Girls basketball: Scouting the DuKane Conference


Coach: Kevin Jensen

Last season's record: 19-15

Top returners: Brooke Carlson, jr., G, 5-6; Addi Lowe, jr., G, 5-7; Kylee Gehrt, jr., G, 5-7

Key newcomers: Addie Prewitt, so., G, 5-8; Sarah Hecht, so, F, 6-1

About the Bulldogs: Without question, Batavia is going to be in the mix for an eventual postseason run with Carlson back for her third varsity season. Among the top point guards in the DuKane Conference, Carlson could be in play to eclipse 1,000 career points by midseason and is also on pace to break the program assist record. Carlson averaged 16.2 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 3 steals a game last season. Batavia loses Tessa Towers' defense and paint dominance, but still retains plenty of guard depth and shooting with Gerht, Lowe and others expected to emerge outside the regular rotation last season. Prewitt is a projected starter alongside Carlson and Gerht to keep an eye on.


Coach: Sarah Meadows

Last season's record: 25-5

Top returners: Cassidy Arni, sr, F, 6-1; Leah Palmer, jr., G, 6-0; Lauren Slagle, sr., F, 6-1

Key newcomers: None

About the Vikings: Geneva is returning a ton of starting experience from last season, headlined by Arni, Palmer and Slagle up front. Arni, a three-year starter, averaged 14.4 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2.5 steals and three assists a game last season. Caroline Madden, Rilee Hasegawa and Kinzie Gracey also bring plenty of shooting and spacing to the floor and should fill heavy varsity minutes for the Vikings, who reached a sectional semifinal last season.

Glenbard North

Coach: Steven Wit

Last season's record: 9-21

Top returners: Abby Kulig, sr., F, 6-0; Katie Nolan, sr., G, 5-6; Chloe D'Alexander, sr., F, 5-6

Key newcomers: Elizabeth Welch, sr., G, 5-9; Sophia Pedraza, so., G, 5-5; Tru Medina, so., F, 5-8

About the Panthers: The record last season was likely disappointing, but the Panthers are aiming to put a much more improved showing this season. Glenbard North has seven seniors. Kulig, Nolan and D'Alexander all put heavy minutes on the court last year and it should continue. Welch is a "steady shooter" and Medina and Pedraza "bring needed youthful energy and enthusiasm and are sure to have a big impact this season."

Lake Park

Coach: Brian Rupp

Last season's record: 15-14

Top returners: Michela Barbanente, sr., F, 5-9; Gabi Burgess, sr., G, 5-7; Grace Cord, sr., F, 6-0

Key newcomers: Kira Holliday, jr., G, 5-6; Allie Gogola, fr., G, 5-9; Maggie Frank, fr., G, 5-5

About the Lancers: Lake Park brings back three starters from last year's 15-win team. Barbanente, Burgess, and Cord all bring a high-level of athleticism and will give teams fits shooting and defending-wise. Burgess, a Missouri S&T commit and a four-year starter, is an "explosive player who defends at a high level, can get to the rim with her speed and has improved her shooting." Barbanente averaged just shy of a double-double last year while Cord is expected to showcase her offseason improvement and should be an inside and outside scoring threat. Lake Park has seven seniors and should have more depth than the program has had in awhile.

St. Charles North

Coach: Mike Tomczak

Last season's record: 18-18

Top returners: Alyssa Hughes, sr., G, 5-7; Julia Larson, sr., G, 5-7; Reagan Sipla, jr., F, 6-1; Katrina Stack, jr., F, 6-2

Key newcomers: Laney Stark, jr., G, 5-5; Hannah Ganser, so., G, 5-7; Mia Hoppes, jr., G, 5-5

About the North Stars: St. Charles North graduated standouts in Erin Stack, Morgan Klug and Eva Saltsman, but bring back plenty of experience headlined by Hughes, a four-year starter. Hughes, an electric shooter from three-point range, already set the program three-point record last season. Sipla continues to ascend as a top-end player and will be a matchup for opposing teams to circle on a nightly basis. Stack is expected to carry over a summer of big improvement. St. Charles North is expected to implement some new defensive wrinkles from year's past.

St. Charles East

Coach: Josh Foster

Last season's record: 22-7

Top returners: Emma Yakey, sr., G, 5-9; Alexis Maridis, jr., G, 5-2; Lexi Diorio, jr., G, 5-8

Key newcomers: Corinne Reed, so., F, 5-10; Brooklyn Murphy, so., G, 5-8

About the Saints: The Saints are going to have to make up for some key graduations from last year's sectional champion that was headlined by four-year starter Torrie Kortan. St. Charles East, however, brings back three with heavy minutes in DiOrio, Maridis and Yakey, all capable shooters and athletic. Yakey brings three-point range, as does DiOrio, while Maridis is a crafty guard who can draw defenders to the paint. "There is going to be some adjustment as people are learning new roles or taking on more responsibility," Foster said.

Wheaton North

Coach: Tyler Bantz

Last season's record: 22-8

Top returners: Sara Abdul, so., G, 5-7; Eden Pearson, sr., G, 5-9; Zoey Bohmer, jr., F, 5-10

Key newcomers: Sophia Fadel, sr., F, 6-1; Mira Spillane, jr., G, 5-11

About the Falcons: No doubt, it will be interesting to watch how the Falcons will replace so many key players from last season, including Caroline Gaither and Claire Hyde, production-wise. Couple it with Dave Eaton's decision to step away from coaching, the Falcons will be sporting a few new looks on the court and bench. The Falcons were pretty guard-heavy last season, but Bantz expects his group to be "athletic with some size and length." Abdul is expected to take another step from her standout freshman season last year and Pearson is in line to return from an injury by mid December. Bohmer also brings a tough defensive element. Add in Fadel and Spillane, the Falcons could be dangerous all season.

Wheaton Warrenville South

Coach: Rob Kroehnke

Last season's record: 15-15

Top returners: Hannah Struebing, jr., F, 5-7; Emily Troia, so., G; Jo Jo Hughes, sr., F

Key newcomers: Marley Carbonaro, fr., F; Brooke Struebing, jr., F; Ella Crawford, sr., G

About the Tigers: WW South is looking to improve from its regional semifinal exit last season. Replacing production and shooting from Lily Huntzinger due to graduation is arguably chief among their tasks to figure out right away. With Troia and Struebing leading the way, WW South is hoping to have a "great group that will work hard on every possession" and compete in the DuKane Conference.

St. Charles East's Hanna Masud takes a shot during the Saints' season-opening loss to York on Monday in Elmhurst. Sandy Bressner/
Mark Black / Shaw Media IllinoisLake Park's Michela Barbanente and Batavia's Brooke Carlson are two of the top returning players in the DuKane Conference.
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