NORTH SUBURBAN LAKE
Coach: Billy Pitcher, 3rd season
Last year: 15-16
Last years tournament: Lost in the regional championship to Mundelein, 82-65.
Key players lost: F Mirko Grcic (Loras College), G Brenden Seeger, F Jeff OBrien, C Doug Murphy
Key players returning: G Ryan Roach, sr., G John Repplinger, sr., F Brad Kruse, jr., G Mike Travlos, soph.
Top newcomers: C Will McLaughry, soph., C Shahzad Khan, sr., F Matt Moon, jr., F Corey Helgeson, jr.
Outlook: What Lake Zurich lacks in experience on the floor, it makes up for in experience on the bench. The Bears lost 4 of 5 starters from last years team, but are adding two veteran basketball coaches to the staff as assistants. Former longtime Hersey coach Don Rowley brings 280 career wins to the table while former Glenbrook North and UIC standout Jordan Kardos just recently wrapped up a professional career in Israel. They will really help our program, head coach Billy Pitcher said of Rowley and Kardos. What will also help is an infectious work ethic that is maximizing the Bears potential. After graduating four of five starters, at first, Ill be honest, I thought we could really struggle this year, Pitcher said. The kids have worked hard, though. They played a bunch in the offseason, spent a lot of time in the weight room. Im proud of how much theyve improved.
The one starter back is point guard Ryan Roach, who started every game and helped the Bears more than double their win total from the previous season (7 wins in 2011). Roach is a three-year varsity starter who averaged 7 points per game and hit 55 percent of his 3-pointers. Backcourt mate John Repplinger, who started six games last season, also returns, as do Brad Kruse and Mike Travlos. Travlos got some minutes last year as a freshman and impressed with his shooting. He had a couple of double-digit scoring performances for the Bears Inside, Lake Zurich boasts some height in 6-foot-5 forwards Will McLaughry and Shahzad Khan. We made a lot of improvements last year in beating Zion-Benton three times, Barrington twice, going 4-1 at the Jacobs tournament and getting to the regional championship, Pitcher said. We are excited about this group and believe it can continue the positive trend for our program.
Opener: Vs. Chicago King at the West Chicago Thanksgiving Tournament
Coach: Scott Bogumil, ninth season
Last year: 14-13, 5-7 (NSC Lake)
Last years tournament: Lost in the regional semifinals to Rolling Meadows, 78-73.
Key players lost: G Griffin Pils (Augustana College), G Ellis Matthews (Carthage College), F Anthony Mack, F Luke Mathewson
Key players returning: F Jack Deichel, sr., G Scott Johns, sr., G Matt Varner, sr.
Top newcomers: F John Vernasco, jr., G Jack Lipp, jr., G Drew Cayce, soph., F Joe Borcia, soph.
Outlook: Senior Matt Varner and junior Jack Lipp were reserves last season and saw limited minutes coming off the bench. But theyll be two of the most experienced players Libertyville has coming back. Graduation took a toll on the Wildcats roster as four of five starters are now gone, including three double-figure scorers in Griffin Pils (17 ppg), Ellis Matthews (16 ppg) and Anthony Mack (10 ppg). Senior forward Jack Deichl is the lone returning starter. He averaged 7 points and 6 rebounds per game. Not a lot of minutes returning, Libertyville coach Scott Bogumil said. But it should be fun to watch this team grow throughout the season. Along with Varner and Lipp, returning senior Scott Johns will also see his minute skyrocket, especially early in the season as the Wildcats look for some leadership. Meanwhile, some new faces will be counted on heavily. Drew Cayce, Joe Borcia and John Vernasco will see a lot of time, Bogumil said.
Opener: Monday vs. Maine South at Libertyville in first round of Maine West tournament
Coach: Dick Knar, 9th season
Last year: 26-8, 9-3 (NSC Lake)
Last years tournament: Lost in sectional championship to Warren, 87-52.
Key players lost: G Nate Brune, G Jordan Wiegold
Key players returning: G Robert Knar, sr., F Sean OBrien, sr., F Chino Ebube, sr., F Cliff Dunigan, sr., G Nate Williams, jr., G Quinn Pokora, sr., G Dylan Delaquila, sr.
Top newcomers: G Derek Parola, jr., F Tony Velez, jr., G Sam Nelson.
Outlook: The Mustangs have been on quite a stampede the last couple of years, winning 29 games in 2011 and 26 games last season. On paper, Mundelein seems to have enough firepower to keep the 20-plus win streak rolling for at least another season. Three players on the team have already committed to play in college next year and three more are on the brink of doing so. The not-so-tiny caveat here is that one of the Mustangs talented college-bound players will be sitting the bench for most of the season. Guard Robert Knar, a four-year varsity starter who averaged a team-leading 22 points per game last season and committed to Northern Iowa last spring, blew out his knee in a game over the summer and will be rehabbing until February.
The loss of Robert hurts, said Mundelein coach Dick Knar, who is also Roberts father. But we have 8 out of our top 10 players back and we are a team that can score, so we will do it in different ways. Knar is counting on plenty of scoring out of forward Sean OBrien, who averaged a double-double last season (14 ppg, 11 rpg). OBrien has committed to Southern Illinois. I expect Sean to have a breakout year, Knar said. I believe he is one of the best players in the area. Seniors Chino Ebube (6-foot-4) and Cliff Dunigan (6-foot-3) team up with the 6-foot-7 OBrien to give the Mustangs a sizeable and formidable front line Point guard Nate Williams is a returning starter and will get perimeter help from Quinn Pokora and Dylan Delaquila Not only will the Mustangs be trying to put together another 20-plus win season, theyll also be trying to make another deep tournament run. The last two years Mundelein has advanced to the sectional title game, each time losing to Warren.
Opener: Vs. Uplift at Mundelein Thanksgiving Shootout
Coach: Pat Ambrose, 14th season
Last year: 17-10
Last years tournament: Lost in the regional championship to Warren, 57-47.
Key players lost: F Chandler Simon, F Alex Diamond, F Colby Cashaw, G Mike Fleming, Elliot Feeney
Key players returning: G Matt Morrissey, jr., G Jalen Brunson, soph., G Andy Stempel, sr., F Adam Cohen, sr., F Jack Duffy, sr., G Justin Berkson, sr., G Riley House, sr., F/G Conner Cashaw, soph.
Top newcomers: F Josias Sanon, jr., F Parker Nichols, soph.
Outlook: Stevenson will be short on height this season, but not on fast, exciting, sharp-shooting guards. In fact, the Patriots boast one of the top guards in the area in sophomore Jalen Brunson, son of former NBA player Rick Brunson. Brunson started last season as a freshman. Jalen is very talented and will lead us in many ways, Ambrose said. His strength has improved and hes also improved his shot. We have good guard play all around and we hope to shoot well. If we can rebound and defend, I think we should be OK. We think we can guard some guys and try to win without tons of height. Stevensons tallest player is Adam Cohen, who is 6-foot-4. After a couple of 6-foot-3 kids, the height drops from there fast. Were just going to have to compensate by using our speed and our skills, Ambrose said. And if weve got to guard a big, strong kid in the post, maybe well just bite at his ankles.
Stevenson will also be short on veteran experience. Brunson started last year, as did guards Matt Morrissey and Andy Stempel at various points through the season. But Stempel is the only returning senior who saw significant minutes. We are still young and a bit inexperienced, Ambrose said. But we did pretty well this summer and we have high expectations because we have put the time in to be able to compete in such a tough division.
Opener: Monday vs. Grayslake Central in the Bison Classic at Buffalo Grove.
Coach: Ryan Webber, 1st season
Last year: 26-4, 13-1 (NSC Lake)
Last years tournament: Lost in the supersectional to Rockford Auburn, 49-43.
Key players lost: F Darius Paul (Western Michigan), F Nathan Boothe (Toledo), G JoVaughn Gaines, G Jameris Smith, F Jon Geske, F Mitch Munda.
Key players returning: G Aarias Austin, sr., G Arthel Rosquist, sr., F Adrian Deere, jr.
Top newcomers: F Dre Hill, sr,, F Mitch Cygen, sr., G Timmy Pieper, sr., G James Betola, jr., G Shayne,White, sr.
Outlook: It really is a changing of the guard at Warren. Not only has longtime coach Chuck Ramsey ridden off into the sunset, all five starters from last years supersectional team have also moved on. Ramsey finished up his 19-year career at Warren last spring after finishing second in the state twice, winning 10 North Suburban Conference titles, 14 regionals and 7 sectionals and averaging 21 wins per season. He is now the head mens basketball coach at College of Lake County.
Meanwhile, two players who headlined last years senior-dominated core are playing Division I basketball. Darius Paul is at Western Michigan while Nathan Boothe is at Toledo. They were also instrumental in getting the Blue Devils downstate in 2011. To say that new coach Ryan Webber has a blank canvas might be an understatement. Being my first year and the players first year in a new system, its going to take some time to get going, said Webber, who came from Moline and won 150 games in seven years between stops in both Moline and Byron. I expect us to play and compete at a high level. I like our chances to have a good year if we can learn to sustain excellence in all that we do. That will challenge us. Another challenge is replacing all of the scoring that Warren lost. Senior guards Aarias Austin and Arthel Rosquist are back, as is junior forward Adrian Deere. But not of the three saw significant minutes last year.
Opener: Monday vs. Waukegan at Warren
NORTH SUBURBAN PRAIRIE
Coach: Jeff White, 2nd season
Last year: 7-20, 1-11 (NSC Prairie)
Last years tournament: Lost in the regional semifinals to Grayslake Central, 49-42.
Key players lost: F/C Karl Nettigen (CLC), F William Waschow (Wisconsin-Oshkosh), G Emery Paramski, F Joe Gregory, F Austin Vogel, F Joe Lombardo
Key players returning: G Anthony Formella, sr.
Top newcomers: F Ryan Weber, sr., F Robert Wynter, sr., G Tyler Innis, sr., F Cody Gwinn, sr.
Outlook: Veteran guard Anthony Formella, essentially the Sequoits only veteran, missed summer ball to rehab from a shoulder injury that forced him to miss the last month of last season and undergo surgery. But there was a silver lining. Formellas absence forced some of the new players on the team into greater service sooner rather than later, which might pay dividends when the games really count this winter. Others stepped up and became more comfortable handling the ball, Antioch coach Jim White said. We didnt have a particularly good summer, but we had enormous growth with some individual players. We are in a position to surprise some people who will look at a roster of players they arent familiar with. Formella, who averaged 5.4 points per game, is the only returning starter and the only player who received significant playing time last season. This feels a little bit like déjà vu from last year, said White, who inherited a young team that went 3-23 in 2011.
Opener: Vs. Huntley at Prairie Ridge (Crystal Lake Central Coaches vs. Cancer Tournament)
Coach: Wayne Bosworth, 5th season
Last year: 20-8, 8-4 (NSC Prairie)
Last years tournament: Lost in the regional quarterfinals to Lake Forest, 51-43.
Key players lost: F Jared Helmich, G Sean Wells, F Ilya Kadushin, G Allen Lewis, F Brandon Lombardino
Key players returning: None.
Top newcomers: G Ryan Noda, jr., G Mike Burns, jr., G Rayvon Jones, jr., F Steve Dunning, jr., F Devan Bald, jr., G Luke Lostroscio, jr., G Matt Malmberg, jr.
Outlook: Heres the good news for Grant: The Bulldogs won 72 percent of their games last year program-wide, including 20 at the sophomore level and 16 at the freshman level. Clearly, there is some good young talent on the rise. Heres the bad news: Most of the older, more experienced talent from last year, including the majority of a 20-win varsity team, is no longer in the program. The varsity Bulldogs started four seniors last year. They all graduated and they took their impressive stats with them. All four, Jared Helmich, Sean Wells, Ilya Kadushin and Allen Lewis, averaged double-figures. The Bulldogs fifth starter, Brandon Lombardino, is a senior this year but is a big-time college prospect in track and is using the winter to prepare for the spring track season. So the fate of the Bulldogs this season is in the hands of some talented, but very inexperienced players.
Every spot is up for grabs, Grant coach Wayne Bosworth said. With no returning starters and no one back who averaged more than 4 points per game, there are a lot of questions. Im not sure when well put together a lineup. Were still making a lot of young mistakes. But at the same time, were learning every day and weve got a lot of competition for playing time. Thats making everyone better. We have some young guys who have had a lot of success so far at Grant and they really want that to continue at the varsity level. One of the Bulldogs most experienced players back is junior guard Ryan Noda, who was pulled up for varsity at the end of last season. This is the biggest wildcard group Ive had since Ive been here, Bosworth said. But they are also very talented. How quickly we can break them of some of those young mistakes and tendencies will determine how good we can be.
Opener: Tuesday vs. Machesney Park Harlem at Johnsburg Thanksgiving Tournament.
Coach: Chris Snyder, 3rd season
Last year: 20-11, 9-3 (NSC Prairie)
Last years tournament: Lost in the sectional championship to North Chicago, 77-62.
Key players lost: C Justin Schneider (Loras), G Tanner Blain, G Jay Jay Elvir, G Jacob Brown
Key players returning: F Justin Bergeron, sr., F Direll Clark, sr., G Jake Kohler, sr., G Andrew Spencer, sr., G Troy Swindle, sr., C Jon Gomulka, sr., F Ben Wayne, jr.
Top newcomers: F Michal Tomasiewicz, jr., G TJ Edwards, jr., F TraMone Hudson, soph.
Outlook: The Eagles are coming off of their most successful season in school history. Last year, with 20 wins, they more than doubled their win total from the previous season (9 wins in 2011). And by making a run all the way to the sectional championship, they also advanced further than they ever had in the state tournament. I think last year really gives our guys a springboard. It gives them confidence and it gives them something (tangible) to aspire to, Lakes coach Chris Snyder said. In the past, it was always us coaches saying, If you do this and do that, we can maybe win a regional. But now, they know just how hard they have to work and exactly what goes into advancing far. They have the proof now and I think that helps them understand what were doing more. The Eagles will also need to understand that they wont have quite the same presence inside that they had last year.
Gone is 6-foot-8 center Justin Schneider, who averaged nearly 10 points and 8 rebounds per game and was a defensive stopper. He drew a remarkable 38 charges on the season. Having 6-foot-8 covers up a lot of defensive mistakes and allows you to take some chances defensively, Snyder said. Were going to have to realize we dont have that luxury this year and were going to have to play smarter on defense. The Eagles are also planning on playing quicker, as guards Direll Clark, Andrew Spencer, Troy Swindle and TJ Edwards all have quick feet. We definitely have an athletic team this year, Snyder said. We will run and break whenever we have the opportunity. Forwards Justin Bergeron and Jake Kohler are both 3-year varsity players who will provide some muscle inside.
Opener: Monday vs. Barrington at the Mundelein Thanksgiving Shootout
Coach: Jim Roberts, 3rd season
Last year: 8-17, 3-9 (NSC Prairie)
Last years tournament: Lost in regional quarterfinals to Zion-Benton, 61-43.
Key players lost: G Juddon Carter (Porterville JC), G Danny Uriostegui, G Matt Houghton, F Gage Steger (CLC)
Key players returning: F Mark Jennings, sr., G Rayshawn Bommon, jr., F Zack Pick, sr, F Tracy Moore, sr.
Top newcomers: F James Mobley, fr., G Karnell Wright, jr., F Mateusz Lopez, jr., G Bobby Pisarski, jr., F Marco Enriquez, jr, F Miguel Ruiz, jr.
Outlook: It would be easy to overlook Round Lake, which lost the schools all-time leading scorer in Juddon Carter, a trusty and experienced point guard in Danny Uriostegui and all but one player that saw significant minutes last year. But head coach Jim Roberts knows his program best, and hes not throwing himself a pity party. Just the opposite. We lost a ton of experience to graduation and that experience will be tough to replace, Roberts said. But that being said, I feel that we will be more talented than we have been the past two seasons. We have more players who have the ability to put the ball in the basket. We will also have more length and athleticism than in previous years. We are young, but I am extremely excited and optimistic about this group.
Leading the way is senior forward Mark Jennings, a three-year varsity player who averaged 8 points and 6 rebounds per game last season. Also, guard Rayshawn Bommon saw some minutes with the varsity as a sophomore last year. He has improved all areas of his game and has really stepped up as a leader for us, Roberts said of Bommon Newcomers Karnell Wright, a junior guard, and James Mobley, a freshman forward, could also make an impact. Karnell has a chance to be a very good player in our league and James could be special. He is a talented, hard-working kid.
Opener: Monday vs. Woodstock at the Hoops for Healing Tournament at Woodstock
Coach: Matt McCarty, 10th season
Last year: 16-13, 6-6 (NSC Prairie)
Last years tournament: Lost in the regional championship to Ridgewood, 66-56.
Key players lost: G Darren Hoveydai, C Jarrett Wood
Key players returning: G Stephen Curry, sr., F Trent Fulton, sr., G Nate Rathod, sr., G Dylan McNamara, sr., G Brett Peterson, sr.
Top newcomers: F Tristan Klintworth, jr., G Robbie Nardini, soph.
Outlook: Although he played Robin to Darren Hoveydais Batman last season, Stephen Currys game certainly isnt second tier. Curry put up solid numbers last year (13 ppg, 5 rpg, 2.5 apg) and certainly seems well-equipped to replace Hoveydai (18 ppg) as the Cougars top offensive threat. I feel he is one of the best guards in Lake County, Vernon Hills coach Matt McCarty said of Curry. He is an excellent distributor of the basketball and one of the best rebounding guards I have ever coached. We now need him to look to score some more for us to be successful. The Cougars also need more help inside. Theyre going to miss the muscle of center Jarrett Wood, who has graduated. He averaged 8 points and 7 rebounds per game last year and provided a strong and sizeable defensive presence in the paint. We will be very inexperienced and small on the interior, McCarty said. Our post players will need to play bigger than they are.
Replacing Jarrett Woods defensive play and rebounding will be a big question mark for us Trent Fulton and Tristan Klintworth, both 6-foot-3, give Vernon Hills some decent size at the forward spot, but the Cougars are generally guard heavy Also back from last year is senior guard Nate Rathod who made 39 three-pointers last season, senior guard Dylan McNamara, who is recovering from a football injury, and senior point guard Brett Peterson.
Opener: Monday vs. Maine East at the Northridge Prep Thanksgiving Tourney
Coach: Scott Luetschwager, 4th season
Last year: 11-17, 3-9 (NSC Prairie)
Last years tournament: Lost in the regional semifinals to Vernon Hills, 61-43.
Key players lost: G Kyle Ryan, F Matt Mead, F Connor Rueb
Key players returning: G Keith Blomberg, sr., G Kodey Thomas, sr., G Austin Swenson, sr., G Devin King, sr.
Top newcomers: C Ricky Sidlowski, soph., G Dion Head, jr., G Joey Lovelle, jr.
Outlook: The same old, same old just isnt working for Wauconda. The Bulldogs have had more sub-.500 seasons than not in recent years. Our guys are tired of it, Wauconda coach Scott Luetschwager said. They just want to win, and they dont care how. This is a very committed group, a very unselfish group and these guys just work. This might be the most driven team Ive ever had. They come to the gym and no matter what we throw at them or how hard we work them, they ask for more. These guys are hard-nosed and I think that toughness is really going to show in games. Luetschwager got a glimpse of it during the summer, when his team went 8-0 in the Wauconda summer league.
You have to take summer games with a grain of salt because some teams dont have all of their players, Luetschwager said. But for us, it was about more than who we were playing. With how things have gone in the program lately, it was more about needing to win games. Building that confidence in ourselves and in our team is really going to help us. Another thing that will help the Bulldogs is the return of four players with varsity experience, including senior guard Austin Swenson, who averaged nearly 10 points per game last year. Senior guards Keith Blomberg and Kodey Thomas also return. Swenson, Blomberg and Thomas will look to fill the shoes of leading scorer Kyle Ryan, who has graduated. Ryan averaged nearly 18 points per game last year. Im not sure if a single person will be able to fill Kyles shoes, Luetschwager said. It will probably be a mix of different guys.
Opener: Tuesday vs. Grayslake North at the Richmond-Burton tournament.
FOX VALLEY / FOX DIVISION
Coach: Brian Moe, 6th season
Last year: 21-9, 10-2 (FVC Fox)
Last years tournament: Lost in the sectional semifinals to North Chicago, 77-62.
Key players lost: G Jordan Taylor (Benedictine), C Casey Boyle (Northwoods), G Sayvonte McWilliams, F Tyler Smith, F Sean Geary
Key players returning: G Danny Reed, sr.
Top newcomers: G Joey Mudd, soph., C Joel Stewart, sr.
Outlook: The difficult nonconference schedule that Grayslake Central typically plays hasnt been a major concern for quite some time. The Rams have had experience on their side in recent years to help weather the storm. But with a shortage of veterans this season, early games against heavyweight programs such as Stevenson, Elgin, Waukegan and Glenbrook South now seem just a tad more challenging. Unlike the last few years, we are going to be a young, inexperienced team, Grayslake Central coach Brian Moe said. Our seniors are anxious to step up and fill the leadership void left by graduation. But that void extends beyond just leadership.
The Rams will be missing the scoring and rebounding of guard Jordan Taylor and center Casey Boyle, who were fixtures in the program for years. Taylor averaged 19 points per game while Boyle averaged nearly a double-double at 12.5 points and 9.8 rebounds per game Senior guard Danny Reed is Grayslake Centrals top returning scorer. He averaged about 8 points per game last season and is a big threat from 3-point range. The Rams are also looking for big things out of sophomore guard Joey Mudd and senior center Joel Stewart. Our team seems to be a close group and their commitment to each other will be tested by our early schedule, Moe said. We are hoping to be able to compete with the best teams in our conference and always have a goal of winning our regional.
Opener: Monday vs. Stevenson at the Buffalo Grove Thanksgiving tournament.
Coach: Todd Grunloh, 7th season
Last year: 19-9, 9-3 (FVC Fox)
Last years tournament: Lost in the regional championship to Grayslake Central, 49-41.
Key players lost: G Mark Hall (Eastern Wyoming), F Zack Krupp, C Ben Guhl (Northwestern College)
Key players returning: G/F AJ Fish, sr., G Danny Mateling, sr., G Nick Carmody, sr.
Top newcomers: F Dylan Toole, sr., F Anthony Winfield, sr., G Dom DiProva, soph.
Outlook: Besides losing in the regional championship to crosstown rival Grayslake Central, the Knights felt pretty good about last season, one of the best in school history. The potential is there this season to feel even better about the end result. Grayslake North returns its top two scorers from last year, guards Danny Mateling and AJ Fish. Both averaged about 12 points per game. Also returning in the backcourt is point guard Nick Carmody, who started a majority of the games last season.
Our backcourt is very experienced and played a huge role in our success last year, so that is one of our greatest strengths, Grayslake North coach Todd Grunloh said. Nick will be a key part of our team as he takes over (full-time) for Mark Hall. Hall averaged 11 points per game and is now playing at Eastern Wyoming The Knights also lost their starting frontcourt to graduation. Zack Krupp and Ben Guhl gave Grayslake North some size and muscle inside, and Grunloh is concerned about being able to replace that. We have a lot of options to fill those roles, but they all lack varsity experience, Grunloh said. The positives about our frontcourt is that those guys are extremely athletic and run the court well. We have the potential to be very athletic, we will just see if we can put everything together.
Opener: Tuesday vs. Wauconda at the Richmond-Burton tournament
EAST SUBURBAN CATHOLIC
Coach: Tim Bowen, 3rd season
Last year: 11-15
Last years tournament: Lost in the regional championship to Lakes, 43-35.
Key players lost: F Brandon Motzel (Augustana), G Conner Jordan (Coe College), G Zenen Davis-Mckkennie (Luther), G/F Joe Molloy (CLC).
Key players returning: G Billy Kirby, jr., Nickai Poyser, Cullen Barr
Top newcomers: F Jack George, jr., Greg Edkins, sr., Michael Barr, jr., CJ Duff, fr., Nick Pullano, sr., Will Thompson, jr., Matt Kelley, jr., Ryan OToole, sr., Ryan Quigley, jr., Shareif Belser, fr., Lee Bowen, soph., Miles Czplicki, jr., Mark Amrick, jr.
Outlook: Carmel will be missing three players from last year who are now playing in college in Brandon Motzel, Zenen Davis-Mckkennie and Joe Molloy. But despite the loss of that kind of talent, head coach Tim Bowen believes his current team could actually be better in several areas. Our guard play will be improved and we will have many players who can score, Bowen said. And it looks like an even better defensive team. The Corsairs also welcome back three returning starters in Billy Kirby, Nickai Poyser and Cullen Barr. A talented group of 13 young newcomers, including freshmen CJ Duff and Shareif Belser as well as sophomore Lee Bowen, will be pushing for playing time as Carmel looks to climb above the .500 mark for the first time in years.
Opener: Monday vs. Crystal Lake Central at Crystal Lake Central Coaches vs. Cancer tournament