We’re putting a new twist on our basketball rankings this season. Instead of ranking the boys and girls teams separately, Patch will be putting out an overall “School Basketball Ranking” that takes into consideration the results and news from both teams.
We start the season with New Trier on top as both Trevian teams should be conference title contenders.
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1. New Trier: The Trevians start as the favorite, and have a back-load of talent from last year’s teams. Connor Boehm and Austin Angel will lead the boys while Northwestern recruit Maggie Lyon steadies the girls team. Improved guard play will be the key for both teams as the season progresses.
2. Maine South: Maine South has its entire starting lineup back from the girls’ third-place finish at state last season. In contrast, the boys will have to start over as starters Matt Palucki, Casey Bruce and Tony Albano graduated.
3. Niles West: With Jewell Loyd back, the Wolves will be one of the top teams in the area, but the boys might struggle. Graduated seniors Tony Pierce and Donte Logan were huge in setting up Niles West’s pressure defense and getting the Wolves all the way to the sectional semifinals in 2011.
4. Glenbrook South: The Titans will miss Kelly Minx and Ali Shaw, but should again be a top contender in the tough CSL South. For the boys, Glenbrook South has to replace Jack Ryan, and will lean on seniors Jaime Nikitas and Victor Levi to bounce back from a rough 2011 season.
5. Glenbrook North: Andrew McAuliffe should be a big-time player for the Spartans this season, and guard Joseph Prince will add some stability in the back court. Senior Rachel Blitt will try to lead a bounce-back season for the girls’ team after they won only five games last year.
6. Evanston: The girls’ team has no starters back, but got a big lift when Sinclair Cunningham transferred from Whitney Young. The boys will also have to reload as James Farr and Garrett Jones graduated. If Matt Munro can be a sharpshooter from beyond the arc, the Wildkits could make some noise in conference.
7. Loyola Academy: The loss of Katie Faught is big for the Lady Ramblers, but there is plenty of talent returning. The boys will miss the size of Jared Prince and Mike Lang. Guards Jack Morrissey and Peter Pujals will have to step up and fill in some of that scoring.
8. Maine West: The Warriors have some good players on the girls’ team with sophomore Brittany Collins and seniors Amanda Hoye and Megan John.
The Warriors had less experience than some of their competitors last year, and still managed to finish second in conference. On the boys’ side, Conor Hart will be the leader for Maine West.
9. Niles North: Alissa Hirsh returns with the Vikings on the girls’ side, and should be a player in the CSL North. It’ll be tougher for the boys, who lost superstar Abdel Nader from last year’s Elite 8 team. Malachi Nix will have to step up and lead Niles North this year.
10. Deerfield: The Warriors lost a lot of experience on both teams. The girls graduated three starters, including leading scorer Kathleen Forrest. They struggled last season, finishing under .500, and taking fourth in the CSL North. For the boys, the trio of Jack Carney, Josh Schur and Sam Sternberg will be hard to replace.
11. Highland Park: Highland Park returns senior Jake Norcia, but lost some valuable seniors, Jonny Stempel and Ben Levine. Still, the CSL North looks to be up for grabs in 2012. The girls graduated the most successful class in school history last year, so matching last year’s total of 18 wins will be a tall task.
12. North Shore Country Day: North Shore returns its best player on both teams, senior Kim Kahnweilver, and sophomore Austin Curren is also coming back. The boys won their first regional championship last year, and will be looking to duplicate that success in 2011-2012.