Menu

2015 Softball Preview

  • Written by Ken Karrson

 

SOFTPREV.PHOTO1.3-26

 

2015 Softball Preview

Here’s the pitch

Expect a high level of play from locals

 

CHICAGO CHRISTIAN

2014 Record: 14-16.

Head coach: Kevin Pittman.

* Who’s gone: Kaycee Pittman, Trisha Belgrave.

* Who's back: Sam Kubik OF/C, Sr. (.364, three HRs); Abbie Bulthuis, OF, Sr. (.322, 15 steals); Bre Vollan, 3B/P, Sr. (15 RBI); Christa Janowiak, INF/OF, So.; Tori Skala, OF, Sr.; Stephanie Kuiper, INF, Sr.; Emily Vilendrer INF/OF, Jr.; Madison Riemersma, OF, Jr.

* Who's new: Hannah Dieck, P/SS, Fr.; Jordan Dryfhout, C, Fr.; Bethany Regnerus, IF/P, Fr.   

* Outlook: The Knights will miss the production and leadership of Kaycee Pittman and Trisha Belgrave, who helped Chicago Christian claim a Class 3A regional championship last season. However, coach Kevin Pittman still brings back five starters from the 2014 squad, and they’ll team with three freshmen who are expected to step into the regular lineup. Sam Kubik, Abbie Bulthuis, Bre Vollan, Stephanie Kuiper and Tori Skala provide the veteran leadership while Hannah Dieck, Jordan Dryfout and Bethany Regnerus are the highly touted newcomers. Pittman has pegged Dieck as his prospective No. 1 pitcher, but Vollan should also receive a fair amount of opportunities in the circle. Sophomore Christa Janowiak and juniors Madison Riemersma and Emily Vilendrer are other likely contributors for the Knights this spring.

* Coach’s comments: “Having almost our entire infield, with the exception of Tricia Belgrave, back is a big plus as we head into the season. Sam Kubik was our best hitter last year and top home-run slugger, so we’re looking for her to have a really big year. We’re moving Abby Bulthuis to short while we work Bethany into the starting slot at second.

“It’s [a] positive having three freshman starters because they’re all competitive and talented and we get to have them for four years. Hannah can’t take the mound every day, nor do I want her to so we have Bre at No. 2. She’s worked hard at this these past four years and I think she’s ready to take the next step forward. I expect this team to challenge for a [Metro Suburban] conference championship.” -- Pittman

EVERGREEN PARK

2014 Record: 20-13.

Head coach: John O’Connor.

* Who’s gone:  Carolyn Roberts.

* Who’s back: Jenna Haase, C, Sr. (.550, five HRs, 41 RBI, 30 runs); Bethany Salazar, OF/P, Jr. (.685, nine HRs, 54 runs, 35 RBI, 12 steals); Caroline Andrade, INF, Sr. (.585, five HRs, 38 runs, 34 RBI); Maddie Vojacek, INF/P, Jr.; Abby Langevin, IF/C, Sr.; Nicole Larkin, INF, Sr.;  Megan Pyles, P/3B, So.; Maddie Meisl, INF/OF, Jr.

* Who’s new: Kelly Farmer, P, Fr.; Lizzie Brendich, 2B, Fr.; Haley Getz, P, Fr.        

* Outlook: After falling just two runs shy of a Class 3A regional championship last spring, the Mustangs will try again -- and they’ll do so with a sizable core group that went through the postseason experience a year ago. Bethany Salazar’s offensive numbers as a sophomore were off the charts, but she’s just one of the big-time weapons in Evergreen Park’s arsenal. Seniors Caroline Andrade and Jenna Haase were equally potent -- between them the trio provided the Mustangs’ offense with 19 homers, 110 RBI and 122 runs, and all three players batted .550 or above. For good measure Salazar also swiped a dozen bases.

            Beyond that highly productive threesome are other key veterans, including seniors Nicole Larkin and Abby Langevin and junior Maddie Vojacek, who’ll pair with Salazar to give Evergreen stability in the pitching circle. Coach John O’Connor also expects input of some kind from juniors Edith Morales and Rebecca Roberts, sophomores Amanda Richter and Megan Quick and perhaps a few freshmen. The pieces would seem to be in place for the Mustangs to enjoy another 20-win season, and O’Connor is figuring on at least a top-three finish in the South Suburban Conference Red and hoping for greater advancement in the state tournament.

* Coach’s comments: “The keys to a successful season will be staying healthy and continued development from our pitchers. We will be a young team and will need to rely on some of our younger players to step up and perform.

“Hitting will be our biggest strength, but we have a group of talented pitchers that may also help our team. With so many young players, I hope our defense can be as solid as we need it to be.” -- O’Connor

MARIST

2014 Record: 29-9-1.

Head coach: Colleen Biebel.

* Who’s gone: Brooke Wyderski.

* Who’s back: Brooke Wilson, OF, Sr. (.427, 34 RBI, 32 runs, two HRs); Madison Naujokas, SS, Jr. (.445, 10 HRs, 48 runs, 39 RBI); Zariya Gonzalez, P, Sr. (25-5, 1.39 ERA); Vanessa Villasenor, OF, Jr. (.352, 28 RBI, 19 runs); Alexis Rogers, 3B, So. (.353, 29 RBI); Jill Kenny, C. Jr.; Amanda McIlhany, INF/OF, Jr.; Liz Annerino, P, Jr.; Hayley Franks, 1B, Sr.

* Who’s new: Paige Egan, OF Jr.; Emily Reilly, P, Jr.; Emily Luzzo, C/INF, Jr.; Kara Apato, OF, Fr.; Maggie Kehoe, 2B, Fr.

* Outlook: It’s not always easy to follow a coach who achieved the kind of success Denise Bromberek did in her years at the RedHawks' helm, a stint that included a state championship in 2012. However, new coach Colleen Biebel is poised to maintain Marist’s winning tradition, although she’ll have to do so without one very big playing piece: 2014 Player of the Year Brooke Wyderski. Still, plenty of talent is on hand, enough to where the RedHawks should make Biebel’s maiden voyage a pretty enjoyable one.

            Scoring runs should not be a problem, even without the formidable Wyderski anchoring the batting order. Madison Naujokas is one of the area’s best sluggers and she, Loyola University-bound Brooke Wilson, Vanessa Villasenor and Alexis Rogers combined to drive in 130 runs last spring. Naujokas and Wilson both posted averages well above .400 while Villasenor and Rogers each eclipsed .350. Not to be forgotten either is senior Zariya Gonzalez, who is the staff ace and a capable hitter. Her .339 average was something of a bonus, though; of much greater importance to Marist was her 25-5 pitching ledger and 1.39 earned-run average. Senior Hayley Franks and juniors Jill Kenny, Amanda Ilhany and Liz Annerino are other experienced returnees.

* Coach’s comments: “We have a solid group of returners from last year. These girls are competitors and will do whatever it takes to finish strong. Our tough [East Suburban Catholic] conference schedule will prepare us for the state playoffs.” -- Biebel

MOTHER MCAULEY

2014 Record: 23-5.

Head coach: Colleen Kilduff.

* Who's gone: Alex Brown, Bri Gyrion, Jess Alberts.

* Who's back: Amy Balich, SS, Jr. (.395, .600 slugging pct., 22 runs, 20 RBI); Morgan Fleming 3B, Sr. (.412, .700 slugging pct., 25 runs, 22 RBI); Holly Marousek, P, So.; Emily Rux, C, Sr.; Jen Crowley, CF, Sr.; Nicole Majewski, RF, Sr.; Dara Sanders P, Sr.

* Who's new: Molly Murphy, INF, Jr.

* Outlook: A Class 4A regional championship was the culmination of a successful 2014 campaign for the Mighty Macs, who will take aim at some more postseason hardware behind the on-field leadership of Amy Balich and Morgan Fleming. Mother McAuley’s two most prominent returnees from an offensive standpoint joined forces to provide their team with 47 runs and 42 RBI a year ago and Fleming finished with a .412 average and .700 slugging percentage. Balich was right behind her in both categories (.395 and .600, respectively) and augmented her stick work with solid defense -- she was charged with just four errors last season at shortstop.

            Also back for coach Colleen Kilduff is senior Emily Rux, who’ll don the catching gear for the third consecutive season. Jen Crowley and Nicole Majewski are other returning seniors while junior Molly Murphy comes over from Mt. Assisi. Without Jess Alberts in the fold, the Macs need to settle on a new No. 1 hurler -- among the top candidates are senior Dara Sanders and sophomore Holly Marousek.

* Coach’s comments: “The Mighty Macs have a great group of talented young ladies this year who will look to make a run deep into the playoffs. With a great combination of speed and power, the team will be extremely competitive and fun to watch. We have a very talented team with a lot of veterans on it [and] we have strong pitching and defense.

“Our plan is to win conference again but to make it further in the state playoffs.” -- Kilduff

OAK LAWN

2014 Record: 15-18.

Head coach: Brian Frangella.

* Who’s gone: Reily McTeague, Morgan Jozsa, Elisabeth Childers, Jamie Alberts.

* Who’s back: Mia Loya, INF/P, Jr. (.343, 17 RBI, two HRs; 7-4, 2.35 ERA); Marissa Loya, P/INF, Jr. (.337, 26 RBI, five HRs); Ashley Labuda, 3B, Sr. (.337, 20 RBI); Hayden Landingham, C, Sr. (.360, 14 RBI); Kaleigh Hayes, LF, Sr.; Dana Greene, OF, Sr.; Kacie Heeter, 1B/2B, Sr.

* Who’s new: Natalia Rafacz, 2B/P/OF, So.; Maddie Pagliaro, OF, Jr.; Annabelle Fritz, INF/OF, So.; Kara Melvin, OF, Jr.; Danielle Allen, C, Jr.; Madison Jones, OF, Sr.; Hannah Featherstone, OF, Jr.

* Outlook: Last season the Spartans faced the challenge of dealing with the graduation of four-year starting second baseman and team MVP Rachel Burba. They were successful as they won five more times than they had in 2013. This year presents a similar scenario as 2014 MVP Reily McTeague has departed, but Oak Lawn coach Brian Frangella is confident his girls will again handle the situation with little difficulty.

Mia Loya and Hayden Landingham are returning All-South Suburban Conference Red performers and will spearhead the 2015 Spartans’ attack. Loya will contribute as both a hitter and pitcher. Her sister, Marissa, is also a double-edged weapon -- the latter’s five homers and 26 RBI are the most among Spartans veterans. Another valuable asset is third baseman Ashley Labuda. Others with game experience who are suiting up for Oak Lawn once more include seniors Kaleigh Hayes, Dana Greene and Kacie Heeter.

* Coach’s comments: “We made great strides last year on the field and this team is poised to take the next step. The girls are hungry and we want more.

“Our strengths lie in skill, depth and desire. We went 9-10 last season in conference play, so we’re confident that we can improve there and even compete for a conference championship.” -- Frangella

QUEEN OF PEACE

2014 Record: 6-16.

Head coach: Scott Sobol.

* Who’s gone: Magdaline Bennett, Jasmine Escobedo, Ally Garr, Margaret Keane, Kelly Meloy.

* Who’s back:  Lindsey Kudecki, P/1B, Jr.; Caitlin Fitzgerald, INF, Jr.; Kayla Rybolt, OF, Jr.; Erin Jones, 3B, Sr.; Emily Janozik, C/INF., Sr.; Abby Bennett, OF, Sr.; Dani Jimenez, OF, Sr.; Jessica Banialis, 1B, Sr.

* Who’s new: Amber Anderson, OF/P, So. (.425, four HRs, 20 runs, nine steals); Kellie Tonaskovic, INF/OF/P, So.; Katie O’ Leary, OF, Jr.; Kylie Maloy, P, Sr.; Abby Maloy, C/INF, Jr.; Dana Bunting, P, Jr.; Nicole Pratl, INF/OF, Sr.

* Outlook: Though new to the high school game, incoming Pride coach Scott Sobol brings more than 15 years of fast-pitch travel softball coaching experience with him. And he’s surrounding himself with varsity assistants and JV coaches who are schooled in either fast-pitch or college softball. Sobol inherits a club that welcomes back a healthy amount of experience and possesses a fair degree of depth -- he considers the Pride two-deep at several positions and points to five different girls as possible contributors in the circle. One of them is sophomore Amber Anderson, whose only season at Mt. Assisi resulted in a .425 average and four homers. Three other newcomers are also transfer students.

* Coach’s comments: “I’m very excited about this program. Queen of Peace was kind of down for the past couple of years in softball, struggling to win games and compete, but I believe with the new culture that we’re bringing to the athletic program in general we’ve assembled a team that can compete in the [Girls Catholic Athletic] conference this season.

“I’m really excited about our sticks -- I think we’re going to hit pretty well as a club. We feature speed and power. I think people are going to be a little surprised by Queen of Peace this season and our ability to be competitive. I think we’re going to thrive.” -- Sobol

RICHARDS

2014 Record: 22-9.

Head coach: Julie Folliard.

* Who’s gone: Jordan Battels, Victoria Nemec, Molly Pohrebny, Andrea Stengle, Brittany Stengle, Sara Tobin.

* Who’s back: Emily Wetzel, INF/C, Sr. (.483, .560 on-base pct., 1.022 slugging pct., 11 HRs, 40 RBI, 34 runs); Sara Kisiak, P/INF, Jr. (17-7, 2.62 ERA, 117 Ks, 29 walks; .458, .577 on-base pct. .696 slugging pct., 23 RBI); Kaitlyn Fetchko, INF, Sr.; Samantha Waller, INF/OF, Sr.; Lauryn McManus, INF, Jr.; Abby Gentile, INF/OF, Sr.; Hailey Czerwinski, OF/C, Sr.; Savanah Julian, C/3B.OF, Jr.          

* Who’s new: Takesha Powell, OF, Jr.; Becky Wujcik, UTL, So.; Jessica Hayes, C/OF, So.; Meghan Murphy, UTL, Jr.; Bri Senodenos, UTL, Jr.; Katelyn Flahive, P/1B, Fr.; Kelly Lind, OF/SS, Jr.; Gabby Murphy, OF/UTL, Jr.

* Outlook: The Bulldogs will look to build on last season’s regional championship with six starters from that team back in the fold. Richards will no doubt miss Molly Pohrebny and Sara Tobin, but the return of power-hitting Emily Wetzel and South Suburban Conference Red Player of the Year Sara Kiziak ensure another strong offensive presence. Veteran coach Julie Folliard is also counting on third-year varsity player Kaitlyn Fetchko for leadership. Fetchko, who earned all-conference recognition last spring, can hit from either side of the plate and is one of the better defensive third basemen around.

The Bulldogs are seeking a fifth consecutive divisional crown, which would equal the program’s longest championship stretch. Richards was a first-place finisher each season between 1998 and 2002. But neither Folliard nor her girls want to stop there. Another regional title -- and ideally much more -- would suit the entire bunch of Bulldogs just fine.

* Coach's comments: “We return a core of talented and smart players and also added many new players. We will need strong leadership from our returning group to maximize our potential. Knowing this group of seniors, I think their leadership will rise and drive our team to another successful season for the Richards Bulldogs.” -- Folliard

SANDBURG

2014 Record: 24-16.

Head coach: Jim Fabianski.

* Who’s gone: Sarah Herold, Karli McLaughlin, Emily Griskell, Brooke Heimerl, Cierra Adamus, Caroline Kuzel.

* Who’s back: Katie Krzus, 1B, Sr. (.412, seven HRs, 32 RBI, 30 runs); Brianna Soltis, C/2B, Jr. (.359, five HRs, 30 RBI); Kristen Zarate, OF, Sr.; Madeline Hanley, OF, Sr.; Kasi Sanders, IF, Sr.; Maddie Poole, P, Sr.

* Who’s new: Ashley Sood, INF, Fr.; Mikaela Arrendondo P/IF/OF, Jr.; Niki Saviano, P, Jr.; Paige Chladek, C/1B, Jr.; Dani Amador, INF, So.; Sam Coffel, OF, So.; Taylor Udarbe, INF, Jr.; Maggie Lehr, INF/OF, Jr.; Brit Beveridge OF, Jr.

* Outlook: The Eagles were one game away from their second Class 4A championship in four years last spring, a run toward the top that many didn’t expect. But Sandburg put everything together in the latter part of the regular season and got on a timely roll. Sarah Herold’s pitching was a big part of the Eagles’ success, but so too was the potent bat work of Katie Krzus and Brianna Soltis -- the former was largely responsible for Sandburg getting past SouthWest Suburban Conference Blue rival Lincoln-Way East in the state semifinals as she went 3-for-4 with a home run and four RBI. Those two players are among six returnees from the runner-up squad. Jim Fabianski, who was chosen as this paper’s softball Coach of the Year in both 2013 and 2014, is hoping Maddie Poole can step in for Herold and become Sandburg’s latest pitching ace.

* Coach’s comments: “We are going into this season with a positive outlook. We have a core of players returning and many new faces from which we hope to see significant contributions. Last year’s team made a memorable run at state and a good group of girls who are back this season experienced that run. They definitely have a goal to shoot for.” -- Fabianski

SHEPARD

2014 Record: 20-10.

Head coach: Kelsey Clifford.

* Who’s gone: Melissa Kelly, Stephanie Brand.

* Who’s back: Breanna Graffeo, 3B, Sr. (.495, 34 runs. .906 fielding pct.); Skylor Hilger, SS, Jr. (.471, 29 runs); Bryanna Cross, C, So (.385); Heather O’Kelly, CF, Jr. (.575); Jalyn Stepney, SS, Jr. (.473, seven HRs); Sarah Wedster, LF, Sr. (.410); Jenna Huseinga: IF, So.; Kaitlyn Blanton, RF, Jr. 

* Who’s new: Erin Buric, P, Fr.; Gabby Graffeo P, So.; April Larson, P, Jr.

* Outlook: With two consecutive 20-win seasons under their belts, the Astros are eager for more and positioned to get it as eight players from the 2014 club return. Twelve of Shepard’s victories came in South Suburban Conference play and it could make a serious run at the Red Division title this spring. Coach Kelsey Clifford has definitely infused the Astros with a positive attitude, not surprising in light of their impressive 73-45 ledger during her four years in charge, and they should have the talent on hand to keep things moving forward.

            Breanna Graffeo, an all-area and all-conference selection as a junior, is Shepard’s big gun. Not only did she compile a sterling .495 batting average and score 34 runs, Graffeo was also an above-average defensive player at the hot corner, as attested to by her .906 fielding percentage. Jalyn Stepney earned all-conference recognition after batting .473, swatting seven homers and leading the team in RBI, Bryanna Cross offers a veteran presence behind the dish and Sarah Wedster will serve as team captain. Skylor Hilger, a top-flight gymnast during the winter, brings athleticism and an agility that will benefit Shepard on both offense and defense and Heather O’Kelly should be an ideal leadoff hitter as well as a competent center fielder. O’Kelly has good speed and a strong arm.

* Coach’s comments: “We’re looking forward to a good spring. We have a great deal of talent this year [and] the girls are looking forward to capitalizing on our veteran experience. We plan on utilizing our athleticism, experience and solid skill sets to push through.

“Breanna’s leadership and her ability as a catalyst at the plate are vital while Jalyn will move runners around and drive runs in. Breanna will share her veteran experience with a core of young pitching newcomers. Experienced outfielders are a gift, and we’re looking forward to Heather, Sarah and Kaitlyn robbing [teams of] hits and stopping runners.” -- Clifford

STAGG

2014 Record: 3-20.

Head coach: Sarah Bryers.

* Who’s gone: Emily Abbene, Maggie Hynes, Stephanie Lorenz, Briana Minet

* Who’s back: Amanda Collins, 3B/OF/C, Sr.; Noor Elmosa, INF, Jr..; Kyla Frain, SS/3B, Sr.; Stacey Lorenz, OF, So.; Chrissy Magnuson, OF, Jr.; Lexi Minet, OF/P, Sr.; Mia Moustakas, P/3B, Jr.; Sam Owens, 1B/C, Sr.; Abbey Regan, C, Jr.; Brianna Serriella, INF, So.

* Who’s new: Amanda Bell, P, Sr.; Kaley Tsenes, OF, Jr.; Heather Watson UTL, Jr.

* Outlook: New coach Sarah Bryers has a tall task ahead of her as she takes over the reins of a program that endured one of its toughest campaigns. However, 10 players who’d like nothing better than to put the disappointment of 2014 behind them are back and obviously not short of motivation. Only four of those 10 are seniors, which may account for at least some of last year’s struggles as adjusting to varsity competition can be overwhelming for very young players. The Chargers pleased Bryers with the preseason work ethic they demonstrated and she will try to keep them firmly focused on the here and now, rightly figuring that gradual progress is the best method to eventually re-establish Stagg as a force within the SouthWest Suburban Conference Blue.

* Coach’s comments: “It’s really been great so far. The girls have a lot of goals to improve. We struggled a bit last year, but we’re a year older and hopefully a year better. We have people in positions that they’re comfortable in and they’re working hard.

“I really think the seniors are trying to prove something in their final season, and the rest of the girls look up to them. We’re working little by little in getting better every single game [by] reflecting on previous performances in order to improve in the next game.” -- Bryers

 

A final look at a fine hoops season

  • Written by Ken Karrson

 

 Moraine athletics wrap

MVWRAP.PHOTO1.3-19

 

A final look at a fine hoops season

 

By Maura Vizza

 

What a difference a year makes.

In 2014 Moraine Valley College’s men’s basketball team posted a losing record as it underwent a rebuilding phase after coming up one game short of a National Junior College Athletic Association Division II championship the previous spring. This past season saw another reversal of fortunes.

No, the Cyclones didn’t make it back to the NJCAA final; in fact they didn’t qualify for the national tournament. However, they very much got back on the right track as they captured an outright Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference title -- the first by any school since 2011 -- and reached the Region IV semifinals.

After going 8-22 overall and 4-10 in the ISCC in David Howard’s inaugural coaching campaign, Moraine compiled a 17-14 ledger that included a sparkling 11-3 mark in conference action. And Howard, the ISCC Coach of the Year, wants to continue the upward trajectory next season.

“This program is headed in the right direction,” Howard said. “The turnaround from last season to this one is amazing. It’s a testament to these guys -- they sacrificed for the betterment of the team. They jelled and believed in each other, picked each other up [and] never stopped believing.

“We could have had a 20-win season -- some of those early games we had a shot at winning -- but I can’t complain one bit. We had a lot of ups and downs, but the good outweighed the bad. Overall we had a really good season.

“It’s always nice to say you earned a conference championship outright. It’s a huge accomplishment for these guys.”

Howard’s postseason award, which he said should be shared with assistants James Daniels and Brandon Allen, was only one of a few earned by the program. Niko Cahue and Brian Townsend were both all-conference first-teamers while DJ Deere and Ermias Nega each got a second-team nod.

Cahue will not return to the Cyclones as he became Howard’s first freshman to receive a scholarship from a four-year school. He’ll attend St. Xavier University in the fall. Townsend has used up his eligibility and is looking to enroll at Oklahoma Panhandle State University.

Moraine will certainly miss their presence as they combined for 22 double-doubles this season, 13 of them being generated by Evergreen Park alumnus Townsend. Also moving on will be versatile Paulius Ostruskevicius and Richards product Randall Rushing.

Nega and Deere head up the list of returnees, but Howard also expects good things from Calviontae Washington and Jason Roland next season.

“It’s a good group returning,” Howard said. “They know my expectations.”

            WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

Even with a fair share of bumps encountered along the way, the Cyclones finished with an ISCC title share. It was Moraine’s first conference crown in five years.

Moraine was co-champion with Oakton College. Both teams went 11-3 in league play.

Individually, Nariman Jaber concluded a superb two-year career with the Cyclones by being named to the All-Region IV and All-ISCC first teams. She leaves Moraine as its all-time leader in blocked shots with 265, which smashed the previous school record by 84. Jaber averaged 4.5 blocks per game and ranked No. 1 in all of NJCAA Division II for most of the season.

Jaber was also ninth in the country in defensive rebounding (205) and 11th in total boards (316). Shavonne Lewis and Rachel Ruzevich (Sandburg) joined Jaber on the all-conference first team while Kailey Foster was pegged for the second team. Ruzevich was among the team’s top three in most statistical categories and a tough defender.

But while there was no denying the Cyclones’ talent level, veteran coach Delwyn Jones felt his club wasn’t “blue collar” enough. For evidence he cited eight games that were lost by eight points or less.

“We were skilled, but not blue collar,” Jones said. “Teams that aren’t tend to lose in the playoffs. It’s when you put your hard hat on, work hard and do your job [that you succeed].”

One player Jones felt filled the bill in that regard was guard Megan Beckow, who will be moving on to a four-year school.

“She’s one of the toughest pieces of dynamite [I’ve seen],” Jones said. “I’m definitely a Megan Beckow fan.”

Foster, the leading scorer in conference play, and Sharnita Breeze will spearhead Moraine’s 2015-16 unit. McKayla Smith saw time three positions this year and will be valuable because of her versatility. Good-shooting Duneya Shatat (Oak Lawn) and Carly Trinley should also contribute on a steady basis.

“I hope these young ladies learned from their experiences,” Jones said. “We got better throughout the season but not to the point where we needed to be, mentally more than anything.

“We did not reach our expectations by any means. However, we’re in a good position for next year.”

            BASEBALL

One baseball adage of recent vintage must be amended a bit.

Chicks aren’t the only ones who dig the long ball. So too does first-year Cyclones coach Mike Kane.

An assistant at Moraine in the 1980s, Kane returned to Palos Hills last fall after having assisted at both Lewis University and Prairie State College. Along with his assistant John Schenk, Kane wants Cyclones batters to embrace the power game, something they didn’t do last spring when Moraine slugged just one home run.

Kane, a former minor-league player, isn’t actually adopting a swing-for-the-fences mantra, but he does expect the Cyclones’ offense to hit the ball hard.

“I want the kids to drive the ball,” Kane said. “If you strike out, you strike out, but [try to] have a hit -- hit the line drive. I’ve always been a hitter, so I expect our guys to get hits off everyone they face. That’s why I’m confident.”

The Cyclones surprised some teams in a handful of games last fall and Kane expects that trend to continue. After fall ball ended, he talked to each player about what he could do to improve and the work that was necessary to win -- and retain -- starting jobs.

“We all have the same goal -- we want to get better,” Kane said “We want to play well and get better every game, hitting our peak in the playoffs. That’s where we’ll meet our big challenge when we face the other No. 1 pitchers. As long as we play smart baseball, we’ll do it.

“I’ve made the guys look at the [award] banners in the gym and see how few championships we have. That’s going to change. We’re going to go far -- I’m hoping for a sectional.”

The Cyclones went 9-17 last season, but Kane foresees nothing of the same given Moraine’s talent level and desire to rebound from 2014. Heading up the list of returnees are all-conference selections Bobby Neylon and Sheamus Brennan. Brennan will bat leadoff while Neylon will handle chores at third base and occasionally behind the plate.

Other positional players include outfielders Christian Araiza (Shepard), Mike Owens and Jackson Rocha, infielders Mike Rankin (Stagg) and Jason Hine and infielder/pitcher Ryan Kull. Along with Kull on the hill will be Ricky Rogers (Stagg), James Lulek, Matt Schmeski (Shepard), David Kutschke (Evergreen Park) and Jose Hernandez.

Schenk, a four-year starter at Robert Morris University, will work with the hurlers.

“He’s very knowledgeable and intense [and] he works our boys hard,” Kane said of Schenk. “I think our pitchers will do a good job.

“I tell them to pitch to contact, [but] just don’t put it down the middle. Let other teams hit the ball because we’ve got good defense. Our defense is solid.

“They have the motivation after last year’s results. If we work as a team, we’ll be good.”

While the Cyclones have yet to play a game in the area, they did get in some work in Arkansas earlier this month. Moraine crushed North Arkansas College 20-3 in its opener as Greg Wymer hit a grand slam, doubled and totaled six RBI. Kull drove in four runs and included a homer among his three hits while Rankin hit safely twice.

The Cyclones finished with 12 hits in the five-inning contest to make it an easy day for Rogers.

                        ***

Kutschke threw five solid innings, but Moraine’s offense was limited to four hits by Mesabi Range (Minn.) College and suffered a 5-2 defeat. Araiza had two of those hits, including a double, and Ryan Trokey and Zach Moravec both singled.

Schmeski and Ryan Donnelly each pitched one stanza.

The Cyclones’ bats stayed relatively silent in a rematch versus North Arkansas College and the result was a 5-3 loss for the locals despite decent efforts from Lulek and Hernandez on the mound. Owens (homer, double) knocked in all three runs and Trokey accounted for Moraine’s other hit.

Wymer had both RBI for the Cyclones in an 11-2 setback against Olney Central College.

                        SOFTBALL

After a shortened 2014 season, the Cyclones are ready to get some games in and will do so with a freshman-heavy team.

Moraine lost several strong sophomores but has a few big guns back. Second baseman Carly Trinley was the ISCC Player of the Year in 2014 after batting .545 with an .841 slugging percentage. All-conference second-teamer Dana Cummings (Richards) is back to anchor the outfield and will have veterans Samantha Newhall and Kristie Bagus, a pair of Shepard alumni, patrolling the outer reaches with her.

Megan Beckow, who played basketball for Moraine along with Trinley, is another experienced performer. She’ll see time at third base and behind the dish. Throwing to her will be Hannah Theilmann, one of the best pitchers Cyclones coach Mike Veen has seen.

Also expected to play some kind of role for Moraine will be infielder/catcher Alyssa DeChene (Shepard), third baseman Molly Pohrebny (Richards), catcher/second baseman Brittany Dimas, outfielder Kortnie Hanold (Shepard), infielder/outfielder Katlin Krzos, pitcher/second baseman Mercedes Leon (Oak Lawn), pitcher/first baseman Emily Powers (Mother McAuley), outfielder/shortstop Nicole Roney and utility player Kayla Manthei. Manthei played volleyball in the fall while Hanold was on the soccer field for the Cyclones.

“There’s a lot of burden on the youngsters and they’ll have to step it up,” said Veen, a fifth-year coach who led Moraine to a 22-17 overall record last season and 8-4 mark in the ISCC. The Cyclones were second in the league standings and advanced to the Region IV semifinals during the postseason.

Moraine has already lost a few athletes to injury, which means Veen will do some early experimenting with his lineup.

“Things have started out a little chaotic, but I have a feeling it’ll turn out well,” he said. “We’ve been fortunate over the years. I just want us to get in there, give these other teams a good game, not have any injuries and play well together.”

Veen is joined again this year by assistant coach Natalie Wigginton.

            MEN’S TENNIS

Last year the Cyclones suffered only one regular-season loss and wound up second in the Region IV tournament, which landed them a spot in the national event. In 2015 Moraine hopes for even more.

New coach Robert Gates knows about the high level of success the Cyclones have had over the years -- including nine trips to nationals -- and isn’t daunted by it.

“I’m excited about building this program,” he said. “As a team, our goal is to be Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference and region champions. I’m confident in our players.”

Gates takes over at Moraine after 13 years of coaching individual and professional-level athletes. He played NCAA tennis at Alcorn State University, where he was ranked 116th in the nation and won the 2003 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) singles-player national championship. Gates also competed at some smaller professional tournaments.

He’s joined by another high-level tennis player, Robbye Poole, who was ranked in the top 400 worldwide by the Association of Tennis Professionals.

“I’m happy with this great opportunity to coach at the college level,” Gates said. “I’m excited to recruit and have this become a well-known program. And having Robbye here is great. I thought he’d be a perfect fit for the team.”

The two men have some talented players to use as a foundation. Kevin Karczynski is the Cyclones’ top singles performer and equally effective in doubles play, where in 2014 he teamed with Mike Broderick to go undefeated at No. 1. Broderick was 9-0 at third-singles during the regular season.

Bryan Jimenez (Shepard) and Alec Mikes are two other veterans on hand. Notable newcomers include Karim Awwad, Casey Case, Reigh Lamparas and Gregorio Illner.

“I’m excited to help the returners develop and see the first years grow into more leadership roles,” Gates said. “I’ll be supportive of who’s here and will build on that. I’m going to give everyone a chance to compete for spots and for doubles we’ll look for the best matchups.

“I’m looking forward to our match against rival Prairie State, the only team we lost to last year. It’s our first home match this season.”

            WOMEN’S SOCCER

The Cyclones signed their first recruit of the offseason, Stagg’s Alex Abed, who will attend Moraine in the fall. Abed played all four years with the Chargers and was a pivotal figure for the team.

“She has helped solidify a defense that has been one of the main reasons for our success at the varsity level the last four seasons,” Stagg coach Chris Campos said. “She is a tremendous competitor and is always ready for a challenge. She not only gives us a very athletic and reliable defender on the field, but [she] also is someone who has done well scoring goals on set pieces.

“Because of Alex’s knowledge of the game, she can play anywhere on the field. I wish her the very best as she continues her soccer career at Moraine Valley.”

Abed also played soccer last fall for local Inter FC and coach Al Palar, who is the Cyclones’ new boss.

“Alex is as versatile as they come,” he said. “Her athleticism, paired with her understanding of the game, allows her to be effective at every position on the field. She’s quick, strong and technical with the ball. It’s such a luxury for a coach to have a player like Alex on the squad who can be confidently put anywhere on the field and [you] know that the she will do the job well.

“I think my favorite part about Alex is her competitive attitude and how much she hates to lose. Whether it’s a game or a training session, you are only going to get better with maximum effort -- that’s what Alex brings every day. I’m very excited about her decision to sign with the Cyclones and continue her education here.”

 

Taking a look back

  • Written by Ken Karrson

 

 

 

BOYSPOYSIDEBAR.PHOTO1.3-19

 

Taking a look back

Choosing the best can sometimes be interesting

 

By Jeff Vorva

Reporter Editor

Since the Reporter and Regional News merged their sports sections in 1988, 28 boys' basketball Player of the Year selections have been made.

With Richards’ Jaylan Catledge filling that role in 2014-15, something new has occurred as he is the first sophomore among the honorees. After compiling the long list of area individuals who’ve been chosen as either top player or coach for a season -- beginning in 1994 that also included girls’ teams -- a few interesting tidbits were unearthed.

SUBHEAD: Super Sarah

Sandburg’s Sarah Kustok was the first sophomore Player of the Year and remains the only athlete of either sex to be recognized three times. Her brother Zak, a former quarterback with the Eagles and at Northwestern University, was tabbed as the football Player of the Year once during the mid-1990s.

Kustok, who went on to play four years of basketball at DePaul University, entered the broadcasting field after graduating college. She was a sports television reporter in Chicago and is currently on the YES Network in New York. Kustok recently got a chance to do color commentary as a member of the announcing team at a Brooklyn Nets-Philadelphia 76ers game.

SUBHEAD: Double-winners

Sandburg’s Dave Rettker (1989-90), Shepard’s Steve Payne (1990-91), Brother Rice’s Jim Sexton (1993-94) and Marist’s Nick Valla (2009-10) were picked as either Player of the Year or co-Player of the Year in back-to-back campaigns. For good measure Valla also achieved all-area status in football as a receiver.

While they couldn’t equal Kustok’s trifecta, Mother McAuley’s Anne McDonald (1994-95) and Stagg’s Heather King (2003-04) did manage to repeat as girls’ Player of the Year.

SUBHEAD: Wade-ing in success

The player who enjoyed the greatest hoops success beyond high school was 2000 winner Dwyane Wade of Richards, who played a couple of years at Marquette University before beginning a lengthy NBA career with the Miami Heat that continues today. The Heat have won three world championships since Wade’s arrival (2006, 2012, 2013) and reached the NBA Finals five times.

SUBHEAD: Top player, top coach

The only person to gain both Player of the Year and Coach of the Year status is current Marist skipper Gene Nolan, who collected his third coaching award this season. He was also named the top basketball boss in 2012 and 2004.

Twelve years prior to that initial Coach of the Year designation, Nolan was tabbed as Player of the Year following his junior campaign at Marist.

SUBHEAD: He can coach anybody

Evergreen Park’s Bruce Scaduto has proved to be an equal-opportunity hoops leader. While heading up the Mustangs boys’ squad Scaduto was chosen as Coach of the Year in 2009. Four years later he received the same honor, this time after guiding Evergreen’s girls to a regional title. The female Mustangs have claimed two more regional championships since then.

SUBHEAD: Three wise men

The 1988-89 season saw not one, not two but three men share Coach of the Year honors: Richards’ Jerry Tokars, Sandburg’s Bill Reynolds and Marist’s Ken Styler. Tokars was in his first year with the Bulldogs after coaching more than two decades at De La Salle Institute.

SUBHEAD: Mondo Mundo

Rick Mundo became the first three-time Coach of the Year on the girls’ side as he was recognized in 2000, 2001 and 2002 while guiding Mother McAuley. He also coached the Macs softball team and later returned to the court as the girls’ basketball coach at Shepard.

Not long after Mundo’s three-peat came one by Sandburg’s Christine Bochnak, who was named the area’s top girls’ coach in 2004, 2005 and 2006. On the boys’ side Reynolds and Shepard’s Kurt Enzminger were a part of six straight Coach of the Year awards between them.

Besides his one-third slice in 1989, Reynolds also shared the honor with Tokars in 1988 before winning it outright in 1990. Enzminger also went solo in 1991 and then settled for being co-Coach of the Year with Sandburg’s Randy Voels and Evergreen Park’s Tom O’Malley in 1992 and ’93, respectively.

Back-to-back winners from the coaching ranks include Stagg’s Al Biancalana (1996-97), Richards’ Jack Fitzgerald (1998-99), Shepard’s Tony Chiuccariello (2001-02), Richards’ John Chappetto (2007-08) and Stagg’s John Daniels (2013-14). Chappetto is the only coach to have won a state championship.

McAuley’s Karen Ade was girls’ Coach of the Year in 2008 and 2009.

SUBHEAD: Still waiting

Queen of Peace has not had either a player or coach snare the top award and Chicago Christian’s girls team has been similarly blanked. Evergreen Park is absent a Player of the Year for both its boys and girls teams.

Former St. Laurence coach Tom Pallardy was feted in 2003, but no Vikings athlete has yet been chosen as Player of the Year.

GRAPHIC HEADLINE: Blast from the past

 

BOYS’ PLAYER OF THE YEAR

1988 -- Ray Thompson (Argo)

1989 -- Dave Rettker (Sandburg) and Cleveland Anderson (Richards)

1990 -- Steve Payne (Shepard) and Dave Rettker (Sandburg)

1991 -- Steve Payne (Shepard)

1992 -- Gene Nolan (Marist)                                

1993 -- Jim Sexton (Brother Rice)

1994 -- Jim Sexton (Brother Rice)

1995 -- John Economous (Shepard)

1996 -- Chad Harris (Chicago Christian)

1997 -- Wayne Plowman (Marist)

1998 -- Demetrius McDaniel (Richards)

1999 -- Joe Scott (Stagg)

2000 -- Dwayne Wade (Richards)

2001 -- Cory Cummens (Sandburg)

2002 -- Rick Harrigan (Brother Rice)

2003 -- Don Hackstock (Oak Lawn)

2004 -- Dave Telander (Brother Rice)

2005 -- Ross Stuursma (Chicago Christian)

2006 -- Cordelro Yelder (Richards)

2007 -- Jeff Miller (Stagg)

2008 -- Joel Kamp (Chicago Christian)

2009 -- Nick Valla (Marist)

2010 -- Nick Valla (Marist)

2011 -- Darius Draper (Stagg)

2012 -- Michael Kamp (Chicago Christian)

2013 -- Alex Majewski (Brother Rice)

2014 -- Max Strus (Stagg)

2015 -- Jaylan Catledge (Richards)

BOYS’ COACH OF THE YEAR

1988 -- Jerry Tokars (Richards) and Bill Reynolds (Sandburg)

1989 -- Jerry Tokars (Richards), Bill Reynolds (Sandburg) and Ken Styler (Marist)

1990 -- Bill Reynolds (Sandburg)

1991 -- Kurt Enzminger (Shepard)

1992 -- Kurt Enzminger (Shepard) and Randy Voels (Sandburg)

1993 -- Kurt Enzminger (Shepard) and Tom O’Malley (Evergreen Park)

1994 -- Pat Richardson (Brother Rice)

1995 -- Jack Fitzgerald (Richards) and Kurt Enzminger (Shepard)

1996 -- Al Biancalana (Stagg) and Ken Styler (Richards)

1997 -- Al Biancalana (Stagg)

1998 -- Jack Fitzgerald (Richards)

1999 -- Jack Fitzgerald (Richards)

2000 -- Pat Richardson (Brother Rice)

2001 -- Tony Chiuccariello (Shepard)

2002 -- Tony Chiuccariello (Shepard)

2003 -- Tom Pallardy (St. Laurence)

2004 -- Gene Nolan (Marist)

2005 -- John Daniels (Stagg)

2006 -- Ross Douma (Chicago Christian)

2007 -- John Chappetto (Richards)

2008 -- John Chappetto (Richards)

2009 -- Bruce Scaduto (Evergreen Park)

2010 -- Scott Atkins (Oak Lawn)

2011 -- Kevin Pittman (Chicago Christian)

2012 -- Gene Nolan (Marist)

2013 -- John Daniels (Stagg)

2014 -- John Daniels (Stagg)

2015 -- Gene Nolan (Marist)

GIRLS’ PLAYER OF THE YEAR

1994 -- Anne McDonald (Mother McAuley)

1995 -- Anne McDonald (Mother McAuley)

1996 -- Ann Mullins (Sandburg)

1997 -- Katie Schumacher (Mother McAuley)

1998 -- Sarah Kustok (Sandburg)

1999 -- Sarah Kustok (Sandburg)

2000 -- Sarah Kustok (Sandburg)

2001 -- Emily Heikes (Stagg)

2002 -- Tina Hill (Richards)

2003 -- Heather King (Stagg)

2004 -- Heather King (Stagg)

2005 -- Erin Cattell (Sandburg)

2006 -- Maureen Downs (Marist)

2007 -- Kelsey James (Marist)

2008 -- Maureen Mulchrone (Mother McAuley)

2009 -- Haley Stercic (Marist)

2010 -- Jessica Contant (Stagg)

2011 -- None named

2012 -- None named

2013 -- JaTuan Rouse (Marist)

2014 -- LaTondra Brooks (Oak Lawn)

2015 -- Brianna Markusic (Oak Lawn)

GIRLS’ COACH OF THE YEAR

1994 -- Gary Bonk (Sandburg)

1995 -- Barb Edwards (Mother McAuley) and Missy Mason (Stagg)

1996 -- Gary Bonk (Sandburg) and Tom Rekruciak (Richards)

1997 -- Barb Edwards (Mother McAuley)

1998 -- Gary Bonk (Sandburg)

1999 -- Brandy Zion (Evergreen Park)

2000 -- Rick Mundo (Mother McAuley)

2001 -- Rick Mundo (Mother McAuley)

2002 -- Rick Mundo (Mother McAuley)

2003 -- Janet Haubenreiser (Oak Lawn)

2004 -- Christine Bochnak (Sandburg)

2005 -- Christine Bochnak (Sandburg)

2006 -- Christine Bochnak (Sandburg)

2007 -- Mary Pat Connolly (Marist)

2008 -- Karen Ade (Mother McAuley)

2009 -- Karen Ade (Mother McAuley)

2010 -- Bill Turner (Stagg)

2011 -- None named

2012 -- Bill Turner (Stagg)

2013 -- Bruce Scaduto (Evergreen Park)

2014 -- Janet Meyers (nee Haubenreiser) (Oak Lawn)

2015 -- Chris Hellrung

 

2014-15 Boys All-Area Basketball Team

  • Written by Ken Karrson

 

BOYSBSKPOY.PHOTO1.3-19

 

2014-15 All-Area Basketball Team

                  

JAYLAN CATLEDGE, Richards, F, So.

            * The first sophomore ever chosen as this paper’s boys' Player of the Year, Catledge didn’t appear poised for such a designation at the outset of the 2014-15 campaign. Although he had played some varsity ball for the Bulldogs as a freshman, incoming coach Jevon Mamon felt Catledge would be best served by starting the season as a member of Richards’ sophomore team. Catledge didn’t like the demotion, but instead of getting mad he got better -- good enough, in fact, that Mamon couldn’t deny him a spot on the varsity roster for very long. And once he arrived Catledge became a difference-maker. Oak Lawn coach Jason Rhodes wouldn’t disagree after getting two up-close looks -- his Spartans were torched for 36 points the first time around and then were victimized by a 26-point, 13-rebound performance in a playoff matchup. Four of Catledge’s final five outings produced 20-plus points and for the season he averaged 17 to go along with eight boards. He shot 48 percent overall and 51 percent in two-point territory, sank 82-of-108 free throws, made 31 steals and recorded 18 blocks. Catledge was one of just two players nominated for South Suburban Conference Red Player of the Year -- the award went to Eisenhower’s Vinny Curta -- and he’s getting noticed elsewhere: Some Missouri Valley Conference schools are already showing recruiting interest, one hoops report considers him among the top 40 sophomores in Illinois and Catledge was one of seven athletes named in a promotional piece advertising the inaugural Hinsdale Central Holiday Classic that is nine months away. Mamon summed it up best, however: “I don’t know if we’re sitting at 14-14 or even if we get second place in conference without him. He’s not afraid to step out and step up, and his best basketball is still in front of him.”

JOHN CONTANT, Stagg, G, So.

            * Jaylan Catledge may be the area’s most noteworthy sophomore, but he’s not the only talented one. Contant qualifies too after taking over for two-time all-area pick Kevin White and becoming the trigger man for a Chargers attack that got noticeably better as the season wore on. After getting a taste of varsity action as a freshman Contant became a constant, an especially key development since Stagg standout Jeff Goral was in and out of the lineup because of a nagging injury that was initially suffered during football season. Contant, whose sister Jessica was this paper’s 2010 Girls’ Player of the Year, garnered All-SouthWest Suburban Conference Blue honors after averaging 9.2 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists per contest. He and fellow sophomore Josh Strama will serve as the Chargers’ cornerstones for the 2015-16 season.

TOMMY DEMOGERONTAS, Sandburg, C, Sr.

            * One of three Demogerontases on the Eagles’ roster, 6-foot-7 Tommy is the tallest and was the most productive this winter. He was tabbed as team MVP and an All-SouthWest Suburban Conference Blue performer following a senior season in which he averaged 13 points and four rebounds per game, both team-high figures. Demogerontas, who shot 54 percent form the field, had a season-best 28 points in Sandburg’s first encounter with Joliet Central. He also supplied the Eagles with 64 assists and 13 3-pointers. In Sandburg coach Todd Allen’s words, Demogerontas “could do a little bit of everything for us. He’s a tough matchup and he can handle [the ball]. His best basketball is ahead of him.” A one-time high jumper for the Sandburg track team, Demogerontas will forgo that sport this spring and concentrate on preparing for college. Millikin University is one school that has piqued his interest.

JEREMIAH FERGUSON, Marist, G, Sr.

            * Ferguson is a returning member of the all-area team as he completed a solid two-year run with the RedHawks, during which time they amassed 39 wins. Once again his statistics weren’t overwhelming, but nobody associated with Marist’s program will deny his importance to its well-being. The two-time All-East Suburban Catholic Conference selection upped his scoring average to 12.1 points and his per-game assists to 4.0, but Ferguson may have been even more valuable without the ball. He always drew the toughest defensive assignment and displayed quick hands as evidenced by his 57 steals. Ferguson is no slouch in the classroom either as he boasts a 4.77 grade-point average on a 5.0 scale. He has yet to decide on his college destination.

JEFF GORAL, Stagg, F, Sr.

            * Once 2013-14 Player of the Year Max Strus graduated, the Chargers were expected to become something of a nonentity -- forecasters certainly took that viewpoint as pretty much every one of them predicted a bottom-of-the-division finish for Stagg in the SouthWest Suburban Conference Blue. And a slow break from the gate appeared to give those opinions validity, but Goral refused to settle for a forgettable final season. While he could not take over games in quite the same manner as his predecessor, Goral’s importance to the Chargers was found in a particular set of numbers: The team went 3-11 when the senior was either sidelined or trying to play through injury, 10-6 when he was operating at full strength. That latter mark helped Stagg defy its doubters and wind up in a third-place tie within the eight-school SWSC Blue. In earning all-conference recognition Goral -- who was an all-area honorable mention as a junior -- averaged a team-best 14.2 points per game and was second in rebounding at 4.5. He will attend Hope College in Michigan in the fall.

CHAMAR HAWKINS, Marist, F, Jr.

            * What Jeremiah Ferguson didn’t do for the RedHawks, Hawkins often did as he joined his teammate on the All-East Suburban Catholic Conference squad. Hawkins ran dead even with Ferguson in scoring average (12.1 ppg) and gathered in almost one full rebound more as he finished at 4.9 boards per game. With Ferguson moving on, Hawkins will undoubtedly be the linchpin of Marist’s 2015-16 club and should bump up both his scoring and rebounding numbers as a senior.

NIKO KOGIONIS, Sandburg, G, Sr.

            * When it comes to long balls Kogionis couldn’t have done any greater damage if he had been swinging a bat. The senior exits the Eagles hoops program as its all-time leader in 3-point baskets by a wide margin as he surpassed previous record holder Sean McBride early in the 2014-15 schedule and finished more than 50 ahead of him. Kogionis couldn’t eclipse McBride’s single-season mark of 88 3s, but he sure came close, falling short by just one as a junior and by five this season. With his 68 3s as a sophomore also factored in, Kogionis wound up with 238 beyond-the-arc buckets for his career. In his final season he averaged a team-best 13.5 points to go along with three rebounds per contest. He was an honorable mention all-area pick in 2013-14.

KYLE LONGFIELD, Shepard, F, Sr.

            * An honorable mention all-area performer as a junior, Longfield makes the jump up to the first team after being the brightest light during the Astros’ difficult 2014-15 campaign. He was a more effective glass cleaner than Windex as he hauled in 292 rebounds, an average of 10.8 per contest, which actually bettered his per-game scoring mark of 9.9. Longfield reached double digits in rebounds 16 times and had 12 double-doubles. To gauge his dominance on the boards, one needs only to glance at the rebound total of Shepard’s No. 2 man, which was 213 less than Longfield’s. He paced the Astros with 44 blocks, made 30 defensive recoveries, caused 18 other turnovers and pleased Shepard coach Tony Chiuccariello greatly by taking nine charges. Longfield, who will be a member of the Astros baseball team this spring and played golf for the Astros in the fall, excels academically as well as he is a member of the National Honor Society with a 4.1 GPA and 26 on his ACT. Schools that have shown interest in Longfield include Coe and Central colleges in Iowa and Robert Morris University.

ISAAC MATTHEWS, Evergreen Park, G, Sr.

            * Matthews has gotten to be quite the familiar face at all-area time as he makes his second straight appearance on the basketball squad, a double play that was bridged by first-team status on the all-area football squad last fall. His 13.8 points-per-game average was actually a touch below what he managed as a junior, but he compiled his senior-year stats while being the primary focus of every opposing defense. Matthews’ own defensive figures improved from the season before as he increased his total number of steals (79) and deflections (49) by 10 apiece. He also grabbed 149 rebounds and dished out 76 assists. Some single-game highlights included 28 points and seven steals vs. Shepard, 25 points and seven steals against Oak Lawn, 13 rebounds opposite Hubbard and 10 rebounds and seven assists versus Eisenhower. The 6-foot guard pulled down at least seven boards in nine of Evergreen Park’s 29 contests. As a football player Matthews -- who is undecided on his college destination but has attracted notice from some Division III schools -- caught 40 passes for 605 yards and six touchdowns and made 56 tackles on defense.

JOSH PRINCE, Oak Lawn, F, Sr.

            * Like Stagg’s Goral, Sandburg’s Kogionis, Shepard’s Longfield and Chicago Christian’s Trevor Wolterink, Prince elevated his game well enough to grab all-area first-team honors one year after being named honorable mention by this paper. In his last prep go-around, Prince checked in with team-leading per-game stats of 12.9 points and 5.9 rebounds, numbers he augmented with 32 assists, 10 blocks, an average of 1.0 steals per contest and a field-goal percentage of 48. Prince didn’t play basketball as an 8th-grader and “was not very good as a freshman,” according to Spartans coach Jason Rhodes, who praised his player for how he “just worked on getting better. I can’t say enough good things about him. We’re going to miss him in a lot more ways than just his scoring and rebounding.” Prince will not play basketball in college, but he will put his 3.4 GPA to good use as he plans to study pre-pharmacy at the University of Illinois-Chicago.

BRETT RISLEY, St. Laurence, G/F, Jr.

            * Two broken noses might have been enough to discourage many players, but Risley overcame those maladies to remain a central figure for the Vikings. As first-year St. Laurence coach Jim Maley stated, “He did a little bit of everything for us. He’s not physically developed [in full] yet, but he has the skill level and he’s open to anything.” Risley, an All-Chicago Catholic League North pick whose brother Ryan played at Dominican University after graduating from St. Laurence, led the Vikings with his 10.7 points-per-game average and 87 percent success rate at the line, where he sank 81-of-93 attempts. His 49 3s, which came on 38 percent shooting, tied Rich Lamb for the team lead. Risley connected on 48 percent of his tries from inside the arc. Other notable stats were 120 rebounds, 56 assists, 30 steals, 35 defensive deflections and 11 charges taken.

MIKE SHEPSKI, Brother Rice, G, So.

            * In his first full season with the Crusaders varsity, Shepski quickly evolved into their go-to guy and was feted for that as Brother Rice’s lone representative on the All-Chicago Catholic League team. He ranked at or near the top of most statistical categories for the Crusaders -- his team-best figures included his 378 points and 12.6 ppg average, 55 3-point baskets and 35 steals. Shepski was second in 3-point field-goal percentage (37.9), free-throw percentage (76.3) by .3, rebounds (106) and assists (34) and third in blocks (seven). He hit 46 percent of his shots (139-of-302) from the floor.

JOSH STRAMA, Stagg, G, So.

            * Along with fellow sophomore John Contant, Strama settled into a pivotal role for the Chargers almost from the outset. Unlike Contant, Strama didn’t have any previous varsity experience from which to draw, making the latter’s achievements all the more impressive. An honorable mention selection within the SouthWest Suburban Conference Blue, Strama was second to teammate Jeff Goral in points per game with 12.4 while also averaging 4.9 rebounds and 1.4 assists. With Goral graduating, Strama will assume a heavier load next season and an increase in many statistical departments is likely.

DAYLON WASHINGTON, Chicago Christian, G, Jr.

            * Forced to miss the Knights’ two playoff games, Washington’s value to Chicago Christian was evident as coach Kevin Pittman had to dramatically alter his strategies. As one of the Knights’ quickest players, Washington’s postseason absence meant there were “a lot of things we had drawn up we had to keep in our back pocket [because] a lot of things we run go through him.” Before being sidelined Washington was Christian’s top thief (2.3 steals per game) and its second-best scorer (10.8 ppg) and assist man (2.0). Despite his 5-11 frame he wasn’t too shabby as a rebounder as he snared an average of 4.9 boards.

TREVOR WOLTERINK, Chicago Christian, F, Jr.

            * The Knights’ best seasons have usually resulted from balanced lineups and contributions from several sources, but in the midst of that somebody always manages to step forward and assume a leadership role. In 2014-15 that was Wolterink, who produced team-high averages of 15.9 points and 1.4 blocks per game en route to being named to the All-Metro Suburban Conference East team. Wolterink, an all-area honorable mention as a sophomore, was third in rebounding (5.9 per contest) for Chicago Christian this season and distributed an average of 1.1 assists. Expect Wolterink to play an equally vital role for the Knights baseball team in the spring after being an all-area selection in 2014 and landing on the very last All-Suburban Christian Conference unit.

           

                        HONORABLE MENTION

JAKE KOSAKOWSKI, Brother Rice, F/C, Fr.

JOE RUZEVICH, Brother Rice, F, Sr.

DARREN PRITCHETT, Evergreen Park, C, Sr.

JOE COSENZA, Oak Lawn, F, Sr.

JIMMY WILTZIUS, Oak Lawn, G/F, Jr.

AMEEN HUSSEIN, Richards, G, Sr.

LUCAS WHITE, Richards, F, Sr.

KENNY GORSKI, Shepard, G/F, Sr.

KENJRICK WATSON, Shepard, G, Jr.

RICH LAMB, St. Laurence, F, Sr.

 

                        COACH OF THE YEAR

GENE NOLAN, Marist

* After surrendering Coach of the Year honors to Stagg’s John Daniels the past two seasons, Nolan reclaims them for the second time in four years and third time since 2004. While the RedHawks experienced an abrupt end to their campaign by losing their playoff opener to Marian Catholic, they posted what was by far the best record of any local hoops program. Included among Marist’s 20 wins were one against the Spartans and four others against East Suburban Catholic Conference squads, successes that had the RedHawks briefly thinking in terms of a league title. Despite having relatively little size the past two years, Marist racked up a total of 39 victories. Nolan, by the way, is the only person to capture both Coach and Player of the Year recognition from this paper. He gained the latter in 1992.

 

End of the line

  • Written by Ken Karrson

 

 

 

RICH-OLBSK.PHOTO1.3-12

 

Class 4A Thornton Regional

End of the line

 

Bulldogs, Chargers advance but fall on 2nd day

 

By Ken Karrson

Sports Editor

 

            On Day 1 they won

            On Day 2 they were both through.

            Unlike many area basketball teams, neither Richards nor Stagg lived a one-and-done existence last week. The Bulldogs advanced to the next round of the Class 4A Thornton Regional by beating South Suburban Conference Red and neighborhood rival Oak Lawn for the second time this season, 47-42, on Monday, the same day the Chargers crushed Kennedy 84-47.

            But a couple of storied programs prevented the two locals from going any further. Host Thornton brought Richards’ season to a close on Tuesday by handing down a 65-42 defeat while Stagg was sent to the sidelines one night later by fellow SouthWest Suburban Conference Blue member Homewood-Flossmoor, which completed a three-game season sweep of the Chargers with a 66-50 verdict.

            For Bulldogs coach Jevon Mamon, who guided Richards to a 14-14 mark in his initial season at the helm, there was no shame in coming up shy against the Wildcats, who lost to H-F in Friday’s title clash.

            “I have no beef with how we went out,” Mamon said. “If we had to go down, I wanted it to be fighting and clawing and I felt we competed to the best of our ability. I’m proud of the guys for being able to do that. It showed a lot of character.”

            Having basically no time to prepare for Thornton certainly didn’t help the Bulldogs. What made the Wildcats an especially tough opponent was their balance -- five players scored between eight and 10 points and two of them, Robert McCalley and D’Quan Applewhite, combined to gather in a dozen rebounds. Jaylan Catledge (15 points, seven rebounds) and Carlos Draper (nine points on 4-of-6 shooting) were the Bulldogs’ biggest counters to Thornton’s quintet.

            The Wildcats nailed six first-half 3s and thrust Richards into an early 12-point hole. Thornton ended the game with a 46 percent accuracy rate that was significantly better than the ‘Dogs’ field-goal percentage of 30.

            “We didn’t shoot the ball particularly well [and] we were never able to make a true threat by getting within eight or nine [after halftime],” Mamon said. “They’re a good team that brought forth a really good team effort for 32 minutes.

            “There weren’t one or two guys you look to key in on when you play Thornton. Everyone is able to bring something to the table for them. When you’re facing a team that good, it makes it difficult [to succeed].”

            And because of the Wildcats’ depth of talent Mamon told his players, “You definitely don’t have anything to hang your heads about.” That was also the coach’s sentiment about the season as a whole.

            “We had a lot of [personnel] turnover and not much experience coming back, but I think it was a good building block and a pretty good start to what we want to do [as a program],” Mamon said.

                        Richards 47

                        Oak Lawn 42

            The only good start to last Monday’s contest was delivered by the Spartans, who netted 13 of the game’s first 14 points. According to Oak Lawn coach Jason Rhodes, the Spartans “were getting anything we wanted.”

            “I don’t think they came out with a lot of fire,” he said of the Bulldogs, “and I thought our effort was really good. Our guys battled like they have done all year. We could have been up 21-5, and if we had gotten a 15- or 16-point lead I don’t know if [Richards] would have responded.”

            But the Spartans’ edge was down to 15-9 by the end of the first quarter, thanks to their misses on two point-blank shots, an Oak Lawn turnover that led to a Bulldogs layup and a running 3-pointer that closed out the period for Richards on a positive note.

            “We gave them life,” Rhodes said.

            And the Bulldogs didn’t waste it. With Catledge as its catalyst, Richards fought back and was tied with the Spartans (9-18) at 37-all. The sophomore, who burned Oak Lawn for 36 points less than two weeks before, wound up with 26 here on 10-of-18 shooting and 13 rebounds.

            Catledge stepped forward at crunch time to supply Richards with eight of its last 10 points. Kush Baxter provided the other two on free throws that gave the Bulldogs a five-point cushion and allowed them to withstand a final 3-pointer by the Spartans.

            “Jaylan Catledge literally willed us to that win,” Mamon said. “We did a heck of a lot of scoring inside with him. Oak Lawn zoned us the whole game, looked to slow us down and control the pace, but we were able to get it done [behind Catledge].”

            Rhodes recalled one fourth-quarter play where the Spartans seemingly had Catledge cornered, only to watch him “somehow slither through the trap and put one up off the glass."

            “He’s got great body control and he is tough,” Rhodes said.

            Oak Lawn posted a better field-goal percentage than Richards (46-39), but the Bulldogs benefited from 13 offensive rebounds. They tallied 16 points either on second chances or fast breaks while the Spartans had just two of those.

            “This was no different than a lot of games this year -- we had trouble scoring the easy baskets all year long,” Rhodes said. “Even when we pressed and got turnovers, it was hard for us to score off those.”

            Josh Prince had a double-double of 16 points and 11 rebounds for Oak Lawn while Jimmy Wiltzius pitched in with 11 points and five assists. The latter played all 32 minutes.

            Despite the Spartans’ occasional lapses Mamon felt good about the Bulldogs’ ability to notch a second win over them.

            “Oak Lawn played a pretty solid game,” he said. “I felt like it wouldn’t be the same [type of] game as we played a week-and-a-half before and we hammered it [into our players] pretty well, but our youthfulness settled in for a while.”

            Mamon wasn’t alone in believing the Spartans performed admirably.

            “I think our team improved a ton from the beginning of the year to the end,” Rhodes said. “We were a work in progress all year long, but our guys really got tighter. We played with a lot more toughness and grit defensively and we got much better [at] moving the ball and sharing it.”

                        H-F 66

                        Stagg 50

            Already owning two sizable victories over the Chargers this season, the Vikings appeared to be doing business as usual when they constructed a 15-point lead on Stagg in the second quarter last Wednesday.

            “Everybody thought it was going to be the same thing [as before],” Chargers coach John Daniels said.

            But it wasn’t. Although the final score leaned heavily in H-F’s direction, that didn’t occur without some anxious moments. Stagg (13-17) shaved its large deficit down to almost nothing with a 13-point spurt that bled into the third period. Jeff Goral’s two 3s -- part of a 6-of-9 exhibition from long distance by the senior -- sparked the assault and the Chargers were within six with 5 ½ minutes to go in the game.

            And then the Vikings pulled the ball out and slowed the tempo. Stagg was eventually forced to foul and H-F used a series of free throws to hang on.

            “We just weren’t big enough,” Daniels said. “That was a weakness all year and it hurt us in this game.”

            The Vikings included 15 offensive boards among their 37 rebounds, a total that eclipsed the Chargers’ by 10. Stagg pretty much matched H-F’s shooting percentage, but the former was hurt by 18 turnovers and the fact it attempted 20 fewer free throws.

            So how come the Chargers didn’t get steamrolled like they had before?

            “We had Goral -- that was the big difference,” Daniels said. “He carried us on his back. It was one of the best games I’ve seen him play. There’s no doubt he’s our team MVP.”

            Goral poured in 26 points even though the Vikings “were tagging him and every time he drove he had length on him.” In addition to his scoring, Goral had six rebounds, two assists and two steals. His main sidekick was sophomore Josh Strama, who finished with 14 points and eight boards.

Leading H-F was Destin Barnes, who tallied a game-high 32 points. Terrance Bradley added 14. Daniels praised Vikings coach Marc Condotti for what H-F has accomplished to date.

“They’re better than us and they’re going to be a tough team to put out [of the tournament],” Daniels said. “Condotti’s done a tremendous job. He’s a very good coach and he’s put his stamp on his team. He deserves a lot of credit.”

Daniels’ work with Stagg wasn’t too shabby either. Despite having two sophomores play prominent roles and carrying five of them on the roster, the Chargers won 10 of their final 16 games.

            Stagg 84

            Kennedy 47

The last of those 10 victories was logged against the Crusaders last Monday. Five 3-point baskets kept Kennedy even with Stagg through one quarter, but the Chargers gradually imposed their will on an opponent to whom defense was not a priority.

“They didn’t guard anybody -- we could have put up 100,” said Daniels, who instructed his athletes to not even shoot for the last chunk of the fourth quarter. “I’ve never been in this position before. I’ve never beaten anybody like this.

“They came out and just jacked it. They were taking shots from 26, 28 feet. We told our players, ‘Make them drive and [you] take a charge.’”

Goral was on the floor for only about 20 minutes, but that was enough time to generate 22 points. John Contant (13 points, seven assists), Joe Zaremba (11 points), Brett Stratinsky (10) and Strama (seven points, six rebounds, five assists) were other key figures for Stagg, which had 11 guys in all reach the scoring column.

Tom Kazanecki tossed in eight points to further aid the Chargers’ offense and Josh Sterling pulled down a team-best seven rebounds.

Richards         47

Oak Lawn      42

Richards Scoring: Catledge 26, Hussein 7. Rebounds: Catledge 13.

Oak Lawn Scoring: Prince 16, Wiltzius 11, Cosenza 5, Alshaikh 4, Khater 2, Nelson 2, Smith 2. Rebounds: Prince 11. Assists: Wiltzius 5.

Thornton        65

Richards         42

Richards Scoring: Catledge 15, Draper 9. Rebounds: Catledge 7.

H-F     66

Stagg   50

Stagg Scoring: Goral 26, Strama 14, Worst 7, Stratinsky 2, Contant 1. Rebounds: Strama 8, Goral 6. Assists: Goral 2. Steals: Goral 2.

Stagg   84

Kennedy         47

Stagg Scoring: Goral 22, Contant 13, Zaremba 11, Stratinsky 10, Kazanecki 8, Strama 7, McMahon 5, Liput 3, Kosch 2, Sterling 2, Mohan 1. Rebounds: Sterling 7, Strama 6. Assists: Contant 7, Strama 5.