Girls basketball: Scouting the Mid Suburban League
Coach: Martha Kelly (third season)
Last season's record: 11-17, 4-6
Top returning players: Olivia Genthner, sr.. (G, 5-10), Ellie Askew, sr.. (G, 5-7), Abby Thiessen, sr.. (G, 5-10), Hanna Glanz, jr. (G, 5-8)
Top new players: Val Kononchik, sr.. (F, 5-10), Fiona McNamee, jr. (F, 5-10), Paige Veller, so. (G, 5-10), Demi Antonopoulos, so. (F, 5-10), Hannah Weber, fr. (C, 6-1)
Worth noting: The Bison lost 6 seniors to graduation but return Genthner, Thiessen, Askew and Glanz who all have a lot of playing experience. Their length and athleticism will be keys to their success on both ends of the floor. They look to compete in every aspect of the game and let the chips fall where they may. It will be a tough road with top teams competing in their very own Thanksgiving Tournament, the always competitive MSL conference schedule, and the Dundee-Crown Komaromy Classic. "But it is the challenge which makes the sport great," said BG coach Martha Kelly, a former three-sport standout at Driscoll High School. "And look for this team to surprise some teams."
Coach: Mary Fendley (25th season 509-207)
Last season's record: 27-6 (9-1, East co-champ)
Top returning players: Katy Eidle sr.. (G, 6-0), Meghan Mrowick, sr.. (F, 5-10), Kelsey Neary, sr.. (G, 5-8), Natalie Alesia sr.. (5-10 G), Annika Manthy jr. (F, 6-3), Mackenzie Ginder, sr.. (F, 5-11), Sabrina DiVito, sr.. (F, 5-7)
Top new players: Keaton Craft, Ava Harwood jr. (5-10)
Worth noting: Eight players saw significant playing time for the MSL East co-champions last season and seven of them return for hall of fame coach Fendkey, who begins her 25th season. The Huskies feature four seniors who have committed to playing in four different collegiate sports: Eidle (basketball at Michigan), Mrowicki (soccer at Notre Dame), Neary (lacrosse at UConn) and DiVito (softball at Marian). Mrowicki is still rehabbing from an ACL tear but hopes to return at full strength before too long. "We have length and great speed. If we rebound well, we will be hard to match up with," said Fendley, a former Rolling Meadows three-sport athlete. "Our schedule is loaded with some of the top teams in Illinois. In just the first three weeks of the season, we will play Carmel, Libertyville, Barrington, Maine so.uth and Benet, with many more tough games throughout the season."
Coach: Courtney Lindfors (first season)
Last season's record: 8-19, 2-8
Top returning players: Julia Masnica, sr.. (G), Maggie Maher, jr. (G); Arianna Traucsch, jr., (F).
Top new players: Kaitlin Wirtz, fr, (G)
Worth noting: First-year coach Lindfors is hardly a stranger to the program she is taking over. She played her senior year of high school at Elk Grove, earning special mention IBCA all-state honors. Her coach at EG was Ryan Kirkorsky, now the head coach at Rolling Meadows. Lindfors played her first three seasons at Driscoll Catholic in Addison where was named IBCA third team All-State in 2008 as a sophomore and first team IBCA All-State in 2009 as a junior. Lindfors helped Driscoll win the Class 2A state title in 2009 and was a two-time conference Player of the Year. She transferred to EG when Driscoll closed its door in 2009. Lindfors went on to play college basketball at Milwaukee for the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons, before leaving the school for Loyola University Chicago.
Coach: Matt Weber (ninth season, third at Prospect)
Last season's record: 22-8, 9-1, East co-champion
Top returning players: Nicole Atteo, sr. (G, 5-6), Molly Gilhooly, sr.. (G, 5-7), Lauren Harrell, sr. (G, 5-8); Zoe Brown, jr. (F, 5-11), Campbell Conner, jr. (G, 5-9), Skylar Splinter, jr. (G, 5-9)
Top new players: Taylor Linke, sr. (F, 5-10), Ashlyn Pomis, jr. (G, 5-6), Riley Carroll, so. (G, 5-9); Angelina Falls, so. (G, 5-10); Sadie Splinter, so. (G, 5-6); Alli Linkle, fr. (F, 6-1)
Worth noting: Coach Weber has a very, athletic young roster with all 12 players being multiple-sport athletes. Atteo, Splinter and Brown have the most varsity experience and will help lead a very balanced team. Weber plans on using the entire roster to run the court and be aggressive on defense. All 12 players have the opportunity to contribute on any given night. Most of the players spent a lot of time in the off-season improving their game to help return Prospect to the MSL championship game again. "I am very excited for this group," Weber said. "We have a lot of players fighting every day in practice to earn time in a Varsity game. Our practices are very competitive and we will have multiple people helping us throughout the season."
Coach: Ryan Kirkorsky (11th season at RM, four at Elk Grove)
Last season's record: 16-14, 8-2
Top returning players: Charlotte Errico, sr.. (F, 6-0), Casidy Pardini, sr.. (G, 5-7), Roisin Grandberry, jr. (F, 6-4), Emily Romanacce, jr. (G, 5-11), Ciara McMahon, jr. (G, 5-6), Olivia Zielinski, jr. (F, 5-11)
Top new players: Dalia Grandberry, fr. (F, 6-4), Elizabeth Andriano, fr. (G, 5-3)
Worth noting: The Mustangs graduated four starters but return Roisin Grandberry, a Division 1 recruit who continues to improve and will have a bigger impact this season. Errico, Pardini and Romanacce played important minutes last year and will step into more prominent roles. McMahon and Zielinski are returning varsity players who will have an impact on both ends of the floor. Dalia Grandberry (Roisin's sister and also a D-1 recruit, and Andriano will contribute from the start. "We graduated a lot of experience so it will take us some time to work into new roles," Kirkorsky said. "We have a ton of potential and good chemistry so we're excited about this year's group."
Coach: Beth Christell (third season)
Last season's record: 4-23, 0-10
Top returning players: Marlena Miloucheva, jr. (G, 5-8); Anastacia Hardaway, sr.. (C, 6-0); Karina Zamora, sr.. (G, 5-3); Kaitlyn Fielding, jr. (G, 5-6)
Top new players: so.fia Costantini, fr. (G, 5-2); Sheila Leon, so. (F, 5-5); Mia Smith, fr. (G, 5-2); Belen Estrada Ibarra, so. (F, 5-7)
Worth noting: Wheeling continues to improve and build its program through the leadership of Miloucheva and Hardaway, an all-conference volleyball player. Graduating eight seniors has been difficult, but the openings are allowing new and younger players to seize the opportunities for learning and skill development. Christell says teamwork, hustle and defensive fundamentals will be the cornerstones of this season's goals. "I am energized by our incoming freshmen and look forward to seeing their basketball skill and IQ growth learning from the returners," she added. "It's fun watching Miloucheva, Hardaway, Zamora and Fielding lead during each practice the values we have instilled in them the past three years."
Coach: Babbi Barreiro (30th season, 489-410)
Last season's record: 30-6, 9-1, MSL champion, 2nd in Class 4A
Top returning players: so.phie Swanson, sr.. (G, 5-11), Molly O'Riordan, jr. (F, 6-2), Gwen Adler, jr. (G/F, 5-10), Lydia Shechtman, sr.. (G, 5-7), Sara Bauernfreund, sr.. (G, 5-9), Jasmine McMillin sr.. (G, 5-6), Jessica McMillin sr.. (F, 5-9), Hanna Faulkner, sr.. (F, 5-7)
Top new players: Maddie Ziebarth jr. (G, 5-7), Adaobi Ibe jr. (F, 5-9), Elana Silverberg jr. (G, 5-5), Ashley Mahlum so. (F, 5-10)
Worth noting: Barrington made it all the way to the Class 4A state title game last season. "We had a very special journey last season but this indeed is a new year," said hall of fame coach Barreiro. "We have some wonderful pieces back in terms of skills and leadership in so.phie (Swanson), Molly (O'Riordan) and Gwen (Adler) but we will also have some other kids step up and be important role players, too." Barreiro wants her players to focus on being accountable to the team and working together. "We will take this season game by game and work to use our experience last year as a steppingstone to how we want to compete every game," she said. "I feel like our schedule this year is the toughest we have ever played and we are excited to get underway and get back on the court together."
Coach: Todd Strauch (fifth season)
Last season's record: 12-14, 4-6
Top returning players: Lauren Fricke, sr.. (G, 5-6), Mikayla Nowicki, sr.. (C, 5-11), Asha Cobb, jr. (G, 5-4), Kanna Bradarich, so. (F, 5-9), Aria Mazza, so. (G, 5-6), Kristina Tiereny, so. (C, 5-10)
Top new players: Maddie Caban, jr. (F, 5-7); Allie Holmes, jr. (F, 5-9); Maddie Boudakh, jr. (F, 5-8), Yazmeen Narang, sr.. (G, 5-6)
Worth noting: The Cougars return five girls who saw significant playing time last season in Cobb, Mazza, Fricke, Tierney and Bradarich, who is recovering from a torn ACL. Cobb (7.5 ppg last season) returns for a third season on varsity while Mazza (8.4 ppg) and Bradarich (4 ppg, 4 rpg) and Tierney are sophomores who return for a second season. Fricke begins her third varsity season and brings valuable leadership and experience to the team. "It will be a great experience to watch these girls improve throughout the season," Strauch said. "The MSL is always tough and with a tough nonconference schedule, I'm excited to see how much we've grown as a team by the time we get to the postseason."
Coach: Dave Yates (17th season, 365-125)
Last season's record: 27-7, 9-1, West co-champion
Top returning players: Maddy Fay, sr. (F, 6-2), Kace Urlacher, sr.. (G 6-1), Nikki Gonnella, sr.. (G, 5-9), Sam Bodensteiner, sr.. (G, 5-9), Brynn Eshoo, jr. (F, 6-3), Isabelle Zavilla, jr. (F, 6-0), Ella Todd, so. (G, 6-0), Coco Urlacher, so (G, 5-10), Ellie Thompson, so. (G, 5-9)
Top new players: Caroline Montella, sr.. (F, 6-0), Greta Thompson, fr. (G, 5-11), Shreya Mantena, sr.. (G, 5'6), Emily Allen, sr.. (G, 5-7), Rachel Martin, sr.. (G, 5-7), Maddie McMillan, jr. (F, 5-11), Leah Saxe sr.. (G, 5-8)
Worth noting: After starting last season with many new faces, Fremd is looking forward to a large group of returning players who contributed last season. Back are all-conference selections Maddie Fay (NIU commit) and Ella Todd. Urlacher (IUPUI commit), Gonnella (Carthage commit) and Bodensteiner (Duke soccer commit) will provide talent and experience to the team. As talented as the senior class stands, Yates' underclass players (Eshoo, Zavilla, Todd, Ellie Thompson, Coco Urlacher, and Greta Thompson) will provide key depth. Fremd will play top teams from Indiana and Michigan as well as play in top shootouts which will provide constant tests to this group. "This group has size, depth, and great talent and the sky's the limit for them," Yates said. "We are very excited for this upcoming season. We challenged our returning girls to individually improve from last season and I can tell you that across the board, our kids put the work in and should be a tough opponent each and every night."
Coach: Bradley Reibel (fourth season)
Last season's record: 2-24, 0-10
Top returning players: Maya Schmidt, sr. (F), Jillian Cuartero, sr. (G)
Top new players: Paige Hocking, jr. (G/F), Emmersen Lennert, jr. (G)
Worth noting: Coach Reibel says he has another great group of kids in the program. "Especially a senior class that has been instrumental in shaping the culture of the program by their high level of commitment and hard work," he said. After losing most of their scoring from a year ago, the Hawks will look to have a more balanced scoring attack that includes returners and newcomers alike. The coaching staff is looking to see the continued development of players throughout the course of the season.
Coach: Bill LePage (second season)
Last season's record: 16-16, 4-6
Top returning players: Megan Van Brunt, sr.. (F, 5-11), Megan Kim, sr.. (G, 5-4), Payton Westphal, sr.. (F, 5-9), Frankie Henderson, jr. (G, 5-7), Lexi Sabado, jr. (G, 5-9), Lindsay Plourde, jr. (G, 5-7), Molly Pieper, so. (F-C, 6-2), Elise Martino, so. (G, 5-5)
Top newcomers: Karly Reed, sr.. (G, 5-5), Jolie DeValk, sr.. (F, 6-0), Angie Delgado, jr. (G, 5-2), Callie O'Connell, jr.. (G, 5-2), Kaylie Campbell, jr. (F-C, 6-0), Halle Onyekonwu, so.. (F/C, 6-3)
Worth noting: The Pirates return eight girls with significant playing time from last year. The leading scorer from last year, Madi Stark, graduated but the Pirates will rely on seniors Brunt, Kim and Westphal to pick up where Stark left off. Juniors Henderson and Sabado have shown growth over the past 12 months and will be important to the Pirates' success. so.phomore Pieper started a great deal of games last year as a freshman. Her classmates Martino and Onyekonwu should be contributors as well. Coach Bill LePage is retiring at the end of the school year from teaching and coaching. "Thirty-three years went by fast," said LePage, who is expecting his newcomers to help the depth of the team by getting some valuable minutes during the year. "I am excited about this season just like any other season I have coached," he said. "But this group is special because of the chemistry and energy they bring every day to school and practice."
Coach: Jacqie Strauch (seventh season at Schaumburg, one at Gordon Tech)
Last season's record: 16-14, 4-6
Top returning players: Jada Branch, jr. (G, 5-5), Madi Dolecki, jr. (F, 5-11); Symone Harrell, jr. (G/F, 5-11), Emma Jevtic jr. (C, 6-1), Audrey Schluckbier, jr. (G, 5-5), Grace Schluckbier, jr. (G, 5-10)
Top new players: Elliana Malley, jr. (G, 5-6), Kaylee Meyer, so. (G, 5-10), Nora Smith, jr. (G, 5-10), Antenise William, sr.. (C, 5-9)
Worth noting: The Saxons are returning six members from last year when they lost in the regional championship to Geneva. The Saxons will feed off their experience and speed this year. With the graduation of Alyssa Orozco, Schaumburg is looking for scoring from Harrell, Branch, Jevtic and Grace Schluckbie. Defensive powerhouses Harrell, Grace Schluckbier, Dolecki and Audrey Schluckbier will play lockdown defense. "We are looking to be the 'Bear' on our opponents' schedules." said Strauch, a former standout at Sandburg and St. Francis University in Joliet. "This group cares about each other first and foremost. We are excited to see where the season takes us."
-- Compiled by John Leusch