Fox Valley Conference
Crystal Lake Central
Coach: Paul Lichtenheld, second season
Last year’s record: 13-16, 4-8 FVC Fox (fifth)
Top returning players: Shannon Ellman, sr., F, 5-10; Kelsey Schmitt, sr., G, 5-5; Evelyn Youel, sr., G, 5-8.
Top new players: Maddie Helm, jr., G, 5-5; Maddy Lerum, so., G, 5-6; Molly Steffen, so., G, 5-5.
About the Tigers: Central returns most of its offensive production from last season, and Lichtenheld has high expectations for the seniors with the hope that the younger players can help contribute. A tougher non-conference schedule should prepare the Tigers for FVC Fox opponents. "Our girls have heard all year from me that returning players and production is nice, but doesn’t mean anything if we haven’t worked to get better," Lichtenheld said.
Coach: Steve Ikenn, fourth season
Last year's record: 20-11, 10-2 FVC Fox (second)
Top returning players: Morgan Dahlstrom, sr., C, 6-1; Carson Sparkman, sr., G, 5-8; Maddy Miller, sr., F, 5-10; Lauren Spalding, jr., G, 5-8.
Top new players: Kelly Moroney, so., G, 5-6.
About the Rams: Morgan Dahlstrom and all-conference guard Carson Sparkman are two of four returning starters for Grayslake Central. Ikenn hopes the Rams can improve on last season but acknowledged that could be tough with guard Rachel Effa injured for at least the first half of the season. He's encouraged by younger players such as sophomore Kelly Moroney stepping up in Effa's absence as the Rams contend for the division title.
Coach: Nate Flannery, second season
Last year's record: 26-4, 12-0 FVC Fox (first)
Top returning players: Kendall Detweiler, sr., G; Brittney Thibeaux, sr., F; Maggie Fish, jr., G; Ashley Martineau, sr., G; Shannon Myers, sr., G; Sam Karnuth, sr., G.
Top new players: Alyssa Gunn, so., G; Sidney Lovitsch, fr., G; Ella Swanson, jr. F; Samantha Villwock jr., G.
About the Knights: Although Grayslake North lost some key players from last year's division title team, the Knights still have one of the area's best shooters in Kendall Detweiler, who is especially dangerous when shooting 3-pointers. Brittney Thibeaux gives the Knights a great threat alongside Detweiler as Grayslake North attempts to successfully defend its FVC Fox title.
Coach: Mike Featherly, first season
Last year’s record: 11-17, 5-7 FVC Fox (fourth)
Top returning players: Becky Dumoulin, sr., G/F, 5-9; Sara Finn, sr., G, 5-6; Tricia Dumoulin, jr., G/F, 5-9; Nikki Dumoulin, so., G, 5-8; Emma Benoit, so., F, 6-2.
Top new players: Claudia Lazar, jr., G, 5-7; Peyton DeChant, fr., G/F, 6-0.
About the Whip-Purs: With a new coach leading Hampshire, Featherly believes his team has done a good job adjusting to a new system. While there's still a learning curve, Featherly said the Whip-Purs continue to get better each day. "We have a good mixture of senior leadership along with young players leading the team that have a good amount of basketball experience," Featherly said. "There are a number of girls that are capable of being scorers; we just need to be more consistent in our execution."
Coach: Brad Frey, third season
Last year’s record: 4-25, 2-10 FVC Fox, (tied for sixth)
Top returning players: Kayla Toussaint, sr., G, 5-6; Trace Chase, jr., F, 5-10; Maddie Himpelmann, sr., G, 5-5. Maycee Ward, sr., F, 5-6.
Top new players: Carly Wilson, jr., F, 5-10; Jazza Johns, so., F, 5-11; Cortland Sommerfeldt, fr., G, 5-4.
About the Skyhawks: In their final year with the FVC, Johnsburg is looking to improve on last season's record. Offensively, the Skyhawks will be led by Kayla Toussaint, who is always a dangerous on the perimeter, and Trace Chase, who is an inside/outside threat. "This years' model of the Skyhawks is a little bit smaller and a lot quicker," Frey said. "Our opening tournament will test us early."
Coach: Marty Hammond, seventh season
Last year’s record: 8-20, 2-10 FVC Fox (tied for sixth)
Top returning players: Cody Brand, sr., C, 6-0; Megan Pautrat, sr., G, 5-6; Amber Roberts, sr., C, 6-0.
Top new players: Selena Juarez, jr., F, 5-9. Colleen Brown, jr., G, 5-6; Brecken Overly, so., G, 5-6.
About the Blue Streaks: With four-year starter Cody Brand a vital part of the Blue Streaks, Woodstock will feature a good balance between its guards and center. Although the Blue Streaks are bolstered by some quality seniors, overall the team is lacking experience. Hammond said he's looking to the underclassmen to contribute immediately. "The junior class had a very successful season last year so they should be able to bring some needed scoring to a team that at times, was inept, to put points on the board," Hammond said.
Coach: Mike Lewis, fifth season
Last year's record: 17-13, 7-5 FVC Fox (third)
Top returning players: Sam Abbate, sr., F, 5-9; Ashley Jones, jr., G, 5-9; Haley Ahr, so., C, 5-11; Sara Crain, sr., F, 5-7; Manda Landrey, sr., G, 5-9; Kristy Darling, jr., G, 5-6.
Top new players: Jeni Crain, so., G, 5-6; Rachel Schaffter, so., G, 5-4; Sami Zieman, so., G, 5-6; Rhetta Bates, jr., F, 5-7.
About the Thunder: Woodstock North is coming off its best finish in division play in the young program's history and are eager to replicate the success. The Thunder return six players from last year's team, including senior forward Sam Abbate and sophomore center Haley Ahr. "I think that we have a good group of players here," Lewis said. "They are working hard and trying to get better and also trying to understand each other and work together. I think we have an opportunity to have a successful season."
Coach: Rod Saffert, eighth season
Last year's record: 23-7, 11-1 FVC Valley (first)
Top returning players: Katie Barker, jr., G/F, 5-10; Sarah Kendeigh, sr., G, 5-7; Abby Jakubicek, sr., F, 5-10; Jen Pilut, so., G, 5-8; Amy Clemment, sr., G, 5-3; Abby Glaysher, sr., G, 5-8.
Top new players: Candace Cunningham, jr., G, 5-8; Olivia Miller, so., G, 5-7; Chrissy Sopchyk, jr., G, 5-8; Alli Josefowicz, jr., G, 5-6; Caylie Jones, jr., G, 5-6; Maddie Priester, jr., F, 5-7; Karisa Wilczynski, jr., G/F, 5-8.
About the Trojans: Saffert expects C-G to again contend for the FVC Valley title as well as a regional title. The Trojans will be bolstered by the return of a healthy Katie Barker. “We lost good players to graduation, but this team’s main goal is to keep the winning tradition alive,” Saffert said. “We have many girls who can play for us this season, and they are determined to succeed at a high level again.”
Crystal Lake South
Coach: Kyle McCaughn, 13th season
Last year’s record: 23-7, 9-3 in FVC Valley (third)
Top returning players: Sara Mickow, sr. F, 5-11; Carly Nolan, jr., F, 5-11; Rachel Rasmussen, sr., G, 5-6; Chanel Fanter, so., G, 5-10.
Top new players: Gaby De Jesus, jr., G, 5-1; Lauren Gaugher, jr., F, 5-7; Hailee Massie, jr., G, 5-6.
About the Gators: South will be contending for the division title with the return of four main contributors, including forward Sara Mickow, who averaged a double-double last season. "We are very excited about the season in front of us," McCaughn said. "We return a very nice core and have athletes ready to step up and accept their role."
Coach: Sarah Miller, first season
Last year’s record: 4-23, 0-12 FVC Valley (seventh)
Top returning players: Emily Michalski, sr., F, 5-11; Lauren Lococo, jr., G, 5-8; Jesania Laboy, jr., F, 5-10.
Top new players: Kayla Lawrence so., G, 5-9; Allison Michalski fr., F, 5-11; Melissa Barker, so., G, 5-8.
About the Chargers: D-C, with a new coach in charge, wants to compete against teams within the conference. Miller said her players have been very committed and embracing their respective roles on the team. "We have stressed to the girls that every game will be a fight and battle from start to finish," Miller said. "As long as our girls keep working hard, stay focused and control the defensive and offensive components we emphasize each and every day, I believe we will put ourselves at good positions to win more games this year."
Coach: Steve Raethz, 15th season
Last year’s record: 26-8, 10-2 FVC Valley (second)
Top returning players: Ali Andrews, so., F, 6-2; Sam Andrews, sr., F, 6-0; Bethany Zornow, sr., G, 5-9; Kayla Barreto, so., G, 5-2; Jessica Brock, jr., G, 5-5; Rachel Zobott, sr., F, 5-9.
Top new players: Katie Costantino, jr., G, 5-5; Paige Renkosik, so., G, 5-8; Kelli Rubino, jr., G, 5-8; Abbey Brown fr., G, 5-6.
About the Red Raiders: Returning four of five starters from last year's team that placed fourth in Class 4A, Huntley expects to build off the success. Opposing defenses will have the challenge of trying to shutdown down forwards Ali Andrews and Sam Andrews, who each averaged 15.7 points per game last season. "Our team is working very hard each day to improve individually and collectively, and we are working very hard to develop our cohesiveness and chemistry," Raethz said.
Coach: Joe Benoit, second season
Last year’s record: 3-24, 2-10 FVC Valley (sixth)
Top returning players: Nicole Cook, sr., G, 5-7; Megan Mangieri, sr., C, 5-10; Tiffany Frighetto, sr., G, 5-7; Jenni Barnec, jr., G, 5-8.
Top new players: Alyssa Lach, sr., G, 5-5; Nita Williams, jr., G, 5-5; Jessica Powell, jr., G, 5-5.
About the Golden Eagles: After finishing sixth in the FVC Valley last season, Jacobs looks to move up in the division standings. The Golden Eagles will be a young group this season with two freshmen and two sophomores. "With a ton of new faces, our team will look much different, and a lot will depend on how quickly our players jell," Benoit said. "But we like what we see so far."
Coach: Scott Morris, seventh season
Last year’s record: 15-16, 4-6 FVC Valley (fifth)
Top returning players: Makayla Sneddker, so., C, 6-0; Sawyer Lay, sr., G, 5-8; Gretta Taylor, sr., F, 5-7; Carly Mattson, jr., G, 5-6; Katlyn Sena, sr., F, 5-10.
Top new players: Alex Martens, so., F, 5-10; Lindsay Skinner, jr., G, 5-7; Gabe Schweitzer, jr., F, 5-7; Ashley Kamepf, jr., C, 6-0.
About the Warriors: McHenry will be young this season, starting two sophomores, two juniors and one senior, but the Warriors have a deep bench with potentially 10 players getting playing time each game. While Morris isn't sure the Warriors will have a player averaging double-digit points a game, he envisions 10 players potentially averaging five points per game. "Sawyer Lay and Makalya Sneddker will be asked to do a lot more this season in regards to leadership and scoring," Morris said. "Carly Mattson, a move up last season at Christmas, will continue to provide stability at point guard."
Coach: Rob Baker, 2nd season
Last year's record: 19-11, 6-6 FVC Valley (fourth)
Top returning players: Sara LeBeau, sr., G; Sarah Kilhoffer, sr., F; Kelly Klendworth, jr., G; Maddie Drain, sr., C; Rosie Ridge, sr., F.
Top new players: Ally Clark, so., G; Kirsten Voel-Pel, so., F.
About the Wolves: Prairie Ridge returns only one starter after losing six players to graduation. Baker expects the Wolves to do their best to improve and compete on a daily basis. "We are inexperienced but looking forward to the season," Baker said. "We have great practice energy and continue to get better in practice."
Big Northern Conference
Coach: Nike Rode, third season
Last year's record: 9-20, 5-6 BNC East (fourth)
Top returning players: Lynsey Hoeske, sr., G, 5-7; Taylor Carlson, sr., G, 5-6; Kassidy Girmscheid, sr., F, 5-9.
Top new players: Rachel Tautges, jr., G, 5-8; Nicole Johnston, so., F, 5-9.
About the Indians: Rode believes Marengo has a quality mix of new and returning players, including solid "glue girls" Nikki Hammortree and Logan Brettschneider who have the ability to play multiple positions. "We are going to be a work in progress while being characterized as a team that plays together and always competes," Rode said. "We are going to rely on our top returning players to score within the team concept."
Coach: Courtney Ludois, second season
Last year's record: 16-12, 8-4 BNC East (second)
Top returning players: Hannah Koenig, sr., C, 6-0; Abby Straight, sr., G/F, 5-10; Hali Hoglund, sr., G, 5-2; Kellie Koren, sr., G, 5-1; Sara Swanson, jr., G, 5-4; Jessica Guenther, jr., F, 5-7.
Top new players: Lauren Otto, jr., G, 5-5; Grace Schwegel, jr., F/C, 5-10; Jillian Townsend, jr., G/F, 5-7; Tally Blanton, jr., G, 5-4; Meagan Spohr, jr., G, 5-7; Katie Staggs, jr., G, 5-2.
About the Rockets: Coming off a second-place finish in the BNC East, R-B features three returning starters and a host of juniors, who will be looked to step in. The Rockets will have to overcome a tough Burlington Central team to finish atop the division. "I expect senior captains Hannah Koenig and Abby Straight to show a lot of leadership and guide this team throughout the season," Ludois said.
Northeastern Athletic Conference
Coach: Jen Nichols-Hogle, second season
Last year's record: 16-9, 5-3 NAC
Top returning players: Brooklyn Hilton, sr., G/F, 5-9; Jacqueline Walters, sr., G, 5-7; Hannah Warren, so., G, 5-5.
Top new players: Emily Webber, fr., F/C, 5-9; Tally Lalor, fr., G, 5-6.
About the Giants: After four of A-H's eight players graduated last year, Nichols-Hogle said her team is the hardest working she has ever coached. Walters and Hilton are expected to take on leadership roles while junior Hannah Behrens will be a key player in the post for the Giants. "Our saying "watch this" is their idea of when they step on the court for games or practice you won't want to look away, because no matter the outcome they are going to give it their all every second to give their team the best opportunity to be successful," Nichols-Hogle said.
– All area teams were contacted, and this information was compiled from those who responded.