Last year: 21-7 (10-0 RVC)
Coach: Mike Meyer
Assistants: Don Berg, Ashley Mosley
Players to watch: Amari Griffin, 5-11, Sr., F (17.2 ppg, 11.8 rpg, 3.1 bpg, 3.4 spg); Paige Wehling, 5-7, Sr., G (9.3 ppg, 39 3pt FGs, 2.9 apg, 2.1 spg); Rachel Lee, 5-3, Sr., G (6.3 ppg, 1.4 spg, 3.1 apg)
Outlook: The Ladycats, along with St. Anne and Tri-Point, are the favorites to win the River Valley Conference. Beecher has all starters back, and new coach Mike Meyer brings a new system, but the team should adjust. Griffin should dominate the conference and give Beecher a strong inside game.
Quote: "I believe this year we are both the hunter and the hunted. Since winning the conference last year, we have a target on our backs. We will get most teams best effort. They also lost some games last year and they need to redeem themselves against quality opponents. " — Meyer
Bloom Township Blazing Trojans
Last year: 18-10 (8-2 Southland)
Coach: Ron Newquist
Players to watch: Bria Gaines, 6-2, Jr., C/F (12.0 ppg, 9.4 rpg, 1.5 apg); Katherine Strong, 5-10, Fr., G/F; Breanna Perry, 5-10, Sr., F.
Outlook: Illinois Wolverines AAU coach Ron Newquist takes over and has some talent in camp. The Blazing Trojans have enjoyed some success the last few years, and this team has some size and experience. The key will be the inside play and the ability to handle pressure. Gaines and Perry are ready to lead, and Strong will open more than few eyes.
Quote: I am very excited to be coaching at Bloom, and I think we can really make some things happen. With continued improvement, I think we will be very competitive in our conference with a chance to be there in the end. I expect us to compete with every team we play and make a solid run in the state playoffs." — Newquist
Last year: 11-17 (2-8 Southland)
Coach: Danny Wafford
Assistant: Christina Cobbins
Key losses: Destiny Harris (transferred to Bolingbrook); Christine Bruce.
Players to watch: Angelik Young, 5-7, Sr., F (10.0 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 1.7 spg, 2.0 bpg); Ashley Henry, 5-10, So., C/F (6.5 ppg, 4.0 rpg); Casey Ealey, 4.0 ppg, 2.0 spg).
Outlook: Young is drawing interest from several schools and will lead the team, Last year was a rebuilding year, and the team played well at times. The Warriors will have to be consistent, and Henry should be a force in the middle. If things go right, the Warriors could surprise a few teams.
Quote: "After some successes last season, we will not sneak up on anyone. Other schools now have to plan for us, and that speaks loudly about our program turning things around. The excitement has been building all offseason, and now it's time to put all that hard work and preparation into action." — Wafford
Last year: 22-8 overall (10-4 SWSC Blue)
Coach: Dana Noble
Assistant: Jason Cheeks
Key losses: A.J. Mickens (5.6 ppg); Ashley Collins (7.2 ppg)
Players to watch: Charnelle Reed, 5-11, Sr., G (13.2 ppg, 2.4 spg, 3.6 rpg, 3.0 apg); Sydni Johnson, 5-10, Jr., G (8.5 ppg, 5.6 rpg); Lauren Parker, 5-8, Jr., G (4.2 ppg); Amena Brent, 6-0, Sr., f (5.2 ppg, 4.7 rpg).
Outlook: The Vikings had a nice run last year, making it to the semifinals of the Class 4A Lincoln-Way North Sectional. Reed, a Western Illinois recruit, will be one of the top area players as will as Johnson. Brent is expected to be a force on the front line, while Parker will give the Vikings three top guards. Brent has committed to Stetson and Parker to Northern Iowa. This could a great season for H-F.
Illiana Christian Vikings
Last year: 16-13 (8-4 Metro Suburban)
Coach: Dave Bosman
Assistant: Travis Hoekstra
Key losses: Erinn Behn (13.2 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 3.1 spg)
Players to watch: Jaclene Bonnema, 6-2, Sr., C (10.7 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 1.6 bpg); Megan Knapper, 5-9, Sr., F (5.5 ppg, 6.4 rpg); Mallory Fulton, 5-7, Sr., G (2.4 ppg, 1.6 apg); Alexa Van Beek, 5-11, Jr., F/C.
Outlook: The Vikings return seven from last year, including three starters. They have size, and Bonnema, Knapper and Van Beek give Illiana a formidable front line. The key to the season will be how well the guards perform after losing Erinn Behn, a three-year starter. Moving down to Class 2A will be a plus in the postseason.
Quote: "If we can control the ball and limit our turnovers, this team has the potential to be the strongest team I have coached since taking over four years ago." — Bosman
Illinois Lutheran Chargers
Last year: 4-17
Coach: John Dorn
Assistant: Matt Heyn
Key losses: Jordyn Heyn, Katie Lorig, Nicole Dorn (seniors) and Amanda Baron (transferred).
Players to watch: Cynthia Frazier, 5-6, So., G (4 ppg, 2 rpg,); Caroline Kuether, 5-9 So., F (transfer from Wisconsin).
Outlook: The Chargers are a very young team, and as they get more experience, they could surprise some people.
Quote: "We're building for a good run at the end of the season. We have a lot to learn, but I think we have the athletes to improve on last year." — Dorn
Luther East Eagles
Last year: 4-12
Coach: Jared Pryszcz
Assistant: Steve Ferguson
Players to watch: Mary Davis, So., G; Kathy Gentry, Jr., C; Sara Corman, So., F; Rachel Church, Jr., F.
Outlook: Pryszcz takes over and said his team will be defense-oriented and will try to play with more ball control and set plays. It will be a struggle, but a new coaching staff brings a new attitude.
Quote: "I'm very exited this year for our young team. I feel that if they play hard defense we will be in every game. " — Pryszcz
Marian Catholic Spartans
Last year: 30-5 (9-0 ESCC)
Coach: Annie Byrne
Assistants: Mark D'Apice, Alex Barone
Key losses: Simone Law, Jasmine Matthews, Jamie Johnson
Players to watch: Alanna Ferry, 5-5, Sr., G. (4.2 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 1.7 apg); Megan Walsh, 6-1, Jr., F (5.4 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 29 blocks); Amber Williams, 5-10, Sr., F (3.3 ppg, 3.0 rpg); Dajhae Mullins, 5-11, So. F; Ashton Millender, 5-9, So., G.
Outlook: The Spartans have made it to the 4A supersectional three straight years, and success is expected. Despite losing three top players in Johnson (Lewis), Law (Loyola) and Matthews (Bowling Green), the Spartans have a good group coming back. Sarafina handy is out for the season after having surgery to repair a torn ACL. Ferry has been involved in the program since she was in grammar school as a water girl. She was a leader last year and will take charge. Walsh had a great sophomore campaign, and she and Williams will lead up a tough front line.
Quote: "This is a great group of young ladies that have really come together this summer and fall. They have been so much fun to work with the past two weeks and we look forward to a terrific season. We should only get better as the season progresses." — Byrne
Seton Academy Sting
Last year: 13-15
Coach: Kevin Green
Assistants: Tiffany Greene, Everett Bailey
Key losses: Deanna Wellere, Breanna Wellere, Lauren Young
Players to watch: Arianna Jackson 5-8 Sr., G; Brittany Mitchell 5'7 Sr., G/F; Ebony Bailey 5-7 So., F; Charlita Berry 5'6 Jr., G; Deseree Jackson 5-11 Fr., C
Outlook: The Sting graduated five seniors and have a new coach in Green. He was T.F. South's sophomore coach last year. The Sting is not big but very quick and will have to hustle.
Quote: "We are very young not really big but very quick. We will win games on scrappy play. We are rebuilding but will be ready for playoffs." — Green
St. Francis de Sales Pioneers
Last year: 18-9 (4-1 GCAC White)
Coach: Terrence Streater
Assistants: Janice Crawford, Tasha Burchett, and Antonio Henderson
Players to watch: Kara Cunningham 5-8, Jr., G/F (12.8 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 5.4 apg, 2.3 spg); Isis Mance, 5-11, Jr., F (13.9 ppg, 9.7 rpg, 1.2 apg, 1.5 spg); Tyler Brown-Henderson (5-10, Jr., F (14.8 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 3.5 apg, 4.6 spg); Brianta McMorris, 5-6, Jr., G (17.9 ppg, 1.3 rpg, 4.8 apg, 4.9 spg); Whitney Williams, 5-10, Jr., 11.8 ppg, 5.6, 1.1 apg, 3.2 spg).
Outlook: The Pioneers return their top five players and have depth. This group of juniors has been on the varsity since they were freshmen. Brown-Henderson, Williams and Mance could be dominant in the GCAC White and could lead St. Francis deep into the tourney. Cunningham and McMorris may be the best 1-2 punch in the conference. It will be hard to stop St. Francis.
Quote: "Together." — Streater
Coach: Shajaunna M. Jordan
Assistant: Monica Beal
Players to watch: Faith Foulks 5-10, Sr.; Elaine Russell 5-8, Sr.; Kareisha Nellem 5-10, Sr.; Tremia McKinney 5-3, Sr; Rachel Johnson 5-8, Sr.
Outlook: Jordan is the third coach in as many years and played at Simeon and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. She has her work cut out for her but is not afraid to step in and make changes.
Quote: "I know there is a lot of discipline, character building to be done and installing a winning attitude." — Jordan
Coach: Erin Wright
Assistant: Randall Sieber
Player to watch: Georgetta Reid, 5-11, Sr., F
Outlook: Wright takes over for Sam Kenan and has some work to do. There is not a lot of size or experience. It will definitely be a rebuilding year. The Wildcats should get better but will struggle early on.
Quote: "We are very young, and I even brought up one freshman. We are a work in progress." — Wright
T.F. North Meteors
Last year: 20-10 (9-3 SSC Blue)
Coach: Tim Zasada
Assistant: Sherri Murawski
Key losses: Nikki Anderson, China Cordova, Amber Patterson-Moss
Players to watch: Schenia Battle, 5-9, Sr., G/F (9.8 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 2.1 spg); Sabrina Montgomery, 6-1, Sr., C (5.4 ppg, 6.6 rpg); Raven Winburn, 5-3, Sr. G.
Outlook: The Meteors move up to Class 4A and play a tough schedule. Last year's team battled and finished second in the South Suburban Blue. Montgomery, who signed with Morgan State, should dominate inside and Battle, who signed with Alabama-Birmingham, can score and rebound and is a good defensive player. Sharee and Chardae Greenlee return after spending a year at Homewood-Flossmoor. Winburn is expected to be a major player as well. The loss of Anderson, who could take control of a game, will be missed as will Cordova and Petterson-Moss. Zasada knows how to get his team ready for big games and his 144 wins and four straight regional titles have turned the program into a south suburban power.
Quote: "Once again, we lack the depth, but we will try to make up for that by getting in shape and playing hard." — Zasada
T.F. South Rebels
Last year: 16-12
Coach: Steve Breshock
Assistant: Tara Breshock
Key Loses: Megan Majors (11.5 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 3.3 spg); Kaila Doby (9.6 ppg, 3.0 apg, 5.2 rpg); Alexis Phillips (6.5 pph); Dominque Joseph (5.8 ppg, 6.5 rpg).
Players to watch: Dominique Brooks, 6-4, Sr., C (7.5 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 47 blocks); Reggi Jones, 5-6, Jr., G (5.5 ppg, 3.3 rpg); Kaitlin Togtman, 5-1, Jr., G (4.7 ppg, 1.5 spg).
Outlook: Other than Brooks, who is committed to Mississippi State, the Rebels will be a small team. They are quick and good on defense, and smart decisions will be a key. Brooks can be a force in the middle, which would give the team a good inside presence.
Quote: "We are young and small. The players are all working very hard and working together. If we keep this up, I will be very pleased no matter what the record is." — Steve Breshock
Last year: 9-17 4-10 (SWSC Red)
Coach: Danielle Jania
Assistant: Jennifer Durkin
Key losses: Dorothy Taylor (10.3 ppg, 11.1 rpg), Nicole Brown (5.3 ppg, 8.2 rpg), Jessica Warren (transferred to Rich Central)
Players to watch: Arielle Miree, Jr., G (8.5 ppg, 3.2 apg); Tashea Tinglin, Jr., G (3.2 spg); Melissa Blanco, Sr., F (transfer from Thornridge)
Outlook: The Thunderbirds may be on their way back to respectability. They lost a key player in Taylor to graduation. The team is mainly juniors, with Miree and Tinglin being the leaders, who had pretty good sophomore seasons.
Quote: "The girls have come this year with great, hardworking attitudes. The team is filled with true student athletes, as three of the girls are in the top ten of their class. My assistant coach and I are excited for the season and look forward to seeing much success from the team." — Jania
Last year: 24-6 (13-3 Windy City South)
Coach: Rick Carey
Assistants: Torrino Conner and Hector Patino
Key losses: Angelique Patterson, Juju Saez and Victoria Bradley
Outlook: This is a rebuilding year with the loss of Patterson, Saez and Bradley, who generated most of the team's scoring and rebounding. Carey takes over for Sara Kalemba and is familiarizing himself with the team. It could be a tough year on the East Side. The numbers are low with just 20 kids in the entire program, with 14 being either freshmen or sophomores.
Quote: "We are a very inexperienced team. The core of last year's team is gone. We had three players who were three-year starters and played on varsity for four years. We have two seniors on the roster. The goal for our team is to get better with every practice and game." — Carey
— Compiled by Mike Nieto