The new-look Westerville Central High School girls basketball team will enter the 2007-08 season with high expectations. The Warhawks will feature a strong returning nucleus from last season, along with three talented transfers. Senior Maxine Ohakim, a transfer from DeSales; and senior Talisha Hodge and junior Jessica Wooden, transfers from Westerville South, have joined the Central basketball program.
The new-look Westerville Central High School girls basketball team will enter the 2007-08 season with high expectations.
The Warhawks will feature a strong returning nucleus from last season, along with three talented transfers.
Senior Maxine Ohakim, a transfer from DeSales; and senior Talisha Hodge and junior Jessica Wooden, transfers from Westerville South, have joined the Central basketball program.
“We’re very excited,” Central coach Andy Jados said. “Not only are we getting great basketball players, but we’re also getting great girls – girls that are going to be able to come in and fit right in with our girls that have already been here. I don’t see there being any chemistry problems at all because of how they are and also because of the team we have.”
Ohakim noted that her move to Central will allow her to follow her brother, Joseph’s, academic and athlete achievements at the school. Joseph, a junior, will be a member of the football and track and field teams.
“This is our last year to be together before I go to college,” Ohakim said. “That helped my decision a lot. I never really got to see my brother because of sports and I was constantly at school. It will be nice to go back to school with my brother.
“Regardless of what school I’m at, I am always going to keep the friends that I’ve made at DeSales. It was more for personal reasons.”
The DeSales program will also have a new look this season as former all-state point guard Amber Stokes transferred to Gahanna in January and Chris Joseph replaced Chris Savage as head coach.
Joseph is the former girls basketball coach at Worthington Christian.
Last season, DeSales finished 15-9 overall and tied Division III district champion Ready at 9-1 for first in the CCL.
In a 63-50 Division II district semifinal win over Big Walnut, Ohakim had 26 points, 15 rebounds, two steals and a block.
For the season, she averaged 14 points and 11 rebounds.
For her efforts, she was named to the first team CCL and district and special mention All-Ohio.
As a sophomore, Ohakim was named first team CCL and district and third team All-Ohio.
Ohakim will continue her education and basketball career at Ohio University. She also considered Miami University, Bowling Green, Penn State, Michigan State and Michigan.
At 6-2, Ohakim should join forces with 6-0 junior forward Dara Toman to give the Warhawks a feared tandem on the front line.
“I’m excited about having another great post player, a strong post player to play with,” Ohakim said. “There are a lot of girls who can play post, but Dara is really good at it and I actually know her. We’ve known each other for a while, so I’m pretty sure we can build that relationship as far as basketball goes.”
While Ohakim and Toman should be a force near the paint, Hodge is expected to guide Central’s potentially high potent offense at point guard.
Last season, Hodge led South in scoring at 16.9 points a game and in rebounding at 6.5. She also averaged 3.5 steals and 2.5 assists.
The Wildcats, which finished 13-8 overall, lost five of their last six games after being 12-3. South finished second in the OCC-Cardinal at 7-3 behind Pickerington Central (10-0).
Hodge earned first-team recognition in the OCC-Cardinal as a junior and second-team status as a sophomore.
“It wasn’t a bad decision for me to go to South because I got to play with a more experienced person (Jodie McClain), but I also think this is a better decision for me to come here for my senior year and also play with my friends,” Hodge said.
Hodge and Ohakim are residents of Westerville and were schoolmates at Genoa Middle School in Westerville, along with Toman and Central senior forward Annie-Rae Dura. Hodge, Ohakim and Dura have previously played basketball together at AAU level and in summer basketball tournaments.
“We could be very good this year, but we have to put forth a lot of effort and hard work,” Dura said. “It’s going to be tough, but I think we can do it.”
Wooden, a 5-10 forward, began her sophomore season as a starter at South but later came off the bench to provide a solid contribution.
Wooden, who attended Heritage Middle School in Westerville, played two seasons of varsity basketball at South.
“I don’t have any hard feelings towards South,” Wooden said. “I just thought it was a better move and I would have more fun.”
Last season, the Warhawks finished tied for third in the OCC-Central with Central Crossing at 5-5 behind Pickerington North (10-0) and Marysville (6-4) and ahead of Delaware Hayes (4-6) and Thomas Worthington (0-10).
Central was 9-13 overall.
“With more team chemistry, everybody will become a better player, not just me,” Toman said. “I think we will be a better team all around.”
“I’m not saying that we’re going to be right off the bat sweet, but I think that we’re going to be pretty good,” Ohakim said. “We’re going to be one of those difficult teams to beat and people are going to take a second look at us.”