Girls Basketball: New-look Bolingbrook our preseason No. 1
By Tim O’Brien For Sun-Times Media November 11, 2012 4:42PM
Kamari Jordan (left), Kennedy Cattenhead (center) and Destiny Harris (right) are seniors on the Bolingbrook High School girls basketball team which is ranked preseason No. 1 by The Herald-News as seen Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, at 365 Raider Way in Bolingbrook. | Matthew Grotto~Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 13, 2012 10:23AM
Gone are star forward Morgan Tuck and her per-game averages of 27 points and 10 rebounds.
Gone are eight total players from last season’s team who now are playing at NCAA Division I schools.
But for Bolingbrook coach Anthony Smith, the beat goes on, and the goals have not changed.
“Our expectations are the same, and we plan on winning a state title,” Smith said. “That’s the goal. We will have to work harder at it and it may take us longer to get to be that team, but we still have the talent to do it.”
Returning three players who played supporting roles over the past two seasons and getting a talent boost from sophomores moving up to the varsity, Bolingbrook is the Herald-News’ girls basketball preseason No. 1 team.
“It shows how far the program has come that we lose eight Division I players, come back with fresh faces and are still expected to do well,” Smith said. “We’ve got a good group and need to teach them how to play and work hard every day. We’re going to get every team’s best shot.”
Senior Kennedy Cattenhead will help ease the transition for the new arrivals on the varsity. Last season, she averaged more than 5 assists per game. Smith also is counting on junior Destiny Pierce and senior Kamari Jordan to embrace significantly larger roles for the Raiders this season.
“We need Kennedy to be a big-time player for us,” Smith said. “Kamari is a very good shooter who’s been waiting in the wings, and Destiny has sat and learned. They will all be key pieces.”
So while the star power might not be as bright, the lofty goals remain. Bolingbrook has lost just three games to Illinois teams over the past five seasons. All three losses came to Whitney Young — two of those last season as the Raiders (27-2) bowed out with a quadruple-overtime supersectional loss.
“Talking to the team, Morgan Tuck told them that, ‘Live up to that,’ ” Smith said. “The girls know that.”
If Bolingbrook can’t live up to its preseason ranking, here are some teams that could move up (last season’s records in parentheses):
2. ROMEOVILLE (22-5)
The Spartans had a long offseason to think about their upset loss to Plainfield East in their playoff opener after an impressive regular season. The good thing is Romeoville has the talent to make that disappointing season-ender a distant memory.
Kiera Currie (16 ppg, 10 rpg), Briana Harris (11 ppg) and Abby Smith (10 ppg, 4 apg) lead a strong returning core. Developing depth beyond the starting five will be key as the Spartans deal with a tough schedule, including the Montini Christmas Tournament and Willowbrook Shootout, as well as a deep Southwest Prairie Conference.
3. LINCOLN-WAY EAST (26-5)
Hit especially hard by graduation, East loses Taylor Johnson (15 ppg, 5 apg), Caitlin McMahon (14 ppg, 8 rpg) and three-point specialist Amy Jacobsen (35 three-pointers). Coach Jim Martin is one of the best coaches around for a reason, though, so watch out for the Griffins to be a top-10 presence all season.
Meaghan McMahon, Nathalie Hill and Dana O’Grady will be counted on to step up into more prominent roles. The biggest key to success according to Martin? Getting the team to believe it can compete with anyone and everyone in a strong SouthWest Suburban Blue that features Bolingbrook and Homewood-Flossmoor.
4. PLAINFIELD EAST (20-8)
Missy Mitidiero’s first year on the sideline at East was a rousing success as she guided the Bengals from eight wins in 2010-11 to 20 in 2011-12. The potential is there for another step forward.
Returning All-Area player Gabby Williams (11 ppg, 7 rpg) and Faith Suggs (13.3 ppg) will key East’s offense. Transfers Nikia Edom (Montini) and Andreana Johnson (Plainfield North) should give Mitidiero some depth.
5. PROVIDENCE (16-16)
No one player will be able to replace 1,000-point scorer Cassidy Glenn, but the Celtics are deeper than ever. Coach Eileen Copenhaver has seven seniors on the roster, the most she ever has had, including Alex Shermulis (3 apg) and Sam Rohrer. Also watch out for sophomore sharpshooter Alyssa Jurges. The Celtics are not a tall squad, so watch for an up-tempo offense. A tough schedule in and out of the East Suburban Catholic Conference will test Copenhaver’s senior-laden team.
6. COAL CITY (15-15)
Coach Brad Schmitt’s squad looks to build on a solid campaign that produced 15 wins last season. All-Area player Emily Halliday (14 ppg, 7 rpg) is one of four returning starters, a group that also includes Britta Spelde (9.5 ppg, 6 rpg), Brittany Jezik (4 apg) and Donjeta Shabani (8 rpg). An undersized team, the Coalers will count on underclassmen to provide some needed depth.
7. LINCOLN-WAY WEST (13-14)
Returning All-Area player Amanda Hozzian will be counted on to lead the Warriors offensively. The senior guard averaged 15 ppg last season and hit an area-leading 78 three-pointers in just 27 games. Like Providence and Coal City, West is height-challenged, with no player taller than 5-9. Coach Ryan White also will look to Brittany Michalski and Devin Bax to step up.
8. MINOOKA (13-17)
The Indians lost two key players in forward Ashley Clemmons (12 ppg) and point guard Sara Placher (9 ppg, 3 apg) to graduation. Coach Ray Liberatore has a solid group of returning players, including Larissa McLemen and Erin Heide. Liberatore also is counting on freshman Sydney Arlis and sophomore Kelly Carnagio to perform at the varsity level.
The Southwest Prairie is a deep conference with Romeoville, Plainfield East, Oswego, and Oswego East, but the Indians hope to contend.
9. JOLIET CATHOLIC (9-16)
Guard Naomi Mayes transferred to Lockport and All-Area player Shannon Butler (14 ppg, 8 rpg) graduated, but the Angels have an interesting 1-2 punch that will be interesting to watch develop. Junior forward Jasmine Lumpkin transferred from defending Class 3A champion Montini and will give coach Ed Schodrof a solid player to build around. Freshman guard Nicole Ekhomu is expected to make an impact immediately at the varsity level.
The Angels will be tested early and often in what figures to be a deep East Suburban Catholic, battling Marist, Marian, Benet, Providence and Fenwick.
10. PEOTONE (25-4)
Peotone or Seneca? Seneca or Peotone? Both teams racked up 20-plus wins last season but lose strong senior classes and a majority of their scoring. Peotone’s starting lineup was gutted, with Brittany Campione (9 ppg, 2 apg) the lone returnee. Coach Steve Strough is confident a new wave of players will embrace their bigger roles as the Blue Devils make the jump up to 3A this season. Conference and regional titles are reasonable goals for a young team.