CAROL STREAM – While the Glenbard North girls basketball team returns a handful of experienced players this winter, the biggest change will come in the middle of the paint.
Gone is DuPage Valley all-conference center Katie Wisniewski and her averages of 10.8 points and 7.1 rebounds per game, leaving a hole on both ends of the court.
“Katie dictated play at both ends,” Glenbard North coach John Chamberlain said. “She was such a presence. We are changing our style around to get up and down the court quickly. We will see if we can shore up the rebounds. I’m as curious as anybody to see how that turns out.”
Leading the group of returners is forward Laila Pickens, who totaled 7.3 points and 5.2 rebounds per outing last winter. Also returning are Caitlyn Deegan, Jennifer Deegan, Sam Yocum and Arianna Callard.
“Offensively, I think Laila has been taking over the team since the summer,” the coach said. “She is a real good athlete. She is undersized in the post, but in the open court, if she can beat her defender down the court, she can do some scoring.”
Freshman Zakiya Newcome will take over the point guard duties for the Panthers.
“She has got a lot of basketball savvy in her,” Chamberlain said. “She is a good defender and she handles the ball admirably. She has played high level AAU and she comes in with as much of a knowledge base as anybody.”
Defensively, with a lack of height, the Panthers will need to be aggressive in the way they guard opponents.
“With Katie, if you looked at the other team’s shot chart, most of the shooting was never near the basket,” Chamberlain said. “We will have to extend our defense to keep people from pounding the ball inside.”
Glenbard North is coming off a successful summer in which it played in the third place game in the Glenbard South league. The squad hopes to carry that momentum into this season but it won’t be easy.
The Panthers will once again compete in both the Rachel Bach Thanksgiving Invite and the Wheaton North Falcon Invite at Christmas. And the DuPage Valley Conference is expected to be as competitive as ever with Wheaton Warrenville South the clear favorite to win conference and one of the top-ranked teams in the state.
The Panthers opened the season with a 63-43 loss to Willowbrook on Tuesday.
Jennifer Deegan topped Glenbard North with 14 points and eight rebounds. Laila Pickens tallied nine points and six rebounds.