To be honest with you, I don’t know how much of a season we’re going to have.
No state tournament, CPS is currently MIA, transfers, early graduations, and an ongoing pandemic has made things kind of a mess, but we persevere.
I didn’t think there were going to be that many changes from the “way too early” top-20 back in April.
Boy was I wrong.
Brianna Wooldridge transfers back to Fremd, Montini loses their entire starting lineup and first two players off the bench, Benet’s Molly Sheehan enrolled in college a semester early, some top teams have had to suspend program activities, it’s the Wild West our there.
I’m including CPS teams for the time being, but that can change very quickly if they don’t end up starting. Bear with me, some of the summaries are copy and pasted from the way too early rankings if nothing has changed
The reigning 3A champs return their best two players to the fold for another season. I made this mistake two years ago assuming Maine West would take a hit after losing their starting backcourt, so not making that mistake twice.
There’s always one team to make a massive jump. Enter Hersey. They return every single one of their contributors from last years 26 win team, have a ton of leadership, and Katy Eidle is pretty darn good. Enjoy the lofty expectations.
The Redhawks won’t be sneaking up on anybody this season. Another year of experience under their belt and Marist has gone from one of the youngest teams in the area, to one of the most experienced.
Their two best players from the previous season were sophomores. That usually bodes pretty well for a successful season. Throw in some solid role players in Zoe Belcher and Jada Maxwell, Kenwood could give Simeon a run for their money in the city.
Losing Klaczek hurts, there’s no way to return that kind of production and leadership from a four year starter. Fortunately though, the cupboard certainly isn’t bare. Two scoring wings in Ruthie Montella and Grace LaBarge and a huge boost from the return of Brianna Woolridge from her year in New Lennox will have Fremd in contention in 4A yet again.
Despite an unfortunate early end to Grace Hall’s HF career, there is still plenty in the cupboard with Alyssa Latham.
Kennedi Perkins sure got the help she needed. Probably the biggest benefactor from the Montini transfers, Tatiana Thomas and Maddy Saracco will be joining the Raiders and bring a scoring punch that was lost due to graduation.
It’s never easy to lose two, 1,000 point scorers, but fortunately for Libertyville they will have the services of Emily Fisher for the entire season. In fact, since Fisher entered the lineup, the Wildcats have only lost one game, which just so happened to be to the 4A state champions.
The sophomore tandem of Simone Sawyer and Ava Bardic are back, along with a large class of juniors who will be back for their senior season. NSC should be fun once again with some good battles along the way
Another sophomore tandem become upperclassmen. Fenwick has been building something for a couple of years now. Can they take that next step and knock off some of the better teams in the area?
One of my favorite players in the area returns for her senior season in Summer Parker-Hall. Loyola was hit by the injury bug last season but that experience should only help going forward. Angelina Giordano joins the roster as well but will have to sit out this season due to transfer rules.
12. Maine South
There’s not a single player who jumps off the page at you, but that’s what makes Maine South so good. The Gardiner twins will leave the way, but there are plenty of other contributors that can go off on any given night.
One of the heaviest roster turnovers in the area, not helped by the surprising early graduation of Molly Sheehan. There’s still talent on the roster, but there may be some growing pains.
14. Lincoln-Way West
One Gugliuzza sister is gone, but two remain. Brianna Woolridge who was primed to have an outstanding season also leaves. There should still be plenty to compete.
15. Naperville North
Hard to bet against the team with arguably the best senior in the state. Naperville North quietly put together a 24 win season and had quite a few underclassmen on their roster. Could be one to look out for.
Another team hit hard by graduation. I think Rashele “Z” Olatunbosun is one of the most underrated players in the state, and will make a great 1-2 combination with Lola Lesmond, but Evanston will likely take a step back this season.
Sophie Sullivan and Taris Thornton join Stephanie Dasbach. An interesting team to keep an eye out for this season.
18. Burlington Central
Hard to ignore the impact Taylor Charles is going to have. Besides Charles though, Central did win 29 games last year and will be retaining their leading scorer, point guard Elana Wells.
19. Marian Catholic
Marian flew under the radar last season with a very young, but talented team. If you haven’t heard the name Brianna Hill yet, prepare to. Yet another spectacular player in the class of 2023.
We’re making some big assumptions with Nazareth. One, we’re assuming everyone is going to be healthy, they were injured all year long last year. The second, is that the Freshmen who showed some flashes will take a jump and be a little more consistent next year.