor for her senior year is three-time all-area, all-conference selection Stark. "This team is talented enough to win plenty of games and if they can get key stops and make some big baskets, we can challenge for our division title."
Schaumburg SaxonsCoach: Jacqie Strauch (sixth season, 63-95 (one year at Gordon Tech)
Last season's record: 5-8
Top returning players: Alyssa Orozco, sr, (G, 5-10), Marisa Vodicka, sr. (G, 5-8), Madi Dolecki, so, (G, 5-10), Emma Jevtic, so. (F, 6-0)
Top new players: Jada Branch, so. (G, 5-5),
Worth noting: The Saxons have a strong returning lineup with only two new members on the varsity. With six sophomores, Strauch will utilize her youth's energy to keep a quick pace. Senior leadership will come from four-year varsity member, Orozco, and supporting seniors Vodicka and Tuzil. "We will be known for our defensive intensity and deep bench," Strauch added. "This team will be competitive and is ready to make its mark in the MSL."