Ladycat Classic

Peotone’s Mae Graffeo makes her way to the basket under pressure from Coal City junior Makenna Crater, right, and senior Lindsay Stopka during the Blue Devils’ win against Coal City last season. Graffeo returns to the Blue Devils’ lineup next season and will look to elevate her game.

COAL CITY — Monday’s Coal City Summer Shootout gave five area schools and those who watched a first-hand look at what their teams will look like this season.

Manteno, Beecher, Coal City, Peotone and Reed-Custer, along with Sandwich, Morris and Antioch, filled every gymnasium inside Coal City High School to put in more offseason work, playing four games apiece. Each team faces lingering questions as to who will step up as leaders and who could become the next standout player.

Opening tip for the 2018-19 basketball season is six months away, but here are some early takeaways from Monday’s shootout.


The Blue Devils lost four seniors, including three starters from last year’s Class 2A regional championship team, but none more important than their do-it-all forward Josie Graffeo.

The task of replacing her productivity and ability to get a bucket when things break down is monumental, but it’s not impossible.

One good thing for Peotone is it returns five players who have a year or two of varsity experience, highlighted by Mae Graffeo and Courtney Burks.

Expect the Blue Devils to be the top challenger to Sandwich, who only lost three players from last year’s conference championship team.


The Comets might turn out to be the dark horse to win the I-8, but they still have a little way to go.

Replacing three starters hurts, but returning the 6-foot duo of Antoinette Hill and Kylie Balgemann makes life for head coach Nick Klein easier.

Surrounding those two players with shooters will be of the utmost importance if they are to be serious threats for a conference title.

Coal City

The Coalers have an uphill climb ahead of them if they want to stay afloat inside conference play.

Four seniors are gone from last year’s team, including Bridget Kauzlaric, who led the team in points, rebounds, assists, steals and free throws.

Heavy guard play and perimeter shooting featuring Makenna Crater and Brooke Chapman will be at the forefront of the Coalers’ attack. Be ready to watch this team let it fly.


The Panthers return a good amount of experience and hope to take the next step forward under second-year head coach Bethany Stritar.

Three starters are back, including leading scorer Maddie Lacer and leading rebounder McKenna Skyberg.

Kenna Selk also has the capability to chip in 10 points per night as well.

It’s been awhile since the Panthers have won 10 games in a season, but part of taking the next step is winning games, and it could start this December.


Inside the River Valley Conference for the better part of this decade, it’s mainly been Beecher’s title to lose.

However, after splitting the RVC crown with Gardner-South Wilmington last season, the Bobcats have some retooling ahead of them.

Although they do have to replace conference player of the year Kate Landis, they bring back four of their five starters including leading scorer Kaylie Sippel.

Expect G-SW and Beecher to duke it out once again this upcoming season for the RVC crown.

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