Herald-News girls basketball preseason top 10 teams

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Joliet Catholic

Last season: 24-5, 7-2 East Suburban Catholic

Coach: Ed Schodrof

Top Returnees: Jasmine Lumpkin (Sr., F), Nicole Ekhomu (Soph., G), Christina Ekhomu (Sr., G).

Outlook: The Angels are loaded, with Lumpkin and Nicole Ekhomu forming one of the best duos in the state. A brutal schedule will test Joliet Catholic early and often, especially in the East Suburban Catholic.

Bolingbrook

Last season: 24-6, 14-0 SouthWest Suburban Blue

Coach: Chris Smith

Top Returnees: Aysia Bugg (Sr., G), Ryaen Johnson (Sr., F).

Outlook: Three key players transferred with former coach Tony Smith to Homewood-Flossmoor, but the cupboard is far from bare for first-year coach Chris Smith. Bugg is one of the area’s best guards, Johnson will patrol the paint, and Joliet Catholic transfers Amina Green and Destiny Nash will give the Raiders some depth.

Lincoln-Way East

Last season: 20-9, 11-3 SouthWest Suburban Blue

Coach: Jim Martin

Top Returnees: Kara Krolicki (Sr., G), Dana O’Grady (Sr., G), Claire McMahon (Soph., F).

Outlook: The Griffins’ strength is their long-distance shooting, with Krolicki among the area leaders in three-pointers made last season with 63. East will look to score and score often in a tough SouthWest Suburban Blue that features Bolingbrook and Homewood-Flossmoor.

Coal City

Last season: 23-7, 9-2 Interstate-8

Coach: Brad Schmitt

Top Returnees: Emily Halliday (Sr., G), Britta Spelde (Sr., F), Brittany Jezik (Sr., G), Nicole Borgetti (Jr., G).

Outlook: The Coalers return four starters and boast a ton of experience. Schmitt’s squad has more depth than in the past but not much height in trying to navigate the tough Interstate-8.

Plainfield East

Last season: 24-4, 12-2 Southwest Prairie

Coach: Missy Mitidiero

Top Returnees: Andreana Johnson (Sr., G), Dominique Dortch (Sr., G), Mikaela Manson (Jr., G/F), Jessica Loving (Jr., G).

Outlook: The Bengals lose the core of last season’s 24-4 team to graduation and transfer (junior Faith Suggs to Homewood-Flossmoor), but third-year coach Mitidiero will have East playing up. Johnson especially will need to step up into a bigger role.

Providence

Last season: 14-18, 2-7 East Suburban Catholic

Coach: Eileen Copenhaver

Top Returnees: Alyssa Jurges (Jr., G), Mary Fashingbauer (Jr., F), Maeve Garvey (Jr., G), Marybeth Galick (Sr., G/F).

Outlook: The Celtics lost seven seniors, including Sam Rohrer and point guard Alex Shermulis, from last season’s squad. Jurges enters her third year on the varsity. Providence will have to focus on developing team defense, but Copenhaver’s squad has plenty of offensive weapons.

Seneca

Last season: 14-16, 7-4 Interstate-8

Coach: Barb Beck

Top Returnees: Danielle Hauch (Sr., G/F), Anna Baker (Sr., G/F), Kayla Haines (Sr., F).

Outlook: Experience is abundant for the Lady Irish. Beck’s squad features nine seniors. Seneca, led by Hauch (7.2 ppg, 3.9 rpg), features a good mix of height and long-range shooting.

Minooka

Last season: 14-18, 8-6 Southwest Prairie

Coach: Ray Liberatore

Top Returnees: Erin Heide (Sr., G), Kelly Carnagio (Jr., C), Sydney Arlis (Soph., G).

Outlook: Larissa McLemen’s post presence will sorely be missed, but Carnagio is ready to step into a larger role. Heide missed time last season because of an injury, so a healthy season will go a long way for the Indians in a wide-open Southwest Prairie.

Lincoln-Way West

Last season: 12-14, 6-8 SouthWest Suburban Red

Coach: Ryan White

Top Returnees: Danielle Morgan (Soph., G), Devin Bax (Jr., G), Stephanie McDonald (Jr., G).

Outlook: The Warriors are young but also a team with a good deal of varsity experience. White expects two juniors, four sophomores and two freshmen to see significant court time and compete in the SouthWest Suburban Red and maybe gain enough experience to aim for a regional title.

Lincoln-Way Central

Last season: 12-16, 4-10 SouthWest Suburban Blue

Coach: Chris Fetherling

Top Returnees: Kelsie Foster (Sr., G), Candace Finnin (Jr., G), Sami Wisniewski (Sr., G).

Outlook: The Knights took their lumps at times during the 2012-13 season navigating the always-tough SouthWest Suburban Blue, but Central returns nine players overall. The schedule again will test Central, but a year of experience never hurts.

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