Having a vast amount of depth and experience can be helpful in a conference as competitive as the West Suburban Conference Silver Division. With six of its top eight players back this season, the Lyons Township High School girls basketball team appears in a good position to improve its 6-6 conference record last season.
"We are senior-heavy," LTHS coach Paul Krick said. "We have a lot of returning seniors. With that senior experience, comes maturity and wisdom. They learned a lot from last season and they're ready to leave their own mark. We have more depth at all positions."
Amid all the seniors, sophomore forward Lily Courier is the Lions' top returning scorer.
"She's very strong and has a lot of basketball IQ," he said. "She has been getting a lot of college interest. She's a real asset."
Kaelan Lee also returns at point guard.
"Her leadership is critical to our success," Krick said. "Her experience on the varsity level, as well as playing a lot of travel basketball, will prove to be useful to us this year."
Senior Sydney Bugaieski, another returning starter, is the team's shooting guard.
Fellow seniors expected to contribute this season include forward/center Emma Fink, guard Tessa Elliott, guard Gaby Allen and forward Kaley Kessler.
"They've all dedicated themselves to improving since the end of last season," Krick said. "Emma Fink is a post player and a workhorse. Tessa Elliott has really worked hard in the offseason and is blending herself in really well. Gabby Allen had a knee injury last season, and we have high hopes for her to make a big splash. Kaley Kessler is in a supporting role and has also improved."
Freshman guard Lindsey Hahn and sophomore forwards Patty Cesarini and Jessie Nutter are welcome additions to the varsity.
"Lindsey is a nice shooter who is worthy of being on the varsity," Krick said. "Patty will is also expected to make an impact. Jessie is another newcomer who can help in the post."
Although the Lions look good on paper, Krick is well aware that doesn't necessarily translate to success when the games start.
"On paper, you could look at us and say we're going to be good," he said. "It all comes down to how hard you work, how well you play together as a team, how tough you are, and how committed and dedicated you are to playing for each other."
In addition to hosting a Thanksgiving tournament, LTHS will compete in the Montini Holiday Classic, an elite tournament featuring several top Chicago area teams. Krick also looks forward to seeing how his team fares in conference, which has four new head coaches - at Glenbard West, Hinsdale Central, York and defending champion Proviso West.
"Our conference is always strong, top to bottom," he said. "There are no easy games and you can't take a night off. And I feel playing each other makes us better and more prepared for the state tournament. The competition is going to be tough, the teams are well-coached."