Fox Valley Conference
Coach: Rod Saffert (12th season)
Last season's record: 16-12 overall, 11-5 FVC (tied for first)
Top returners: Katie Sowa, sr., G-F, 6-0; Abby Getka, sr., F, 5-9; Maddie Gorz, sr., G, 5-8; Nicollette Richardi, sr., G, 5-4; Vanessa Morris, sr., G, 5-4; Ally Raupp, sr., F, 5-8; Bailey Steinkamp, jr., G-F, 5-7; Maddie Jannusch, jr., G-F, 5-10; Elsa Larry, jr., G, 5-9
Key newcomer: Sarah Howdeshell, jr., F, 5-9
Worth noting: The Trojans were one of four teams to share the FVC title, the program's first conference championship since 2013. ... Sowa committed to NCAA D-II University of Indianapolis in the fall and was second in the area with 16.2 points a game. She's 100 points away from 1,000 in her career. ... C-G lost its second-leading scorer, Becca Kendeigh (seven points a game, 21 3s), to graduation. ... Gorz averaged 6.7 points and knocked down 30 3s. ... "We know there is a lot of work to do, but we are all committed to each other and this program," Saffert said. "The vibe in practice has been phenomenal."
Crystal Lake Central
Coach: Derek Crabill (second season)
Last season's record: 5-21 overall, 0-16 FVC (ninth)
Top returners: Elise Olson, sr., G, 5-6; Maddie Haslow, jr., G, 5-10; Cori Hamill, jr., G, 5-9
Key newcomers: Hailey Geske, so., F, 5-11; Emma Fleming, jr., G, 5-8
Worth noting: Haslow led the Tigers in multiple categories with 10.8 points a game, 5.7 rebounds and 2.9 steals. She also made 35 3s. ... Graduate Jane Johnsey made 37 3s to lead the team. ... Hamill returns as the second-leading scorer at 6.9 points. She led the Tigers with 3.6 steals a game. ... Central is heavy on upperclassmen, with 11 of the 12 being either juniors or seniors. ... The Tigers' five wins last season were more than the previous two combined (4). ... “The girls worked hard defensively this summer,” Crabill said. “We’re looking to take another step in our revitalization of the program.”
Crystal Lake South
Coach: Mark Mucha (fourth season)
Last season's record: 14-15 overall, 8-8 FVC (tied for fifth)
Top returners: Lauren Schoen, sr., G, 5-9; Maddie Bush, jr., G, 5-4
Key newcomers: Emily Sulikowski, jr., F, 5-7; Kate Lawson, jr., F, 5-7; Brooke Kuffel, fr., F, 5-7; Ava Sevcik, fr., G, 5-7; Kyra Swartz, so., G, 5-4; Gaby Trier, so., G, 5-10
Worth noting: The Gators graduated four of five starters, including the 2017 Northwest Herald Female Athlete of the Year, Annika Sevcik, who averaged 12.4 points and seven rebounds. ... Taylor Jozefowicz also graduated and averaged 9.8 points with a team-high 40 3s. ... Bush is the only returning starter. She averaged 4.5 points and 2.2 steals as a sophomore. ... Schoen averaged 3.4 points a game. ... The Gators lost to D-C, 45-22, in the Class 4A McHenry Regional final, ending a string of back-to-back regional titles. ... "We are young but eager to compete in the FVC," Mucha said.
Coach: Sarah Miller (fifth season)
Last season's record: 19-12 overall, 11-5 FVC (tied for first)
Top returners: Kennedy White, sr., PG, 5-6; Maddie Tripp, sr., C, 6-2; Anna Kieltyka, sr., F, 5-7; Kendall Schmidt, sr., G, 5-4; Payton Schmidt, so., G, 5-5; Katelyn Skibinski, so., 5-6; Cassidy Randl, so., G, 5-7
Key newcomers: Kendall Kieltyka, jr., G-F, 5-8; Gianine Boado, fr., G, 5-9; Alyssa Crenshaw, fr., F, 5-9; Josie Munoz, jr., G, 5-5
Worth noting: The Chargers started 3-5 in the FVC and won their last eight games to capture a share of their first conference championship since 2005. D-C won its third straight regional title and lost to Boylan, 47-37, in the Class 4A Hampshire Sectional final. ... The Chargers lost their top two scorers to graduation. Allison Michalski (11 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.7 steals) is now at Benedictine University, and Paige Gieseke (10 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.3 assists) is at St. Francis University. ... Tripp averaged 5.5 points and five rebounds and shot 50 percent, White averaged 4.7 points and Anna Kieltyka averaged four points, two assists and two steals. ... "We have great leadership and this team has set the bar high in terms of the goals they want to reach this year," Miller said.
Coach: Mike Featherly (fifth season)
Last season's record: 17-11 overall, 11-5 FVC (tied for first)
Top returners: Lauren Herrmann, sr., G, 5-8; Nicole Jachec, sr., F, 5-9; Sam Johnson, sr., F, 5-9; McKenzie Rasmussen, sr., G, 5-7; Ally Cermak, jr., G, 5-5; Sarah Bowen, jr., F, 5-9
Key newcomers: Julia Eadler, jr., F, 5-7; Morgan Haefling, jr., G, 5-6; Jessie Heine, jr., G, 5-6; Aly Johnson, jr., F, 5-8; Jenny Lundquist, jr., G, 5-4; Katie Del Re, so., G, 5-5; Alyssa Cork, so., G, 5-7; Kelby Bannerman, fr., G-F, 6-0
Worth noting: The Whip-Purs earned a share of last season's FVC title, their second conference title in the past three years. ... Hampshire lost its top two scorers to graduation in Rachel Dumoulin (14.2 points, 4.6 rebounds) and Meagan Heine (8.5 points). Heine is now at Wisconsin-Platteville. Dumoulin, now at Elgin Community College, hit 152 of 189 free throws. ... Herrmann is the top returning scorer at 5.3 points a game. She drained 22 3s. ... "We have a young team in terms of varsity experience," Featherly said. "The girls have worked hard in the offseason and have bought in to the process of getting better every day. They look to continue to build on the high expectations we have set."
Coach: Steve Raethz (19th season)
Last season's record: 17-13 overall, 11-5 FVC (tied for first)
Top returners: Mallory Moffett, sr., G, 5-9; McKenzie Krich, sr., G, 5-11
Key newcomers: Raquel Radermacher, fr., G, 5-9; Anna Seng, so., G, 5-5; Kamsi Nwogu, fr., F, 5-11; Madison Wash, fr., F, 5-8; Bridget Bigden, jr., F, 5-9; Maddie Hill, so., G, 5-4; Ashley Guazzo, fr., G, 5-4; Sydney Novak, so., F, 5-10; Briana Bower, fr., F, 5-10
Worth noting: The Red Raiders rallied to win their last four FVC games and claim a share of their fourth consecutive conference title last season. ... Huntley's streak of four straight regional titles ended with a 52-26 loss to Hononegah in a Class 4A Harlem Regional final. ... Morgan Clausen, who is now at Brown, averaged 14.7 points and 8.3 rebounds, ending her career as one of five players in school history with more than 1,000 points. ... Krich is out with a torn ACL suffered over the summer. ... Nine players on Huntley's roster have no varsity experience. ... "Despite our inexperience, our players have been working extremely hard to build cohesiveness and chemistry," Raethz said. "We are looking forward to the opportunity and challenge of improving each day as a team."
Coach: Joe Benoit (sixth season)
Last season's record: 12-15 overall, 8-8 FVC (tied for fifth)
Top returners: Kerri Healy, sr., F, 5-6; Kyra Cabusao, so., G, 5-5; Elizabeth Schwartz, so., G, 5-6
Key newcomers: Courtney Pahl, so., G, 5-4; Courtney Durben, so., G, 5-5; Aleicia Valldejuli, jr., F, 5-8
Worth noting: The Golden Eagles lost their top two scorers to graduation in Carly Sidor (11.5 points) and Maggie Grady (6.5). ... Cabusao, who advanced to the Class 3A state track and field meet last spring in the shot put, started as a freshman and was third with 5.6 points and first with 56 assists. ... Healy averaged 5.3 points and 3.9 rebounds. Schwartz made 24 3s. ... "We will be young and undersized most games, but these kids don’t back down and we will be fun to watch," Benoit said. "They'll compete each night and know that they’ll have to rely on defense to get us going."
Coach: Rob Niemic (fourth season)
Last season's record: 15-13 overall, 8-8 FVC (tied for fifth)
Top returners: Liz Alsot, sr., F, 6-0; Izzy Gscheidle, jr., G, 5-10; Jamie Howie, jr., G, 5-8; Avalon Henderson, sr., F, 6-0; Melanie Hahndorf, sr., F, 5-9; Autry Hartfield, jr., G, 5-7
Key newcomers: Aannah Interrante, sr., G, 5-11; Ava Interrante, so., G, 5-10
Worth noting: Aannah Interrante and Ava Interrante join a McHenry team with high expectations. The sisters transferred from Johnsburg. ... Aannah Interrante was named 2017 Northwest Herald Girls Basketball Player of the Year, averaging 15.7 points a game and hitting 91 3-pointers. She'll play next year at Bradley. ... Alsot averaged a double-double with 13 points and 11.7 rebounds and is closing in on 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds in her career. She'll play at Indianapolis. ... Gscheidle (10.7 points) made 54 3s and now has 111 in her career. ... Henderson averaged 8 rebounds and 2 blocks a game. ... "We have a chance to do some things this program has never done," said Niemic, "but we must create a strong chemistry, stay healthy, and play for each other and our school."
Coach: Rick Lima (second season)
Last season's record: 10-18 overall, 4-12 FVC (eighth)
Top returners: Nicole Dorn, jr., G, 5-10; Karly Statter, jr., G, 5-10; Emily Perhats, sr., G, 5-8; Maddy Ljunggren, jr., G, 5-7; Bailey Gorman, sr., G-F, 5-9; Sarah Wolf, sr., G, 5-7
Key newcomers: Sara Gelon, so., G-F, 5-9; Victoria Fisher, so., G-F, 5-8; Emma Backe, so., G, 5-6
Worth noting: The Wolves were unable to successfully defend back-to-back FVC titles last year. ... Lima is excited about the experience coming back. ... Dorn, Statter and Ljunggren have been on the varsity team since their freshman years. ... Perhats was the Wolves' lone All-FVC selection last season. ... "We are looking forward to having six upperclassmen contributing a major role this season and blending our younger talent with those experienced players," Lima said. "We believe our conference will be very tough, and we are excited about the challenges that lie ahead of us."
Kishwaukee River Conference
Coach: Becky Buckley (second season)
Last season's record: 0-27 overall, 0-12 KRC (seventh)
Top returners: Arely Renteria, sr., G; Liz Davies, sr., F; Catherine Austin, sr., G; Daniela Garcia, sr., G
Key newcomers: Cassandra Bailey, so., G-F; Lauren Shafer, so., G; Haily Hill, so., G-F
Worth noting: The Hornets have four seniors returning and will mix in three sophomores to the program. ... Garcia was Harvard's lone all-conference member last year. ... Harvard has only one conference win over the past three years, with none in the past two. ... "We are looking forward to the upcoming season," Buckley said. "We have some really athletic players who should be exciting to watch."
Coach: Ashley Arff (first season)
Last season's record: 25-9 overall, 12-0 KRC (first)
Top returners: Kayla Stefka, sr., G-F, 5-11; Megan Madsen, sr., G, 5-9; Morgan Madsen, sr., F, 5-9; Heather Arden, sr., SG, 5-7; Korbi Fritz, sr., F, 5-8
Key newcomers: Kaitlyn Owen, so., PG, 5-1; Sarah Metze, so., SG, 5-4; Katelyn Davis, jr., G, 5-6
Worth noting: Arff takes over for Brad Frey, who finished 98-88 in six seasons, going 74-23 over the past three. ... Arff was the head coach at Harvard in 2013-14 and 2014-15, and an assistant at Grant for the past two seasons. ... The Skyhawks won the inaugural Kishwaukee River Conference title, going undefeated, and their second straight Class 3A regional championship. ... Morgan Madsen averaged 10.1 points and 7.7 rebounds, Stefka averaged 8.3 points and 6.7 rebounds, and Megan Madsen averaged 6.1 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists. ... "We have high set goals, and are working hard each day to reach them from summer camp, summer league, open gyms, training, and team bonding," Arff said. "Together, we are stronger and we are building our team trust and becoming more of a family every day."
Coach: Nick Rode (seventh season)
Last season's record: 11-17 overall, 6-6 KRC (tied for fourth)
Top returners: Marissa Knobloch, jr., G, 5-8; Lauren Aubry, jr., G, 5-6
Worth noting: Knobloch was one of the area's top scorers last season, averaging 14.9 points as a sophomore. She was second with 86 3s, scoring 17.6 points over her last 17 games, and shot 76 percent from the free-throw line. Knobloch hit eight 3-pointers in the first half (a school record for a half and game) and scored 37 points against Belvidere, two points off the school record. ... Aubry averaged 5.8 points and 3.5 rebounds. ... "We expect depth and competition at many positions," Rode said. "This is a hard-working and hungry group that is striving to take steps forward. We look forward to the challenges of the new year and what we can be together."
Coach: Stephanie Oslovich (first season)
Last season's record: 12-15 overall, 3-9 KRC (sixth)
Top returners: Kinsley Johnson, sr., G; Kayla Malec, sr., F
Key newcomers: Kayly Hogan, jr., G; Melanie Wagner, jr., G; Kasey Miller, jr., G; Madey Abate, jr., G-F
Worth noting: Oslovich replaces Todd Severns, who was 40-44 in three seasons at R-B. Oslovich served as the sophomore girls basketball and junior varsity softball coach at IC Catholic.. ... R-B played in one of the most thrilling finishes last season when KC Davids made a half-court shot to complete a 21-point comeback against Marian Central for a 53-51 win in a Class 3A Richmond-Burton Regional semifinal. ... Davids and Brooke Legnaioli led R-B in scoring last season. Both graduated. ... "We are emphasizing individual and team development as well as group synergy as we start the season," Oslovich said. "With the return of two seniors, Malec and Johnson, we will look to build and improve on the successes of last season but also develop their abilities and team cohesion with the new addition of rising juniors."
Coach: Jen Nichols-Hogle (fourth season)
Last season's record: 10-18 overall, 7-5 KRC (third)
Top returners: Autumn Overly, sr., PG, 5-7; Camryn Tafoya, sr., SG, 5-4; Emma Brand, so., SG, 6-0
Key newcomers: Erin Lockwood, so., C, 6-2; Jessica Flynn, sr., F, 5-6
Worth noting: The Blue Streaks are looking to take another step forward this season after placing third in the first season of the KRC. ... Woodstock lost two big threats inside between Diana Spokas (8.8 points, 4.5 rebounds) and Gabriella Scolio (8.4 points, 5.3 rebounds). Spokas is now rowing at Eastern Michigan. ... Overly averaged 7.6 points and 2.7 assists, Tafoya averaged 5.9 points and made 44 3s, and Brand averaged four points. ... "Every coach dreams of having a group of athletes that collectively have a competitive mindset," Nichols-Hogle said. "This year, I truly feel like this could be that group. I expect the girls will be successful based on their work ethic, teamwork, determination and competitiveness."
Coach: Mike Lewis (ninth season)
Last season's record: 13-16 overall, 6-6 KRC (tied for fourth)
Top returners: Hanna Seils, sr., G-F, 5-9; Sami Long, sr., G-F, 5-7; Taylor Prerost, jr., PG, 5-3
Key newcomer: Kaitlyn Ford, so., G, 5-5
Worth noting: The Thunder will have to reload after losing their top three scorers from last season: Lulu Nicks (9.5 points), Maddie Busch (8.6) and Madison Butler (5.3). Nicks and Busch also hit 84 of the team's 117 3-pointers. ... Prerost was one of North's most aggressive players, sinking 49 free throws (second most on the team). ... More than half of the roster is underclassmen. ... "We are excited to work hard and get better every day," Lewis said.
East Suburban Catholic Conference
Coach: Anthony Powe (third season)
Last season's record: 10-18 overall, 1-6 ESCC (seventh)
Top returners: Vannessa Garrelts, sr., G, 5-6; Katie Littner, sr., G, 5-5; Amber Reynolds, jr., G, 5-4
Key newcomers: Janelle Allen, so., F, 6-2; Regan Dineen, jr., G, 5-9; Lindsey Bahl, so., F, 5-10
Worth noting: Garrelts committed to Miami (Ohio) and led all local players at 17.6 points a game, also averaging 5.3 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 3.8 steals. She made 59 3s and was named to the Class 3A/4A All-State fourth team by the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association. Garrelts fell only 11 points short of setting Marian's single-season scoring record last season, and she'll enter her senior season 170 points away from the school's all-time scoring record. ... Allen came over from Huntley after last season and gives the Hurricanes an inside threat. ... "We are looking to take the next step in our third year," Powe said. "By focusing on getting better every day, and with the difficult ESCC and nonconference schedule, I look forward to watching this team show steady growth."
Northeastern Athletic Conference
Coach: Marty Hammond (fourth season)
Last season's record: 16-10 overall, 8-3 NAC (fourth)
Top returners: Kylee Winter, jr., G; Eden Wanderer, jr., G; Taylor Horton, jr., F; Rachel Pahl, so., G;, Katie Rosio, sr., G
Key newcomers: Karly Strand, fr., F; Kendra Cashmore, fr., F; Abby Wanderer, fr., C
Worth noting: The Giants lost their all-time leading scorer and rebounder in Emily Webber, who averaged 14.4 points and 10.4 rebounds her senior year ... Tally Lalor (7.8 points) left as the all-time leader with 328 assists. ... Winter was third on the team in scoring at eight points a game and averaged six rebounds. ... Eden Wanderer was fourth at 6.4 points a game. ... "This team is young, but we're seasoned," Hammond said. "Our three returning juniors have been playing on varsity since freshmen year ... so we are hoping their experience can carry us to the next level."