Scouting the Southwest Prairie
Joliet CentralCoach: Laura Brumfiel
Last season's record: 10-3
Top returning players: Nylah Davis, jr.; Lovely Tua Link, sr.; Joyce Tua Link, jr.; Lillian Luongsomkham, sr.
Top new players: Mekiyah Davis, jr.; Mahogany Frazier, sr.; Miyah Gooch, jr.; Diamond Samuels, so.; Karyssa Stewart, jr.; Amya Taylor, so; Arika Taylor, jr.; Aubrey Weems, so.
Worth noting: There's no question that Joliet Central's team was senior dominated last year, but Brumfiel feels that her group has the potential to surprise some that look past her team. "This year our team will surprise some people. We lost a lot of seniors last year, but we have a lot of good returners and experienced newcomers," Brumfiel said. We have a group of ladies that work extremely hard and strive to get better every single day."
Joliet WestCoach: John Placher
Last season's record: 14-1
Top returning players: Destiny McNair, jr. (G, 5-9); Miranda Rosales, jr. (F, 5-10); Caiside Snapp, sr. (G, 5-6); Lisa Thompson, jr. (G, 5-9); Grace Walsh, sr. (G, 5-9).
Top new players: Brook Schwall, so. (C, 6-1).
Worth noting: Walsh and Thompson should make for an absolutely dynamic combo atop the Tigers lineup. Walsh, an Air Force commit, averaged 16 points per game last season while Thompson is drawing major Division I interest after earning first-team All-State honors a season ago while averaging 21 points per game. McNair was also an All-Conference selection. "We have a lot of experience and talent returning this year," Placher said. "It will be an exciting season for the Tigers this year."
MinookaCoach: Jeffrey Easthon
Last season's record: 5-9
Top returning players: Makenzie Brass, so. (F, 5-10); Bri Simmons, sr. (C, 6-0).
Top new players: Kennedi Brass, so (G, 5-7).
Worth noting: Minooka has to rebuild much of its lineup with just two regulars returning to the fold. But the Indians do have some size and both Makenzie Brass and Simmons averaged about six rebounds per game last season. "We are an athletic group of girls who play two or three sports, Easthon said. "We look forward to competing in every game and we will see where that takes us. You can see in the first couple of weeks of practice that our girls will work hard."
OswegoCoach: John Carlson
Last season's record: 7-7
Top returning players: Kaila Schlinger, sr. (G, 5-11); Kaisje' Pryor, so. (G, 5-6)
Top new players: Anna Johnson, jr. (G, 5-6); Brooke Tennent, sr. (G, 5-9); Kendall Fulton, jr. (F, 6-0)
Worth noting: Oswego won a combined 45 games and two regional titles the past two full seasons, but the program has had quite a bit of turnover from those teams. McKenna Engler, last season's second-leading scorer and leading rebounder, graduated, while leading scorer and second-leading rebounder Mia Moore transferred to East Aurora. Carlson said they have introduced a new system offensively, so it will take time for the athletes to get used to playing together. Oswego does have a little more height overall than in the past, but only a few girls have varsity experience. Schlinger averaged 5 points and 6 rebounds last season, Pryor 5 points and 3 rebounds. Fulton is a transfer from St. Joseph, a school that closed at the end of last school year. "New expectations for girls," Carlson said. "Some who have been in a more supportive role now will be expected to take on leadership roles and be counted on for scoring."
Oswego EastCoach: Abe Carretto
Last season's record: 5-8
Top returning players: Katie Jorgensen, sr. (PG, 5-9); Maddie Stockley, sr. (SG, 5-6); Riley Doggett (jr. (SG, 5-9); Angela Ruiz, sr. (C, 6-0); Caley Layman, jr. (SG, 5-6).
Top new players: Cami Phillips, so. (PG, 5-5); Cydnei Mitchell, sr. (PG, 5-4)
Worth noting: The Wolves started out last season 1-6 but finished well over the final three weeks. Doggett averaged 10.7 points, 6 rebounds and 2 steals in her first varsity season as Oswego East's leading scorer and Stockley averaged 10.2 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3 steals a game as the team's second leading scorer. Phillips is a quick guard who can handle the ball and is tenacious on defense and played well at the end of last season in the conference tournament and over the summer. Mitchell is a transfer from Downers Grove South who is quick with the ball and aggressive on the defensive end. Others expected to contribute are juniors Allie Petratis, Alexia Pellegrino and Rakshita Kunde, sophomore Ava Valek and freshman point guard Maddie Lewandowski. "We are a mixture of returning players and all new players," Carretto said. "I have been impressed with their work ethic, speed and team camaraderie as we've started our tryouts and now into practice. We may surprise some teams this year as our speed and quickness will be a factor in the game."
Plainfield CentralCoach: Armond Frazier
Last season's record: 7-6
Top returning players: Grace Bardachowski, sr. (F, 5-9); Aaliyah Frazier, jr. (G, 5-7); Chrissy Frazier, sr. (G, 5-8).
Top new players: Alex Patch, sr. (C, 6-0).
Worth noting: The Wildcats will lean heavily on Aaliyah Frazier, an All-Area player in 2021 and lone returning starter for Plainfield Central.
"We lost four starters from last year and we are a much smaller, but faster team," Frazier said. "I expect my team to play hard and compete, which will give us a chance to win in most games."
Plainfield EastCoach: Tony Waznonis
Last season's record: 1-12
Top returning players: Taylor French, sr. (G, 5-11); Lexis Sepulveda, so. (G, 5-9); Jocelyn Trotter, jr. (G, 5-9).
Top new players: Triniti Jenkins, Sr. (G, 5-4); Morgan Stephens, so. (F, 5-10).
Worth noting: Plainfield East is a young group, but has a nice foundation of scoring with French (12.2 ppg last season) and Sepulveda (9 ppg as a freshman) to build upon. "We are a young team that will play a lot of sophomores and juniors," Waznonis said. "However, we are athletic and energetic and will be up-tempo and exciting. We expect to come together as the season goes along and be competitive every game and be our best at the end of the season."
Plainfield NorthCoach: Michaela Reedy
Last season's record: 10-4
Top returning players: Yasmine Bryant, jr. (G, 5-7); Sophia Charbonneau, jr. (G, 5-4); Ruby Davis, jr. (F, 5-10); Savannah DiMarco, jr. (G, 5-6); Jessica DiMartino, jr. (G, 5-4); Mary Henry, sr. (G, 5-9); Jayln Patterson, sr. (F, 5-11); Lexi Salazar, jr. (G, 5-7).
Worth noting: The Tigers have a solid returning group, but most of their success will hinge on whether or not Patterson can continue to post the huge numbers she did as a junior.
Plainfield SouthCoach: Larry Lanciotti
Last season's record: 2-10
Top returning players: Keagan Mele, sr. (G, 5-5); Grace Harris, sr. (G, 5-7); Ciara Miller, sr. (G, 5-7); E'Brina Smith, sr. (F/C, 6-0).
Top new players: Jazlyn Foster, so. (F/C, 5-11); Destynia McGruder, so. (F/C, 6-1); Ashley Mezewich, so. (G, 5-7), Demi Page, so. (G, 5-10).
Worth noting: Lanciotti takes over the helm after being an assistant coach for the last three seasons. The Cougars return three starters from last season and add further with the return of Harris, who sat out last season with an ACL injury. "We are young Mont was the MVP of the cone last season, but won't get going until January due to her needing to conclude rehabbing a knee injury. The Blackhawks also got five transfer athletes, including four from Aurora Christian, and those players will make an impact to either the starting lineup or general depth in the program."
RomeovilleCoach: Devin Bates
Last season's record: 4-9
Top returning players: Alina Anderson, sr. (F); Maya Edrada, jr. (G); Emily Gabrelcik, so. (G); Genesis Sanchez, sr. (C).
Top new players: Tykara Harrison, sr. (G); Fafali Hodogbey, jr. (F); Laila Houseworth, so. (G), Jadea Johnson, so. (G).
Worth noting: Romeoville returns about 22 points of offense from last year, led by the 9 point per game average posted by Anderson. But the Spartans believe they added a solid running mate for Anderson in Plainfield Central transfer Harrison. "After a 4-9 finish to the 20-21 basketball season, the new look Spartans add a dynamic player in Tykara Harrison to pair with Alina Anderson as a strong 1-2 punch," Bates said. "These two girls will lead a group of promising athletes into a season with the team mentality being "one game at a time". This group is really embracing the tough competition and good teams they will run into during the 21-22 season."
West AuroraCoach: Teresa Waldinger
Last season's record: 7-7
Top returning players: Ava Gonzales, sr. (F, 5-8); Kayly Jiminez, sr. (F, 5-7); Lizzy Kuhn sr. (G, 5-8); Riley Mont, sr. (F, 5-9).
Top new players: Natalie Evans, so. (G, 5-3); Bibi Mercado, jr. (G, 5-7); Aspen Weeks, jr. (G, 5-7).
Worth noting: Mont was the MVP of the conference last season, but won't get going until January due to her needing to conclude rehabbing a knee injury. The Blackhawks also got five transfer athletes, including four from Aurora Christian, and those players will make an impact to either the starting lineup or general depth in the program. "We have a lot of talent with our team this year. We have speed, some height, and some talented shooting. We always want to be the hardest working team on the floor, so that is something we emphasize each day," Waldinger said. "We'll see how far those will take us this season. We have our eyes set on a conference title again and hopefully a Regional title as well."
YorkvilleCoach: Kim Wensits
Last season's record: 5-9
Top returning players: Kenzie Phillips, sr. (SF, 5-10); Alex Stewart, jr. (G, 5-6); Courtney Morse, jr. (PF, 5-7); Karson Davey, jr. (PG, 5-3); Ava Hendershott, jr. (SF, 5-7); Kaelie Moreno, jr. (SG, 5-6).
Top new players: Aliesha Peterson, so. (G, 5-5); Kenzie Sweeney, so. (SF, 5-7); Lainey Gussman, fr. (SF, 5-10).
Worth noting: Phillips and Stewart are third-year varsity players. Phillips averaged 5.7 points and 3.5 rebounds last season and Stewart 7.6 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.1 steals. The Foxes are looking for a good year from Morse in terms of aggressiveness, court sense and decision-making while being more offensive-minded. Davey provides athleticism and speed and will be looked to for defense and her passing. Hendershott is a hard worker willing to do the little things that has shown great rebounding skills in practice. "We are really looking to have a competitive season this year fighting for one of the top teams in the conference," Wensits said. "We are trying to establish the mentality of grittiness and competitiveness. "We have a good mix of athletes who got experience last year on varsity mixed in with three underclassmen. We continue to lack size, but we have more speed this year that we are looking to utilize for our advantage."