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2021-22 girls basketball season preview: Scouting the DuKane Conference

Batavia

Coach: Kevin Jensen

Last season’s record: 5-11

Top returners: Brooke Carlson, so. (G, 5-6).; Tessa Towers, sr. (F, 6-5).; Claire Nazos, sr. (G, 5-5)

Top newcomers: Addison Prewitt, fr. (G, 5-8).; Hallie Crane, fr. (F, 5-9)

Worth noting: Batavia certainly has one of the more potent 1-2 punches teams will see this year with Carlson and Towers both returning. Carlson, already one of the top players in the conference as a sophomore should only get better after her 14.5 point and nearly four assists per game output last year. Towers, a Wisconsin recruit, has long been a double-double machine and averaged 17.1 and 12.3 rebounds per game last season. Nazos, a Dubuque recruit is a steady shooter from the outside and a multi-year starter. Don’t overlook Nicole McLaughlin, a honorable mention all-conference selection last year.

“…There is a great mix of experienced seniors and talented youth. Batavia will get varsity contributions from all four classes this season. Tessa Towers leads that way and continues to get better and better. Brooke Carlson is as dynamic as they come with the ball in her hands,” Jensen said.

Geneva

Coach: Sarah Meadows

Last season’s record: 8-4

Top returners: Cassidy Arni, jr. (F, 5-11); Leah Palmer, so. (G/F, 5-11); Zosia Wrobel, sr. (F, 6-0)

Top newcomers: Caroline Madden, so. (G, 5-6); Rilee Hasegawa, jr. (G, 5-2)

Worth noting: The Vikings’ backcourt will certainly look different without Kate Palmer running the point anymore, but they return Arni and Wrobel in the front court who are both solid shooters and all-around players. Palmer should build upon a steady freshman season. So, with that nucleus, the Vikings appear to be in good shape heading into the season but it’ll be interesting to see how the rest of the rotation develops as the weeks come.

“[I’m] really excited to worked with this group for girls,” Meadows said. “They are working hard and they will be fun to watch. We are so ready for a full and somewhat normal basketball season. Our conference and schedule is really tough. There will be some great girls basketball played this winter.”

Glenbard North

Coach: Stephen Wit

Top returners: Kayla Rushford, sr. (G); Chloe D’Alexander, jr. (F); Bella Eggert, sr. (G)

Top newcomers: Jasmine Jackson, sr. (F); Mikaela Quinn, so. (G).; Autumn Rohde, jr. (G)

Worth noting: Glenbard North graduated five seniors from last season, which represented a lion’s share of its scoring. Rushford is the only returning player who played in every game last year, so she’ll be a key piece all season to bring along the next wave. Eggert and Jackson are two who will be pushed to take on larger roles on both of the floor. D’Alexander and Rohde should add some grit and toughness.

“This a tight knit group that is fun to coach, they are looking forward to the challenges ahead, especially our tough DuKane Conference schedule,” Witt said.

Lake Park

Coach: Brian Rupp

Top returners: Sara Balli, sr. (G, 5-9).; Gabi Burgess, jr. (G, 5-6); Ellie Helm, jr. (G, 5-11)

Top newcomers: Grace Cord, jr. (F, 5-11); Michela Barbanente, jr. (F, 5-10); Danielle Schlink, sr. (F, 6-0)

About the Lancers: The Lancers are an intriguing team and figure to be improved from an uncharacteristic down season the year before. Lake Park returns three high-caliber starters in Balli, Burgess and Helm, who Rupp says are all improved. Cord is expected to take on a starting role and will add some scoring inside and outside. Schlink will bring length and some pop from the outside as well. The bench offers some athleticism and could be a strong defensive unit.

“We have an athletic bench that could cause some problems defensively for other teams,” Rupp said.

St. Charles East

Coach: Michael Murphy

2020 record: 7-9

Top returners: Torrie Kortan, sr. (G, 5-9); Emma Yakey, sr. (G/F, 5-8); Lexi DiOrio,so. (G, 5-8)

Top newcomers: Olivia Kiefer, sr. (F, 5-8 ); Hannah Masud, jr. (G, 5-6)

About the Saints: St. Charles East should be poised for a solid season, as it returns four starters from last season’s team: Yakey, Kortan, DiOrio and Alexis Maradis. Kortan is expected to be a top scorer. Though technically not a true newcomer, the Saints are looking forward to welcoming back Kiefer, a starter from the 2019 season, who is returning after a year away from the program. Cali Papez, who grabbed four rebounds per game last year, is expected to slide into a starting role after a prominent bench role from last season.

“[Kortan] is on pace to be a 1,000-point career scorer and has a chance to become school’s all-time leading scorer,” Murphy said. “…[Papez] will move from the sixth-man role to a starting position and is another coveted [Division III] prospect.”

St. Charles North

Coach: Mike Tomczak

Last season’s record: 12-3

Top returners: Reagan Sipla, so. (F, 6-1).; Alyssa Hughes, jr. (G, 5-7).; Erin Stack, sr. (F, 6-3)

Top newcomers: Katrina Stack, so. (F, 6-1).; Addy Uhmlauf, fr. (G/F, 5-7); Hannah Ganser, fr. (G/F, 5-7)

Worth noting: The North Stars are returning a boatload of talent and should figure into the conference title mix and beyond at season’s end. They return a number of multi-year starters in Hughes, Morgan Klug and Stack, while Sipla should build upon an extremely promising freshman campaign. Hughes is a phenomenal shooter from anywhere on the court and will be a matchup problem for any team to keep an eye on, as is Sipla. Eva Saltsman will bring good energy and rebounds. Keep an eye on Stack, who should push for serious playing time out of the gate.

“We’ve been [a good shooting team] the last several years…we’ve been able to help develop some really good shooters over the years,” Tomczak said. “We’re very fortunate, in my opinion, to – at almost any given time – have five players on the floor who can shoot the three. There’s an adage about living and dying by the three, but we hope to have enough versatility this year, so when that shot is not falling or when teams try to take that shot away, we’ve got some things we can do to finish inside.”

Wheaton North

Coach: Dave Eaton

Last season’s record: 13-3

Top newcomers: Claire Hyde, sr, (G, 5-5).; Caroline Gaither, sr. (G, 5-7); Lindsey Shanahan, sr. (G, 5-6)

Top newcomers: Sara Abdul, fr. (G, 5-7); Zoey Bohmer, so. (F, 5-11); Eden Pearson, jr. (G, 5-8)

Worth noting: The Falcons graduated a group of seniors that went 72-26 over their four-year careers. Wheaton North will look to content behind returning four-year year varsity starters Hyde and Gaither. Hyde and Gaither have been top players in the DuKane Conference throughout their career and it’s expected they’ll help usher in the newest era of Falcons. Hyde, last year’s DuKane Conference Player of the Year, is a four-year varsity starter who averaged 20.1 points as a junior and made 54 3-pointers at a 38.5% rate.

“The Falcons have some young talent that will continue to improve as the season progresses. Freshman Sara Abdul and Sophomore Zoey Bohmer will look to be key contributors to the Falcons,” Eaton said.

Wheaton Warrenville South

Coach: Rob Kroehnke

Last season’s record: 9-8

Top returners: Lily Huntzinger, sr (G, 5-9).; Hannah Struebing, so. (F, 5-10)

Top newcomers: Ellie Farrell,sr. (F, 5-7); Megan Economos, sr. (F, 5-7)

Worth noting: WW South will be looking to build upon a steady season, a team headlined by DePauw recruit Huntzinger. Struebing, Campbell Bastian, Farrell and Economos will also be key contributors for a team looking to make a splash in conference play.

“[We have] good experience returning, and promising newcomers. [We are also] looking forward to a full schedule,” Kroehnke said.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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