Classic in the Country VI ‘may be best field yet’


Girls basketball showcase features top teams, players from Ohio

It has become one of the premier girls basketball showcases in the country and this year it could be the best it has ever been.

We take a look at all the pertinent information, including match ups and teams capsules, for this tremendous event.

It has become one of the premier girls basketball showcases in the country and this year it could be the best it has ever been.

The Classic in the Country, entering its sixth year, is set to showcase 32 teams with 20 games this Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend at Berlin High School’s Reese Center and event organizer Tom Jenkins is excited for the lineup he has assembled.

“This year’s Classic in the Country VI may be the best field yet,” he said. “In the previous five years we have had 15 of the 20 state champions compete in the Classic in the year they were crowned state champions.

“This year the facts are simple – we have 32 teams with 28 state championships to go along with 66 Final Four appearances and 314 years of head coaching experience. That is the most in each category of any of the previous five Classics.”

The Classic was started to honor the memory of late Hiland boys basketball head coach Perry Reese and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to promote cultural diversity


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Game 1 – 10:00 am
South Webster vs. West Salem Northwestern

Game 2 – 11:45 am
Wadsworth vs. Warsaw River View

Game 3 – 1:30 pm
Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown vs. Columbus Brookhaven

Game 4 – 3:15 pm
Columbus Africentric vs. South Euclid Regina

Game 5 – 5:00 pm
West Chester Lakota West vs. University (NJ)

Game 6 – 6:45 pm
Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame vs. Twinsburg

Game 7 – 8:30 pm
Fostoria St Wendelin vs. Berlin Hiland

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Game 8 – 12:00
Bucyrus vs. Waterford

Game 9 – 1:45 pm
South Euclid Regina vs. Toledo Start

Game 10 – 3:30 pm
North Canton Hoover vs. West Chester Lakota West

Game 11 – 5:15 pm
Dayton Chaminade-Julienne vs. Youngstown Boardman

Game 12 – 7:00 pm
University (NJ) vs. Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame

Game 13 – 8:45 pm
Cincinnati Indian Hill vs. New Philadelphia

Monday, January 19, 2009

Game 14 – 10:00 am
Salem vs. Sugarcreek Garaway

Game 15 – 11:45 am
Middletown Madison vs. Reynoldsburg

Game 16 – 1:30 pm
Vandalia Butler vs. Copley

Game 17 – 3:15 pm
Toledo Start vs. Green

Game 18 – 5:00 pm
Cincinnati Walnut Hills vs. North Canton Hoover

Game 19 – 6:45 pm
Kettering Fairmont vs. Millersburg West Holmes

Game 20 – 8:30 pm
Twinsburg vs. Berlin Hiland 


Berlin Hiland

The host school of the Classic in the Country, Hiland won its third Division IV title in four seasons last year and fourth overall. The Lady Hawks are paced by senior wing and Tiffin recruit Karli Mast and junior point guard Hilary Weaver.

Hiland is 6-2 all-time in the Classic, which includes a win over Division II state runner-up Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown last year.


The Lady Redmen are making their Classic debut and have the squad to have a successful showing. Led by Evansville recruit Chelsea Hawkins, Bucyrus starts five seniors that are all returning starters. JoBeth Roll, Kelsee Rehm, Brittany Gregg and Hannah Davis all provide experience and talent for the Lady Redmen this year.

Cincinnati Indian Hill

Indian Hill had its first winning season in 10 years last season under first-year head coach Scott Rogers. Rogers led Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame to four state final four appearance in his five-year tenure winning three state championships.

Rogers takes his Braves to the Classic for the first time with his junior daughter Aubrey and senior Amy Taylor leading the charge.

Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame

MND became the first girls basketball program in Division I to win three straight OHSAA state titles last year and are a heavy favorite this season. Souther California recruit Kendall Hackney, Ohio recruit Ashley Fowler and Vanderbilt recruit Gabby Smith lead the Cougars this season with sophomore Kathryn Reynolds contributing plenty of minute.

Third-year head coach Dante Harlan takes him team to the Classic for its sixth appearance with a 9-1 Classic record.

Cincinnati Walnut Hills

The Eagles set a school record for most wins in a season last year finishing District Finalists in head coach Bruce Ellis’ second season. Walnuts Hills makes its Classic debut with Evansville recruit Taylor Ware at forward, junior Tayler Stanton in the paint and junior Phylesha Bullard at guard returning as starters from last year’s team.

Columbus Africentric

Africentric finished Division IV state runner-up last season falling to Hiland 44-37 after claiming the state title in 2007 in only the fourth season of the program’s existence. Senior point guard Shardai Morrison-Fountain is a Marshall recruit and senior forward Ashar Harris is committed to Morehead State. Sophomore forward Raven Ferguson is one of the top players in the country for the class of 2011.

Africentric is a perfect 2-0 in two Classic appearances.

Columbus Brookhaven

Brookhaven’s Reggie Lee might be an Ohio Girls Basketball Hall of Fame coach but his Bearcats haven’t had much luck in the Classic going 0-5. In the sixth trip to the Classic, the veteran coach is hoping to turn that luck around with a young squad that starts only one senior in point guard Keyanna Fontes. Sophomores Travecia Franklin and Brianna Holmes also start with 6-foot-3 center Lorraine Levels in the paint.


The Indians are making their third appearance in the Classic and hold a 1-1 record. A pair of seniors lead Copley with center Beth Matkowski, an Ashland recruit, and point guard Brittany Powell, a Gannon recruit, providing experience and talent. Sophomore forward Taylor Reif also starts for the Indians.

Dayton Chaminade-Julienne

One of the top programs in the state, C-J has played in every Classic since it began in 2002 and brings a 2-3 Classic record. The Eagles boast the nation’s top junior and Connecticut recruit Samarie Walker in the post. Also in the post is senior Shene Fleming, who is committed to St. Francis (Pa.). Senior point guard is a three-year letter-winner and junior post Mileah Walker is an OGBR top 100 junior.

Fostoria St. Wendelin

In his first two seasons at St. Wendelin, Aaron Smith guided the Mohawks to a 43-4 record including a Regional Finals appearance last year. Making its first appearance in the Classic, St. Wendelin is paced by senior point guard Francena Tate and junior guard Lauren Geroski.


The Bulldogs returned four starters from last year’s 20-4 team, all of which are underclassmen. Sophomore guard Logan Pastor is one of the top off-guards in the country according the Collegiate Girls Basketball Report and is joined in the back court by juniors Kelsey Corle and Selana Reale. Junior Deanna Wheeler leads the Bulldogs in the paint with freshman Lydia Corle and sophomore Melissa Weinsz.

Green is making its second appearance in the Classic after defeating Fort Recovery in Classic IV.

Kettering Fairmont

In addition to C-J, Kettering Fairmont could give the Division I Cincinnati schools a run come tournament time. The Firebirds returned four starters from last year’s 18-6 team and three are college recruits. Senior guards Kendra Elam (Findlay), Tenia Scarver (Ohio Dominican) and Briana Welch (West Virginia Wesleyan) give Fairmont talent and experience while junior post Cassie Sant gives the Firebirds size in the paint.

This is the first appearance in the Classic for Fairmont.

Middletown Madison

Madison also returned a wealth of experience this year with four starters back from last year’s 21-1 team. Seniors Shelby Roe and Brook Tipton provide experience at guard and forward, respectively, and junior guard Lindsey Hopkins and sophomore forward Ally Mallot are both recognized on the statewide and national levels as top players at their positions.

Madison is 73-18 under John Rossi in his first four years at the helm and is taking his squad to the Classic for the first time.

Millersburg West Holmes

West Holmes returned nine letter-winners this season for third-year head coach Lisa Patterson. The Knights recorded a 20-5 mark last season and are 38-11 under Patterson. Senior post Sarah Hammond is on of the top players in her class, according to the Ohio Girls Basketball Report.

West Holmes is making its sixth appearance in the Classic but have struggled with a 1-4 record.

New Philadelphia

The Quakers returned all five starters this season for second-year head coach Ron Ross. Ross is in his second season with the Quakers after a long tenure with Tuscarawas Central Catholic and stints at Fairfield University and Mount Union College coaching the men’s teams. Seniors Steph Dessecker, Jeri Herron and Bre Shelter lead juniors Danielle Ledrich and Haley Howard. Ledrich is an OGBR top 100 junior.

It is the first appearance in the Classic for New Philadelphia.

North Canton Hoover

Hoover has experienced great success in both the Classic and overall under long-time head coach Paul Wackerly. The Vikings have played in every Classic and have a 7-2 mark. Through 18 years under Wackerly, Hoover is 228-57 including a state title in 2002. Seniors Jessica Carpenter and Erica Iafelice are both three-year starters and rated in the OGBR top 100 for their class.


Coming off a 17-7 record last season, Reynoldsburg welcomed back four starters, including junior forward T’Shera Lucas. Lucas is rated in the OGBR top 25 rankings for her class. Juniors Aryelle Covington and Kenyell Goodson join Lucas as well as senior Melanie Marx in the back court. This year marks the second trip for Reynoldsburg to the Classic after falling to Winton Woods in last year’s event.


Salem was 32-13 in Jeff Andres’ first two seasons with the Quakers. With three starters back, Salem is aiming to make a long tournament run. Junior forward Amy Scullion is nationally ranked as the No. 4 junior small forward in the country by the CGBR and is joined by seniors Dana Webb and Brittney Ritchie at guard and forward, respectively.

Salem lost to Lima Bath last year in its only other appearance in the Classic.

Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown

While HB returned only two starters from last season’s state runner-up team, the Blazers boast a wealth of talent. Junior Mylan Woods is a Northwestern recruit and is ranked nationally at the small forward position. Junior point guard Alexis Dobbs is also nationally ranked. Sophomores Sarah Poland, Tanisha Lawler and Alanna Guy are all major contributors as well as transfers Erica Almady and Molly Crosby.

Surprisingly, HB is winless in the Classic but will try to reverse that fortune in its fifth trip.

South Euclid Regina

One of the most recognizable teams in this year’s Classic is Regina. The Royals were a state semifinalist last season and, of course, won four straight state championships between 2000-03. Toledo recruit Rylee McCormick is one of the top players in the state and junior Tay’ler Mingo is nationally ranked as the No. 3 point guard by the CGBR. Old Dominion recruit Jackie Cook is a transfer from Medina Highland and is a top 25 rated senior by the OGBR.

Regina is 6-2 in five appearances in the Classic.

South Webster

The Lady Jeeps are making their first appearance in the Classic and are paced by three returning starters in junior guard Kayla Cook, senior center Erin Sherman and senior guard Erin Moore. Cook is an OGBR top 25 junior and Sherman is a Rio Grande volleyball recruit.

Sugarcreek Garaway

Garaway has made the state Final Four three of the last four years including a state runner-up finish last year. Sophomore forward Sarah Bardall, daughter of fifth-year head coach Scott Bardall, is an OGBR top 100 player in her class. Junior wing Kristen Troyer is also a returning starter for the Pirates.

Garaway has a 1-2 mark in the Classic.

Toledo Start

In his first two years at Start, Bob Brown coached the Spartans to a 33-9 record and is aiming to improve on last season’s 17-4 mark. Toledo recruit Yolanda Richardson is nationally ranked as the No. 34 center for the senior class. Sophomores Azia Bishop and Maleeka Kynard are young but return as starters at power forward and point guard, respectively. Junior forward Tiffani Blackman and freshman point guard Jamie Jackson are both ranked nationally at their respective positions.

Start is making its first appearance in the Classic


In his first season at the helm last year, Mike Kelley led Twinsburg to a 20-2 record. The Tigers have four starters back that are all three-year letter-winners including guards Lauren Macer and Sydnee Carter, point guard Katie Whittington and forward Rachel Peelman.

The Tigers are making their first appearance in the Classic.

University (N.J.) Phoenix

University is the lone out-of-state school participating in this year’s Classic. The two-time defending New Jersey state champion brings an abundance of talent to the event with the country’s No. 1 small forward and No. 2 player overall in junior Lauren Mincy. Senior point guard Nadirah McKenith is a St. John’s recruit and Latifah Johnson, Tierra Clark and Raven Anderson round out the starting lineup.

Vandalia Butler

Butler is making its first appearance in the Classic and brings four returning starters from last season’s 18-5 campaign. Junior Brianna Innocent is ranked in the OGBR top 25 and junior guard Kacie Cassell is ranked in the OGBR top 50. Senior guard Brittany Holland is a Youngstown State volleyball recruit and junior Jaimee Hulsmeyer is s solid role player for the Aviators.


The Grizzlies have participated in every Classic and hold a 5-1 record. Sophomore post Robin Rotterschmidt is ranked in the OGBR top 25 and senior wing Linsey Tenyak is ranked in the top 100. Point guard Taylor Woods is ranked in the OGBR sophomore top 100.

Wadsworth last made the state Final Four in the 2005-06 season.

Warsaw River View

River View is aiming to return to Columbus this year after winning back-to-back Division II state titles in 2006 and ‘07. Senior post and daughter of head coach Caroline Daugherty, Kari Daugherty is one of the top players in the state and will join older sister Kristin at Dayton next year. Seniors Jenna Saylor and K.J. Todd provide experience on the floor for the Black Bears and sophomore center Olivia Neace adds size in the paint.

River View returns to the Classic after a one-year hiatus and holds 2-2 record in the event.


Under forth-year head coach Jerry Close, Waterford is one of the fastest up-and-coming programs in Division IV. The Wildcats have made the regional tournament in each of the last three seasons with a combined 62-11 record. Junior forward Sina King is an OGBR top 25 player in her class and the CGBR has her ranked as the No. 57 power forward in the country. Seniors Jessi Drayer and Britany Brown at guard and forward compliment King well at guard and forward, respectively.

Waterford defeated East Canton last season in its only other appearance in the Classic.

West Chester Lakota West

Division I state runner-up from a year ago, Lakota West is poised to make another tournament run this season with Duke recruit Alexis Rogers in the post and Murray State commit Tess Elkins running the point. Rogers is ranked as the No. 2 power forward in the country by the CGBR. Senior forward Brittany Harriel is a Southeast Missouri State recruit and is an OGBR top 50.

The Firebirds faced a tough test Monday losing to Mount Notre Dame 49-38.

Lakota West is 6-4 in five Classic appearances.

West Salem Northwestern

The Huskies are making their first appearance in the Classic and bring seven letter-winners from last season’s team – all seniors. Kara Koch gives Northwestern size in the paint and Kim Bowman is the floor general at the point position.

Youngstown Boardman

Last but certainly not least, Youngstown Boardman makes its fifth trip to the Classic with a 2-2 record. The Spartans were state semifinalists last season and are led by Ohio State recruit Darryce Moore at center. She is ranked as the No. 9 center in the country in the junior class by the CGBR. Junior guard Monica Touvelle is an OGBR top 100 junior. Senior guards Katie Fiffick, Samara Suttin and Emily Abraham are both three-year letter winners. Senior forward Erin Brown is also a three-year letter winner.

Boardman is the third winningest girls basketball program in Ohio and the Spartans have won 15 District Championships in head coach Ron Moschella’s 28 years.


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