By Tom Nader
Publisher and Editor
101-89 career record
• Coaching Staff: Ira Campbell, Bryan Bedford, Scott Clark.
• 2022-23 Record: 19-6 overall; 12-2 Metro Athletic Conference.
• Returning Letterwinners (11): Ella Kassan, sr.; Maiya Taylor, sr.; Maddy Hajec, sr.; Cara Tiller, sr.; Kaleigh Lilly, sr.; Naomi Benson, jr.; Sydney Abbuhl, jr.; Raegan Hendon, jr.; Carlee Bedford, soph.; Olivia Johnson-Wilson, soph.; Ava Bodovetz, soph.
• Letterwinners Lost (1): Reanne Barzal.
The Rockets return 11 letterwinners from a group that won a school-record 19 games last season.
“The sky is the limit for this group and our expectations for a successful season are very high,” Singer said. “In order for us to get there, the biggest challenge will be a mental one.”
Nearly all of the team’s scoring returns, and with the off-season growth, Singer believes his group can put up a lot of points.
“Our main focus will be limiting turnovers, so we don’t lose out on opportunities to score. We have talented scorers that play inside and outside, which makes us tough to defend since you have to try to take both away.”
Three starters return in Abbuhl, Bedford and Johnson-Wilson.
Abbuhl can score in a multitude of ways, and she averaged 7 points per game last year, including hitting 34 percent of her 3-pointers. She also averaged 2 assists per game.
Bedford has good size, athleticism and strength.
“She was our leading 3-pointer shooter last season and as the year progressed, she became one of our best defenders. She is already a very good player, who continues to improve exponentially.”
Bedford made 31 3-pointers last year and averaged 6 points and 4 rebounds per game.
Johnson-Wilson (5 points, 3.2 assists, 2.6 steals per game) is a true point guard, who brings toughness and confidence to the floor.
“In my opinion, she is one of the best defenders in the state and takes pride in her ability to make plays on defense.”
Hajec, Taylor and Tiller, three seniors, also will play a big role in the Rockets’ backcourt this season.
Hajec has a lot of varsity experience and is described by Singer as a great leader and terrific defender.
Taylor plays good defense and can shoot the ball. Tiller has battled injuries, but when healthy, is a contributor on both ends of the floor.
Hendon earned valuable varsity minutes last year and continues to improve.
The frontcourt is spotlighted by Benson, who is a top-50 recruit in the nation for the 2025 class. She has multiple Power Five conferences. She averaged 15.3 points, 14.4 rebounds, 2.0 blocks, 2.3 steals and 2.4 assists per game last year.
“She is such a unique player with her size, skill-set and athleticism. We are really happy other teams have to try to figure out how to stop her and not us.”
Kassan will be a four-year letter winner and has been a huge part of the program since she was a freshman.
“Ella has great footwork in the post and is so hard to defend with her ability to use both hands to finish. She is also one of our best shooters, which makes her a perfect stretch-4 for what we do on offense.”
Kassan averaged 9.5 points and 7.0 rebounds per game last year.
Lilly is a player that brings energy and attitude to the Rockets.
“She battles every day in practice with our starters and makes them work. When she goes into the game, she brings instant energy to the floor.”
Naomi Benson, jr.; Sydney Abbuhl, jr.; Carlee Bedford, soph.; Olivia Johnson-Wilson, soph.
“We still have a lot to prove. While we have had really good seasons recently, we still feel like our best basketball is ahead of us. We are excited for the opportunity to play a difficult schedule this year and see where we stand.”
“We believe we have a good chance to win a title this year, but that task will never be easy with Norton in our league. We also lost to Woodridge last year, which brings back a solid team.”