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La Grange

Boys basketball previews: Senior pieces in place for Fenwick

Several players back for Naz; St. Joseph, Proviso West have new looks

St. Joseph's Jordan Ash goes up for a shot against Orr in a playoff game last season. Ash is part of a deep group of guards expected to lead the Chargers this season.
St. Joseph's Jordan Ash goes up for a shot against Orr in a playoff game last season. Ash is part of a deep group of guards expected to lead the Chargers this season.

The Thanksgiving holiday brings with it a slew of boys basketball tournaments to start the season. Monday was the first day boys basketball teams were able to play games, but most will tip off in Thanksgiving tournaments, and as Nazareth, Fenwick, St. Joseph and Proviso West get going on the season they all hope to book a trip to Peoria in March for the state finals.

Fenwick Friars

Coach: Rick Malnati

Conference: Chicago Catholic League North

2012-13 record: 18-9 overall (7-4 CCL)

First game: 6 p.m. Wednesday vs. Morton

Top returners:

Dan Dwyer sr. F/C

Scott Lindsey sr. F

Thomas Planek sr. F

Keshaun Smith sr. G

Michael Smith so. G

Outlook: There's plenty to like about Fenwick this season. The Friars have four key seniors back from a team that went 18-9 last year, including Northwestern recruit Scott Lindsey.

Lindsey, a 6-foot-4 guard with a long wingspan and impressive athleticism, has unfinished business at Fenwick before hooping for the Wildcats. The Friars won a regional last year and will be pushing for more, but Lindsey is expected to miss the start of the season with an injury.

6-foot-8 center Dan Dwyer and 6-foot-6 senior Tom Planek will give the Friars plenty of length. Sophomore Michael Smith is a potential breakout candidate after contributing as a freshman.

Former New Trier coach Rick Malnati takes over the program this season.

Nazareth Roadrunners

Coach: John Bonk

Conference: East Suburban Catholic

2012-13 record: 13-14 overall (1-7 ESCC)

Next game: Wednesday at Stagg Invite

Top returners:

Kevin Connelly sr. F

John Mazur sr. F

Evan McLaughlin sr. G

Chris Swade sr. G

Promising newcomers:

Carson Bartels so. G

Michael Brooks sr. G

Christian Davis so. G

Matt Prendergast so. F

Andrew Rouse fr. F

Outlook: Eight returning seniors lead the way for Nazareth, but the Roadrunners still have some holes to fill.

Senior Kevin Connelly is the only returning starter for the Roadrunners. The 6-foot-5 forward will be part of a starting lineup that could feature five seniors. Coach John Bonk projected that Michael Brooks, a transfer from St. Joseph, Evan McLaughlin, Chris Swade and John Mazur could hold down starting spots early this season.

Three sophomores, Carson Bartels, Christian Davis and 6-foot-5 Matt Prendergast, and freshman Andrew Rouse are expected to contribute right away. Bonk complimented the athleticism of all four. Each played football in the fall.

Bonk emphasized the importance of rebounding, pressuring on defense and pushing the ball up court quickly. The Roadrunners could utilize a rotation of as many as 10 players.

"I think we've got some good perimeter skills, but we're not very big," Bonk said. "We like our skill set. We just lack a little size in some spots."

St. Joseph Chargers

Coach: Gene Pingatore

Conference: Chicago Catholic League North

2012-13 record: 18-13 overall (7-4 CCL)

Next game: Wednesday at St. Charles East tournament

Top returners:

Jordan Ash jr. G

Joffrey Brown jr. G

Glynn Watson jr. G

Promising newcomer:

Nick Rakocevic so. F

Outlook: A big part of the team that advanced to last year's sectional championship game is gone, including senior guard Paul Turner who transferred to a school in Florida, but St. Joseph still possesses two of the top junior guards in the state.

Jordan Ash and Glynn Watson both earned valuable experience and showcased Division I level talent last season. As juniors they will now be expected to lead the team. Both quick guards already have multiple scholarship offers from Big Ten schools.

A 6-foot-9 sophomore forward, Nick Rakocevic is already receiving Division I interest and will attempt to fill the void inside left by A.J. Patty. Rakocevic's brother, Pete, plays for Northern Illinois.

Proviso West Panthers

Coach: Tommy Miller

Conference: West Suburban Silver

2012-13 record: 17-10 overall (7-5 WSS)

Next game: 5:30 p.m. Wednesday vs. Lake Park

Top returner:

Khalil Walker jr. G

Promising newcomers:

Tivonte Allen sr. G

Jamonte Robinson jr. G

Outlook: Proviso West had 11 seniors on last year's team so the Panthers will have a new look this season.

The strength of the team is at guard. Junior Khalil Walker is a varsity returner at point guard. Junior Jamonte Robinson will join him to form a talented, but undersized backcourt. Both players are 5-foot-9.

Transfer Tivonte Allen should also contribute at guard.

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