Boys Basketball: Bolingbrook No. 1 Herald-News Preseason Top 10
By Tina Akouris email@example.com November 18, 2012 5:50PM
Bolingbrook's Ben Moore. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 20, 2012 6:08AM
Bolingbrook’s boys basketball program wants to write its own story, apart from the football team that won the Class 8A state championship in 2011 and the girls basketball program that has won four state championships since 2006, including three in a row from 2009 to ’11.
The Raiders just might get their chance. Bolingbrook is the Herald-News’ preseason No. 1 team and considered one of the best in the south suburbs.
Here’s how the preseason Top 10 shapes up (last season’s record in parentheses):
1. BOLINGBROOK (16-8)
The Raiders are one of the most talked-about teams of the preseason. A lot of that has to do with SMU recruit Ben Moore, a 6-foot-7 forward who is going to play for the legendary Larry Brown next year.
But there is more to Bolingbrook than Moore. Coach Rob Brost predicts sophomores Prentiss Nixon, Kendall Guyton and Julian Torres and juniors Kenny Williams, Schakur Triplett, C.J. Redmond and Josh Dillingham all will be key contributors this season.
Brost is hoping this group can advance farther than the regional semifinals, where the Raiders’ run ended last season against Benet.
2. PROVIDENCE (17-11)
Coach Tim Trendel believes the Celtics are ahead of the game.
“As far as our overall system of play, offensively and defensively, we’re further along than usual,” Trendel said. “Our juniors are really stepping in and playing.”
Third-year starter Kevin Kozan is back at point guard and sophomore Myles Boykin has recovered from a broken toe suffered last season.
Kozan is Trendel’s go-to player, but Boykin figures to be the most-talked about player on Providence this season. At 6-5, Boykin is a strong presence at either forward spot, and also was one of the top receivers on the Celtics football team.
3. LEMONT (25-3)
The Indians pulled off a big turnaround in 2011-12 when they won 25 games and a share of the South Suburban Blue title. This season they won’t be able to fly under the radar.
Lemont is led by senior guard Juozas Balciunas, who averaged 15.6 points, 4.4 assists and 2 steals per game and shot 38 percent on three-pointers last season. Balciunas will have help from guards Joe Hehir, a senior, and Mike Wisz, a junior.
With that leadership, the Indians should contend for another conference championship. But Hillcrest always is the team to beat, coach Rick Runaas said.
“(Hillcrest) gives us a gauge for where our program needs to be if we want to compete at the highest level,” Runaas said. “And it lets us know that every year we will be competing against a potential state contender.”
4. JOLIET WEST (17-10)
Led by three returning starters in seniors Morris Dunnigan, Carl Terrell and Brandon McCullum, the Tigers are relying on their speed and defense, which coach Luke Yaklich thinks go hand in hand.
But a problem that Joliet West needs to fix is finishing games. Too many times last season, McCullum said, the Tigers stalled in the second half.
“Some games we just didn’t finish, all the way to the end of the fourth quarter and that’s what we should do this year,” McCullum said. “If we do, we will win more games. It was probably fatigue and just giving up, looking at what the scoreboard says.”
5. MINOOKA (20-10)
Guard Jake Hogen is the big gun returning for the Indians as they deal with inexperience a season after winning 20 games for the first time in 35 years. Starting guard Darrin Myers returns, along with reserves Adam Holstine, P.J. Jones and Kevin Stelmaszek.
“We are young and inexperienced, but we are getting better each day,” coach Scott Tanaka said. “But this team is very coachable and enjoys learning the game of basketball.”
Tanaka also is high on freshman Joe Butler, who should contribute a decent amount of minutes.
6. MORRIS (16-11)
The Redskins are hoping to forget about the end of the 2011-12 season, which saw them lose to Yorkville in the regular-season finale, get the No. 1 seed in the Lincoln Sectional and then lose by 11 to Pontiac in the regional semifinal.
Those who hope to change Morris’ past misfortunes are returning starters Ben Ortiz, who has the potential of giving opposing teams match-up problems; Jake Hogan and Jason Matteson. Sophomore Evan Bjelland and juniors Tanner Sampson and Ned Kneller figure to make an impact.
7. PLAINFIELD EAST (27-2)
The bad news: Plainfield East lost all its starters to graduation, a group that started for the Bengals the past three years. The good news: The Bengals may have enough quality replacements coming up from the lower levels to make the 2012-13 season noteworthy.
Besides having zero returning starters, coach Branden Adkins lost a total of nine seniors from last season’s team and will have to look to seniors Roger Tating, Kentwan Steptore and Kevin Fervil to provide leadership.
It will be tough to duplicate last year’s undefeated Southwest Prairie Conference slate and the program’s first-ever regional championship, but Adkins will have his crew up for the effort.
8. PLAINFIELD NORTH (6-20)
The Tigers may have been below .500 last season, but with another year of experience for players such as seniors Marcus Fair, Andy Schindel and Kurt Palandech and sophomore Trevor Stumpe, those bad memories should be erased.
9. PLAINFIELD SOUTH (13-14)
Under first-year coach Tim Boe, the Cougars will have some experience returning in seniors Alonzo Garrett and James Hill. Junior center Miles Snowden also may make some noise for a team that only went to the regional semifinals last season.
10. SENECA (18-12)
Most teams in the Interstate Eight are talking about Seneca, as the Fighting Irish return a strong core group that went to the Class 2A regional final, only to lose to conference foe Herscher.
Two of the best players on the Irish squad also are considered two of the standout ones in the Interstate Eight, senior guard Peyton Schrag and junior guard Conlan Callahan.
Schrag and senior forwards Chris Lee and Brian Bergeson look to provide leadership as the Irish try to make a deep run into the postseason.