Hello everyone and welcome back to another edition of basketball season.
Per usual, rankings will be out every Sunday evening, things just got a little delayed this week.
This is one of the most wide open fields in recent memory, in both 4A and 3A. Will someone step up and take control like Maine West did last season? Or are we going to have someone fly under the radar and make a surprise run to the championship?
It’s exciting times, so let’s all get started.
Pretty much the consensus number one selection from everyone I have talked to. I do think the graduation of Clara Prasse is going to be much more difficult to overcome than some people anticipate, but there is no doubt the pieces are there in Brooke Schramek, Kendall Holmes and co.
Last year’s breakout star Jayla Turchin returns, along with a fully healthy Kayla Henning and Ambrea Gentle.
Filling the void left by SyAnn Holmes is going to be tough, and they will likely have to overcome their greatest obstacle in Maine West, but if everyone stays healthy it will be a good season for the Wildkits.
The first one of the new 3A teams on the list. Still somehow one of the youngest teams in the state, but that youth has a year of experience under their belt right now.
Expect a big year out of Taris Thornton. She had a huge summer and looks to carry that momentum into the season.
4. Maine West
Angela Dugalic is the best player in the state, however I don’t think people realize how important Rachel Kent was to this team. They absolutely have a chance to repeat, especially as Dylan VanFleet established herself as a secondary scoring option down state last year, but the road is going to be tough.
5. Whitney Young
A new coach changes the expectations slightly, but the talent with Kayla Green and Cam Williams is still there. There will certainly be am adaptation period, but Whitney will be competing for a sectional title per usual.
Returning 4/5 of a starting lineup that made it to the sectional championship game is usually a pretty good start, if you want to be ranked in the top-10.
Expect more of a five out offense than you saw from them last year, but big guards and wings will cause a lot of matchup problems.
Aneesah Morrow is one of my favorite players to watch in the state. She’s a throwback player who is excellent at getting to the rim, distributing the basketball, and even posting up when she needs to.
Simeon is one of my favorites to win the state title in 3A, but they will likely have an extremely tough sectional to navigate.
8. Lincoln-Way West
The Warriors have finally gotten their much needed post presence in Brianna Wooldridge after she transferred from Fremd.
Add a third Gugliuzza sister to the mix and expect to see one of the mist high scoring offenses in the state of Illinois.
Injuries hit the Brook hard last season, but when healthy, they are always in consideration for a top-10 spot.
Making one of the biggest jumps in the rankings in HF. There has been a consensus around the state that HF is a sleeping giant and is ready to make a big run this season.
11. Lake Forest
Lake Forest had one of the biggest upsets of the tournament last year when they beat Fremd in the sectionals. With most of the core from that team remaining, including Halle Douglass it should be a good year for the Northern Suburbs.
With the graduation of Tamara Nard among others, we’re going to see just how much Brianna McDaniel can lead this team. There are some nice pieces alongside McDaniel, and I fully expect her to succeed, but it will be a bit of a learning curve.
My biggest complaint about Thornwood was their schedule wasn’t up to par with some oft the other top teams in the area. Well, full credit to them as they have loaded up their schedule this year with matchups against Kankakee, Whitney, Simeon, and Benet.
Young, talented, and full of potential. It’s probably a little early to have Libertyville this high on the list, but by the end of the season, but I’m basing this one off of potential. By the end of the season, I’m expecting a lot of people to come around on the Wildcats
One of the better, if not the best front courts in the area. Sophomores Audrey Hinrichs and Elise Heneghan already proved there worth last season, and with a year of experience under their belt they should only be better.
Marist was still youngish last season with Sydney Affolter only being a sophomore, but Affolter is now an upperclassman and as the great Al McGuire once said, “The best thing about freshman is that they become sophomores.” which certainly applies to a good amount of this Marist squad.
I’m fully expecting Geneva to have a bounce back season. They were in a year of transition last season after losing all of their starters from a state championship team, but Linsday Blackmore has proven she can lead Geneva to a regional title at the very least.
18. Lake Park
Any team that has Darrion Rogers on their team is going to win quite a few games. Now there are a lot of young pieces around her, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Don’t expect Lake Park to go through another regional drought like they did before ending it last year.
19. St. Viator
It may be a bit premature to put Viator here but I really like the makeup of their team. Joy Bergstrom is as talented as they come, and the Lions have put together a couple of nice seasons despite their youth.
The third team from the North Suburban Conference makes an appearance in the rankings. I don’t think people realize how good that conference is going to be this season and through the coming year.
We will find out how good Stevenson really is in the first week of the season as they face Montini on Thursday.