(With last year’s record, final rank)
1. Fremd 27-4 (6)
Duke-bound guard Haley Gorecki, who averaged 23 points, six rebounds and three assists last year, will try to lead the Vikings downstate for the first time since 1990. Also back are 6-2 junior forward Bryana Hopkins, 5-3 junior guard Brianna Lewis and 6-2 sophomore Grace Tworek, and the best of underlevel teams that went 47-2 last year.
2. Young 32-3 (1)
After graduating 6-5 Khaalia Hillsman (Texas A&M) and Taylor Brame from last year’s state championship team, the Dolphins have become guard-oriented, and Corry Irvin has a talented trio in 5-8 junior Kiara Lewis, 5-9 senior Madinah Muhammad (Ole Miss), and 5-7 Katrina Beck (Illinois State). Forward Tanita Allen has signed with DePaul.
3. Montini 34-2 (2)
Kateri Stone, Kelly Karlis and Sara Ross, who went 138-10 during their careers, are gone. But nobody’s crying for Jason Nichols after he picked up 6-5 freshman Lindsey Jarosinki and 6-3 Aaliyah Patty to go with Kelsey Bogdan, Kaylee Bambule and Lea Kerstein. “Our success in February will be determined on how we develop over time,” Nichols said.
4. Trinity 25-6 (10)
Lauren Prochaska has moved on to DePaul, but the Blazers have a wealth of talent back from the team that lost to Young in the sectional finals including 5-5 junior point guard Annie McKenna, 5-9 forward Patricia Stritzel, 5-11 junior Kaitlyn Ayward and 5-7 guard Christine Olijnyk. Players to watch include freshmen Alex Fanning and Alyssa Geary.
5. Marian Catholic 28-5 (4)
Don Murray lost seven seniors from the team that finished third in Class 4A last year, but welcomes back Penn State recruit Teniya Page, Pittsburgh commit Kauai Bradley, Stony Brook-bound Jerrell Matthews and 5-9 junior forward Gabrielle Cooper. Players to watch include 5-8 junior Janae Poisson and 5-9 forward Aysia McCondische.
6. Joliet Catholic 28-3 (5)
New coach Kenny Battle inherits a solid nucleus from last year’s Class 3A runner-up, including 5-9 junior Nicole Ekhomu, 6-1 sophomore Ty Battle, 6-foot sophomore Jnaya Walker, 5-10 junior Adriana Acosta, 5-7 junior guard Mia Farrell, 5-6 junior Kaitlyn Williams and 5-6 sophomore Kennedy Weight. Can the Angels replace Jasmine Lumpkin (Michigan State)?
7. New Trier 27-5 (13)
Four players return for coach Teri Rodgers, including 6-3 junior Jeannie Boehm, 5-9 junior Kathryn Pedi, 5-11 Jackie Welch and 6-2 Rachel West. Five-foot-10 junior Haley Greer, a transfer from Deerfield, figures to inherit the point from the graduated Alexa Czyzynski. “We were really impressed by our team’s unselfishness this summer,” Rodgers said.
8. Brooks 20-6 (NR)
Last year’s city runner-up returns all but one player and gains two who were injured most of last year. Top players for coach Reggie Dawson include 5-10 guard and St. John’s recruit Akina Wellere, 5-7 junior Amara Graham, 6-2 forward Camryn Julun and 5-6 guard Nakia Dean. Five-foot-5 Nakia Wash and 5-9 Sydney Atotebi are back and healthy.
9. Kenwood 22-8 (NR)
Six of the top seven players are back for coach Andre Lewis, who guided his team to the Class 4A regional title at Riverside-Brookfield last year. Leaders are 5-3 sophomore guard Alyssa Moore (13 points per game), 5-4 sophomore Tarsheia Page (12 points), 5-4 junior Sharese Scott (11 points), 5-3 Alanna Slaughter and 5-10 Hydeia Thomas.
10. Rich South 17-10 (NR)
Three all-conference players return for coach Brian Mays, including 5-7 Indiana state-bound Tierra Webb (15 points per game), 5-6 guard Tierney Lockett and 6-1 junior forward Dasia Evans. Sisters Nadege and Nadia Jean provide a strong post presence. “This is one of the most talented group of players that Rich South has had in years,” Mays said.
11. Burlington Central 30-6 (11)
Watch ’em run. Five starters and eight of top 10 return from last year’s Class 3A fourth-place finisher, including 5-9 junior Shelby Holt, 5-7 junior Kayla Ross, 6-0 senior Alison Colby, 6-0 junior Sam Pryor and 6-0 junior Becca Gerke. Also returning are 5-8 junior Aly DeTamble, 5-7 senior Sam Cruz and 5-6 senior Jackie Collins.
12. Neuqua Valley 29-6 (7)
Mike Williams welcomes back three starters from the team that lost to Young in the supersectional last year including 6-2 center Bryce Menendez (Lehigh) and slick junior guards Myia Stark (Northern Illinois) and Kai Moon. Help will come from 5-10 forward Jamie McInerney, 5-8 Maya Cobb, 5-8 Jessica Austin and 5-10 center Gwen Berglind.
13. Geneva 26-7 (8)
Coach Sarah Meadows must replace three key guards from last year’s fourth-place Class 4A finisher – Sidney Santos, Morgan Seberger and Michaela Loebel. But the Vikings will be a load around the basket with 6-0 senior Abby Novak, 6-0 senior Janie McCloughan and 6-2 sophomore Grace Loberg. Junior Ashley Shogren will step in at point.
14. Hersey 25-5 (15)
Five-foot-9 sophomore Claire Gritt, 5-10 senior Annie Korff, 6-0 junior Maggie Berigan, 5-2 sophomore Kelly Weyhrich and 5-8 Juliette Vainisi are back from the team that suffered all five of its losses to either Rolling Meadows (three times) or Prospect (twice). “All of our athletes are multiple-sport athletes,” coach Mary Fendley said.
15. Downers Grove North 25-4 (22)
Three starters return from a team that lost by three points to Batavia in the sectional semifinals, including 6-2 junior guard Jaida Green (16 points per game), 6-3 senior center Peyton Winters (11 points, seven rebounds) and 5-5 junior guard Lauren Porcelli. Newcomers include junior Madison Farnworth and sophomores Colleen Miller and Brigid Miller.
16. Bloom 15-15 (NR)
The Blazing Trojans lost Katherine Strong to injury last year and struggled to a 15-15 record. But the 6-foot small forward is back, as are 5-5 point guard and Marquette recruit Danielle King (24 ppg) and 5-11 junior Anika Johnson (15 ppg). Coach Ron Newquist is expecting big things from freshman guards Cierra Smith and Tiana White.
17. Hillcrest 23-5 (NR)
Rex Martin takes over the Hawks, who will be led by guards Aliah Acker and Tanzania Sherrill. Five-foot-9 junior forward Joshulyn Shepard and 5-10 forward Taja Sloss provide help inside. “We have a talented group who love to play basketball,” Martin said. “Our goal is to build on the fine legacy that Hillcrest has developed over the years.”
18. North Lawndale 17-12 (NR)
The Phoenix defeated Fenwick to win their first Class 4A regional title last year. This season, North Lawndale drops Class 3A where it could make even more noise thanks to seniors Nadia Miller and Jamaria Williams and sophomores Kia Brooks and Marquita Thorne. Top newcomers include sophomore Kimyra McGhee and freshman DeAsa Almon.
19. Marshall 23-8 (20)
Dorothy Gaters should earn win No. 1,000 the first time the Commados take the court thanks to four very talented sophomores includingTemya Russell, Takia Mack, Arkiarra Clark and Julinun Redmond. Marshall also picked up 6-foot sophomore Tieneesha Coleman from North Chicago.Lack of depth can be potential problem, Gaters said.
20. Benet 21-10 (NR)
Joe Kilbride takes over for Peter Paul, who won 617 games in 29 seasons. Kilbride inherits a talented group led by 5-9 junior point guard Kathleen Doyle, a top Division I prospect who led the Redwings in assists, steals and blocked shots. Also back are 5-9 Bradley recruit Emily Eshoo (14.5 ppg), 6-0 Emily Schramek, and sophomore Kendal Schramek.
21. St. Charles North 15-12 (NR)
The North Stars return their entire starting lineup from a 15-12 team that won eight of its last 10 with its only losses during that span to Geneva. Nicole Davidson, a 5-11 forward who averaged 18 points per game, is joined by 6-0 junior Morgan Rosencrans, 5-5 guard Sam Novak and newcomer Claire Jakaitis, a 6-3 transfer from Montini.
22. Proviso East 19-12 (NR)
The Pirates lost a number of close games last year which was sure to keep head coach Ezra Pridgeon Jr. up at nights. This season, he hopes those experiences pay off. He will count on 5-9 junior Cinia McCray, 5-9 DeTasia Almon, 6-9 Diamnd Copeland, 6-0 junior Savannah Clark. 6-1 Jasmine Levy and newcomer junior Yasmeen Jackson.
23. Prospect 23-6 (NR)
Ashley Graham begins her third year at Prospect with three of the top players in the Mid-Suburban League – 5-11 Brown recruit Taylor Will, 6-0 forward Catherine Sherwood and 5-10 sophomore guard Haley Will. Tayior Will averaged nearly 20 points per game as a junior while Sherwood added about 12 points and six rebounds.
24. Bolingbrook 20-5 (NR)
Second-year coach Chris Smith lost his top two players from last year – Aysia Bugg and Ryaen Johnson – but the Bolingbrook pipeline never runs completely dry. The Raiders will reload behind 6-3 forward Parris Bryant, 5-6 guard Bennita Drain, 5-9 forward Alecia Gulledge and 5-6 junior Karli Seay. How long will 6-5 freshman Nasia Brown stay down?
25. Homewood-Flossmoor 0-23 (NR)
Tony Smith is back after the IHSA lifted his suspension and he was rehired at H-F. Of the 17 players he carried on his roster last year, only five return. However, one of those five is 6-2 Faith Suggs, a Duke recruit. Other players to watch are 5-8 guard Ashley Johnson, 5-7 guard Bria Stallworth and 5-11 junior Tyla Lampley.