The 33rd annual Ohio High School state tournament has it all. It has
the sure fire “lead pipe locks”; it has many “pick ‘ems”; and it has
the “one game on one given day” teams. With the start of sectional
tournaments this week, we take a look at how the next few weeks could
play out and what teams you should/could expect to see in Columbus come
March. By the way weren’t the Patriots a sure fire “lead pipe lock”?
If the OHSAA re-seeded after the district tournaments, there would be 3 teams from Southwest Ohio in the Final Four. It is just that strong. It has been 5 years since the state champion has come from a region other than the southwest. It was in 2002 when North Canton Hoover from Northeast Ohio went the distance.
With Lakota West and Dayton Chaminade-Julienne opting to go in the Harrison 5 bracket (thru the Central region), Mt. Notre Dame, with its five NCAA Division I college prospects in seniors Channing Hillman (UTEP) and Tia McBride (Georgetown) and juniors Ashley Fowler, Kendall Hackney and Gabby Smith, is the clear cut favorite to come out the southwest (Fairborn) region. Winton Woods with the best three-guard combination in the state in Courtney Lumpkin (Morehead State), Dayeesha Hollins (jr) and Jasmine Shaw (jr) are the favorite to fill another of the 4 slots in the southwest (Fairborn) regional. Beavercreek, Oak Hills or Princeton and Kettering Fairmont, Springboro or Vandalia Butler all have a legit shot at rounding out the field for the southwest regional.
In the Central (Westerville) Region, the winner (Lakota West or Chaminade) of the Harrison 5 District will be the favorite to advance. No team in the country has a one-two punch the caliber of Lakota West with Tennessee-bound and WBCA All-American Amber Gray and Alexis Rogers. Most teams lack the inside/outside depth of the Firebirds either. No team in Central Ohio puts five D-I college prospects on the floor like C-J does as well. The Eagles starting five of Rachel Chandler (Central Connecticut State), Tiera Stephen (Louisville), India Warfield (St. Louis), Shene Fleming (Jr) and Samarie Walker (So) is talented.
Dublin Coffman may very well go undefeated through the regular season and may very well be the AP state poll champions but that is the very reason the AP has only had 15 out of a possible 80 AP champions who actually won state championships. Every Central Ohio team that has stepped outside of its boundaries and played a team from southwest Ohio this year has come up on the short end…Pick Central by Mt. Notre Dame…Pick North by Lakota West…Reynoldsburg by Winton Woods…
Led by Northwestern-bound Brittany Orban and Akron-bound Kyle Baumgartner, North Canton Hoover is eyeing a return trip to Columbus. The Vikings haven’t been to state since winning it all in 2002. Boardman led by Michigan State-bound Courtney Schiffauer and Darryce Moore and Canton McKinley also led by a future Michigan State Spartan, Porshe Poole, are the biggest obstacles for Hoover in winning its district. However, Hoover just last week derailed Boardman in the Federal League Championship by 20-plus points. Everyone else in the northeast has just beat up on each other all year long particularly in the Suburban League with Green, Copley and Wadsworth. The sleeper in the northeast (Canton) regional is Twinsburg but as good a year as it is having, it is still a year away.
There are many exceptional players in the northwest (Norwalk) regional this year. However, in this day and age it takes three “go-to” impact players to win a “big school” state championship. Marion Harding has Shawnta Dyer (So); Anthony Wayne has Allison Papafuss; North Royalton has Jessie Tamerlano (Jr); Solon has Erin Wisner (Miami, OH); Toledo Waite has Natasha Howard (So); Toledo Bowsher has Tiffani Blackman (So); Westlake has Kalpano Beach (Fr); Sylvania Northview has Katelyn McCoy (Fr) and Toledo Start has Maleeka Kynard (Fr).
Who’s missing, hmmm Toledo Central Catholic…they return all five starters including Oakland-bound Sharise Calhoun and Brianna Jones (Jr) from last year’s regional finalist team. They are the slight favorites this year to come out of the northwest (Norwalk) region. To show you the strength, however, of southwest Ohio, Toledo Central may be the favorite to come out of the Norwalk regional but they dropped two to southwest Ohio teams at this year’s Classic in the Country (Lakota West & Princeton).
Mark my word here and now, next year Toledo Start will be the clear cut favorite out of this region.
Division II is the most spread out, balanced division in the state this year. Each region has a couple of “pick ‘em” teams to get to the Final Four in Columbus. However, the northwest (Ontario) regional and the northeast (Barberton) regional are the favorites to produce this division’s state champion.
In the northeast region (Barberton Regional) Canfield and Hathaway Brown are the “pick ‘ems”. Canfield led by Pitt-bound Kate Popovec and the Halfhill sisters (Bryanne and Jillian) are the slight favorites having beat down Princeton-bound Angela Groves and Hathaway Brown by 16 back in December. But just last week super sophomore Amy Scullion and Salem got Canfield by five and Hathaway Brown got a quality win over D-IV northeast favorite Lutheran East. Then there is Ravenna Southeast lurking in the shadows. Take your pick or pick your poison.
In the Ontario Regional (northwest) Sandusky Perkins sportin’ the big thre of 6-foot-5 Florida State-bound and WBCA All-American Cierra Bravard, Bucknell-bound Trisha Krewson and Bethany Caudill (Jr) have to be everyone’s No. 1 choice. Right on their heels to choose from are the Mauk twins (Stephanie and Rachel) and Lima Bath; Walsh Jesuit led by Brianna Segerson (Yale); Revere led by Larry’s daughter Casey Nance (Dayton) and Khadijah Young. I guess Elvis was thinking about this year’s Ontario Regional when we wrote Heartbreak Hotel…
The southwest (Vandalia) regional mirrors the D-II northeast (Barberton) regional in that there are two frontrunners and several others who have a legit shot at getting to Columbus. Dayton Carroll led by Iowa-bound Shante Jones and Brogan Berry (Harvard) and Kettering Alter are slight favorites. But you cannot discount Sakara House (St. Peter’s, NJ) and Kenton Ridge nor Columbus Eastmoor with WBCA All-American and LSU-bound YaYa Dunning.
While the Barberton and Vandalia regionals mirror each other so do the Ontario and Zanesville regionals. The only difference is the Zanesville regional has no No. 1 choice like Sandusky Perkins. Pick one, pick five…somebody has to win the lottery. River View is the surprise in Division II this year, with two of the three Daugherty’s back (Coach Caroline and junior and also Dayton-bound daughter Kari), and could challenge for yet another trip to Columbus. Coach Troy Taylor’s Mifflin Punchers are a threat in the Zanesville region as is West Holmes with Noelle Yoder (soph) and Sarah Hammond (jr). The Knights handed River View its only defeat this year. Cambridge with Wright State-bound Tamikka Snoody, and West Muskingum, with longtime coach Jack Van Reeth are also teams to watch.
Just like Tiger Woods, it is South Euclid Regina and the field. Only five teams in the state can start five D-I college prospects and Regina is one of those five. The other four are Africentric, Chaminade-Julienne, Mt. Notre Dame and Lakota West. The complimenting backcourt of Duke-bound and WBCA All-American Shay Selby and sophomore Tay’ler Mingo may be the best backcourt in the state. The Royals have good size and talent inside with 6-1 senior Mercedes Mithcell and 6-2 freshman Therany Dunnigan.
Only Justine Raterman (Dayton) and Versailles out of the Vandalia Region has a shot in a “one game on one day” senario against Regina. It is one game on one day…it is not 2 out of 3…it is not 3 out of 5…it is not 4 out of 7…it is one game on one given day.
As in D-III it is Africentric and everyone else. As stated above Africentric is one of five teams that can put five D-I prospects on the floor and they do in their skilled and athletic starting line-up of Alesia Howard (UMass), Tyeasha Moss (Xavier), Ashar Harris (Jj), Shardai Fountain (jr) and Raven Ferguson (fr.).
Once Africentric gets by South Webster and Waterford in the Pickerington Regional only two teams have a shot against them in one game on one given day. Both of those teams are in the Massillon Regional this year. Lutheran East and the Jen Stutzman (Kent State) led Lady Hawks of Berlin Hiland. But both of those challengers have to get by perennial D-IV powers East Canton and Bedford Chanel.
Lutheran East with Latisha Walker (so.) and Destiny Sims (jr.) can match up athletically with Africentric. But in one game on one given day if anybody in the state can be prepared to beat Africentric give me Berlin Hiland. Hoosiers anyone?
About the Author: Tom Jenkins has over 40 years of playing, coaching and evaluating experience
associated with the game of girls basketball. He is devoted solely to the
promotion of the game of Ohio girls basketball through his publication,
Ohio Girls Basketball Report and the promotion of the players of the
game through his services. Ohio Girls Basketball Report started 10 years ago has been voted for the last 7 years the No. 1 single-state scouting service in America by NCAA D-I Head Coaches. Currently there are 198 colleges across America that subscribe to Ohio Girls Basketball Report and rely on the information provided by Jenkins in evaluating players from Ohio.