Boys basketball: Scouting the Metro Suburban Conference
Aurora Central Catholic
Coach: Tim Swanson (2nd season)
Last season's record: 5-24, 1-9 (6th) Metro Suburban Red
Top returning players: Ben Grunloh, sr., (G, 6-2); Kevin Stanislo, Jr (F, 6-3); Edrick Contreras, sr. (C, 6-4); Sam Carroll, Jr (G, 6-0); Christian Frantzen, sr. (G, 5-10); Michael O'Brien, sr. (G, 6-1).
Top new players: Bernard Fellows, so. (G, 6-0); Ethan Lewis, Jr (C, 6-5); Patrick Hilby, Jr (G, 5-9).
Worth noting: Senior guard Ben Grunloh is a player to watch in the conference, and although the Chargers have a solid group of returnees, it will be an uphill climb for the few weeks due to some changes in system last season, Swanson said. "There's still a lot to teach on both sides of the floor, as well as increasing basketball IQ and situational awareness," Swanson said. "We should be more competitive with returning players anxious to prove their worth."
Coach: Don Beebe (7th season)
Last season's record: 18-11, 5-7 (4th), Metro Suburban Red
Top returning players: Cam Morel, Jr (F, 6-3); Brayer Hatch, sr. (G, 6-3); Parker Vandermolen, sr. (C, 6-4); Grant Keppy, sr. (C, 6-5); Victor Nyong, sr. (G, 6-2); Jonathan Knight, sr. (G, 6-1).
Top new players: Marshawn Cocroft, fr. (G, 5-9); Jalen Carter, fr. (F, 6-1); Jacob Baumann, fr. (G, 5-11); Wil McCracken, Jr (G, 5-11); Zach Zappia, fr. (F, 6-2); Jonan Miceli, so. (G, 6-1); Jason Jordan, Jr (G, 6-1).
Worth noting: Armed with several new faces on the roster, including several freshmen, the Eagles lack significant experience, but their recent track record would indicate another solid season. The Eagles, who have a 121-39 record under Beebe, have good size among their returnees. "Although we don't bring back much experience, we have a talented group and are looking forward to an outstanding season," Beebe said.
IC Catholic Prep
Coach: T.J. Tyrrell 19-14, 5-7 (4th) Metro Suburban Blue
Top returning players: Kal Kilgast, sr. (G, 6-3); Jake Gallagher, Jr (G, 6-1); AJ Walsh, sr. (G/F, 6-1); Dean O'Brien, sr. (F, 6-1); Aidan Johnson, Jr (G, 6-2); Matthew Karsten, Jr (G, 5-11).
Top newcomers: Andrew Hill, so. (G/F, 6-5); Dominik Ciegotura, sr. (F, 6-5); Albert Minguella, Jr (G, 6-0).
Worth noting: With football still in the playoffs, the Knights will be without top newcomer Hill, who will provide size in the frontcourt. Even so, this season the Knights only have one football player on the basketball team, so they can avoid the usual adjustment period that hampered starts in past season. "The team has been extremely committed this offseason, and expect to see a squad that competes at a high level," Tyrrell said.
Coach: Scott Plaisier (6th season)
Last season's record: 14-18, 7-5 Metro Suburban Blue (3rd).
Top returning players: Kyle Steiner, sr. (G, 5-9); Alex Keizer, Jr (G, 6-4); Thon Bill, Jr (F, 6-7); Jake Firnsin, sr. (F, 6-2); Kosta Skokos, sr. (G, 5-10).
Top newcomers: Ryan McKenzie, so. (G, 6-0); Stephen Hribal, Jr (F, 6-3).
Worth noting: Timothy Christian will be looking for leadership and scoring out of Steiner and Keizer, who both return as the starters from last year's team. The growth and development of Firnsin, Bill, Skokos and McKenzie, along with the addition of Hribal, will complement the shooting and scoring ability of Steiner and Keizer. The Trojans must replace high-scoring Ben VanderWal, but have experience to make a run at the conference title.
Coach: Mike Reingruber (6th season, 103-35 overall)
Last season's record: 23-6 overall, 11-1 (1st, Metro Suburban Blue)
Top returning players: Will Gonzalez, jr., (G, 6-5); Arius Alijosius, sr. (G, 6-3); Marques Turner, sr. (F, 6-3); Hunter Ferguson, sr. (G, 6-0); Rex Dockendorf, sr. (G, 6-0)
Top new players: Stefan Cicic, Jr (C 6-11); Steven Brown, jr., (G, 6-1); Landon Rivers, jr., (G, 6-0); Sam Shelven Jr (G, 6-1).
Worth noting: The Bulldogs have a good collection of depth, size and athleticism to make another run at the conference title and build off last season's 4A regional title. Gonzalez is the lone returning starter, while Alijosisus is another player with extensive experience. "It will take us a little time to develop chemistry, but the sky is the limit for this team," Reingruber said. "I believe we will get better and better as the season goes on."
Coach: Andy Zielinski (5th season)
Last season's record: 22-10, 9-1 (1st) Metro Suburban Red
Top returning players: Ben Zielinski, sr. (G, 6-0); Kaden Dawson, Jr (C, 6-6); Jacob Biewer, sr. (G/F 6-2); Michael O'Brien, sr. (G, 6-0).
Top newcomers: Matthew Morrice, so. (F, 6-2); Josh Fowle, Jr (F, 6-5); Josh Pottorff, Jr (F, 6-2); Zach Sauceda, fr. (G, 6-0); Troy Linsenmeyer, so. (G, 5-11); Cooper Pisarski, so. (G, 5-8).
Worth noting: Four rotation players return from last year's 22-win team, with Zielinski and Dawson three-year starters. Seniors Biewer and O'Brien saw a lot of action last year and will step into the starting lineup. Morrice had a strong summer and could have a breakout year. Juniors Fowle, Pottorff and freshman Zach Sauceda will be in the mix. "We will be younger this year but have a chance to have a successful season," Zielinski said. "We have several players that can score but will need our younger players to step up and fill the roles of last year's graduating seniors. How well we defend will also be a key. The 10 players who make up the roster showed up every day in June held their own in summer league games which bodes well for the upcoming season. They're all great kids who work hard and love to play. Building chemistry in our first two tournaments is a key as we play eight games in two weeks."
Coach: Erin Dwyer (eighth Season)
Last season's record: 28-8, 10-2 (2nd) Metro Suburban Blue
Top returning players: None
Top new players: Aaron Cook, Jr (F, 6-5); Dylon Ston, Jr (F, 6-4); Patrick Spahn, Jr (G, 6-3); Niko Quaranta, so. (G, 5-10); Gavin Mueller, fr. (F, 6-5).
Worth noting: The Spartans lost nearly their entire team from last season due to graduation, including senior forward TJ McMillen who will not play basketball this season. Seniors Luke Ahern, Will Lyzun, and Colin White will play major roles as core seniors this year, Dwyer said. "We're going to have a mix of freshmen through seniors on the court, but the kids have done a nice job," Dwyer said. "Our focus is on daily and weekly improvement. We will have a lot to prove."
Coach: Craig Etheridge
Last season's record: 10-20, 4-6 (3rd Metro Suburban Red)
Top returning players: Joe Kone, Jr (G, 6-0); Abe Johnson, Jr (G, 5-10); Calvin Requiron, sr. (G, 5-9); Joey Dooley, sr. (G, 5-10).
Top newcomers: Billy McGhie, Jr (C, 6-3); Hayes Templeton, sr. (C, 6-2); Malachi Boatright, so. (G, 6-0); Alexander Konoff, so. (G, 6-2).
Worth noting: The Sentinels have the luxury of all-conference selection Kone back in the fold, while Johnson, Requiron and Dooley comprise an experienced and talented backcourt. Several newcomers are slated to receive heavy minutes, but the good news is the Sentinels have quality size among the new players. "We return a lot of players with substantial varsity experience," Etheridge said. "We hope that the extra year of growth and development will translate into better success on the court. In addition, a deep bench should help to alleviate some of the problems we experienced last year."
Coach: Daniel Smith (first season)
Last season's record: 16-15 overall, 4-8 (6th) Metro Suburban Blue
Top returning players: Jeffery Hillmer, sr. (F, 6-3), Wade Davis, sr. (G, 6-0); Derek Schlenbecker, sr. (G, 5-11); Noah Richcreek, sr. (F, 6-2); Andrew Mueller, sr. (F, 6-2); Sam Dykema, sr. (G, 6-0).
Top new players: Chase Dockery, sr. (G, 5-11); Wandy Munoz, Jr (G, 5-9); Alex Moncau, Jr (C, 6-6); Tyler Smith, so. (G, 6-1).
Worth noting: Wheaton Academy graduated four senior starters from last season, but this year's group of seniors is experienced and motivated to record another winning season. Hillmer and Schlenbecker are just two of those expected to play college ball next year. Two junior transfer students (Munoz and Moncau), as well as sophomore Tyler Smith, are new to the varsity team. "Though this team lacks the experience of time on the floor together, their pace of play and unselfish style will be fun to watch this year," Smith said. "Wheaton Academy hosts one of the best Thanksgiving tournaments in the area and invites you out to watch some great high school hoops."