Fox Valley area boys basketball previewYorkville's Derek Piszczek drives to the basket against Kaneland on Friday, Jan. 07, 2010. | Donnell Collins~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 5, 2011 7:01PM
Coach: Jim Roberts
Last year: 13-13, 8-4 Upstate Eight River
Key returnees: Mike Rueffer, jr. G.
Top newcomers: Juniors Jake Pollack, Matt Tevonian, Joey Simonetti, Nathan Tague, Trevor Chapman, Mike Carlson, Taylor Brandt, Luke Horton.
Outlook: The Bulldogs could struggle early, awaiting the return of up to six players who were involved with the football team’s extended playoff run. Rueffer averaged 5.1 points and 3.3 assists last season. Zach Strittmatter, who averaged 6.3 points, could be the returning leading scorer. It depends whether 6-5 Cole Gardner comes out. He averaged 14.4 points and 8.7 rebounds but could focus on training and weightlifting to prepare for college football.
Coach: Phil Ralston
Last year: 12-17, 6-6 Upstate Eight River
Key returnees: Brendan Leahy, sr. G/F; Phil Lorenz, sr. PG; Ben Rogers, sr. G/F.
Top newcomers: Mike Trimble, jr. G; Connor Chapman, jr. F.
Outlook: Leahy averages 6.0 points and 4.0 rebounds while Lorenz averaged 4.0 points and 2.5 assists for the Vikings. Rogers came off the bench as a defensive stopper but should contribute more this season. “I really like the look of this team,’ said Ralston. “We have a competitive, strong and athletic team.”
Coach: Bill Sambrookes
Last year: 16-13, 7-1 Little Ten
Key returnees: Bernie Conley, jr. G; Zach Michels, jr. C/F; Mitch Ruh, jr. G/F; Jared Madden, jr. G; Michael Baylor, jr. F; Billy Weissinger, jr. F; Colin Goodsen, sr. F.
Top newcomers: Mitch Hemesath, jr. F; Andrew Klambauer, jr. G; Mack Carls, jr. C.
Outlook: The Royals are growing up and return their leading scorer in Conley (14.3 ppg) and rebounder in Michels (4.5), who chipped in 9.1 points. “Though we are a junior-dominated team, we had six of them on our varsity as sophomores,” said Sambrookes. “If we stay focused and injury-free, we can have a nice season.”
Coach: Joe Piekarz
Last year: 20-10, 6-2 Little Ten, won regional
Key returnees: Shaquille Crayton, sr. F; Dane Fleming, jr. G.
Top newcomers: Kyle Lieving, jr. G; Jaron Todd, jr. G; Jake Bjorneby, jr. F; Tyler Reynolds, jr. G.
Outlook: The Timberwolves lost five starters to graduation from a team that lost by four to Freeport Aquin in the sectional semifinals. “We are going to have to rely heavily on the senior class stepping up as well as a junior class that went 21-5 as sophomores a year ago,” said Piekarz.
Coach: Brian Johnson
Last year: 17-9, 8-2 Northern Illinois Big 12 East.
Key returnees: Trever Heinle, sr. G/F; Drew David, so. G.
Top newcomers: Marcel Neil, sr. G/F; Thomas Williams, so. G; Dan Miller, jr. G.
Outlook: The Knights lost two double-digit scorers from last year — Chaon Denlinger (13 ppg) to graduation and sophomore Daniel Helm (11.8) has transferred to Chatham Glenwood. Heinle is the returning scoring (7.7) and rebounding (6.5) leader and should get help from David, who played a lot as a freshman. Neil transfers from West Aurora after averaging 2.9 points and 1.9 rebounds.
Coach: Ron Ahrens
Last year: 12-16
Key returnees: Noel Yarngo, sr. G.
Top newcomers: Peter Kurowski, so.; Jesse Mennis, sr.
Outlook: “We’re not very tall, so we are going to have to play an aggressive, pressing defense,” said Ahrens. “If we don’t play exceptional defense, we will struggle.”
Coach: Rick Tollefson
Last year: 33-1, won IHSA Class 1A State title
Key returnees: Brett Anderson, jr. C; Taylor Wright, sr. G.
Top newcomers: Joe Hughes, Kenny Hume, Zack Bond, Grant Riehle-Moeller, Adam Shorkey.
Outlook: A new era dawns for the Norseman with the graduation of four-year starters Kyle Anderson (2,280 career points) and John Avery (1,449), the Nos. 1 and 5 leading scorers in school history. Brett Anderson (no relation to Kyle) averaged 10.4 points and 6.9 rebounds for state champs but has only six teammates on varsity.
Coach: Brett Moore
Last year: 13-15, 5-6 in Interstate Eight
Key returnees: Devin Haws, sr. G; Jose Martinez, sr. PG; Andrew Debolt, sr. F; Joseph Jones, sr. G/F.
Top newcomers: Juniors Abe Carreon, Cody Dryden; sophomore Jon McDermott.
Outlook: First team all-conference selection Haws (13 ppg, 72 steals) returns to help lead the Reapers uptempo attack and will get help with the return of Jones, who missed all but seven games last year. It’s the third varsity season for both. Debolt is a strong threat from outside, having hit 42 percent of his 3-pointers last season.
Coach: Scott Bantz
Last year: 20-9, 8-3 Interstate Eight
Key returnees: P.J. Crotty sr. PG; Derrick Risley sr. F; Spencer Carlson sr. G; Zane Thompson, sr. C; Ryan Valentine, sr. G; Jake Rohen sr. C.
Top newcomers: Dakota Padilla, jr. G; Seth McDonald, jr. G; Cory Tollefson, jr. G; Davis Brown, jr. F.
Outlook: The Indians have steadily improved under Bantz, who enters his fifth year, and are looking to replace the production of three-year starter Justin Wegener (17 ppg). It will likely take a committee, but there’s talent left in the cupboard. Crotty could be out for awhile, recovering from a leg injury suffered in football.
Coach: Ron Hunt
Last year: 9-20, 5-3 in Little Ten
Key returnees: Justin Fox, sr. C/F; Jacob Krischel sr. G; Cody Passero, sr. F; Jacob Morsch, sr. C/F; Nick Gudmunson, sr.G; Johnnie Stephens, sr. G; Colin Stahl, sr. G.
Top newcomers: John Wathan, jr. G; Jacob Alstadt, jr. G.
Outlook: Hunt’s senior-dominated team has the potential to turn it around this year. Fox returns after missing half a season to injury, 6-foot-3 Krischel has “guard skills in a tall frame” and Passero is a “very athletic and strong rebounder.” Morsch pairs well in the post with Fox, while Gudmunson, Stephens and Stahl should combine to give the Bobcats strong guard play at both ends.
Coach: Dan McGuire
Last year: 15-12 overall, 5-5 Northern Illinois Big 12 East
Key returnees: Derek Piszczek, sr. G; Brandon Holmes, sr. PG; Josh Williams, sr. F.
Top newcomers: Steven Jones, sr. G; Cody Bailey, sr. G; Taylor Carter, jr. F; Josh Gengler, jr. F.
Outlook: First-year coach McGuire takes over for retired Jerry Farber and has a nice trio to build around. Piszczek, a four-year varsity starter, averaged 8.1 points and made 43 percent of his 3-pointers; Holmes averaged 5.8 points and the 6-6 Williams should add to his 5-point average.