Scouting the East Suburban Catholic

  • Eli Aldana averaged 15 points and 4.5 assists a game last year at St. Viator.

      Eli Aldana averaged 15 points and 4.5 assists a game last year at St. Viator. John Starks | Staff Photographer

By Dick Quagliano
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 11/22/2021 8:11 AM

Benet AcademyCoach: Gene Heidkamp

Last season's record: 10-4, 7-2 (ESCC)


Top returning players: Brennan White, sr., (G, 6-0), Brady Kunka, jr. (F, 6'3), Ben Romenesko, sr. (G, 6-0), Weston Stephens, sr. (F, 6-4), Brady Heckman, sr. (F, 6-2), Parker Sulaver, soph., (F, 6-6).

Top new players: Kyle Thomas, sr. (F, 6-9), Niko Abusara, jr., (F, 6-4), Sam Driscoll. Jr., (F, 6-2)

Worth noting: White is the only starter remaining from last season's team. But the Redwings still have lots to choose from and could go as many as 9-deep in their lineup. Thomas is great addition to Benet after transferring from St. Joe's after the Westchester school closed. "Our strengths are our perimeter shooting and depth," Heidkamp said. "But I am still concerned about our lack of experience and our defense."

CarmelCoach: Zach Ryan

Last season's record: 5-9, 4-4 (ESCC)

Top returning players: Bryce Moore, sr. (G/F, 6-4), Asher Jackson, sr., (G, 6-5), Luke Nalewajk, sr. (F, 6-5), AJ Ajaga, sr. (G/F, 6-4), Roan Del Carmen, sr. (G, 5-4), Michael Matz, sr., (6-2)

Top new players: Inigo Garcia-Baquero, jr., (G, 6-3), Josh Stewart, jr., (G, 5-10), Kaleb Jackson, jr., (G, 5-8)

Worth noting: Moore is a 4-year varsity player and 3-year starter. He has committed to Niagara and returns after averaging 13 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists last season. Nalewajk, Ajaga, Matz, and Del Carmen should provide leadership and depth. Garcia-Baquero is a transfer from Spain while sophomore guards Stewart and Jackson should help fill some gaps. "We have a nice mix of returners and newcomers," Ryan said. "Our plan is to play fast and utilize our depth."

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Joliet CatholicCoach: Joe Gura

Last season's record: 1-9, 1-6 (ESCC)

Top returning players: Alex Brown, sr., (G, 6-1), Brennan Luz, sr., (F/C, 6-4), Ely Hunter, sr., (G/F, 6-0), Jason Pilapil, sr., (G, 6-0), David Conners, sr., (G, 6-1), Kyle Simon, sr., (G, 6-3)

Top new players: Anthony Birsa, jr., (F, 6-5), Tyler Surin, jr., (G, 6-1)

Worth noting: It was a crazy season for the Hilltoppers last winter. They played just 9 games before having their season shut down due to the pandemic. But Brown (11 ppg., 4 rpg., 3.5 apg.), Luz (7 ppg., 4.5 rpg.), Hunter (9 ppg.), Pilapil, Conners, and Simon all saw significant time. Gura is also excited about adding Birsa and Surin to the mix. "Last season was a nightmare," Gura said. "We are really counting on our seniors and we're excited about our top eight."

Marian CentralCoach: Charley Walsh

Last season's record: 2-12, 0-8 (ESCC)

Top returning players: Christian Bentancur, soph., (F, 6-5), Jake Giangrego, jr., G, 6-1), Cale McThenia, soph., (G/F, 6-3), Dawson Yegge, jr., (C, 6-7), Mike Morris, sr., (G, 6-1)

Top new players: Michael Jablonski, jr. (F, 6-2), Braedon Todd, soph., (G, 6-0)

Worth noting: The Hurricanes return the core of their team last year, returning 35 points to their lineup. But this is a very young Marian Central team, which will look to grow up even more this season. Betancourt had a great freshman year last season for the Hurricanes, averaging 17. 2 points. Giangrego averaged 10.5 points while McThenia had 5.2 points. "We have a very young team," Walsh said. "We started two freshmen and two sophomores last season. They do have the potential to turn things around at Marian."


Nazareth AcademyCoach: Sean Pearson

Last season's record: 4-11, 2-6 (ESCC)

Top returning players: Dominic Trelenberg, Sr. (F, 6-5), Matt Uphues, jr., (F, 6-3), Declan Foley, jr. (G, 5-10), Kharon Cotton, jr., (G, 6-2), Anthony Cullotta, jr. (G, 6-2), Rocco Solano, jr. (F, 6-5)

Top new players: Talen Pearson, soph., (F, 6-3)

Worth noting: The Roadrunners will be a junior sandwich with Trelenberg and Uphues leading the way and the up-and-coming sophomore Pearson coming up strong from the bottom. Nazareth will be big up and down its lineup. Senior forward Dominic Trelenberg will lead the way for a strong junior class that includes Matt Uphues, Declan Foley, Kharon Cotton, Anthony Cullotta and Rocco Solano. Talen Pearson, who is a sophomore, could raise some eyebrows with his play.

St. ViatorCoach: Michael O'Keeffe

Last season's record: 7-5, 5-3, (ESCC)

Top returning players: Eli Aldana, jr., (G, 5-11), RJ Gamble, jr., (G, 6-0), Dillon Schmidt, jr., (G, 6-1), Jack Glasstetter, jr., (G, 5-6), Michael Nix, jr., (G, 6-0), Jake VanBooven, jr. (G, 5-9), Alex Arango, sr., (F, 6-2), Ben Rygiel, sr., (F, 6-7)

Top new players: Hunter Duncan, jr., (G, 6-2), Ryan Camblin, jr., (F, 6-6), Rylee Untalan, jr., (G, 5-9), Josiah Calvin, fresh., (G, 5-9), Joey Hernandez, fresh, (G, 5-8)

Worth noting: The Lions are young. Really young, with just two seniors on their roster. Aldana was all-area last season as a sophomore and is coming off a season where he averaged 15 points and 4.5 assists per game. Gamble averaged 5.5 points, while the others played sparingly last season. Duncan is a transfer from La Lumiere (IN) and should see action. On the horizon, Viator has Calvin, younger brother of Trey (Wright State), and Hernandez, younger brother of Jeremiah (Kent State). "In order to have a successful season, we will need to defend at a high level, rebound as a collective unit, and take care of the ball," O'Keeffe said. "We have more skill and depth in the backcourt this season, which will allow us to be more effective and efficient offensively."

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