BOLINGBROOK – Key departures cannot quell expectations for the Bolingbrook girls basketball team.
After going 326-36 in 12 seasons as the Raiders’ head coach,Tony Smith left the program he built to accept the head coaching position at Homewood-Flossmoor. During his 12 years, Smith led the program to four state championships, including a three-peat from 2009-11. But, in his final season, the Raiders fell to Whitney Young in the playoffs.
Smith did not go by himself to H-F. Shortly after he announced his departure, players Lexi Smith, Kirsten Moore and Amarah Coleman stated their intentions to transfer to H-F and play for Smith there.
Thus began the changing of the guard for Bolingbrook. The athletic department hired a new Smith – Bolingbrook AAU basketball coach Chris Smith – to coach the team.
Chris Smith – who lives across the street from the high school – was also an assistant coach at Joliet Catholic before landing the vacated Bolingbrook position.
While the new head coach knows that filling Tony Smith’s shoes is no easy feat, Chris Smith is already familiar with a lot of the players as a result of his time spent with the AAU team.
“Tony was a great coach and did some amazing things at Bolingbrook High School,” Chris Smith said. “But I am excited for the opportunity to coach here and work with a great group of girls.
“I am implementing a new offensive style with a lot of set pieces. I expect the girls to be able to get up and down the court, but I also expect them to run a diverse offense. This will get them more prepared for college ball.”
Shooting guard Aysia Bugg, a University of Pittburgh recruit who is one of the top players in the state, is the only returning player with extensive playing time.
The 5-foot-9-inch Bugg averaged 17 points in her junior season, and Chris Smith expects that she will continue to develop as a player and a leader.
“Aysia will carry our team,” Chris Smith said. “She has an amazing skill set but the biggest thing that I need from her is leadership. We have a young team and she will have to mentor them. She is more than up to the challenge.”
Bugg will get some support from Ryaen Johnson and Destiny Nash, two players who played AAU ball for Chris Smith. A Loyola University commit, Johnson averaged 11 points, nine rebounds and two blocker per game last season for Waubonsie Valley.