Girls basketball: Scouting the Upstate Eight Conference
Coach: Tanner Gardon (2nd year).
Last season's record: 10-21, 8-10.
Top returning players: Sophia Desarden, sr. (G, 5-2); Sam Blanchard, sr. (G/F, 5-8); Diana Ricardez, sr. (F, 5-11); Izzy Kline, sr. (F, 5-9); Johnyea Wyatt, sr. (F, 5-8); Amadea Montijo, jr. (G, 5-7); Emily Linkevich, soph. (G, 5-5); Ceci Desarden, soph. (G, 5-2).
Top new players: Kim Olwoch, jr. (F); Trinity Thompson, jr. (F).
Worth noting: "Year two of this group being together with having a full summer schedule, we are looking to grow from last year," said Hawks coach Tanner Gardon. "We are trying to reestablish our program at Bartlett and we're going to play the game the right way." The Hawks, who open their season Tuesday night against Maine West at the Schaumburg Thanksgiving Tournament, begin their home campaign on Dec. 2 against West Chicago. "We were a young conference last year, so a lot of teams are bringing back big pieces from last year," said Gardon. "I believe our conference games will be very competitive and fun to watch."
Coach: Lee Clayborn (11th year).
Last season's record: (16-17, 12-6).
Top returning players: Mia Moore, sr. (G, 5-8); Anastasia Bellamy, jr. (C, 6-2); Estefany Sixto, jr. (5-5, G).
Top new players: Melanie Lopez, sr. (G/F, 5-7); Mikayla Wilson, sr. (F, 5-8); Kanylah Young, jr. (G, 5-5); Mika Fields, jr. (G, 5-4); Alyssa Adeoti, soph. (G, 5-6); Yaritza Servin, soph. (5-7, F); Lizeth Maya, soph. (F, 5-8).
Worth noting: Coming off a winning Upstate Eight campaign, the ever-improving Tomcats have their sights set on another solid conference season in 2022-23. "We are young and talented with some good pieces," said East Aurora coach Lee Clayborn. "We have to learn to play together to reach our potential. The key to is having a good season will depend on how our new players and younger players grow throughout the season." The Tomcats face Plainfield North on Tuesday in their season opener, while competing at the Willowbrook Invitational Nov. 17, 19, 21-22.
Coach: Dr. Nick Bumbales (14th year).
Last season's record: (4-27, 1-17).
Top returning players: Jocelyn Bardesi, jr. (G, 5-4); Izzy Castro, soph. (G, 5-6); Izzy Vidallo, sr. (G, 5-4); Alyssa Wysuph, sr. (F, 5-7); Trinity Evans, sr. (F, 5-6); Madison King, jr. (F, 5-7); Kelly Taruc, soph. (G, 5-2); Lexi Martinez, sr. (C, 5-10); Kayla Cole, sr. (F, 5-8); Maile Fuller, jr. (F, 5-6); Stephanie Asare, jr. (F, 5-9); Chloe Horn, jr. (F, 5-7); Mari Scott, sr. (G, 5-5); Lily Warren, sr. (C, 5-10).
Top new players: Aamiyah Dixon, frosh. (G, 5-6); Shaniyah Coleman, jr. (F, 5-8); Bella Coleman, jr. (F, 5-7); Mahitha Ratakonda, soph. (C, 5-10).
Worth noting: The Maroons look for a much-improved season, thanks to plenty of experienced players. "With 14 returning players and all five starters, we hope to improve coming off an excellent, competitive summer," coach Nick Bumbales said. Bardesi, who averaged 6 points and 2 assists per game last season, is a 3-year starter and captain, while sharpshooting Castro averaged 6 points and 3 rebounds per contest a year ago. "Alyssa Wysuph has rounded into a formidable post threat," said Bumbales, who is in his 35th year of teaching at Elgin. Swing players Madison King and Kelly Taruc should provide solid bench support, while freshman Aamiyah Dixon has impressed coaches with her quickness and ball skills in preseason practices. Elgin earned Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Academic All-State Team accolades last season. The Maroons begin play this week in the Keith McIntosh Tournament at IMSA before their Nov. 22 home debut against Harvard.
Coach: Dave Mello (6th year).
Last season's record: (26-6, 15-3).
Top returning players: Kaitlyn Hoffing, sr. (G, 5-3); Maja Gakovic, sr. (G, 5-3); Melina Liva, sr. (G/F, 5-6); Adrian Rocha, sr. (G, 5-4); Isabella Valadez, jr. (G, 5-1); Kayla Valadez, jr. (G, 5-1).
Top new players: Jovana Govedarica, sr. (F, 5-7); Lauren Leider, sr. (G, 5-4); Kamila Piekarczyk, soph. (F, 5-8).
Worth noting: A year ago, the Bison was in the hunt for the Upstate Eight Conference title before falling 3 games behind eventual champion South Elgin. However, a 26-win season is nothing to frown about. "Our expectation this season is to work hard each day and get a little better each and every practice," said Fenton coach Dave Mello. "We expect the girls to give their all for 32 minutes each game and to give maximum effort in practice. We plan to be much better in February than we are right now." Fenton, which begins its season Monday against UIC Prep, competes in the Yorkville Christian Tournament Nov. 26 and 28 before playing host to East Aurora in its UEC opener on Nov. 29. "We have 10 seniors but six are on the varsity for the first time," said Mello. "We actually have very little varsity experience."
Coach: Nicole Miller (15th year).
Last season's record: (11-18, 9-9).
Top returning players: Catey Carney, jr. (G, 5-8); Ciara Johnson, jr. (G, 5-6); Gabby Walton, jr. (F, 5-10); Mackenzie Huber, sr. (G, 5-7); Esebella Lee, sr. (F, 5-11); Livia Robbins, jr. (G, 5-7); Kaylee Ludwig, jr. (G, 5-4).
Top new players: Jasiya Banks, soph. (F); Emily Puth, jr. (G); Christina Chiero, jr. (G); Meg Schaub, jr. (G).
Worth noting: Miller, who is in her 26th year of teaching at Glenbard East, knows what she wants from her team. "We need to keep working hard and continuing to improve," said the coach. Carney averaged 10.5 points and 4 rebounds per game last season, while Johnson averaged 8.1 points, 4 rebounds and 1.8 steals, and Walton chipped in, averaging 6.1 points and 6.9 boards. A year ago, the Rams jumped off to a 9-4 mark in conference games before dropping their last 5 contests. Four of those five defeats were by 5 points or less. The Rams open their season Tuesday night against Romeoville before hosting their annual District 87 Rachel Bach Memorial Tournament Nov. 19, 21-22. Glenbard East begins UEC play against Bartlett on Nov. 29.
Coach: Eric Daca (2nd year).
Last season's record: (15-14, 11-7).
Top returning players: Brooklynn Moore, soph. (C, 5-11); Allie Mizwicki, jr. (G, 5-5).
Top new players: Mia Lake, sr. (G, 5-5); Sofia Alcala, jr. (F, 5-10); Kate Bruhl, frosh. (F, 5-8); Jamie Mizwicki, frosh. (G, 5-9); Rheayanna Ferguson, frosh. (G, 5-4); Brooke Buenafe, soph. (G, 5-5).
Worth noting: The Raiders return legitimate inside-outside offensive threats in Brooklynn Moore (10.2 ppg, 9.2 rpg) and Allie Mizwicki (10.4 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 33 percent 3-point shooting). Both players earned all-conference accolades last season. "With the return of Moore and Allie Mizwicki, the addition of some talented freshmen, and Mia Lake and Sofia Alcala returning from season-ending injuries, we are hoping to climb in the Upstate Eight standings and compete for one of the top spots in the conference," said Daca. "There are a lot of teams in the conference with very talented players. Each night will be a battle and we will always need to bring our best to compete." Glenbard South begins its season Wednesday night at Oswego. The Raiders open their UEC slate on Nov. 29 at Larkin.
Coach: Stephen Knapp (8th year).
Last season's record: 14-15, 10-8.
Top returning players: Baylei Johnson, sr. (F, 6-1); Chelsea Herrick, sr. (F, 5-9).
Top new players: Mia Carter, frosh. (F, 5-9); Sanaii McPherson, frosh. (F, 5-8); Gabby Ploche, jr. (G, 5-6); Athena Arellanes, jr. (F, 5-8); Lyric Graves, jr. (F, 5-10); Yesi Escobar, frosh. (G, 5-2); Mackenzie Wemken, frosh. (G, 5-4).
Worth noting: Johnson, who averaged 17.4 points and 11.2 rebounds per game last season, has already surpassed the 1,000-point mark for her career and is fast approaching the 1,000-rebound career mark (868). Herrick, meanwhile, chipped in with 6.6 points and 6 rebounds per game a year ago. "We have Baylei leading the charge," said Knapp. "I feel that if our freshmen develop, we can make a strong push for conference this year. I can foresee us competing with South Elgin and East Aurora for conference, and the Glenbards will be very tough as well. I feel we could win 20 games." The Royals open their season this week at the Burlington Central Tournament before hosting Glenbard South on Nov. 29. "The Burlington Central Tournament will be an eye opener for some of these younger girls," said Knapp.
Coach: Dan Mandernack (9th year).
Last season's record: (27-6, 18-0).
Top returning players: Raina Yang, sr. (G, 5-5); Caitlyn Tolentino, sr. (G, 5-7); Zoie Lewis, sr. (F, 5-9); Chloe Kmiec, sr. (G, 5-7); Ari Lopez, sr. (F, 5-7).
Top new players: Lexi Lopez, soph. (F, 5-11); Madison Hunt, soph. (G, 5-5); Kiara Andrewin, sr. (G/F, 5-7); Jersie Speidel, frosh. (G/F, 5-8).
Worth noting: Despite losing veteran standout guards Caroline Croft and Ella Winterhalder to graduation from a team that set a school record for single-season victories (27) while completing an unbeaten UEC campaign, the cupboard is far from empty for South Elgin. "Expectations are high again as we return basically four starters," said coach Dan Mandernack, whose team reached the sectional title game before falling to eventual 4A state runner-up Barrington. "Going 18-0 in conference last year with a 23-point margin of victory, we are embracing being the hunted and preparing for everyone's best shot. We will be ready -- this group is extremely hungry." The Storm return a pair of double-figure scorers in Yang (10.2 ppg, 6.1 assists) and Tolentino (10.1 ppg, 2.9 steals), both of whom earned all-conference status last year, along with Lewis (9.7 ppg, 6.4 rebounds), Kmiec (8.1 ppg, 67 3-pointers) and Lopez (3.9 ppg). Lewis is expected to be sidelined by an ankle injury for the first month or so. South Elgin opens its season Wednesday against Palatine at the Dundee-Crown Thanksgiving Tournament and will return to Dundee-Crown for the Komaromy Holiday Classic in December.
Coach: Elizabeth Endriukaitis (1st year).
Last season's record: (3-28, 2-16).
Top returning players: Mary-Kate Gonzales, sr. (G, 5-4); Ashley Harrison, sr. (F, 5-7); Karina Vidales, sr. (F, 5-7); Jasmine Zuno, sr. (G, 5-5); Jamia Gatlin, jr. (G, 5-6); Cassandra Cruz, soph. (F, 5-11); Kailey Pawlikowski, soph. (F/C, 6-0); Miranda Hermez, jr. (G, 5-5).
Top new players: Brianna Coffey, frosh. (F, 5-10); Vanessa Fuentes, soph. (G, 5-4); Angelina Sagadraca, soph. (G, 5-4); Donielle Smith, frosh. (G/F, 5-8); Ronaja Stewart, soph. (G, 5-5); Leana Williams, jr. (G, 5-6).
Worth noting: There will be a different look on the bench for the Sabres this season. Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Famer George Rosner retired after serving two long stints as Streamwood's head coach (1980-92, 1997-2022) and compiling 468 victories during his 41-year coaching career. Elizabeth Endriukaitis, who served as a varsity assistant to Rosner the past two seasons, also was the Sabres' freshman head coach (2018-2020). The Sabres open their season Wednesday against Dundee-Crown at the Chargers' Thanksgiving Tournament and begin UEC play at West Chicago on Nov. 29. Streamwood's home opener is on Dec. 5 against Oswego.
Coach: Mark Fitzgerald (4th year).
Last season's record: (8-23, 5-13).
Top returning players: Jasmyn Trigueros, soph. (G, 5-7); Abby Del Preto, soph. (G, 5-7).
Top new players: Sneha George, frosh. (G, 5-8).
Worth noting: Trigueros returns to bolster the Wildcats' lineup after a highly successful freshman season that saw the point guard average 10.5 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game. Del Preto (4.4 ppg, 2.7 rebounds) adds backcourt depth, while George steps into the frontcourt for her freshman campaign. "After graduating just one senior from last year's team, this year's team has a tremendous amount of varsity experience," said Wildcats coach Mark Fitzgerald. "Last year, we started two freshmen, two sophomores and a senior." Often, the Wildcats' lack of experience showed during an 8-win season in 2021-2022. "This experience bodes well for our team," said Fitzgerald. "We look to be much improved from many categories. While we were very competitive last year, we lacked the depth to compete in some close games. With only one senior in the program, we are young, experienced, and committed to overall improvement." The Wildcats open their season at this week's IMSA Classic before beginning UEC play on Nov. 29 at home against Streamwood.