A new Division II girls basketball state champion will be recognized this year as two-time defending champ Warsaw River View made a surprising exit in the sectionals. The field for the 33rd Annual Girls State Basketball tournament is set in D-II and features four teams that have made the trip to Columbus before and one former champion.
The following is a preview of the girls D-II basketball state tournament.
A new Division II girls basketball state champion will be recognized this year as two-time defending champ Warsaw River View made a surprising exit in the sectionals finishing the season 21-2.
The field for the 33rd Annual Girls State Basketball tournament at Ohio State’s Jerome Schottenstein Center is set in Division II and features four teams that have made the trip to Columbus before with one lifting the state trophy 21 years ago.
Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown, which fell to River View 45-26 last year in the state championship game, is headed back to Columbus with a 21-4 record against one of the toughest schedules in the state.
Three of HB’s four losses came against teams participating in this week’s tournament, including Division III’s South Euclid Regina (66-55) and Division IV’s Columbus Africentric (72-54) and Berlin Hiland (55-38).
HB’s other loss was to Canfield, which the Blazers responded with a 45-41 win in the regional finals last week to punch a return ticket to Columbus.
“Strength of schedule during the regular season is a factor in the success that we’ve had,” head coach and Division II co-coach of the year Paul Barlow said. “We are certainly excited and happy to be down there the second year in a row. We feel we earned our way down there with a pretty good win over Canfield.”
HB returned three starters from last year’s team and four of its top six players, including leading scorer Mylan Woods. Woods netted 13.1 points per game this season from the wing position earning Division II first team All-Ohio honors in only her sophomore season.
“(Woods) can play inside and out. We’ll utilize her that way depending on the match up we get,” said Barlow. “She is very aggressive and very strong. Down the stretch here she has been our go-to player offensively.”
Second leading scorer and Princeton recruit Angela Groves poured in 12.7 ppg this season and is the school’s all-time leading scorer. Sophomore guard Alexis Dobbs (8.6 ppg) and junior wing Lauren Ryan (7.5 ppg) both have experience from last year’s run and were solid role players this season.
The state runner-up finish last year proved to be motivation for HB this year and the goal was not only to return to Columbus but to hoist the trophy.
“Our accomplishments the past two years have been fantastic but the mission and goal since the start of this whole thing is to get back to Columbus,” Barlow said. “They experienced that one time and when you get there you want to go back. It is such a great experience.
“(Last year) we were told that we looked like we were happy to be there and River View looked like they knew that they should be there. This year, especially in the postseason, we felt that we were certainly capable of being there and certainly we should be there. That has been our mentality.”
HB will tip-off this year’s tournament against Lima Bath (24-1) Thursday, March 6 at 1:00 p.m. Bath is making fifth state tournament trip and won the Class AA state championship in 1987.
The Wildkittens knocked off 2007 state semifinalist and No. 1-ranked Sandusky Perkins 71-62 in the regional finals to advance to its first state tournament since 2002.
Bath is led by Mauk twins Stefanie (18.7 ppg) and Rachael (16.6 pgg), who are nieces to head coach Greg Mauk. The former earned All-Ohio second team honors with the latter taking home honorable mention recognition.
Bath averages 68 points per contest utilizing an outside offensive attack.
The Wildkittens launched 42 three-point attempts against Perkins and set a state record for 230 three-pointers this season.
“We have a tendency to rain the ball from the three-point line – even from the time we step in the gym for practice. It is something we enjoy doing,” head coach Greg Mauk said.
“We like to think we can spread the floor because of our ability to shoot the ball. We’ve also got some kids off the bench that can shoot the ball at a fairly reasonable success rate. Spreading the floor like that is something that presents different problems for a lot of teams,” he said. “Typically you are used to defending inside and out and we’re pretty much an outside team. That presents a new game plan for a lot of people.”
“I have never seen a team like that just light it up from the outside,” said Barlow of Bath’s regional final game against Perkins. “It was very impressive. I think they rotate the ball extremely well. When they play in the half court, they are not afraid to pull the trigger off the dribble or off the pass. It is very different from what most the teams we have seen.”
Bath will be focused on HB’s athleticism and shutting down Woods.
“Hathaway Brown – without question – is probably the most athletic team we’ve seen all year,” said Mauk. “They have kids around the basket that are not only big kids but are mobile kids. Their players on the perimeter, although youthful, are very, very athletic.
“The Woods kid presents a lot of problems for us. She is a strong, physical athlete that really understands the game.”
Bath finished the regular season ranked No. 3 in the final state poll and largely flew under the radar on the statewide scene.
“Our kids are just happy to be here at this point and we’re looking forward to the opportunity,” Mauk said.
“(A state championship) has never been discussed in any of our meetings either in the preseason or during the season. It was a situation where I didn’t have to discuss it. This group of kids have had it on their minds for a very long time. There are focused in terms of goals and what they want to do.”
On the other side of the bracket, No. 7 ranked Kettering Alter (23-3) will take on Columbus Mifflin (20-4) Thursday, March 6 at 3:00 p.m. in a rematch of the 2002 state semifinals. Mifflin edged Alter 58-50 in that game before falling to Cleveland East Tech in the state championship.
“It is a little ironic – and Lima Bath is back in and they were in it last time we were there,” Alter coach Christina Hart said.
“I think that the staff really appreciates how hard it is to get to the state final four this time because we had a taste in 2002 and when you have that you really want to get back. We’ve been close and had some heartbreakers. We can really appreciate how hard it is to get back there. Along with being good, you have to have some luck along the way.”
The Lady Knights overwhelmed Girls Greater Cincinnati league rival Dayton Carroll 49-37 in the regional final game after the two teams split their regular season match ups. Alter trailed 21-19 at the break but outscored Carroll 17-6 in the third quarter to lift the Lady Knights to Columbus.
Alter is led by three seniors in guard Courtney Chihil (12.8 ppg), guard Nicole Christie (10.2 ppg) and guard Megan Waterman (9.5 ppg). Chihil was named to the All-Ohio second team and Waterman, a Niagra recruit, earned honorable mention.
“We’re much more guard-oriented this year and it took us a little while to get comfortable with the style that we play,” Hart said. “We’re much more up tempo this year than in years past.
“We are pretty scrappy and we place a big emphasis on defense – we always have. We’re fortunate enough to have kids that can step up on any given.”
Though Mifflin finished unranked in the final state poll and boast only one player recognized by the state in the end-of-year honors, the Punchers are in the Final Four beating opponents by an average of 37 points per game.
“Just to get to this point to play is an honor and for these girls that play and dream of getting there, it is a thrill for me to get them back to the Final Four,” head coach Troy Taylor said.
Senior guard Jalyssa Campbell claimed Division II special mention recognition with 12 ppg. Also in the backcourt, senior guard Amber Arter added 13 ppg this season. Arter exploded for 33 points against Millersburg West Holmes in the regional finals.
“Our guards make our team go but over the course of the season everyone has been picking up everyone else,” said Taylor.
Both teams are similar in that they rely on guard play and look to key role players in other positions.
“(Alter is) more guard-orientated like we are but not as tall,” said Taylor, a captain on the 1985 Ohio State team. “Hopefully we can take a look at that situation and our post players can take advantage of the height difference.”
Said Hart, “I think they have an edge on the boards. They hit the boards like crazy. If a shot is missed, they are going after it hard. So, that will be a big challenge for us and slowing them down. Hopefully, we can do that.
Both teams also put defensive pressure on as well.
“”I would hope that we will be able to pressure Mifflin a little bit,” Hart said. “They’re athletic and quick and hopefully we can match that quickness.”
“They are very quick and they like to pressure you,” said Taylor. “That is right up our ally. We want to push the basketball and run with it.”
Division II State Basketball Tournament Vitals
Thursday, March 6
1:00 p.m.: Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown (21-4) vs. Lima Bath (24-1)
3:00 p.m.: Kettering Archbishop Alter (23-3) vs. Columbus Mifflin (20-4)
Saturday, March 8
Division II: 10:45 a.m.
Hathaway Brown (21-4)
Location: Shaker Heights
Girls Enrollment: 246
Final 2007-08 Ranking: No. 10
State Appearances: 2008, 2007
Head Coach: Paul Barlow
School Rec.: 127-80 (8 yrs.)
PPG: 55.3; OPP: 41.0
P 21 Angela Groves, 6-1, Sr., 12.7 ppg
P 20 Alison Nahra, 6-2, Sr., 4.0 ppg
W 31 Mylan Woods, 5-10, So., 13.1 ppg
W14 Lauren Ryan, 5-7, Jr., 7.5 ppg
G 12 Alexis Dobbs, 5-5, So., 8.6 ppg
Girls Enrollment: 257
Final 2007-08 Ranking: No. 3
State Appearances: 2008, 2002, 1999, 1996, 1987
Head Coach: Greg Mauk
School Rec.: 182-53 (10 yrs.)
PPG: 68.0; OPP: 47.8
F 44 Alex Dackin, 5-10, Sr., 8.6 ppg
G 33 Rachel Mauk, 5-10, Jr., 16.6 ppg
G 13 Nicki Hopkins, 5-6, Jr., 7.7 ppg
G 34 Stefanie Mauk, 5-10, Jr., 18.7 ppg
G 21 Stephanie Sanders, 5-6, So., 6.6 ppg
Archbishop Alter (23-3)
Nickname: Lady Knights
Girls Enrollment: 250
Final 2007-08 Ranking: No. 7
State Appearances: 2008, 2002
Head Coaches: Christina Hart/Kendal Peck
School Rec.: 216-109 (14 yrs.)
PPG: 53.0; OPP: 36.0
F 32 Mary Bruner, 5-11, Jr., 3.5 ppg
G 10 Courtney Chihil, 5-9, Sr., 12.8 ppg
G 3 Nicole Christie, 5-7, Sr., 10.2 ppg
G 24 Megan Waterman, 5-11, Sr., 9.5 ppg
G 14 Ashley Christie, 5-7, So., 8.7 ppg
Girls Enrollment: 326
Final 2007-08 Ranking: Not Ranked
State Appearances: 2008, 2002
Head Coach: Troy Taylor
School Rec.: 205-49 (12 yrs.)
PPG: 72.0; OPP: 35.0
F 23 Janae Johnson, 5-8, Sr., 9.0 ppg
C 32 Patricia Mack, 5-11, Jr., 9.0 ppg
G 2 Amber Arter, 5-3, Sr., 13.0 ppg
G 15 Jalyssa Campbell, 5-3, Sr., 12.0 ppg
G 3 Alisa Marshall, 5-8, So., 8.0 ppg
Hathaway Brown over Lima Bath
Kettering Alter over Mifflin
Hathaway Brown over Kettering Alter