Boys basketball: Scouting DuPage County

Addison Trail

Coach: Brendan Lyons, 18th season.

Last season’s record: 8-24 overall, 2-10 in the West Suburban Conference Gold.

Top returners: Luke Smith, jr., G; Cesar Alvarez, sr., G/F; Dom Renc, jr., G.

Key newcomers: Casey Carlson, jr., G; Max Sobus, jr., F.

Worth noting: The Blazers return their leading scorer from last year, 6-foot junior Smith. Last season was somewhat of a rebuilding campaign for Addison Trail, which followed a 13-win season in 2021-2022 with an 8-win season a year ago. The Blazers open their season against Aurora Central Catholic at the Elmwood Park Thanksgiving Tournament on Nov. 20.


Coach: Gene Heidkamp

Last season’s record: 35-2, finished in second place in Class 4A

Top returning players: Parker Sulaver, sr., C; Patrick Walsh, sr., G.

Top new players: Gabriel Sularski, so., G.

Worth noting: The Redwings bring back just two players from last season’s Class 4A runner-up, but don’t expect that to stop them from another stellar season. A solid group of newcomers, led by highly recruited 6-foot-5 sophomore guard Gabriel Sularski. Sularski already holds offers from Illinois, Michigan State, Purdue and Wisconsin. Other newcomers to watch are 6-9 junior Daniel Pauliukonis and 6-10 sophomore Colin Stack.



Downers Grove North

Coach: James Thomas

Last season’s record: 32-5, 10-2, finished in fourth place in Class 4A.

Top returning players: Jack Stanton, sr., G: Owen Thulin, sr., G; Jake Riemer, sr., F; Alex Miller, sr., G/F.

Top new players: Aidan Akkawi, jr., F; Bobby Grganto, jr., F.

Worth noting: Don’t be surprised of the Trojans fall victim to a slow start due to six players currently on the Class 7A state finalist football team. Still, the return of high-scoring guard Jack Stanton, one of the state’s top seniors recently signed with Princeton, is a big plus, especially with his ability to stretch the floor and attack the basket. “We will have our work cut out for us this season with a revamped nonconference schedule that features many of the area’s top team, highlighted by our first appearance in the Jack Tosh Holiday Classic,” Thomas said. “We hope to blend four key contributors from last season’s state run, including a trio of three-year starters, with a strong junior class.”


Coach: Chaz Taft, 8th season at Fenton, 18th overall.

Last season’s record: 24-8 overall, 15-3 in the Upstate Eight.

Top returners: Alejandro Diaz, sr., G; Brandon Block, sr., G; Damian Harnish, sr., G; Angel Olea, sr., G.

Key newcomers: Xavior Gonzalez, sr., G.

Worth noting: The Bison were one of the most improved basketball teams in the area last season, rebounding from an 11-20 overall mark and 7-10 Upstate Eight Conference record in 2021-2022 to finish 24-8 overall and 15-3 in conference. Diaz, a 6-2, guard, earned all-conference honors last season, while Block, Harnish, and Olea were all starters a year ago. Technically, Gonzalez is not a true newcomer, having led the team in scoring with a 16.5-point average as a sophomore two years ago. However, the 5-9 guard missed his entire junior campaign due to an ACL injury. Fenton begins its season against Willowbrook, Montini, and Fremd in the 35th annual Chuck Mitchell Thanksgiving Tournament in Bensenville.



Glenbard East

Coach: Eric Kelly, 2nd season.

Last season’s record: 9-23 overall, 7-11 in the Upstate Eight Conference.

Top returners: Aleks Jajic, sr., F; Ari Pierson, sr., G; Mike Nee, soph., G; Danny Snyder, soph., G.

Key newcomers: Mateo Villavazo, jr., G.

Worth noting: Glenbard East returns some size in 6-5 Jajic and experience in 6-1 backcourt leader Pierson, and Kelly has high expectations for his squad following a 9-win campaign in his first season at the helm. “This is a team that can challenge for the top spot in the Upstate Eight,” said Kelly. “The nonconference schedule (includes Naperville Central, Wheaton Academy, Willowbrook, and Elk Grove) is tough and includes a trip to the Jack Tosh Holiday Classic at York. Nee, who averaged 10 points per game as a freshman last year, is poised for a big year, according to the Rams coach. “Aleks Jajic had a big summer and is the best big in the Upstate Eight,” said Kelly, who calls Mateo Villavazo “an X factor.” The Rams open their season against Glenbard North on Nov. 20 in the District 87 Tournament at Glenbard West.

Glenbard North

Coach: Kevin Tonn

Last season’s record: 15-16

Top returners: JJ Hernandez, sr., F, 6-6; Josh Abushanab, so, F, 6-5; Jack Schager, jr., G, 6-0.

Key newcomers: Jalen Crues, sr., F, 6-7

About the Panthers: Clearly, the Panthers size is going to give most any team it faces a lot of issues. The Panthers bring back three starters in Hernandez, Schrager and Abushanab. Hernandez, who is expected to eclipse 1,000 points for his career shortly, scored 16 points per game and was the team’s top rebounder. Mahari Thatch and Abushanab, both in the lineup last year as sophomores, are expected to take jumps. Jalen Crues, at 6-7, is expected to bring rebounding and skill off the perimeter.

Glenbard South

Coach: Jason Mead, 1st season at Glenbard South.

Last season’s record: 17-11 overall, 12-6 in the Upstate Eight Conference.

Top returners: Harper Bryan, sr., G/F; Masroor Sahi, sr., G/F; Angjelos Salca, sr., G; Christian Pogorzelski, sr., F; Mitchell Erickson, jr., G.

Key newcomers: Ben Zima, sr., G; Dayvion York, jr., F; Evan Bogue, jr., G; Ryan Hopkins, jr., G; Tawain Davis, jr., G; Cole Peterson, sr., F; Joey Villa, jr., F; Parker Langreder, jr., F; Paul Quint, sr., G; Patrick Ocasio, sr., G; Ali Razfar, sr., G.

Worth noting: While Mead is new to Glenbard South, he is not new to coaching. He previously spent 11 years at Dixon and Waubonsie Valley, compiling a record of 168-115. “We have a lot of new faces and a new coach, so there will be a lot to learn this year,” said Mead. “We’re focusing on building a culture of commitment and giving effort every day to compete at the highest possible level. The conference seems pretty wide open this year.” The Raiders open their season against Glenbard West in the District 87 Tournament on Nov. 20 at Glenbard West.

Glenbard West

Coach: Jason Opoka

Last season’s record: 19-13

Top returning players: Bennett Schwanke, sr., G; Dominic Seaney, jr., F.

Top new players: Danny Monahan, sr., G; Logan Glover, jr., C; Michael O’Connell, jr., C; TJ Williams, so., G.

Worth noting: The Hilltoppers nearly won 20 games last season despite losing their entire star-studded starting lineup from the 2022 championship team, so don’t count them out this season. Bennett Schwanke and Dominic Seaney will lead the young team, relying on their experience to help build the team against a difficult schedule. “We will be young and more athletic than in past years,” Opoka said. “We will see some early adversity due to youth but expect to compete for 20 wins. Bennett is a senior leader who will play college basketball and he will have to step up offensively to carry the load. Dominic has developed into a high academic recruit who has the potential to play inside and out.”

Hinsdale Central

Coach: Nick Latorre

Last season’s record: 31-4,11-1

Top returning players: Will Kusak, sr., G; Daniel Orozco, sr., G; Luke Bilenko, sr., F: Tyler Thick, jr., C.

Top new players: Vincas Buzelis, jr., G; Dillon Orozco, jr., G; Dillon Dell, jr., G.

Worth noting: The Red Devils will be a team in transition following the graduation of several standout players from last season’s 31-win sectional finalist, including Ben Oosterbaan. “We’re looking to improve as the season progresses and our players gain valuable varsity experience,” Latorre said.

Hinsdale South

Coach: Michael Belcaster

Last season’s record: 11-20

Top returning players: Jack Weigus, jr., G; Matthew Peczulis, sr., G; Ayden Farrare, jr., G.

Top new players: Adam Flowers, so., G.

Worth noting: Junior guard Jack Weigus is part of a small returning group but the Hornets will be a tough team this season due to a nice mix of returnees and newcomers. “Jack Weigus has the ability to read the floor, play on-ball defense and is a sharpshooter,” Belcaster said. “Matthew Peczulis is a transfer from Hinsdale Central. He has the ability to make others better around him. Ayden Farrare is another returning junior starter who has yet to hit his ceiling. He’s looking for a breakout season and is equipped with explosive hops and good defensive skills. Adam Flowers is a top newcomer to the roster.”

IC Catholic Prep

Coach: T.J. Tyrell, 11th season.

Last season’s record: 23-9 overall, 9-3 in the Metro Suburban Conference Blue.

Top returners: Jake Gallagher, sr., G; Matthew Karsten, sr., G; Aidan Johnson, sr., G.

Key newcomers: Andrew Hill, jr., F/C; Xander Estacio, sr., F/C.

Worth noting: Coming off a second-place finish behind Riverside-Brookfield in the Metro Suburban, the Knights prepare for a new challenge in the Chicago Catholic League this season. The Knights were extremely tough to beat at home a year ago, winning 15 of 17 games. IC Catholic Prep begins its season against Peotone at the Coaler Invite in Manteno on Nov. 20.

Lake Park

Coach: Billy Pitcher, 6th season at Lake Park, 14th overall.

Last season’s record: 22-10 overall, 11-3 in the DuKane Conference.

Top returners: Camden Cerese, sr., G; Tommy Rochford, sr., F; Dennasio LaGioia, sr., G; Pavle Magazin, sr., C; Matt Geraci, sr., G; Jereny Zakic, sr., G.

Key newcomers: Freddy Battaglia, soph., F.

Worth noting: Returning a wealth of talent, the Lancers hope to improve upon last season’s runner-up finish to Wheaton Warrenville South in the rugged DuKane Conference. Cerese, a 6-3 point guard, averaged 21 points per game a year ago as a junior while being named all-conference, all-area, and 3rd team all-state. A member of the Wheaton Academy all-tournament team last Thanksgiving, Cerese poured in a career-high 40 points during a win over Wheaton North last season — the second most in school history and most in 52 years at the Roselle school. LaGioia, a 6-1 shooting guard, averaged 11 points per game a year ago, scoring 32 points on 8 of 11 shooting from 3-point range during the Lancers’ 66-45 4A regional championship victory over Willowbrook. Rochford, a 6-5 frontcourt player, averaged 10 points per game as a junior, earning all-conference recognition. “Cerese has D1 and D2 interest with a D2 offer from Lewis University,” said Pitcher. Magazin, a 6-8 pivot, has several D3 schools recruiting him. “The conference will be good again,” said the coach. “Batavia, Glenbard North, and Wheaton North all return a lot of players. St. Charles East, Wheaton South, and Geneva all won regional titles last year and are tough programs.” Lake Park opens its season against Oak Park-River Forest at the Wheaton Academy Thanksgiving Tournament on Nov. 20.


Coach: Andrew Weber, 2nd season.

Last season’s record: 18-15 overall, 10-4 in the Illinois Central Eight Conference.

Top returners: Drew Nigro, sr., G; Ty Russell, sr., C; Nate Harer, sr., F; Matt Kane, sr., G.

Key newcomers: Nico Bundschuh, jr., G; James Saxman, jr., F; Nic Senese, jr., G; Asher Carson, soph., G; Myloe Thordson, soph., F.

Worth noting: Lisle is coming off its second consecutive 18-win campaign and back-to-back third-place finishes in the Illinois Central Eight Conference. Nigro, a 6-1 guard, earned all-conference and honorable mention all-area honors after averaging 9 points (2nd on the team) and 3.7 rebounds (2nd on the team) last season. “Drew is expected to make a big jump in production,” said Weber. Russell, a 6-7 post, received more playing time during the second half of the season last winter. “Ty made a big commitment to the weight room, and it will pay off for him,” said the coach. Harer enjoyed a solid summer, while Kane’s role figures to increase this season. “In our conference, our expectation is to put ourselves in a position to compete for a championship,” said Weber. “Although we only return 1 senior, our combination of returners and newcomers should provide depth and talent.” Lisle opens the season against West Chicago on Nov. 21 in its own Thanksgiving tournament, and heads to the Plano Holiday Tournament in December. The Lions’ nonconference schedule includes Timothy Christian, Rockford Lutheran, Montini, and Joliet Catholic.

Metea Valley

Coach: Isaiah Davis, 5th season.

Last season’s record: 21-10 overall, 5-5 in the DuPage Valley Conference.

Top returners: James Parker, sr., G; Will Ashford, sr., G; Jake Nosek, jr., G/F; Dom Smith, jr., G; Kyle Bucher, sr., G; Alex Danehl, sr., G.

Key newcomers: Connor Lavery, jr., F; Tre Watkins, soph., G.

Worth noting: The Mustangs made great strides last season, turning a 10-20 record from 2021-2022 into a 21-10 campaign. Parker, a point guard, and Ashford were starters a year ago, while Nosek returns after being sidelined by an injury all last season. Smith, Bucher, and Danehl were varsity contributors last season. “We are excited about this group,” said Davis. “We have good size, skill, and athleticism. This is a close-knit group that plays unselfish basketball together. We are led by Ashford (6-6), Nosek (6-8), and Parker (5-10). Smith will be a huge contributor for us and is our best defender, while Danehl is just solid all-around.” Nosek has received a D1 college offer, while Ashford has gotten several D2 offers. Metea Valley begins its season against Timothy Christian on Nov. 20 at the Downers Grove North Thanksgiving Invite.

Naperville North

Coach: Gene Nolan, 6th season.

Last season’s record: 20-12 overall, 7-3 in the DuPage Valley Conference.

Top returners: Luke Williams, sr., G; Bryce Welch, sr., G; Cole Arl, sr., G; Grant Montanari, sr., F.

Key newcomers: Jack Kallstrand, sr., G/F; Ben Victor, sr., G; Max Steele, soph., G.

Worth noting: Williams, a 6-1 veteran all-purpose backcourt standout, averaged 20.9 points, 4.2 rebounds, 3.1 steals, and 2.4 assists per game last season while shooting 50 percent from the field, including 34.3 percent from 3-point range, and 77 percent at the free-throw line. Williams, who scored 30 points in 3 games, earned co-DVC Player of the Year honors last season. The multi-sport athlete will play wide receiver at Purdue next fall. The 6-1 Welch, who earned all-conference honors last season, averaged 10.1 points per game as a junior, while the 5-10 Arl scored 9 points per game and averaged 3 assists last season. Kallstrand, Victor, and Steele figure to supply needed depth for the Huskies. “We have great senior leadership and team chemistry,” said Nolan. “We have a challenging schedule, so defense and rebounding will be keys.” Naperville North opens its season at home against Hinsdale Central on Nov. 20 in the Hoops for Healing Thanksgiving Tournament and will compete at the York/Jack Tosh Christmas Tournament. The Huskies’ nonconference slate includes Benet Academy and Bolingbrook.

Naperville Central

Coach: Pete Kramer, 21st season (33rd at the school).

Last season’s record: 7-20 overall, 1-9 in the DuPage Valley Conference.

Top returners: Jack First, sr., F/C; Ross DeZur, sr., F/C.

Key newcomers: Jack Gervase, sr., G/F; Danny Vogel, sr., G/F; Ryder Erdmann, jr., F; Alex Liabo, jr., G; Preston Kuta, jr., G; Nate Abrahamson, soph., F; TJ Hillman, soph., G.

Worth noting: Last year was a rebuilding type season for the Redhawks, who won just one conference game. While First and DeZur will supply valuable leadership, the Redhawks’ future appears bright with the likes of juniors Erdmann (6-5), Liabo, Kuta, and sophomores Abrahamson (6-5) and Hillman. “We need to continue to improve each week,” said Kramer. “Watch for our younger guys to contribute right away to help the load with the upperclassmen. We have length and size that will help in different aspects of our game.” Kramer said that 6-5 First is attracting some collegiate interest. Naperville Central opens its season against Maine East on Nov. 20 at the Ridgewood Thanksgiving Tournament and will participate in the Chuck Dayton Holiday Classic next month in DeKalb. In addition, the Redhawks travel to Waterloo, Iowa, in January to face Columbus Catholic.

Neuqua Valley

Coach: Todd Sutton, 26th season at Neuqua, 35th overall.

Last season’s record: 25-8 overall, 8-2 in the DuPage Valley Conference (champions).

Top returners: Luke Kinkade, sr., G; Colin Gerrity, sr., G.

Key newcomers: Joe Balgro, sr., F; John Bieber, jr., F; Whitman Charboneau, jr., G; Danny Podpora, jr., G; Luke Pallaschke, sr., G; Krish Patel, sr., G.

Worth noting: Sutton, who earned his 500th coaching victory last season (504-241), welcomes the return of just 1 starter from last year’s DuPage Valley Conference champion squad. However, that starter, the 6-3 Kinkade, earned conference co-Most Valuable Player honors a year ago. “We graduated 6 of our top 8 players,” said Sutton. “Colin Gerrity is the only other player who got good minutes last year.” While Balgro, Bieber, and Charboneau are the Wildcats’ top newcomers, Sutton expects contributions from Podpora, Pallaschke, and Patel. “Nate Fiore and Carson Rheaume will start the season on injured reserve,” said the coach. “There is no timetable on their return.” Sutton expects a highly competitive DVC race. “Metea and DeKalb are the two best teams in the conference,” said the coach. “Waubonsie and Naperville North are very close to them. The conference is very even and very good.” Neuqua begins its season against Fenwick on Nov. 20 in the Hoops 4 Healing Tournament at Oswego.


Coach: Adam DeMong

Last season’s record: 7-23

Top returning players: Danny Peterson, sr., G; Tyler Pavlik, sr., F; Maddox Shepard, sr., G; Nick Lombardi, sr., F; Maxwell Bell, jr., Jack Barrett, jr., G.

Top new players: Dillon Bagley, jr., G; Drew Church, jr., F.

Worth noting: After a rough season, mainly due to several young players, the Broncos are looking to reap the benefits of some experience this season. A three-year starter, Danny Peterson headlines the returnees, while senior forward Tyler Pavlik, is a good finisher who can shoot. “We have a veteran group with excellent perimeter shooting,” DeMong said. “Our goal is to be above .500 and advance in the playoffs.”

St. Francis

Coach: Erin Dwyer, 8th season.

Last season’s record: 13-19 overall, 6-6 in the Metro Suburban Conference Blue.

Top returners: Aaron Cook, sr., G; Dylan Ston, sr., F; Patrick Spahn, sr., F; Niko Quaranta, jr., G; Anthony Quaranta, jr., F; Gavin Mueller, soph., F.

Key newcomers: Kelton McEwen, sr., G (transfer from Bartlett); Owen Gjerde, jr., F; Nate Silagi, soph., G.

Worth noting: After somewhat of a rebuilding season last year, the Spartans’ hopes of bouncing back received a big boost with the transfer of sharpshooting senior guard Kelton McEwen, who earned all-Upstate Eight Conference, Daily Herald Fox All-Area, and all-state honorable mention honors as a junior. Veterans Cook (6-6), Ston (6-4), Mueller (6-6), Spahn (6-3), and the Quaranta brothers figure to compliment McEwen’s strong outside shooting skills. St. Francis is returning to the Chicago Catholic League this season. “That will bring some major competition with the likes of Brother Rice (30-5), Mt. Carmel (27-7), DeLaSalle (22-12), and DePaul Prep (2A state champion, 23-12),” said Dwyer. St. Francis opens its season against South Elgin on Nov. 21 at the Bob Schick Thanksgiving Tournament in Geneva. “We play in the York (Jack Tosh) Holiday Tournament, too, which has several top programs in the state,” said Dwyer. “The philosophy is simple — we want to expose our team to the best competition we can possibly schedule. In the long run, it is great for the kids and prepares the team for the postseason.” In January, St. Francis will travel to Indiana to face nationally ranked La Lumiere (4th).

Timothy Christian

Coach: Scott Plaisier, 7th season.

Last season’s record: 8-23 overall, 3-13 in the Metro Suburban Conference Blue.

Top returners: Alex Keizer, sr., G/F; Thon Bill, sr., C; Stephen Hribal, sr., G/F; Marc Gamble, soph., G/F; Ryan McKenzie, jr., G.

Key newcomers: Elliot Foy, jr., G/F.

Worth noting: Plaisier expects his team to make serious progress in 2023-2024. “We will be a much-improved team to what our record displayed last season,” said the coach. Some of the reasons for optimism include the return of Keizer, an Olivet Nazarene University commit, and Bill, who is being recruited by several D3 schools, a couple D2 schools, and several NAIA schools. “He hasn’t made a college decision yet and is continuing to explore options,” said Plaisier. Keizer is a 3-year varsity starter who led the team in 3-point shots made as well as scoring last season, while Bill, a 2-year varsity starter, led the team in blocked shots and charges a year ago. Plaisier added that Hribal has had a tremendous off-season, while McKenzie was second on the team in steals and assists, while leading the team in 3-point shooting percentage. Gamble played quality minutes as a freshman last season. “We have several returning players with quality varsity experience who have put in a ton of work in the off-season to become better players,” said Plaisier. The Trojans, who open their season against Metea Valley at the Downers Grove North Thanksgiving Invite on Nov. 20, will head south to participate in the Jim Clark Classic Dec. 27-29 in Orlando. Timothy Christian joins the newly formed Chicagoland Christian Conference this season. “It will be a very competitive boys basketball conference,” said the coach.

Waubonsie Valley

Coach: Andrew Schweitzer, 3rd season.

Last season’s record: 15-16 overall, 5-5 in the DuPage Valley Conference.

Top returners: Treshawn Blissett, sr., G/F; Tyreek Coleman, jr., G; Matthew Sessom, sr., F; Elijah Whitaker, sr., G.

Key newcomers: Moses Wilson, jr., G/F; Josh Tinney, jr., G; Cade Valek, jr., F.

Worth noting: The Warriors enter the season with room for optimism, thanks to the return of 6-5 Blissett and a strong junior class, led by 6-1 Coleman. “We will be young again, but we have a promising junior class that should give us significant contributions,” said Schweitzer. “We have an extraordinarily athletic and versatile group that will look to run and should be fun to watch. Treshawn Blissett and Tyreek Coleman will lead the way.” Blissett is receiving D2 and high-level D3 college looks, while Coleman is an underrated junior. “Tyreek is under the radar because he did not play AAU last spring/summer,” said the coach. “I think he is a D1/D2 talent.” Schweitzer expects the DVC to be a dogfight. “The conference should be loaded this year,” he said. “Metea, DeKalb, Naperville North, and Neuqua Valley should all be formidable, with Metea and DeKalb having a slight edge.” Waubonsie, which opens its season against Streamwood on Nov. 21 at the Ken Peddy Windmill Classic in Batavia, will participate next month’s Hinkle Holiday Tournament at Jacobs.

West Chicago

Coach: Roy Ramos, 1st season.

Last season’s record: 6-24 overall, 3-15 in the Upstate Eight Conference.

Top returners: Jack Walsh, sr., G; Mason Williams, sr., F; Joe Trigueros, jr., F; Tommy Doyle, jr., F.

Key newcomers: Caleb Giannokis, sr., G; Brayden Alderton, jr., G; Marcus Brewell, fresh., G.

Worth noting: The Wildcats have a new coach in Roy Ramos, who takes over for longtime head coach Bill Recchia. “As a program, we will continue to build upon our culture daily and create a strong sense of pride in being a basketball player at WEGO,” said Ramos. “Most importantly, we hope to make the West Chicago community and basketball alumni proud.” Ramos expects his team to pick up the pace this season. “Competitively, our main goal is to compete in every game while playing an up-tempo, tough, and joyful style of basketball,” said the coach. West Chicago, which has not finished fifth or higher in conference since the 2015-2016 season, opens its season against Lisle on Nov. 21 at the Lisle Thanksgiving Tournament. “We are aiming to improve on our 3-15 conference record last season and climb in the UEC standings,” said Ramos.


Coach: Craig Etheridge, 25th season.

Last season’s record: 10-22 overall, 3-7 in the Metro Suburban Conference Red.

Top returners: Joe Kone, sr., G; Abe Johnson, sr., G; Billy McGhie, sr., C.

Key newcomers: Jude Paul, sr., G; Alexander Konoff, jr., F; Briggs Templeton, jr., G; Malachi Boatright, jr., G; Jerry Vasek, jr., F.

Worth noting: After back-to-back 10-win seasons, the Sentinels are looking for an improved campaign. The return of 2-time all-conference selection, 6-1 guard Kone, should help. Kone led the team in scoring with a 16.5-point average, while also averaging 4.5 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals last season. Johnson scored 8.3 points per game a year ago, while McGhie pulled down 5.1 rebounds per contest in 2022-2023. “After a disappointing 2022-2023 season, I’m optimistic about this upcoming season,” said Etheridge. “We have more size and athleticism than in previous seasons. If we can gel as a team and improve our defense, we have an opportunity to have a successful season.” The list of newcomers includes some size with 6-4 Vasek and 6-2 Konoff. Etheridge, who owns a career mark of 355-339, calls Riverside-Brookfield the team to beat in the conference. Westmont begins its season against Evergreen Park at the Lisle Thanksgiving Tournament on Nov. 21.

Wheaton Academy

Coach: Daniel Smith, 2nd season.

Last season’s record: 15-13 overall, 10-5 in MSC Conference.

Top returners: Wandy Munoz, sr., G; Tyler Smith, jr., G.

Key newcomers: Hayden Schroeder, frosh., F.

Worth noting: The Warriors are looking forward to competing with the likes of Aurora Christian, Marian Central Catholic, Hope Academy, and St. Edward in the inaugural Chicagoland Christian Conference. “We’re hoping to battle for the top of the conference, but it is a very strong basketball conference,” said Smith. “We graduated eight seniors last season but return an exciting backcourt duo in Wandy Munoz and Tyler Smith.” The Warriors coach calls the 5-10 Munoz, “a dynamic scholarship level pass-first point guard with relentless ball defense while always being the fastest player on the floor.” Smith, a 6-2 shooting guard, is a 3-level scorer who will guard the opponents’ top player. Schroeder, a 6-5 freshman, figures to make an immediate impact at the varsity level. Wheaton Academy opens its season against Bartlett on Nov. 20 in its own Thanksgiving tournament and will play in the Chuck Dayton Holiday Tournament Dec. 27-30 in DeKalb. Also on the schedule is a nonconference clash with 4A St. Charles North at the East Aurora Shootout on Jan. 27.

Wheaton Warrenville South

Coach: Mike Healy

Last season’s record: 27-6

Top returners: Luca Carbonaro, jr., G, 6-2; Max O’Connell, sr., F, 6-3; Joe Preede, sr., F, 6-3

Key newcomers: Drew Berkley, sr., 5-10, G; Matt Nadelhoffer, sr., F, 5-10; Brooks Becker, sr, G, 5-10

About the Tigers: WWS has been among the top few teams in the DuKane Conference for the last few seasons. It fell in the sectional semifinal to Geneva last season and graduated standouts in Braylen Meredith, Jake Vozza and Colin Moore. Luca Carbonaro is a highly-athletic guard who can set up the offense, while O’Connell is expected to take a sizable leap from limited playing time last year. The Tigers are always known for tough defense and methodical passing, which should continue. Their schedule includes: Evanston, Glenbard West, Mt. Carmel, Hinsdale Central, Peoria Manual and more.


Coach: Mike Dunn

2022-23 record: 13-18

Top returning players: A.J. Levine, sr., G; Kyle Waltz, sr., G/F; Braden Richardson, sr., F; Brenden Molis, sr., G.

Top new players: Max Burnison, sr., F; Ryan Pechous, sr., G.

Worth noting: Levine, recently committed to Penn, headlines a strong returning group after averaging 17 points and 3.9 rebounds per game last season. Waltz, Richardson and Molis all are coming off solid seasons, raising the possibility of the Dukes contending for a conference championship. “We return seven seniors who made contributions to a 13-team win last year,” Dunn said. “We play one of the toughest schedules in the state and also play in one of the best basketball conferences.”


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