Warren

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WARREN

Coach: Chuck Ramsey (16th season)

Last year: 16-10 (6-6 North Suburban Lake)

Key players lost: G Jason Warneke, G Eric Williams, F Scott Geske, F Kegan McDaniel.

Key players returning: G Brandon Paul, sr., F James Poliquin, sr., G David Duncan, sr., F Jake Anderson, sr., G Aaron Montgomery, sr.

Top newcomers: F Matt Dickinson, jr., F Shahron Thomas, jr., G Craig Burton, jr., G Marquise Thomas, jr., G Jonny Duncan, jr., G Ryan Maguire, sr.

Outlook: The Blue Devils will be performing a balancing act this season as they try to right the ship.

Last years 10-loss campaign was a disappointment by their high standards.

Much of Warrens offense will run through Illinois-bound guard Brandon Paul. The trick is for his teammates not to get too caught up in watching the show.

"We need everyone playing and contributing while certainly being mindful that Brandon is going to need to be at the center of what we do," Warren coach Chuck Ramsey said. "Brandon has special talents. He can drive to the basket, he can shoot. We want him to utilize those abilities. We also want to make sure to get other guys involved."

There are plenty available to choose from.

Five players with experience under their belt return from last years squad, including forwards James Poliquin and Jake Anderson and guard David Duncan. They all averaged between 5 and 7 points per game last year.

Paul was at about 20 points per game. He committed to Illinois before the start of last season.

"I think what were going to have to do offensively is have very good movement of the ball and all of our players," said Ramsey, who wants defenses to have to work to keep up with an ever-moving Paul. "We want to be able to open things up for Brandon. What we also have to be mindful of is that he cant do it all by himself, so other guys will have to be ready to help out, too."

The Blue Devils might also get a boost from the incredibly athletic Ryan Maguire, a star wide receiver for the football team who elected to go out for basketball this year.

Opener: Wednesday (6 p.m.) vs. Fremd at Waukegan Thanksgiving Tournament.

LIBERTYVILLE

Coach: Scott Bogumil (5th season)

Last year: 12-15 (4-8 North Suburban Lake)

Key players lost: G Joey Aiello (baseball, Carthage), F Greg Vente.

Key players returning: F Jeremy Letchford, sr., G Josh Trees, sr., F Paul Aynilian, sr., G Kevin Johns, sr., F Myles Burton, sr., F Julian Hill, sr., G James Simmons, sr.

Top newcomers: G James Zotto, jr., G John Colao, jr.

Outlook: Just sit back and relax.

Thats what Libertyville coach Scott Bogumil plans to do this season. Well, kind of.

Hes anticipating a season in which he wont have to manage so much of the game. As recently as last year, he was having to call play after offensive play to make sure that his two big guns Joey Aiello and Jeremy Letchford would ultimately get the ball.

But this year, he feels his team is deeper, more balanced, and that the ball can wind up in the hands of any of a number of players.

"I think Im going to have to do a lot less coaching during games, in terms of play-calling, making sure certain guys get screens," Bogumil said. "When you have certain kids who need to get the ball, you have to do that. Im not going to have to do that this year. This year, we can open things up and let the kids do what they do. Weve got a lot of kids who can contribute."

Letchford, of course, has already proven that. Hes back after averaging about 14 points per game last season for the Wildcats.

Bogumil also thinks hell get plenty of production out of point guard Josh Trees, who enters his third year as a starter. Last year, Trees season hit a bump in the road when he missed several weeks early on with an injured foot.

Hes back to 100 percent now. …