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

1. Geneva (25-5): Vikings have a bunch back from team that won its 13th straight regional title and was undefeated DuKane Conference champions. Reigning area player of the year Cassidy Arni, Leah Palmer and Lauren Slagle all return.

2. St. 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 in midseason.

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

4. South Elgin (27-6): Storm look to keep it going after steamrolling to undefeated Upstate Eight Conference title, program-record 27 wins and first-ever appearance in the sectional championship game. Zoie Lewis, Caitlyn Tolentino and Raina Yang headline the returnees.

5. Waubonsie Valley (16-15): Coming off a regional championship, Warriors return a lot of length and scoring. Senior guard Taylor Curry and junior forward Hannah Laub each averaged 15 points last season. Sophomore guard Lily Newton is also back.

St. Charles East’s Lexi DiOrio, center, drives between Wheaton North’s Lindsey Shanahan, left, and Caroline Gaither during the Class 4A Bartlett Sectional championship game on Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022.

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

7. Burlington Central (23-10): Rockets graduated a large part of its core, including Taylor Charles, a freshman forward at Princeton. The Rockets look to keep things rolling, however, behind returnees Page Erickson, Samantha Origel and Emma Payton.

8. West Aurora (15-13): Blackhawks finished second in the Southwest Prairie West. Aspen Weeks is back for her second season after transferring from Aurora Christian. The Flagler recruit is 57 points away from 1,000 for her career.

9. Kaneland (18-13): Coming off back-to-back 18-13 seasons, the Knights enter 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): Norsemen reached the sectional final last season and have three key returnees for first-year head coach Glenn Clausel in seniors Emily DiClementi, Breannyn Dixon and Taylor Kruser.

Waubonsie Valley's Taylor Curry shoots a layup against East Aurora's Anastasia Bellamy (55) and Mia Moore (25) during the Class 4A Plainfield North Regional semifinals on Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022.

Claire Allen, Sandwich, senior, center; Cassidy Arni, Geneva, senior, guard/forward; Anastasia Bellamy, East Aurora; junior, center; Brooke Carlson, Batavia, junior, guard; Avery Cartee, Hampshire, junior, guard/forward; 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, guard/forward; Raina Penttila, Metea Valley, senior, forward; 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 reporter for The Beacon-News.

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