By Dave Oberhelman and Kevin Schmit
Coach: Brendan Lyons.
Last year: 7-21, 0-12, seventh in the West Suburban Gold; lost to Proviso West in the Class 4A regional quarterfinals.
Top players: James Pupillo, jr., G; Jordan Garcia, sr., G; Dan McLoughlin, sr., F; Jason Kirschbaum, sr., F; Taylor White, so., F; LaShawnn Edwards, sr., G; Simon Jakubczak, jr., F; Gunthar Sauck, sr., F; Keith Coleman, sr., G.
Scouting report: With Pupillo back and healthy for his third varsity season, the Blazers are eyeing improvement across the board. Pupillo averaged 13.3 points before going down with an injury and missing the remainder of the season following the holiday tournament. Garcia adds additional experience to the backcourt while McLoughlin, who missed the first month last season, returns from his role as sixth man. A more athletic group has strong outside shooting and a strong post presence in 6-foot-4 White. After allowing 55 points a game last season, Lyons believes this group can slice that amount by at least five points a game. “Going into this year I feel better about this team than any I’ve had here,” Lyons said.
Coach: Gene Heidkamp.
Last year: 21-7, 5-3, tied for third in the East Suburban Catholic Conference; lost to Metea Valley in the Class 4A regional final.
Top players: Sean O’Mara, jr., C; Pat McInerney, sr., F; Jack Euritt, sr., F; Jack Toner, sr., G; Rob Haemmerle, sr., G; Collin Pellettieri, jr., G; Joe Boyle, jr., G; Colin Bonnett, so., G; Jack Beneventi, so., F; J.J. Valentine, sr., G.
Scouting report: With O’Mara, Euritt, Toner and Beneventi still playing football, the Redwings may struggle early in the season against a rugged schedule. Once at full strength, though, Benet again will boast one of the area’s top lineups. Six-foot-nine O’Mara, one of the state’s elite juniors, brings back 15 points and 8 rebounds, while 6-5 McInerney returns a wealth of experience as a third-year starter. With 6-4 Euritt, Benet has a stellar frontcourt. The backcourt has a lockdown defender in Toner, but a steady point guard needs to develop among a batch of players, including Pellettieri, Boyle and Valentine. “As strong as our frontcourt is, if we get solid guard play we’ll be in good shape,” Heidkamp said.
Downers Grove North
Coach: Jim Thomas.
Last year: 5-22, 0-12, seventh in the West Suburban Silver; lost to Hinsdale South in the Class 4A regional quarterfinals.
Top players: Dave Edwards, so., C; Dave Henson, sr., G; Davis Skirgaila, sr., G; Nick Norton, sr., F; Garrett Tierney, sr., F; Myles Farley, so., G; Clark Worobey, sr., F; Rimas Barsketis, sr., F; D’Andre Walker, jr., G; Austin Walker, sr., G.
Scouting report: The return of Norton, perhaps the team’s best player, and Tierney will be a major boost to a team that last season had their services for a combined total of only seven games. Add the physical post presence of 6-foot-6 Edwards, just coming off a deep playoff football run, and the Trojans will be tough to match inside. Skirgaila returns a team-high 47 3-pointers. Henson brings back experience at the point. Farley’s poised to make an immediate impact as a strong shooter and solid ballhandler. The Trojans have plenty of options to boost last year’s 44 point a game average. “Now that we’re healthy I think we’re in for a pretty good year,” Thomas said.
Downers Grove South
Coach: Jay Baum.
Last year: 23-6, 10-2, second in the West Suburban Gold; lost to Metea Valley in the Class 4A sectional semifinals.
Top players: Danny Spinuzza, jr., G; Jordan Cannon, sr., G; Robert Mara, sr., C; Scott McNellis, sr., F; Tray Simmons, sr., G; Kevin Hall, sr., C; Sean Love, sr., G; Paul Hingle, jr., G; Tyler Pearson, sr., G; Matt Zinnecker, jr., F.
Scouting report: It’s tough to make up for the graduation of four starters, including a trio of three-year starters. Downers South will reload behind its one returning starter, Spinuzza, who flashed playmaking ability throughout his sophomore year. Spinuzza may not be a potent scorer, but Cannon showed signs of explosiveness last year when filling in for Jerron Wilbut in the games he missed. Six-foot-eight Mara has the potential to be a dominant post player if he can stay out of foul trouble. Six-five McNellis and 6-7 Hall add to what should be a very good rebounding team. Typically stingy Mustangs defense will keep this team highly competitive. “We’re starting from scratch and we don’t have any superstars,” Baum said. “We’ll need to share the ball.”
Coach: Josh Payton.
Last year: 3-25, 1-11, seventh in the Metro Suburban Conference; lost to North Chicago in the Class 3A regional semifinals.
Top players: Tyler Troly, sr., G; DeMarcus Stone, sr., G; Greg Wagner, jr., C; Hector Irizarry, jr., G; Zach Jakalski, jr., F-C; Will Harris, jr., G.
Scouting report: If anyone knows Fenton basketball, it’s Payton. The first-year Bison coach is a 2000 graduate who has spent the last eight years coaching at various levels. After coaching at the freshman and sophomore levels, last year Payton was a varsity assistant. He inherits a team short on experience with no starters returning, but some key experience is back. Troly, last year’s backup point guard, and Stone, a great defender, each played in 25 games and averaged a combined 6.5 points. Six-foot-five Wagner was a double-double machine down the stretch for the Bison. After averaging about 50 points last season, the Bison hope to get an additional scoring boost from Irizarry and Harris, a transfer. “With the depth we have there will be opportunities for many guys,” Payton said.
Coach: Scott Miller.
Last year: 14-12, 8-6, fourth in the DuPage Valley Conference; lost to Glenbard North in the Class 4A regional semifinals.
Top players: Tahron Harvey, sr., G; Marvin Grant-Clark, sr., F; Jaron Hall, jr., G; Brandon Havenga, sr., C; Greg Ludwig, sr., C; Danny Ryan, sr., G; Mike Kjeldsen, sr., F; Mike Hansen, sr., F; VicPatrick Harris, sr., F; Javon York, jr., G.
Scouting report: No matter how much talent the Rams graduate each year, they always seem to have more on the way. Harvey is a third-year varsity member who last year sparked a second-half resurgence when he switched to point guard. Grant-Clark, at 6-foot-4, is another third-year varsity player. Poised for a breakout year, according to Miller, Grant-Clark can play anywhere from the two to the five. Hall spent most of the season on the sophomore level, but he also saw key varsity time. Great team depth continues in the post with 6-7 Havenga and 6-5 Ludwig. Deep and experienced, the Rams are a DVC threat. “We had success in the summer,” Miller said. “They got a chance to see where they could be.”
Coach: Joe Larson.
Last year: 15-12, 9-5, third in the DuPage Valley Conference; lost to Proviso East in the Class 4A regional final.
Top players: Justin Jackson, jr., G; Chavares Flanigan, jr., F; Pasquale Fiduccia, jr., G-F; Ryan Storto, sr., G; Brett Consitt, sr., G; Harry Singh, sr., G; Keenan Edwards, sr., G; Kendall Holbert, jr., F; Robert Collier, jr., G; Jeremiah Fleming, jr., G.
Scouting report: Graduating All-Area forward Josh Fleming’s 18.5 points a game certainly hurts, but the Panthers aim to build off a successful summer once five football players are ready to join the team. Jackson and 6-foot-5 Flanigan both started as sophomores, and Fiduccia saw playing time late in the season. Jackson’s developed into more than a defensive standout. Combined with shooters Fiduccia, Storto, Consitt, Singh and Edwards, there are plenty of scoring options. Flanigan will put up points in multiple ways. Keep an eye on Holbert and Jeremiah Fleming coming up from the sophomore team. “I know Justin and (Flanigan) are going to be there, but after that it’s wide open,” Larson said.
Coach: Wade Hardtke.
Last year: 13-13, 7-5, third in the Metro Suburban Conference; lost to St. Joseph in the Class 3A regional semifinals.
Top players: Tim Marshall, sr., C; Chaun Rickette, jr., G; Alex Jeske, jr., G; Mark Murbach, jr., F; John Marks, jr., F; Clark Gary, jr., G.
Scouting report: No starters return for the Raiders, who graduated their top six scorers among the 11 seniors on last year’s team. And of the four seniors on this year’s team, only two played last season. Eight juniors need to step up and fill the void. The good news is that Rickette and Jeske, who averaged 2.5 points per game, each played extensively as sophomores. Marshall, at 6-foot-8, bolsters the post game, but the team height drops off to about 6-3 after him. Loaded with guards, the Raiders need to take advantage of their team quickness. Without much depth newcomers Murbach, Marks and Gary need to contribute after strong summer performances. Avoiding foul trouble and staying healthy is a must. “We’re going to have to be in pretty good shape because we’ll be getting up and down the court quite a bit,” Hardtke said.
Coach: Tim Hoder.
Last year: 15-11, 6-6, tied for fourth in the West Suburban Silver; lost to Conant in the Class 4A regional semifinals.
Top players: Jeff Levesque, sr., G; Cory Davis, jr., G; Dikiria Washington, sr., G; Nathan Marcus, sr., F; Kyle Bos, sr., F; Ben Kane, sr., G; Sean Jenner, sr., C; Keith Hayes, so., G; Reed Colliander, jr., F.
Scouting report: At times last season the Hilltoppers started four players standing at least 6-foot-6. This year no one is taller than 6-5. It’ll be a much different looking group, and not just because of the huge graduation losses. Glenbard West pounded the ball inside with its height a year ago, but this group will rely on quickness and ball pressure. Levesque is a third-year varsity player, and Davis was his backup last year. Marcus, a Vanderbilt recruit in football, is the team’s tallest player, and he’s also one of the better shooters. Hayes and Kane are other players being counted on to consistently perform on the perimeter. “With our inexperience we’re going to have to prove ourselves this season,” Hoder said.
Coach: Nick Latorre.
Last year: 17-10, 8-4, tied for second in the West Suburban Silver; lost to Downers Grove South in the Class 4A regional final.
Top players: Matt Rafferty, so., C; Brian Owens, sr., G; Alec Hutcherson, sr., G; Chase Hamilton, jr., G; Ian Bunting, sr., F; Rigas Pappas, sr., F; Evan Blust, sr., F; Jared Eck, sr., G; Jacob White, jr., G; Ryan Scales, jr., F.
Scouting report: A tremendous summer performance has numerous colleges looking at 6-foot-7 Rafferty, a wiry and strong offensive post force who entered the starting lineup midway through his freshman year. He wound up averaging 7.5 points and 5.4 rebounds. Owens is back at the point for a third varsity season after averaging 8.4 points last year. Hutcherson and Hamilton combined for another 11 points to give the Red Devils plenty of reason for optimism this season. Assuming Owens, and especially 6-6 Bunting, heal their nagging football injuries, Hinsdale Central will be solid inside and out. “We have a lot of tools, but we have to work together,” Latorre said.
Coach: Tanner Mitchell.
Last year: 15-12, 6-6, tied for third in the West Suburban Gold; lost to West Aurora in the Class 4A regional semifinals.
Top players: Barrett Benson, fr., C; Jerry Stolz, sr., G; Joe George, sr., G; Justin Ward, sr., F; Pierre Andresen, sr., F; Evan Leake, sr., C; Marcel Phillips, jr., G; D.J. Deolitsis, sr., G.
Scouting report: After 12 years coaching at the freshman, sophomore and varsity levels at Bremen, Sandburg and Lemont, Mitchell takes the reins with the Hornets. Another newcomer, however, is poised to make an even bigger impact. Barrett Benson is a 6-foot-8, 225-pound phenom and the younger brother of graduated four-year varsity member Brock Benson. Beyond Benson and Leake, Hinsdale South is a guard-heavy team led by Stolz, who returns 9.5 points a game, and George. Expect the Hornets to get a shot of energy and leadership from Deolitsis, the football team’s quarterback who decided to come out for basketball. “It’s an adjustment year, but we’re looking forward to a good year with this group,” Mitchell said.
Coach: T.J. Tyrrell (first year).
Last year: 24-4, 10-0, first in the Suburban Christian Conference Gold Division; lost to Walther Lutheran in the Class 2A Westmont regional final.
Top players: Clark Brinkman, jr., G-F; Demetrius Carr, sr., G; Ross Flemming, jr., G; Adam Muellers, sr., F; Sean Sutton, jr., G; Anthony Taylor, jr., G.
Scouting report: Eleven-year program aide Tyrrell succeeds Darren Howard, whose 12-year tenure ended after tying the 1966-67 squad’s wins record. Gone too are Gold MVP point man John Cheng and forward Brian Harvey. The power trio’s third member, the strong and athletic Carr, returns 15.4 points, 4.6 rebounds and 50 percent 3-point shooting. Brinkman, a slasher, joins others from a 20-6 sophomore team and supplies quickness to translate to more pressure defense and faster offense. The gutty Muellers set a school record by taking 21 charges but at 6-3 is about as tall as IC gets. Goals include consecutive conference titles for the first time since 1967 and a first regional title since 2008. “I’m really excited about taking this next step,” Tyrrell said.
Coach: Josh Virostko (fourth year, 46-39; 10th overall, 104-138).
Last year: 20-9, 8-4, third in the Upstate Eight Conference Valley Division; lost to Proviso East in a Class 4A Proviso East sectional semifinal.
Top players: Jeremy Caboor, sr., F; Carlos Cortez, sr., G; Mike Karas, so., F; Jake Ktanses, sr., F; Marcus McDaniel, so., G; Sean Moore, jr., F.
Scouting report: Virostko retools in Roselle after graduating four starters among 10 seniors, including 1,000-point scorer Dominique Spencer. The 6-4 Caboor started 27 games and excelled in a role that asked for 2.1 points and 2.6 rebounds a game; now he’ll be asked for more. Moore averaged 2.3 points in 23 games, Ktanses got in some and Virostko likes the return of Cortez, who started as a sophomore but didn’t play last year. Overall better shooting than last season, not as inside-oriented with several sophomores on varsity. Patience, confidence and defense must be key components. And filling at least a some of the graduates’ shoes. “There’s a lot of rebounds out there, a lot of points out there to be filled,” Virostko said.
Coach: Mark LaScala (seventh year, 76-103).
Last year: 12-18, 6-5, tied for fourth in the Interstate Eight Conference; lost to Timothy Christian in a Class 2A Westmont regional quarterfinal.
Top players: Matt Bucher, sr., F; Dawon Burrell, sr., F; Jeremy Glavanovits, jr., F; Cody Monson, sr., G; Shane Murray, jr., C; Jonny Parrillo, sr., G.; Lamont Ross, sr., F; Nick Saul, sr., F; Corey Vaughn, sr., G.
Scouting report: The Lions have height, depth and in rugged transfer Monson a third-year starting point guard off a 23-8 team in Kentucky. Ross is a 6-3 Romeoville transfer and inside-out scorer who joins 6-2 Burrell and 6-6 Murray above-the-rim. The 6-5 Saul and Glavanovits, 3-shooter Vaughn and others on a 12-deep squad should more than compensate for graduated star Kazim Khan. Monson will want to run but the half-court offense should be there when needed. Jelling into a unit and keeping Monson out of foul trouble are keys. “I’m not sure how good we’re going to be in November,” LaScala said, “but I’m pretty excited about how we’re going to be in January and February.”
Coach: Bob Vozza (third year, 40-18).
Last year: 25-5, 10-2, first in the Upstate Eight Conference Valley Division; lost to West Aurora in the Class 4A East Aurora sectional final.
Top players: Conner Archey, sr., G; Hayden Barnard, sr., C; Derek Coleman, sr., G; Sean Davis, sr., F; Shiv Desai, sr., C; Nick Dodson, so., G; Melvin Meeks, sr., G; Vin Patel, sr., G; Bryson Oliver, so. G; Marchel Oliver, jr., G; Trayvond Taylor, sr. G.
Scouting report: Metea graduated six of its top seven players, All-Area captain Kenny Obendorf and All-Area guard Ryan Solomon among them. They still should be pretty good. Davis led last year’s landmark squad with 5.7 rebounds, scored 7.8 points and mixes it up inside. The 6-9 Barnard sparked late in the Mustangs’ playoff run and has a Western Illinois offer; 6-7 Shiv Desai brings size and three years’ experience. Guards like Taylor look to run the floor but the bigs also benefit in the half-court. Not the shooters of last season and lacking varsity minutes, but chemistry is good. “They just need that experience, need some game time,” Vozza said.
Coach: Brian Opoka (fifth year, 27-74).
Last year: 16-9, 7-3, tied for second in the Suburban Christian Conference Gold Division; lost to Marshall in a Class 3A Marshall regional semifinal.
Top players: Matt Brachmann, jr., F-C; Ben Brady, jr., G; Logan Goss, sr., G; Nic Jackson, jr., F; Tom McGillicuddy, jr. G; Pat Mooney, sr., F; Sean Nash, sr. G; Brian Orr, sr., F; Cam Roedel, sr. G.
Scouting report: The Broncos have progressed from two wins in Opoka’s first season to 16. Now he’s got better defense and depth but not the “instant offense” of graduates Tyshawn Johnson and Rich Bodee. All-conference point guard Goss returns averages of 5.2 points, 3.5 assists, 3.2 rebounds. The 6-foot-4 Brachmann should improve upon his 8.4 points, 6.1 boards. The 6-5 Orr also adds height. Mooney played in every game as sixth man last season; McGillicuddy and Jackson came up late after leading the sophomores to a Gold title. The off-season commitment is higher as are expectations, even a run at a conference title. “We’re going to be competitive with everybody we play,” Opoka said.
Coach: Pete Kramer.
Last year: 15-12, 6-8, tied for fifth in the DuPage Valley Conference; lost to Neuqua Valley in the Class 4A regional semifinals.
Top players: Nick Czarnowski, jr., C; Nick Lopez, sr., G; Ryan Antony, jr., G; Austin Pauga, jr., F; Mike Blaszceyk, sr., F; Rob Suntken, sr., G; Matt Auld, sr., G-F; Patrick Maloney, jr., F.
Scouting report: After struggling last season with tendinitis in the knee, Czarnowski is healthier and stronger. The 6-foot-9 center overcame the nagging injuries to average 14 points and 6 rebounds as a sophomore. The other juniors on varsity last year, Antony and Pauga, return another 15.5 points while Blaszceyk was third on the team with 33 3-pointers. With so much support, the pressure’s off Czarnowski to score as much. The Redhawks will be scoring from all angles. Pauga and Antony combined for 85 3-pointers. Czarnowski, however, needs rebounding support. If the defense can be consistent, the Redhawks will challenge for the DVC title. “If we play to our potential we could be pretty good,” Kramer said. “We’re excited about what’s ahead of us.”
Coach: Jeff Powers.
Last year: 19-8, 12-2, first in the DuPage Valley Conference; lost to Oswego in the Class 4A regional semifinals.
Top players: Derek Westman sr., G; Anthony Rehayem, jr., G; Bryan LoLordo, sr., G; Rafee Mahmud, sr., F; J.P. Riley, sr., G; Jayson Winnick, jr. G; Brendan Herbstritt, jr., F; Jalani McLain, fr., G.
Scouting report: Eleven seniors graduated from last year’s DVC title team, including three all-conference players. While filling the void won’t be easy, some experience remains. Westman averaged 8 points and was one of the team’s stronger rebounders. Rehayem saw significant time as a sophomore. The Huskies also bring back point guard LoLordo, who was slowed throughout last season due to injuries. A lack of team height is a concern — Mahmud is the tallest player at 6-foot-5 — but the Huskies didn’t have much size last season and were outrebounded only three times. This guard-oriented group is bolstered by freshman McLain. “They got to be a part of something special last year,” Powers said.
Coach: Todd Sutton (15th year, 297-118; 25th overall, 459-194).
Last year: 18-12, 7-5, fourth in the Upstate Eight Conference Valley Division; lost to Plainfield East in the Class 4A regional final.
Top players: Trevor Davis, sr., F; Pat Kenny, sr., C; Darien Miskel, sr., F; Brad Mikulecky, sr., G; Josh Piotrowski, jr., G; Connor Raridon, so., F; Elijah Robertson, jr., F; Jabari Sandifer, sr., G.
Scouting report: First of all, IBCA Hall of Famer Sutton should quickly earn his 300th win at Neuqua. Western Illinois commit Sandifer has led the Wildcats in assists the last two seasons and needs 121 for the program record. He’s also improved a shot that earned 10.7 points a game last season. The 6-5 Kenny, 6-5 Robertson, 6-3 Miskel give Neuqua athleticism, toughness. Davis, Piotrowski, Mikulecky are scrappers every team needs. Sutton likes his defense; scoring may take time to develop and foul shooting must improve over last year’s 61.7 percent. Last season was the first since 2003-04 the Wildcats didn’t win 20 games. Sutton also seeks a regional title for the first time since 2009. “It’s been a long dry spell,” he said. “I’m getting a little angry.”
Coach: Bob Ward (second year, 20-8; 19th overall, 270-232).
Last year: 20-8, 7-3, second in the Suburban Christian Conference Blue Division; lost to Marshall in the Class 3A Glenbard South sectional final.
Top players: Matt Bonner, sr., G; Killian Brown, jr., F; Andrew Kimball, sr., G; Kevin McShea, sr., F; Jason Pisarski, sr., G-F; Tim Zettinger, sr., G.
Scouting report: SCC Blue player of the year Ryan Coyle and all-conference point guard Nick Donati graduated from the Spartans’ first sectional finalist since 2008, but Ward especially likes this group’s defense. The sole returning starter is Kimball; Zettinger, a 6-3 point guard, got spot starts. They’ll be linked on the court, Zettinger and Bonner kicking out to Kimball and the versatile Pisarski at the arc. There are skilled shooters and interchangeable parts here, most players between 6-0 and 6-3. Brown, though, is 6-4 and among a junior class that adds depth. In a wide-open SCC Blue, Ward’s leadership and positive style will help the boys peak down the stretch. A goal, the coach said, is “to get better as the year goes on, and last year’s group did.”
Coach: Jack LeGrand (fifth year, 76-37).
Last year: 15-14, 6-6, fourth in the Metro Suburban Conference; lost to Walther Lutheran in a Class 2A Westmont regional semifinal.
Top players: Luke Davidson, sr., G; Justin Funchess, sr., G; Matt Huizinga, sr., F; Jimmy Larkin, sr., G; Danny Leach, sr., G; George Thompson, jr., G-F; Khali Valrie, jr., G; Connor VanderBrug, jr., F-C.
Scouting report: To start, the Trojans will go as Davidson, VanderBrug and especially Leach go. Three-year starter Leach averaged 15.3 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.4 steals, making 66 3-pointers and taking over in crunchtime. VanderBrug will improve upon last year’s 5.7 points and 5.3 rebounds while floor-burn-type Davidson “does a little bit of everything,” LeGrand said. Otherwise there’s not much experience. Valrie intrigues, transferring from Hope. As usual Timothy will battle to upend Riverside-Brookfield in the Metro Suburban and a bump to 3A is a tough one. “We just want to see who can develop and give us some cohesiveness to keep getting better,” LeGrand said.
Coach: Steve Weemer (eighth year, 113-83; ninth overall, 135-117).
Last year: 18-9, 7-3, second in the Upstate Eight Conference Valley Division; lost to Hinsdale Central in a Class 4A Downers Grove South regional semifinal.
Top players: Jared Brownridge, sr., G; Jack Cordes, jr., F; Jay DeHaan, jr., G; Matt Gialamas, jr., G-F; Bryan Jefferson, sr., F; Javaras Stewart, sr., F; Gary Sutton, sr., G; Dylan Warden, sr., F.
Scouting report: UC-Santa Clara commit Brownridge brings expectations as one of the area’s top teams and a UEC Valley favorite. The 6-1 Brownridge averaged 20.9 points and 4.3 rebounds and improved his dribble-drive ability and overall game. Athletic all-Valley 6-7 Jefferson returns 10.3 points, 4.9 rebounds. Add in Warden, Cordes, Sutton and Stewart and the Warriors graduated only about 12 points from last year’s varsity. They’ll play fast, and overall length lends strong defensive potential. Inside scoring and rebounding must be addressed by Warden and Gialamas, but with Brownridge each game will be contested. “We’re a veteran team with a lot of varsity minutes,” Weemer said.
Coach: Bill Recchia.
Last year: 6-21, 0-14, eighth in the DuPage Valley Conference; lost to Lyons Twp. in the Class 4A regional quarterfinals.
Top players: John Konchar, jr., G; Jimmy Rizzo, sr., G; Dean Pauley, sr., G; Mike Zajac, sr., G.
Scouting report: If there’s anyone motivated to restore the roar for the Wildcats, it’s Recchia. He’s a 1983 graduate of West Chicago who was a three-time all-DuPage Valley Conference selection and remains the program’s all-time leading scorer. Recchia was also an assistant coach at West Chicago from 1988-1995. He takes over a team with very limited experience after 12 seniors graduated. Only four seniors will lead this year’s squad and one, Zajac, didn’t play last year. Konchar, the team’s tallest player at 6-foot-4, had a tremendous sophomore year on varsity after finishing second on the team with 7.5 points per game. He was also second with 4.1 rebounds. Rizzo and Pauley represent the only other signs of experience with action in a combined total of only 24 games. “The juniors need to have a short learning curve,” Recchia said.
Coach: Paul Ferguson (seventh year, 114-48).
Last year: 17-10, 9-1, first in the Suburban Christian Conference Blue Division; lost to St. Francis in a Class 3A Wheaton Academy regional semifinal.
Top players: Gordon Behr, jr., C; Jack Cousins, sr., G-F; Cole Fritz, sr., F; Gabe Partain, sr., G-F; Colin Roy, sr., G; Brandon Ruggles, sr., F; Josh Ruggles, so., G; Evan Williams, so., G-F.
Scouting report: The Warriors aim for a fourth straight SCC title and in an open field have the horses to do it. The 6-8 Behr has added strength and interest from Stetson, Ball State, UIC and Northern; he must avoid foul trouble. The heady Roy takes over at point guard while former role players Partain, Fritz, Cousins will increase their impact. The senior Ruggles, 6-3, transferred from WW South as a sophomore, sitting out last season. Younger brother Josh, a 3-point ace, and Williams led an SCC-winning sophomore team. Solid offense from perimeter to post, up-tempo and in the half-court. “Probably the biggest area of growth right now is we really need to buy into becoming a great defensive team,” Ferguson said.
Coach: Dave Brackmann.
Last year: 8-19, 4-10, seventh in the DuPage Valley Conference; lost to Hoffman Estates in the Class 4A regional quarterfinals.
Top players: Andrew Zelis, sr., C; Matt Biegalski, jr., G; Jaylen Howze, sr., G; Luc Moran, sr., G; Joe Wayhart, sr., G-F; Mitch Vosberg, sr., G-F; John Coolidge, jr., G; Mike Cerone, jr., G; Andrew Slivinski, jr., G; Jake Heggeland, so., C; Clayton Thorson, jr., F.
Scouting report: First-year coach Brackmann is in his 11th year coaching in the DVC and his eighth with the Falcons. The team’s talent starts right in the middle with 6-foot-11 Zelis, who recently committed to Stetson. He averaged 10.4 points and 7.9 rebounds last season, while Biegalski brings back 9 points and 26 3-pointers. Thorson, who played 15 games after being called up from the sophomore team midseason, will be out of action while he heals from a broken collarbone suffered in football. Eight football players are making the crossover to basketball. “It’s going to take a little time, but we’ve got an interesting mix of talent,” Brackmann said.
Coach: Bob Szorc.
Last year: 11-17, 6-8, tied for fifth in the DuPage Valley Conference; lost to Plainfield East in the Class 4A regional semifinals.
Top players: Michael Kramer, sr., G; Matt Kienzle, jr., G; Joe Waber, sr., G; Adam Rogers, sr., G; Aidan Hernandez, jr., F; Ryan Graham, jr., F; Keishawn Watson, so., G.
Scouting report: The ability to adapt to changing roles will dictate the level of success for the Tigers. Even though nine football players are on this year’s team, WW South is in the unusual position of having everyone in camp from Day One. Kramer’s a clear team leader who has improved tremendously in the off-season. A shooter and finisher at the basket, Kramer’s joined by Kienzle, who was second on last year’s team with 40 3-pointers while knocking down 40 percent of his shots beyond the arc. Hernandez and Graham are deceptively strong in the post. With a sophomore point guard in Watson learning the ropes, the Tigers are looking for a surge in the second half of the season. “We have to win the play-hard chart this season,” Szorc said.
Coach: Chris Perkins.
Last year: 5-22, 2-10, sixth in the West Suburban Gold; lost to Elk Grove in the Class 4A regional quarterfinals.
Top players: Josh Joiner, sr., G; Tiger Greene, sr., G; Edvinas Mickevicius, jr., G; Nick Kilianek, sr., F; Matt McNamara, sr., F; Chris Poole, jr., G; Adam Hill, sr., G; Yashua Trent, sr., G.
Scouting report: With their top three scorers returning, the Warriors are looking for a major boost in the win column. The backcourt of Joiner, Greene and Mickevicius is among the area’s best, starting with third-year point guard Joiner, who averaged 15 points last season. Greene, who averaged 13 points, is a strong 6-foot-2 finisher at the basket. Mickevicius hit 39 3-pointers last season, but he’s rounded out his game inside the perimeter. Graduation losses hit the post hard. Six-three Kilianek and 6-5 McNamara aren’t giants, but they’re bruisers who will help Willowbrook maintain its consistent rebounding advantage from last season. “I want to compete day in and day out,” Perkins said. “That includes practice and games.”
Coach: Vince Doran.
Last year: 22-9, 8-4, tied for second in the West Suburban Silver; lost to Lake Park in the Class 4A regional final.
Top players: David Cohn, sr., G; Frank Toohey, jr., F; Justin Kurash, sr., F; Calvin Brown, sr., G; Charlie Rose, jr., G; Jack Heinle, jr., G; Stanley Roberts, jr., G; Sean Lyons jr., G; Isaac McKinley, jr., G; Chris Klos, jr., G; D.J. Springfield, sr., G.
Scouting report: The Dukes, who welcome a new coach in Doran, suffered a blow when Springfield, the team’s point guard, was lost with a torn Achilles’ tendon. That’ll put more ball-handling pressure on Cohn, but he can take it. Committed to Colorado State, Cohn averaged 19.2 points and hit 81 3-pointers as a junior. York has post talent with 6-foot-7 Toohey and Kurash. They weren’t big scorers, but their roles will expand beyond rebounding and defense. Finding a complementary guard is a challenge being met by a handful of players. With perhaps the Silver’s top player, York will compete for the title. “We need some other people to step up,” Doran said.Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.