Paul Johnson’s 10 best women’s basketball teams and 25 players to watch in Aurora and Elgin areas for 2022-23 season – Chicago Tribune

1. Geneva (25-5): The Vikings have a returning roster from the team that won its 13th straight regional title and was undefeated conference champion DuKane. Reigning Region Player of the Year Cassidy Arni, Leah Palmer and Lauren Slagle are all back.

2. Saint-Charles East (22-7): Torrie Kortan graduated from last season’s surprise sectional champions, but Lexi DiOrio, Alexis Maridis and Emma Yakey return after a full offseason with coach Josh Foster, who took last winter midway through the season.

3. Saint-Charles North (18-13): Expectations are high for North Stars with a talented group of returnees leading the way. Reagan Sipla has multiple Division I offers, Alyssa Hughes is committed to Washington at St. Louis, and Katrina Stack is also returning.

4. South Elgin (27-6): Storm is looking to continue after securing the undefeated Upstate Eight Conference title, a program record 27 wins and her first-ever appearance in the Divisional Championship Game. Zoie Lewis, Caitlyn Tolentino and Raina Yang headline the returnees.

5. Waubonsie Valley (16-15): After a regional championship, the Warriors come back a lot of length and score. Senior guard Taylor Curry and junior forward Hannah Laub each averaged 15 points last season. Second-year goaltender Lily Newton is also back.

6. Batavia (19-15): Tessa Towers is now a freshman center for Wisconsin, but the Bulldogs are returning one of the region’s most dynamic players in junior point guard Brooke Carlson. She has 209 points less than 1,000 for her career. Kylee Gehrt is also returning.

7. Burlington Center (23-10): Rockets have graduated much of their core, including Taylor Charles, a freshman forward at Princeton. The Rockets are looking to get things done, however, behind returnees Page Erickson, Samantha Origel and Emma Payton.

8. Aurora West (15-13): The Blackhawks finished second in the Southwest Prairies. Aspen Weeks is back for her second season after being transferred from Aurora Christian. Rookie Flagler is 57 points out of 1,000 for his career.

9. Kaneland (18-13): After consecutive 18-13 seasons, the Knights enter their first year under coach Brian Claesson. They will rely on many new young players, but can count on a trio of guards in senior Kailey Plank, junior Lexi Schueler and sophomore Kendra Brown.

10. Newark (22-8): The Norsemen reached the section final last season and have three key returns for first-year head coach Glenn Clausel at seniors Emily DiClementi, Breannyn Dixon and Taylor Kruser.

Taylor Curry of Waubonsie Valley shoots a lay-up against Anastasia Bellamy (55) and Mia Moore (25) of East Aurora during the Class 4A Plainfield North Regional Semi-Finals on Tuesday February 15, 2022.

Claire Allen, Sandwich, senior, center; Cassidy Arni, Geneva, senior, guard/striker; Anastasia Bellamy, Aurora East; junior, center; Brooke Carlson, Batavia, junior, guard; Avery Cartee, Hampshire, junior, guard/striker; Sofia Corral, Aurora Central Catholic, sophomore, guard; Taylor Curry, Waubonsie Valley, senior, guard; Lexi DiOrio, St. Charles East, junior, guard; Riley Doggett, Oswego East, senior, guard; Kylee Gehrt, Batavia, junior, guard; Ashley Herzing, Hampshire, junior, guard; Alyssa Hughes, St. Charles North, senior, guard; Baylei Johnson, Larkin, senior, center; Hannah Laub, Waubonsie Valley, senior guard; Alexis Maridis, St. Charles East, junior, guard; Mia Moore, East Aurora, senior, guard; Leah Palmer, Geneva, junior, fullback/forward; Raina Penttila, Metea Valley, senior, striker; Cami Phillips, Oswego East, junior, guard; Reagan Sipla, St. Charles North, junior, guard; Alex Stewart, Yorkville, senior, guard; Caitlyn Tolentino, South Elgin, senior, guard; Aspen Weeks, West Aurora, senior, guard; Emma Yakey, St. Charles East, senior, guard/forward; Raina Yang, South Elgin, senior, guard.

Paul Johnson is a freelance journalist for The Beacon-News.