Jordan Mack initially planned on being the Riverside-Brookfield High School girls basketball team’s junior varsity assistant coach for the third straight season.
When successful longtime varsity head coach Dallas Till stepped down, Mack was named to that new role in October.
“It was sudden, but I’m ready to jump in and take the lead and get the program where it needs to go,” Mack said. “Till [219-74 in 10 seasons] is a great guy, a good basketball mind. He’s been a great mentor. He’s still part of the program in helping us make our way.”
Several Bulldogs also will be counted on to handle significantly more responsibility.
Senior center Rachel Wilczak is the only currently healthy full-time returning starter from the COVID-shortened 10-4 spring season as senior and Miami (Ohio) softball recruit Hannah Organ recovers from a knee injury. Senior third-year varsity player Shannon Malloy started part-time.
“[Wilczak’s] probably going to be our No. 1 scoring option. I believe she’ll average double digits in points and rebounds,” Mack said. “We’ll count on [Malloy] a lot for her leadership.”
Seniors Nicole Gentile, Madison Lester and Madison Schicker and junior Devon Encher also return. Varsity newcomers are senior Alyssa Chiquito, juniors Liepa Banenas, Luna Lloyd, Lena Lembcke, Ava Marrello and Bryce Pacourek and promising sophomore Emily Organ.
Another huge difference is graduating Brenna Loftus, the program’s all-time scoring leader now at Washington University. In 2020, she powered the Bulldogs to Metro Suburban Conference and regional titles.
“She was like the superhero,” Mack said. “If you needed something, she was going to get it for you. It’s going to be a little tough [without Loftus], but it’s all about confidence. Once we get confidence, I think we’ll be OK.”
Lyons Township: The Lions (13-3) were West Suburban Conference Silver co-champions this spring with York at 7-2 and return four starters — Winona State recruit and All-WSC Silver senior guard Hailey Markworth, Missouri-St. Louis recruit and senior guard Olivia Mazon, Illinois women’s soccer recruit and senior guard/forward Izzy Lee and junior guard Ella Ornsby.
“We lost seniors that contributed greatly, but we do have seniors that are ready and willing to take on new roles,” LTHS coach Meghan Hutchens said. “We are going to try and fight for conference. We are constantly focused on [improvement] when it comes to communication because we already have the skill to be successful. We just have to bring all of the components together to be a bigger threat.”
Senior Anna Bryant and junior Ally Cesarini are returning letterwinners. Varsity newcomers are seniors Brigid Dunne and Molly Michalak, juniors Maeve McDougall and Lillian Prendergast, sophomores Grace Hughes, Elin O’Brien and Kennedy Wanless and freshman Nora Ezike.
The Lions hope to develop new scoring sources with a balanced attack and strong bench play.
“Our bench is young, but if they find their place quickly, they will contribute early,” Hutchens said.