Scouting the Central Suburban League
Vernon Hills CougarsCoach: Matt McCarty
Last season's record: 4-13, 3-7, Central Suburban North
Top returning players: Max Brusso, sr., (PG, 5-8), Erik Rimas, sr., (F-C, 6-5, 225), Justin St. Louis, sr., (G-F, 6-1), Nick Heiser, sr., (6-0, SG), Milan Raval, jr., (G, 6-2),
Top new players: Nolan Lazor, jr., (C, 6-5)
Worth noting: Brusso is a returning starter and the team's sparkplug point guard. Rimas has started since sophomore year and can go inside and outside. St. Louis can play multiple positions and is strong on the defensive end and improving offensively, while Heiser was the team's leading 3-point shooter (makes). Raval is a three-sport athlete (soccer, basketball, tennis). Lazor was the football team's quarterback. "No question that we have a hungry senior group that took it personally when they were not able to close some tight games last year," said McCarty, who noted with the exception of three-year starter Rimas, the entire senior group entered last season with zero varsity minutes of experience. Vernon Hills was 1-4 in overtime games this spring. "They have committed to improving their free-throw shooting, defensive rebounding and learning how to win close games," McCarty said. "They love being in the gym and do not mind being pushed to improve their weaknesses and inconsistencies." McCarty said Niles North continues to be the team to beat on the CSL North side and New Trier and Glenbrook South are strong on the South side with New Trier being the best team McCarty said his team played in the spring.
Maine East Blue DemonsCoach: David Genis
Last season's record: 4-13, 3-9 (CSL North)
Top returning players: Derryl Gaddi, jr. (G), Idarius Walton, sr., (G), Matthew Hermiz, sr., (F), Elijah Hall, sr., (G, 6-1), Syed Abbas, sr., (G), Milo Mijatovic, soph., (F, 6-5)
Top new players: Neel Patel, jr., (G), Samy Salem, jr., (G), Jalen Taylor, jr., G), Jalan Alphonse, soph. (5-9)
Worth noting: The Blue Demons return a solid core from last season. They will look to their seniors, but look for sophomores Mijatovic, who played last season, and Alphonse to have significant roles. "We have a nice mix of players who can shoot the ball and attack the rim, Genis said. "And, we have plenty who can do both. We have good length. Our kids play very hard and our success on a game-by-game basis will be determined on the defensive end of the floor."
Maine West WarriorsCoach: Tom Prokopij
Last season's record: 4-13, 2-8 (CSL North)
Top returning players: Andy Olsen, sr., (F, 6-3), Carlos Hernandez, sr., (F, 6-2), Angel Hernandez, sr., (G, 6-2), Demani Zamora, sr., (G, 5-10), Emir Hanic, sr. (F,) Julius Murray, sr., (G, 5-10), Myhkia Johnson, jr., (G, 5-10), Isaac Pittman, jr., (G, 5-11)
Top new players: Liam Mcconkey, jr., (G, 5-10) Ben Copeland, jr., (G, 5-7), London Lim, jr., (G, 5-6), Dennis Gonzalez, jr., (F, 6-0)
Worth noting: The Warriors are looking to turn things around after a tough season last winter. Their lack of height means they will have to rely on their speed and defense to get wins this season. Maine West will have Johnson and Pittman return in the backcourt, which should give it some consistency in its offensive play. "We're completely undersized," Prokopij said. "Rebounding will be our Achilles' heel. We're going to have to pressure teams and play fast. We are going to rely heavily on production from this senior group this season."
Maine South HawksCoach: Tony Lavorato, Jr.
Last season's record: 13-10, 3-7 (CSL South)
Top returning players: None
Top new players: Julian Triffo, sr., (F, 6-7), Ryan Modert, sr., (G, 6-1), Nick Rentas, sr., (F, 6-4), Kyle Rieger, sr., (G, 6-3), Kaden Karstens, jr., (G, 6-2)
Worth noting: Maine South graduated its top eight players from last season's team that played more games than anyone in the state. This season's Hawks will be brand new when they take the court this season. Triffo, Modert, Rentas and Rieger all saw limited action last season. Lavorato has high hopes for his squad this season. "The returners are all program players that have improved through natural maturation and a strong dedication to skill development and chemistry," Lavorato said. "Their upcoming challenge is to learn about the CSL South intensity, preparation, and execution."