Updated: December 19, 2013 6:07AM
1. Marian Catholic
Last season: 33-1 overall, 9-0 East Suburban Catholic
Coach: Dan Murray
Top returnees: Ashton Millender (Sr. G), Dajhae Mullins (Sr. G), Kauai Bradley (Jr. F), Teniya Page (Jr. G).
Outlook: The Spartans will miss “big sister” Megan Walsh, but there are plenty of big performers to help defend the Class 4A state title, won on Bradley’s buzzer-beater. Millender is back as the leading scorer, while Page is an excellent floor leader.
Last season: 18-10 overall, 11-3 SouthWest Suburban Blue
Coach: Anthony Smith
Top returnees: Jaiveonna Norris (Sr. G/F), Ashley Johnson (Jr. G).
Outlook: Add transfers Amarah Coleman, Kristen Moore and Destiny Harris from Bolingbrook, Bria Stallworth from Marist and Faith Suggs from Plainfield East, it’s a formidable team with which Smith will make his debut. Coleman, Suggs, Moore and Norris are all 5-foot-11 or taller. And 6-2 H-F volleyball starter Kandace Tate also came out for the team.
Last season: 21-6 overall, 13-0 South Suburban Blue
Coach: John Maniatis
Top returnees: Tanzania Sherrill (Jr. G), Tierra Sanders (Sr. F), Shayla Joyner (Sr. C), Aliah Acker (Jr. G).
Outlook: Sherrill is the lone double-figure returning scorer for the Hawks, but that doesn’t mean they won’t contend. Sanders and Joyner are both three-year varsity players, and Acker a three-point and passing threat.
Last season: 24-10 overall, 6-3 East Suburban Catholic
Coach: Mary Pat Connolly
Top returnees: Brooke Wyderski (Sr. F), Claire Finn (Sr. C), Dajae Black (So. G).
Outlook: JeTaun Rouse and Leah Bolton were among seven seniors who graduated from last season’s sectional finalist. It’ll be a tough rebuild, but tough is Wyderski’s middle name. The 6-3 Finn should nicely fill in the post, while Black is one of six sophomores.
Last season: 24-5 overall, 6-4 Southland
Coach: Christina Cobbins
Top returnees: Alexia DeBose (Sr. G), Ashley Henry (Sr. F), Marsha Howard (Jr. F), Lindzy Cox (So. G), Sarah Humphrey (So. F).
Outlook: The Warriors are looking to build off last season’s surprising success. All five starters are back, including the Eastern Michigan-bound forward Henry and Alabama A&M-bound guard DeBose.
6. Lincoln-Way East
Last season: 20-9 overall, 11-3 SouthWest Suburban Blue
Coach: Jim Martin
Top returnees: Kara Krolicki (Sr. G), Dana O’Grady (Sr. G), Claire McMahon (So. F).
Outlook: The Griffins will be launching plenty of long-distance shots this season, led by one of the area’s best at shooting threes (63), Krolicki. The 6-foot McMahon was productive as a freshman. O’Grady was a member of the 200-meter relay state champion team.
7. Mother McAuley
Last season: 22-7 overall, 6-1 Girls Catholic Athletic Conference
Coach: Ashley Luke Clanton
Top returnees: Elizabeth Nye (Sr. G), Lauren Carlson (Sr. F), Jasma Williams (Sr. C), Raven Willis (Sr. G), Molly McGinty (Sr. G).
Outlook: Floor leader Alyssa Siwek has graduated, but the Mighty Macs return double-figure scorers in Carlson and Nye. Williams and Willis are staunch defenders, while McGinty can shoot the three.
8. Rich South
Last season: 22-6 overall, 8-2 Southland
Coach: Brian Mays
Top returnees: Tierra Webb (Jr. G), Dasia Evans (So. F), Tierney Lockett (Jr. G), Sierra Ellis (Sr. F).
Outlook: The Garrett twins are gone, but the Stars should be fine. Webb was a state three-point finalist, while Evans had five double-doubles. Lockett is an excellent passer who was key in helping the Stars eliminate Hillcrest last season.
Last season: 22-6 overall, 10-0 Southland
Coach: Ron Newquist
Top returnees: Danielle King (Jr. G), Jailyn Lumpkin (So. G), Anika Johnson (So. G/F).
Outlook: Aside from Player of the Year Bria Gaines graduating, the Blazing Trojans received bad news with Katherine Strong out for the season (ACL). King, however, brings them scoring and passing excitement, setting the tone for what figures to be a small, but fast team.
10. Lincoln-Way North
Last season: 23-6 overall, 11-3 SouthWest Suburban Red
Coach: Jim Nair
Top returnees: Sam Pietruszynski (Sr. G), Ellen Graham (Sr. F), Valen Manns (Jr. F), Kayla Kieklak (Jr. G).
Outlook: The Phoenix is deeper than many, with height in 6-2 Graham and 5-11 Manns, and a clutch shooter in Pietruszynski. If Kieklak can replace Leigh LaRocco at the point, North will contend.