Boys basketball preview capsules
Fox Valley Conference
Crystal Lake Central
Coach: Rich Czeslawski (eighth season). CL Central
Last year’s finish: 26-4 overall, 10-2 FVC Fox (co-champion).
Key returning player: Cavanagh Murphy, jr., G, 6-0.
Key new player: Kyle Fritz, sr., G-F, 6-1.
About the Tigers: Central had a terrific run of 71-15 with two regional and FVC Fox titles in the past three seasons. The Tigers are pretty much starting fresh this season after graduating their top six players. Murphy saw significant minutes as a reserve. Fritz transferred from Harvest Christian in Elgin and should play a prominent role. After those two, Czeslawski is looking at three seniors and 10 juniors to compete for time.
Coach: Brian Moe (sixth season).
Last year’s finish: 5-23 overall, 2-10 FVC Fox (seventh place).
Key returning players: Malcolm Reed, sr., G, 5-11; Joey Mudd, jr., G, 6-0; Charles Anderson, sr., G, 5-11; Sam Ruhlmann, so., F, 6-2.
Key new players: Jack Beckman, so., C, 6-5; Michael Benko, jr., F, 6-1.
About the Rams: Grayslake Central had been at or near the top for several years in the FVC Fox before falling off last year. The Rams have seven players returning this season, which Moe hopes will lead to more positive results.
Coach: Todd Grunloh (eighth season).
Last year’s record: 16-13 overall, 5-7 FVC Fox (tied for fourth place).
Key returning players: Aidan Einloth, so., F, 6-4; Nate Dodge, sr., C, 6-4; Dom DiProva, jr., G, 6-0; Brandon Tepper, sr., G, 5-10; Matt Taskovic, sr., G, sr.
Key new players: Bobby Krebs, so., G, 5-11; Merrick Gentile, so., G, 6-0.
About the Knights: North graduated A.J. Fish (21.1 point a game) and Danny Mateling (13.0), so the Knights will be looking for players to fill the scoring roles. Einloth, although only a sophomore, looked good over the summer and can play any position on the floor at 6-4.
Coach: Bob Barnett (12th season).
Last year’s finish: 23-6 overall, 10-2 FVX Fox (co-champion).
Key returning players: Ryan Cork, sr., G, 6-2; Matt Bridges, sr., F, 6-1; Jake Tuttle, sr., F, 6-5.
Key new players: Austin Spaeth, jr., F, 6-1; Ajin Oghale, jr., G, 5-11; Drew Doran, jr., G, 5-10; Nico Bennett, jr., G, 5-9; Brennan Woods, jr., G-F, 6-2; Trey Schramm, jr., G, 5-10.
About the Whip-Purs: There were big graduation losses with Tyler Crater and Shane Hernandez. Cork is a third-year starter who averaged 8.6 points a game and hit 30 3-pointers.
Coach: Mike Toussaint (third season).
Last year’s finish: 13-15 overall, 6-8 FVC Fox (tied for fourth).
Key returning players: Collin Ridout, sr., G, 6-3; Steve Dixon, sr., G, 6-0; Ben Stillwell, sr., 6-4, C; Chris Schmidt, sr., F, 6-5; Alec Graef, sr., G, 6-1.
Key new players: Luke Lobermeier, jr., G, 5-11; Tanner Kreassig, so., F, 6-2; Bailey Stefka, jr., F, 6-2; Michael Shelton, so., F, 6-4; Warren Nusser, fr., G, 6-4.
About the Skyhawks: Ridout, a third-year varsity player, averaged 8.9 points a game. Graef, Dixon and Stillwell also saw a good deal of playing time. The Skyhawks have decent height and a lot of younger players this season.
Coach: Al Baker (sixth season).
Last year’s finish: 19-11 overall, 7-5 FVC Fox (third place).
Key returning players: Damian Stoneking, sr., C, 6-7; Mitch Kohley, sr., G-F, 6-3; Mason Sutter, jr., F, 6-5; Nick Kubiak, so., F-C, 6-7; Marcus Ammirati, sr., G, 6-1; Andy Layoff, sr., G, 5-10; Mike Chonos, sr., F, 6-3; Alex Ferguson, sr., G, 6-0.
Key new players: Bradon Abt, jr., G, 5-9; Cameron Grisolia, jr., G, 5-9; Ryan Princer, jr., F, 6-2.
About the Blue Streaks: Woodstock won its first regional plaque since 2000 and had its first winning season since 2001 last year. The Blue Streaks will miss guards Jordan Turner (Northwest Herald Player of the Year), Andy Buhrow and Brad Kaufmann, but they could pound opponents inside with Stoneking, Sutter and Kubiak.
Coach: Steve Ryan (fourth season).
Last year’s finish: 10-19 overall, 3-9 FVC Fox (tied for sixth).
Key returning players: Nick Herscha, sr., F, 6-4; Josh Jandron, jr., G, 5-9; Drake Creighton, sr., F, 6-3.
Key new players: Doug Devore, jr., C, 6-4; Chris Niese, jr., G, 6-2; Riley Basaran, jr., G, 5-10.
About the Thunder: Herscha should be a force inside again for North after averaging 11.0 points a game as a junior. Jandron played a lot and likely will take on more of a scorer’s role.
Coach: Ralph Schuetzle (10th season).
Last year’s finish: 12-16 overall, 3-9 FVC Valley (tied for sixth).
Key returning players: Jason Gregoire, jr., G, 6-3; Tyler Szydlo, sr., G, 6-2; Devin McDonough, sr., G, 5-10; Michael Krich, sr., G, 5-10;
Key new players: Michael Coleman, jr., F, 6-4; Nick Franz, jr., F, 6-2; Nick Barr, jr., F, 6-2.
About the Trojans: Gregoire was one of the area’s best guards, averaging 11.5 points a game. Szydlo is another capable scorer in the backcourt. McDonough and Krich give the Trojans some depth at guards, while they will rely on juniors moving up to varsity for help inside.
Crystal Lake South
Coach: Matt LePage (second season).
Last year’s finish: 14-15 overall, 5-7 FVC Valley (fourth place).
Key returning players: Austin Rogers, sr., F, 6-2; Chris Mahoney, sr., F, 6-4; Caleb Johnson, sr., G, 6-1; Steve Thomas, sr., G, 6-0.
Key new players: Josh Friesen, so., C, 6-9; Wes Buckner, so., C, 6-5; Garrett Bright, jr., G, 5-11; Tyler Baker, jr., G, 5-9.
About the Gators: Rogers was fourth in the area in scoring at 15.7 points a game and adept at getting to the rim to score. Mahoney, Johnson and Thomas all saw minutes as reserves and will get expanded roles. Sophomores Friesen and Buckner will add size inside that will be tough to match up with.
Coach: Lance Huber (11th season).
Last year’s finish: 19-8 overall, 9-3 FVC Valley (second place).
Key returning players: Cordero Parson, sr., G, 5-10; Nick Munson, sr., F; Zach Pochop, sr., G; Connor Steinmetz, sr., F.
Key new players: Sam Buckley, jr., G; Kiwaun Seals, jr., G; Malik Dunner, jr., G;
About the Chargers: D-C will miss its top two scorers, Dylan Kissack and Brandon Rodriguez, who graduated. Parson is a strong, quick guard who will lead the team. Dunner transferred from Elgin and is fine athlete who made a huge impact in football.
Coach: Marty Manning (eighth season).
Last year’s finish: 17-9 overall, 11-1 FVC Valley (champion).
Key returning players: Amanze Egekeze, sr., F, 6-8; Zach Gorney, sr., F, 6-4; Blake Jacobs, sr., G, 6-2.
Key new players: Riley Wicks, sr., G, 6-4; Trevor Oslance, sr., G, 5-10; Jack Bessey, fr., G, 6-1; Kyle Slonka, sr., G; Brad Spoeth, sr., G, 5-10; Josh Esikiel, jr., G, 6-0; Dan Janus, sr., F, 6-3; Connor Boesch, jr., F, jr.
About the Red Raiders: Huntley has won three consecutive FVC Valley Division championships. Egekeze, who signed with NCAA Division I Belmont, averaged 12.3 points a game and has played on all three of those Valley title teams. Zach Gorney averaged 8.5 points a game and was a tough rebounder last season.
Coach: Jim Roberts (first season).
Last year’s finish: 18-15 overall, 7-5 FVC Valley (third place).
Key returning players: Chrishawn Orange, jr., G, 6-1; Billy Castellano, sr., F, 6-3; Ben Murray, sr., G, 6-0.
Key new players: Cameron Krutwig, fr., 6-5, F; Robert Grant, sr., F, 6-5; Reilly Peltier, sr., F, 6-4; Matt Bindi, jr., F, 6-3; Mike Canady, jr., G, 5-10; Cory Boeckh, jr., G, 5-10; Kenton Mack, jr., G, 6-2.
About the Golden Eagles: Orange will be one of the best guards in the area, while two new players – Krutwig and Grant (a transfer from South Elgin) – should help Jacobs up front. Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Jim Hinkle retired after a 49-year career and Roberts takes over after three seasons at Round Lake. He is the fifth coach in Jacobs’ 38 years.
Coach: Tim Paddock (10th season).
Last year’s finish: 11-16 overall, 3-9 FVC Valley (tied for sixth place).
Key returning players: Kyle Postal, sr., G-F, 6-4; Greg Johnson, sr., G, 6-1; Cody Freund, sr., G, 5-10.
Key new player: Nick Bellich, so., G, 5-8.
About the Warriors: Johnson averaged 9.5 points a game and led the area in free-throw percentage (84.6) last season. He also hit 41 3-pointers. Postal is one of the area’s best high jumpers in track and field and should help inside. Bellich, while only a sophomore, should make an impact in the backcourt.
Coach: Corky Card (12th season).
Last year’s record: 7-20 overall, 4-8 FVC Valley (fifth place).
Key returning players: Michael Bradshaw, sr., G, 6-3; Steven Ticknor, sr., F, 6-5; Ryan Gilbert, sr., G, 6-3; Jack Berg, jr., F, 6-4; Kody Peterson, sr., F, 6-3; Matt Perhats, sr., G, 6-1.
Key new players: Payton Otto, so., G, 6-0; Joey Kinowski, jr., F, 6-4.
About the Wolves: Prairie Ridge has decent size and a lot of experience. Bradshaw, Ticknor, Peterson and Gilbert all started at times last season. The Wolves look poised to make a jump in the FVC Valley standings.
Coach: Donnie Nolen (second season).
Key returning players: Justin Nolen, sr., G, 6-0; Tate Miller, sr., F, 6-3; Peyton Schneider, jr., G, 5-11; Fernando Carrera, sr., G, 5-11; Zach Martin, sr., F, 6-0; Angel Sanchez, sr., F, 5-10.
About the Hornets: Coach Nolen says the Hornets are optimistic with a lot of seniors to carry the load this season. Justin Nolen, Martin, Miller and Schneider started last year and return. An emphasis on shooting over the summer should help the Hornets’ offense. Donnie Nolen hopes the team can reach .500.
Coach: Will Benson (first season).
Last year’s finish: 10-20 overall, 5-7 BNC East (fifth place).
Key returning players: Adam Rogutich, sr., G-F, 6-3; Andrew Volkening, sr., F, 6-6; Dustin Rondorf, sr., F, 6-3; Max Kunde, sr., G, 6-1; Justin Velasquez, sr., G, 5-11; Noah Klick, sr., G, 5-10; Weston Shepard, jr., G, 6-2; Hunter Simonini, jr., G-F, 6-4; Koty Kissack, jr., G, 6-0.
Key new players: Jake Johnston, sr., G, 6-0; Dillon Csanda, jr., G, 5-11; Edi Andrade, jr., G, 5-9; Zach Knobloch, so., G, 5-10.
About the Indians: Benson previously coached three seasons at Harvard and still teaches there. He was Jacobs sophomore coach last season. Rogutich and Volkening should provide an inside presence and are third-year varsity players.
Coach: Brandon Creason (fifth season).
Last year’s finish: 13-17 overall, 9-3 BNC East (second place).
Key returning players: Sam Kaufman, jr., G, 6-4; Danny Rygiel, sr., F, 6-3; Brian Wells, sr., G, 5-9.
Key new players: Joey St. Pierre, fr., C, 6-8; Blaine Bayer, fr., G, 5-8.
About the Rockets: R-B has experienced players with Kaufman, Wells and Rygiel and will add big man St. Pierre in the middle. He has played a lot of travel basketball and Creason figures St. Pierre can be a force in the middle for the Rockets this season. R-B looks like it’s ready to make another run for the BNC East championship.
Coach: Curtis Price (seventh season).
Last year’s finish: 4-28 overall, 2-8 BNC East (fourth place).
Key returning players: Derreck Caldez, sr., G, 5-8; Wyatt Lindell, jr., G, 5-10.
Key new players: Nate Patterson, sr., F, 6-4; Adam Pischke, so., G, 5-11; Matt Ricchiuto, jr., F, 6-3.
About the Hurricanes: Caldez and Lindell both return as backcourt starters, which should help the Hurricanes this season. Caldez scored 8.3 points a game. Patterson missed last season after shoulder surgery and gives Marian size inside.
Northeastern Athletic Conference
Coach: Tom Duffy (first season).
Last year’s finish: 11-16 overall, 4-7 NAC (sixth place).
Key returning players: Cody Nelson, jr., G, 5-11; Avi Mohr, sr., G, 5-11; Nick Beck, sr., F, 5-8; Jake Heaver, jr., F, 6-1.
Key new players: Trevor Ball, sr., F, 6-5; Quentin VonBergen, jr., F, 6-1.
About the Giants: Nelson can do a little bit of everything for A-H at the guard position. “If I tell him something once, he does it right every time after that,” Duffy said. “He’s really coachable.” Duffy figures some of the schools in the NAC will make it a challenging league.
Coach: Nick Reed (first season).
Last year’s finish: 7-19 overall.
Key returning players: Jake Larson, sr., G; Ben Boyer, sr., F-C; Andrew Tieman, sr., G-F; Josh Chapel, jr., G.
Key new players: Chris Chapel, fr., G; Mike Mannien, fr., G.
About the Saints: Larson (12.5) and Boyer (10.3) led Faith in scoring last season and return. The seven victories was a big step for a young program, and the Saints were much more competitive last season.
– Joe Stevenson