The Oak Park and River Forest High School girls basketball team was all set to tip off the 2022-23 season at home on Nov. 14 against Proviso East, but had to settle for practice drills instead.
According to OPRF coach Carlton Rosemond, the Proviso East coach called on game day to ask for a postponement. No reason was given, but it means the Huskies won’t begin play until Nov. 17 at 7:30 p.m. against Nazareth Academy to kick off the Hinsdale South Thanksgiving Tournament.
In his second season, Rosemond hopes the Huskies can improve from their 10-19 record last winter. It’s an aim made a little more difficult by the fact OPRF returns just one starter, senior Libby Majka.
However, there are six other players returning with varsity experience, including seniors Justice Clark, Sophia Henry, Lauren Kelly, Cydney MacDonald, Teshell O’Neal and Angelina Sunardio.
“We’ve got some new additions and have had to make some adjustments to the style we play,” Rosemond said. “I like the team we have, and they’re coming along.”
The Huskies’ top newcomers are sophomore Genevieve Simkowski and juniors Taylor Smith and Shardae Spruille.
“Shardae could be a breakout player this year,” said Rosemond. “Genevieve is long and quick and hopefully she’ll make an impact for us.”
OPRF will face some top competition this season at the Thanksgiving tournament at Hinsdale South, the Morton College Christmas Tournament and the MLK Tournament at Trinity.
In addition, there are non-conference games with Fenwick, Mother McAuley (which eliminated the Huskies in a IHSA Class 4A regional semifinal last season), New Trier, Riverside-Brookfield, St. Ignatius and Trinity.
The Huskies also want to progress inside the West Suburban Conference Silver Division. While Rosemond believes Lyons Township is the team to beat, he’d like to move up.
“My goal is to be somewhere in the middle or towards the top,” he said. “That would be great for us. I like our chances of competing against most of the teams in our conference, and we’ll see where the cards fall.”
New Fenwick coach embraces challenge
Fenwick High School’s new girls basketball coach, Lenae Fergerson, has a challenging task ahead of her this season. Not only must she replace all five starters from a Friars team that went 23-11 and advanced to an IHSA Class 3A supersectional last year, she’s replacing legendary coach Dave Power, who retired with over 1,000 wins and three state championships.
But it’s something she’s looking forward to.
“The girls are buying into what we’re trying to teach them,” she said. “I’m pleased with their efforts.”
Fenwick returns three players that saw limited playing time on varsity last year in seniors Cam Brusca, Raina Ford and Allie Heyer.
“They’re going to play a lot more minutes than they’re used to,” Fergerson said. “But they’re up for the challenge. They took a backseat last year because of the seniors, and they’re ready to show what they can do.”
Other returning players for the Friars are seniors Bella Daley and Melissa Moduca and juniors Grace Kapsch and Lily O’Neill. The top newcomers are three sophomores: Mia Hernandez along with twin sisters Clare and Kiera Kapsch.
“We’re a younger team, but everyone’s up for the challenge of stepping in,” Fergerson said. “We want to build a culture of playing hard together. Losing all that size from last year, we have to play harder, and competing and defending are what we’re focused on.”
The Friars will take part in the New Trier Thanksgiving Tournament, the Marian Catholic Holiday Tournament, the Dundee-Crown Holiday Tournament and the MLK Tournament at Trinity.
There are also several intriguing non-conference matchups with local rivals OPRF and Riverside-Brookfield, as well as with Benet, Hinsdale Central, Marist and Willowbrook.
Fenwick doesn’t get any breaks in the Girls Catholic Athletic Conference Red Division, which includes Loyola Academy, Montini and Mother McAuley, St. Ignatius and Trinity.
The Friars open the season at Stevenson on Nov. 16.
Trinity ready to build on strong 2022-23
With three starters and three top reserves back from last year’s team that went 17-11 and lost the IHSA Class 3A Fenwick Sectional final to the Friars, Trinity High School girls basketball coach Kim Coleman is bullish on the Blazers this season.
“Our players know our expectations,” she said. “They know how and why we do things, and it’s an easier experience.”
Trinity’s returning starters are seniors Cierra Richardson, in her fourth year on the varsity, and Sophia Rodriguez and junior Lauren Miller, who was the team’s leading scorer last year.
The Blazers also return key contributors off the bench in junior Luz Kwiatkowski-Perez and seniors Jasmine Arzuaga, Killian Gitterle and Maeve Lundt.
Freshmen Zaria Goins and Chloe Santos along with sophomores Jaylani Hernandez and Arianna Rodriguez are newcomers hoping to have an impact.
“Chloe is a really versatile kid who’s learning a lot under Lauren’s wings,” Coleman said. “She can score from all over the place; she can hit the three and does well in the block. We have high expectations for her.”
The Blazers have a grueling schedule this winter. In addition to games in the tough GCAC Red, Trinity has non-conference matchups with OPRF and Wheaton-St. Francis. They’ll also compete in the Elmhurst Classic and Montini Holiday Classic and host their own MLK tournament.
Trinity opens the season Nov. 16 at Taft.