For the past two years, Warsaw River View has finished the season as Division II state champs. This year, though, River View will be looking to fill key holes left behind by greaduation. State semifinalists Eastmoor, Sandusky Perkins and Hathaway Brown are all in good shape to make another run at Columbus. The following is a look at the top teams and players in Division II girl's basketball this season.
For the past two years, Warsaw River View has finished the season as Division II state champions. Should the Lady Bears repeat the feat this year, they would become just the third school in state history to win three straight girls basketball state titles, joining Millersburg West Holmes (1984-86) and South Euclid Regina (2001-03).
As the season starts, though, River View appears to be the least likely team from last year’s state semifinalists to make it back to Columbus. Graduation took four starters, including two-time Division II player of the year Kristin Daugherty.
It would not be a stretch to see last year’s other three semifinalists return: Columbus Eastmoor, Sandusky Perkins and Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown.
* Cierra Bravard, 6-4, Sr., P, Sandusky Perkins – Ranked by multiple recruiting sources as one of the top post players in the country, including No. 2 by Hoopgurlz.com. A two-time first-team All-Ohioan, Bravard averaged 22.3 points per game as a junior and 22.2 as a sophomore. Has college choices narrowed down to Ohio State, Maryland, Kentucky, Florida State, Pitt and Miami (Fla.).
* Ayana Dunning, 6-3, Sr., P, Columbus Eastmoor – Like Bravard, is one of the nation’s premier post players (No. 3 by Hoopgurlz.com). Was first-team All-Ohio last season after averaging 18.1 points and 13.6 rebounds per game. Was second-team All-Ohio as a sophomore after averaging 19 points. Undecided on college, but list includes Ohio State, LSU, Rutgers, Illinois and USC.
* Macie Blinn, 6-0, Sr., W, Greenville – Illinois commit is one of state’s most versatile players. Was first-team All-Ohio a year ago (16.3 ppg) after being a second-team pick as a sophomore (18.4 ppg).
* Kari Daugherty, 6-2, Jr., W, Warsaw River View – Assumes role as go-to player with graduation of her sister Kristin (Dayton). Averaged 9.5 ppg as a freshman and 12.1 last year en route to special mention All-Ohio honors.
* Brogan Berry, 5-9, Sr. G, Dayton Carroll – Standout point guard was Mid-Miami League player of the year as a sophomore (14.6 ppg) and Girls Greater Cincinnati League Grey Division player of the year last season (16.3 ppg). Berry, a second-team All-Ohio pick in 2007, already has 1,000 career points. Undecided on college but getting attention from Big Ten schools.
* Katie Popovec, 6-3, Sr., P, Canfield – Pittsburgh recruit will challenge for state player of the year honors after dropping down from D-I. Popovec was a two-time All-Ohioan in D-I and is the reigning two-time Metro Athletic Conference player of the year. She’s been first-team MAC three times.
* Mylan Woods, 5-9, So., W, Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown – Woods was her team’s leading scorer in both state games last season and plays beyond her years. Tough match-up for anyone. Was second-team All-Ohio last year after averaging 14.1 ppg.
* Sakara House, 5-9, Sr. G,, Kenton Ridge – One of D-II’s most versatile players, House is a three-time All-Ohioan. She averaged 21.9 points, 9.2 steals and 6.5 assists last season. As a sophomore, House averaged 19.1 points. 6.8 rebounds, 6.3 steals and 6.1 assists. As a freshman, she averaged 17.5 points, 8.4 rebounds, 7.4 steals and 6 assists.
* Brittney Taylor, 5-8, Jr., W, Youngstown East – Reigning player of the year in Northeast District was first-team All-Ohio last season after averaging 24 ppg.
* Katie Fox, 6-1, Sr., P, Carrollton – Averaged 14.6 ppg last season en route to second-team All-Ohio honors.
* Cassie Morgan, 5-9, Sr., W, Circleville – Named second-team All-Ohio last season after averaging 19.1 ppg.
* Angela Groves, 6-1, Sr., P, Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown – Was second-team All-Ohio last season after averaging 13.7 points.
Teams To Watch
* Warsaw River View – The Lady Bears will undoubtedly have a different look this season with two-time D-II player of the year Kristin Daugherty and four of five starters gone. Experience is a concern. After originally stepping down, head coach Caroline Daugherty has returned to the sideline and will get a lift from her daughter Kari Daugherty, a junior and three-year starter. Senior Katie Haumschild (5-7, F) will be counted on to contribute significantly.
* Sandusky Perkins – With Bravard and honorable mention All-Ohio selection Trisha Krewson (6-0, G) returning, the Pirates are early favorites to return to Columbus. Last season, Perkins lost to Hathaway Brown in the state semis with Krewson (Bucknell commit) and Bravard combining for 29 of the Pirates’ 39 points. Perkins also returns a pair of guards in three-year starter Bethany Caudill (5-7, jr.) and Amber Hunter (5-7, sr.).
* Kettering Alter – Knights have won six straight GGCL Grey Division titles and four straight D-II district titles. Including its run to the 2002 state tournament, Alter has claimed five of six district titles and has played in seven straight district finals. Alter returns three starters in seniors Nicole Christie (8.8 ppg), Courtney Chihil (7 ppg) and Meghan Waterman (8.1 ppg). Chihil and Waterman were second-team All-GGCL last season and All-Southwest District. Christie was honorable mention all-league. Ashley Christie (5.6 ppg) will also contribute. The Knights lost 32-31 to Eastmoor in the regional final a year ago.
* Dayton Carroll – The Patriots are 92-26 the last five years and have been close to elusive state berth. Last season Carroll lost in regional semis to rival Alter (40-39) and two years ago Patriots fell in regional final to Little Miami. This could be Carroll’s year.
Senior Shante Jones (Iowa recruit) teams with Berry to give the Pats one of the top guard tandems in the state. A two-time All-Southwest District selection, Jones averaged 17.9 ppg last season after averaging 28 ppg as a sophomore at Stivers. Junior Kendra Elam is back for her third-year as a starter.
* Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown – The Blazers were somewhat of an unexpected surprise at last year’s state tournament and that visit may have been the first of many. Hathaway Brown returns four starters including Groves and Woods. Also back are juniors Kirsten Holmes (5-4, P) and Lauren Ryan (5-7, G). Sophomore sensation Alexis Dobbs (5-5, PG) also returns.
* Columbus Eastmoor – The Warriors are looking for their third trip to state in four years and their first state title. In addition to Dunning, Eastmoor and head coach Jim Miranda return three additional starters in DeAndra Hall (5-6, jr. G), Janae Collick (5-6, Sr., G) and Olivia French (5-4, Jr. G). Key to return to the state tournament could be replacing standout Lashawna Thomas (Wright State) and her 17 ppg.
Other Teams To Watch
* Canfield – Keep an eye on the Cardinals. Canfield drops down from D-I, where it lost to North Canton Hoover (48-46) in the district semifinals last season.
* Circleville – The Tigers finished regular season 19-1 and ranked No. 4 in final state poll last year before being upset by Washington C.H. in the sectional final. Morgan again leads the charge.
* Cincinnati Taft – The Senators have played in two straight district finals but lost to Alter each time. Taft looking to break through to next level and senior Katelyn Ried, a St. Louis recruit, who was All-Southwest District last year (16.4 ppg) gives them reason to believe. Replacing last season’s Southwest District player of the year Deseree Byrd (Louisville) is big hurdle.
* Dayton Oakwood – The Jills could have a breakout season behind junior standout and reigning Southwestern Buckeye League player of the year Cathryn Hardy.
* Upper Sandusky – The Rams move up to D-II after two-year stay in D-III. Upper Sandusky has appeared in four straight district finals, and was a D-II district champion in 2005. The Rams will be led by 5-9 senior Claire Aubrey, who averaged 23.8 points per game last year en route to third-team All-Ohio honors.
* Springfield Kenton Ridge – Led by longtime coach Ed Foulk (over 400 wins), the Cougars are looking for their first state berth since 1995. Last season’s sectional final loss to Tipp City Tippecanoe ended a six-year string of district finals appearances. Kenton Ridge has won seven straight Central Buckeye Conference Mad River Division titles. Sophomore Saira House, Sakara’s little sister, is a talent in her own right. Also watch out for 6-3 sophomore Alicia Ware and senior Katie Ketterman.
* Youngstown East – Formerly known as Youngstown Rayen, East begins season looking to match last year’s run that included a 20-5 record and district title.
* Cincinnati McNicholas – Rockets are always a threat to win district title and regional regulars. Opposing coaches label them as a team of concern.
* Columbus Mifflin – Punchers could challenge Eastmoor for Columbus City League – and district – supremacy.