Best New Players: Brigitte Rifenburg, fr. (G, 5-11); Emma Briggs, Fr. (G, 5-10); Lindsay Harzich, therefore. (G, 5-9).
To note: The Redwings took fourth place in Class 4A last season and won the ESCC Championship for the fifth straight year. Beaumont, an Indiana rookie and the 2021-22 Suburban Life Player of the Year, is the No. 1 ranked player for position in Illinois by ESPN and No. 81 in the nation. She averaged 15 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists as a junior and was named a second-team All-State by AP. Trimberger is a terrific rebounder and could have a stellar season as Benet’s top interior player with All-Area center Morgan Demos graduates. The Sularski twins are attracting Division I and Division II interest and will look to keep the defenses on Beaumont honest. A busy schedule begins Nov. 15 with a match against LaLumiere (Ind.) and UConn hires Ashlynn Shade. The Redwings also have non-conference games against Hersey, Lyons and Montini. “Multiple offensive weapons should make Benet a tough game,” said Kilbride, 220-32 in his first eight seasons.
Coach: Ben Berg
Summary of last season: 28-7, 4-3 Eastern Suburb Catholic Conference, fourth place
Best returning players: Jordan Wood, sr. (G/F, 6-5); Mia Gillis, sr. (F/G, 6-1); Ashley Schlabowske, Jr. (G, 5-7); Anna Hartman, Jr. (G, 5-7); Kyla Smith, sr. (G, 5-6).
Best New Players: Molli Ward, Jr. (G/F, 6-0); Mia Cordoba, therefore. (G, 5-3); Josie Hartman, Fr. (G, 5-7); Keira Ackerson, Jr. (F, 5-10); Caiti Brunk, sr. (G, 5-9).
To note: The Corsairs are firing four starters from a team that won the Class 3A state championship, the first in school history — though Anna Hartman is out until late January with a torn ACL. Leading the way is Wood, a Michigan State rookie and three-time all-conference player who averaged 14.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.2 blocks as a junior. Carmel’s size up front is a team strength, but the Corsairs should also have more speed on the perimeter this season with depth. “These strengths will hopefully allow us to adapt to many different teams as well as many different situations,” Berg said. The UW-Whitewater commitment Gillis averaged 7 points, 7 rebounds and 3.6 assists with a 2-to-1 rotational assist ratio as a junior. Schlabowske averaged 7.4 points, 2.6 rebounds, 2 assists and led Carmel in deflections. Smith, Carmel’s sixth player last year, provides great energy and is also one of the best 3-point shooters on the team.
“There are no nights off in our league. We hope to compete for a conference title this year,” Berg said. “For us to be successful this year, every player must try to be the best version of themselves on a daily basis – the best person, the best teammate and the best player possible and the results will take care of themselves.”
Coach: Dan Murray (Grade 10)
Summary of last season: 27-9, 2-6 East Suburban Catholic Conference, sixth place.
Best returning players: Madison Davis, Jr. (G, 5-11); Khamille Jackson, sr. (F, 6-1)
Best New Players: Mya Bradley, sr. (G, 5-7); Alainna Poisson, therefore. (G, 5-5); Taylor Bolton, therefore. (G, 5-8); Gracie Jensen, so. (F, 5-10); LaParis Poe, then. (F, 5-9); Ty Jackson, Fr. (F, 5-10); Jordan Bailey, Jr. (F, 5-10); Aramie Lyte, Jr. (G, 5-4); Milan Hall, Jr. (F, 5-10).
To note: The Spartans are very young after graduating three key seniors from last year’s squad that won the program’s first sectional championship since 2014. Davis is receiving interest from Division I. “The goal is to s ‘to improve day by day and to be ready for the extremely difficult annual schedule that we play,’ Murray said. “The talent is there, just a matter of time, how long it takes us to gel and learn our responsibilities.”
Coach: Renée Chimino (second season).
Summary of last season: 23-10, 5-2 East Suburban Catholic Conference, third place.
Best returning players: Elise Ward, Sr. (F, 5-11).
Best New Players: Mary Porter, Jr. (G, 5-6); Madison Vrdolyak, then. (F, 5-10); Olivia Cosme, fr., G.
To note: Chimino, a 2008 Marist graduate, is in her second season after taking over from Mary Pat Connolly, who had been the RedHawks’ sole coach since the program’s first season in 2002. Chimino said she has four seniors with college experience who are waiting to step up and be leaders. This year. Last year, Marist won the program’s 14th regional title. Ward, a four-year college basketball and volleyball player, received an AP All-State Honorable Mention as a junior.
“I’m looking forward to closing tight matches,” Chimino said.
Summary of last season: 33-3, 6-1 Eastern Suburb Catholic Conference, second place.
Best returning players: Grace Carstensen, Sr. (G, 5-9); Amalia Dray, Jr. (G, 5-8); Dannie Scully, Jr. (F, 6-0); Olivia Austin, Jr. (F, 6-0); Mary Bridget Wilson, Jr. (G, 5-6).
Best New Players: Stella Sakalas, f. (F, 5-11); Jane Manecke, Fr. (F, 6-2); Lyla Shelton, Fr. (G, 5-7).
Best New Players: The Roadrunners fire four starters from a team that took second place in Class 3A, finished second in the CCHS regular season and won the conference tournament. Nazareth’s size all over the pitch and their balance make the Roadrunners a difficult team to score and defend. Carstensen, recently offered by Northern Illinois, averaged 12 points and 5 rebounds as a junior, and is an exceptional shooter. Dray, who averaged 11 points last season, Scully, who averaged 10 points, and Austin, who averaged 5 points, also return. Carstensen and Dray were honorable mention All-Staters last year. Wilson was Nazareth’s sixth man last season. Adding to that core are three freshmen — Sakalas, Manecke, and Shelton — who Stritzel says are attracting Division I interest and are among the best freshmen in the state.
“We think we’re one of the best teams in Illinois that can play a lot of different styles,” Stritzel said. “Our depth will serve us well throughout the season. We should be a really exciting team to watch and if we keep playing as selflessly as we are used to, we should be fighting again.
Summary of last season: 23-11, 3-4 CCGA Red, fourth place.
Best New Players: Mia Hernandez, So.; Claire Kapsch, therefore.; Kiera Kapsch, so.
To note: Fergerson, an honorable mention All-American to DePaul who played in the WNBA and for 12 years in Europe, takes over as head coach. And obviously has big shoes to fill. She replaced Dave Power, who retired after 45 years and over 1,000 wins. Adding to that challenge, Fenwick graduated all five starters and seven total players from last year’s squad that achieved a Class 3A supersection. Still, Fergerson remains optimistic.
“It’s going well, the girls are buying into what we’re trying to teach them,” Fergerson said. “I am satisfied with their efforts so far. Many of these players have taken over from last year’s seniors and they are ready to show what they can do. They do their best and that’s all I can ask for. We are building a culture of playing together and playing hard; we want to compete and defend.
Summary of last season: 25-9, 5-0 CCGA Red, first place.
Best returning players: Shannon Blacher, Sr. (G/F, 5-10); Victoria Matulevicius, Jr. (G, 5-9); Alyssa Epps, Jr. (F, 5-9); Shea Carver, then. (G, 5-7); Audrey Kinney, then. (F, 5-9); Maren Hoovel, Sr. (G, 5-8)
Best New Players: Ellie Helm, Sr. (F, 5-10).
To note: Four-year-old college player Blacher, committed to northern Illinois, leads a returning group from a Montini team that won the GCAC Red and reached a section final. Blacher averaged 13 points per game last season and was second on the team in assists. Matulevicius, who averaged 12.5 points in his sophomore season and has a scholarship offer from Southern Illinois, will also provide plenty of offense. Epps, a third returner, averaged 5 points and 4 rebounds. Carver and Kinney played college minutes as sophomores, and Spanos expects plenty of time this season, as does St. Mary’s football, Hoovel. Helm, a transfer from Lake Park and the St. Francis commit, will also get significant minutes. Junior Riley White is injured and out for the year. Sophomores Lily Spanos and Peyton Farrell will be wanted to provide a spark off the bench.
A tough non-conference schedule includes games against Barrington, Fremd and Benet, with the Lady Broncos also heading west to play a few games in Arizona in early January.
Coach: Emily Duckhorn, second season.
Summary of last season: 21-12, 7-4 Metro Suburban, fourth place.
Best New Players: Tes Ketterman, Jr. (F, 5-10); Erin Murray, Jr. (F, 5-9).
To note: Now in his second year at the helm of the program, Duckhorn faces a new challenge as the Royals move into the CCGA White Division. The Royals have a lot of speed and bring back quality depth. “We’re looking to keep the same high pace going by forcing turnovers and going up the floor in transition,” Duckhorn said. “This conference will be challenging and will hopefully be an important stepping stone to success in the States Series.”
Editor’s Note: St. Viator and Joliet Catholic did not respond to emails requesting preview information.