Division II Girls Basketball State Tournament Preview: Familiar faces, newcomer highlight field


Division II State Tournament

To say the field in Division II is stacked for the 34th Annual Girls Basketball State Tournament might be the understatement of the year.

With two teams boasting the last three state titles, another making its third straight Final Four appearance and a one-loss team making its first state trip, the Division II is two title is anyone’s for the taking.

To say the field in Division II is stacked for the 34th Annual Girls Basketball State Tournament might be the understatement of the year.

With two teams boasting the last three state titles, another making its third straight Final Four appearance and a one-loss team making its first state trip, the Division II is two title is anyone’s for the taking.

Kettering Alter hoisted its first girls basketball state trophy last season with a 60-46 win over Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown. The Lady Knights are headed back to Columbus for the third time in program history and will have to face HB in the semifinals to defend their title.

“When you get to this point in the season, anyone that you play is going to be outstanding,” Alter co-head coach Chris Hart said. “There are only four teams left and we feel very privileged and honored to be one of those teams and to be one of those four teams two years in a row is quite an accomplishment for our program.

“Hathaway Brown is a team that is just loaded with talent and is very well-coached. It presents quite a challenge for us. They are very talented and we can’t find a weakness.”

After the graduation of three seniors from last year’s team, No. 5 Alter (24-2) has been paced this season by junior point guard Ashley Christie with 10.7 points per game, who is a Divison II All-Ohio second team selection.

Christie led all scorers in last year’s title game with 20 points earning MVP of the tournament.

“(Christie) has had a very solid year for us this year and she kind of makes us go,” said Hart. “She does a lot of the little things and her ability to defend helps us out as well.”

Younger sister, sophomore guard Courtney Christie, is the second leading scorer with 6.4 points per game.

“Courtney can shoot the three, handles the ball a little bit for us and gets up and defends pretty well,” Hart said.

In the post, sophomore forward Whitney Dabbelt adds 5.3 points and is Alter’s second leading rebounder while lone senior starter Mary Bruner nets 4.8 points.

Junior guard Ali Mygrants came off the bench last year and contributed 4.4 points per contest this season as a starter.

“The good thing is a lot of our young kids got important experience last year at the state level and at the regional level and I think that paid dividends for us early this year,” said Hart. “We kind of felt our way through the beginning of the season this year and as the season wore on we gained more experience.

“We graduated three outstanding seniors last year and two are playing college basketball right now, so, probably not in our wildest dreams did we think we would make it back (to state) this quickly,” she added. “We were young last year but coming into the season we were very young.”

For No. 14 HB (19-6), it is the third straight state tournament for the Blazers but the championship has eluded them. Regardless, HB once again had a successful regular season against one of the state’s toughest schedules and is hoping the third time is indeed a charm.

“We play a very difficult schedule throughout the course of the year,” HB head coach Paul Barlow said. “We took some lumps and learned some valuable lessons from that. We played good teams and fell short but I think that paid off down the stretch and I feel like we have been playing our best basketball since we hit the tournament.”

Despite going home disappointed the past two seasons, HB still had its sights set on returning to Columbus this season.

“I think our goal every year should at least be competing in the regionals and competing for a berth in the Final Four,” Barlow said. “The goal for everyone at the beginning of the year is to get to Columbus and bring home a state championship.”

Junior wing Mylan Woods has led HB each of the last three years. The Northwestern recruit is good for 16.4 points per game and is the Division II co-player of the year.

“Her mindset is a little more business-like,” Barlow explained about this year’s berth in the tournament. “Everyone is excited that we are going back down there but I think it is a little more business-like and we are approaching it like we do any other game.

“Having been on that stage before, I think (Woods) feels that experience is certainly going to be in her favor.”

Junior post Erica Almady, a West Chester Lakota West transfer, is the second leading scorer with 12.7 points per game.

“(Almady) is a blue-collar-type of player and has certainly played well down the stretch,” said Barlow. “I think it took her a little while to get acclimated to our team. Coming from a large, co-ed, public school to a small, private, girls school is quite a change. But she adjusted to that and has done a great job with that.”

Junior point guard Alexis Dobbs contributes 10 points per game running the offense and was named to the All-Ohio second team.

“(Dobbs) is probably our best and most consistent three-point shooter,” said Barlow. “She does a fantastic job of being the leader on the floor.”

Sophomore wings Tanisha Lawler and Alanna Guy add 7.0 and 5.9 points, respectively.

“We returned a couple of kids with big game experience with Woods and Dobbs and we have some role playing kids that were role players on the team last year that gained experience in the beginning of the year,” said Barlow.

For obvious reasons, HB knows what to expect when it takes the court with Alter Friday at Ohio State’s Value City Arena at 3 p.m.

“They are an experienced team and an extremely well-coached basketball team,” Barlow said of his opponent. “Playing them two years in a row in (Columbus) there is a little bit of a rivalry – so to speak – but I think our kids are excited to have another crack at it. We certainly have respect for everything that they do and will certainly respect them when they hit the floor.

“I think our kids are looking forward to the opportunity of trying to redeem themselves from last year.”

On The Other Side Of The Bracket

After a one season hiatus, Warsaw River View is back in the state tournament mix having won back-to-back championships in 2006 and 2007.

Senior forward and Dayton recruit Kari Daugherty has started since her freshman season and was named tournament MVP during the previous two title runs.

She was named Division II co-player of the year this season averaging 25.1 points per game.

“She is really the backbone of our team,” head coach and mother Caroline Daugherty said. “She is very versatile and could play the point guard position if we needed her to. She could play positions one through five if we needed her to.”

Daugherty is one of four seniors to start for the No. 7 Lady Bears (23-2). Senior guard Karly Jones averages 5.6 points while senior forward K.J. Todd adds 4.9 and senior guard Jenna Saylor chips in 2.0 points per contest.

“We are a very experienced team and a hard-working team,” sais Daugherty, who won a title with River View as a player in 1982. “There are not a lot of basketball players but there are hard workers.

“They have really overachieved this season. If someone would have told me at the beginning of the year we would be playing in the state tournament, I am not sure I would have believed it.”

Sophomore center Olivia Neace is the second leading scorer on the squad with 10.2 points per game.

“She is very athletic, runs the floor well and is good compliment to Kari inside,” the elder Daugherty said.

River View likes to run a fast-paced game dictating the tempo while semifinal opponent Wapakoneta prefers to slow the game down.

“(Wapakoneta) is a patient team and very well-coached,” Daugherty said. “They remind me of teams that we have played in the past.

“We want to try and play up-tempo and put a little pressure on their guards and it should be a distinct contrast in styles.”

Wapakoneta (24-1) is making its first trip to the state tournament in school history in any sport.

Head coach Rusty Allen, a Wapakoneta graduate, is in his first season leading the Redskins.

“I am a little surprised,” he said of making the tournament in his first season. “To get to the Final Four, you have to be good and have a little bit of luck. Our schedule isn’t a very easy schedule. We thought we could win 16 or 17 games but we knew it wasn’t going to be easy.

“At first, we were more concerned about doing well in (the Western Buckeye League) but getting to the Final Four is a dream come true for some of these girls. We put on a little run and started playing well at the right time. We didn’t peak too early and everything just started to come together.”

The No. 11 Redskins start four seniors but it is junior post Heidi Schlegel who leads the team in scoring with 15.2 points per game after missing last season with a knee injury.

“She is just a hard worker,” Allen said. “She does some nice things inside and has created some match up problems for teams this season because of her size and strength.”

Senior guard Devon Golden was named to the All-Ohio third team with 11.8 points per game. Emily Steveley (9.1), Christy Steinke (5.8) and Kailey Schneider (4.1) provide Wapakoneta senior leadership on the floor as well.

“Our big thing offensively is to control the tempo, try to get some post touches and just try to wear the opponents down,” Allen said. “We feel we have enough offensive weapons that if we are patient we can break some defenses down.”

Golden is a Georgetown (Ky.) recruit.

“She is the leader of the group,” said Allen. “She’s one that could average 20 to 25 points for us but she is just a very unselfish player so we are definitely happy having her running the point for us.”

Allen is not afraid to use players off the bench and anticipates the case will be the same against River View Friday at Ohio State’s Value City Arena at 1 p.m.

“Having to compete against River View is going to be a tough challenge,” he said. “Anybody who gets here at this point in the season is obviously pretty talented as well. (Daugherty and Neace) can put up some points and that is going to be a concern of ours.

“They have been down to state before and won it so they know what it is like.”

Division II State Basketball Tournament Vitals


Friday, March 20 

Wapakoneta vs. Warsaw River View, 1:00 p.m.
Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown vs. Kettering Archbishop Alter, 3:00 p.m.  

Saturday, March 21

Division II Championship: 5:15 p.m.


Archbishop Alter (24-2)
Nickname: Lady Knights
Girls Enrollment: 250
Final ‘09 Ranking: 5th
State Appearances: 2009, 2008, 2002
Head Coach: Christina Hart
School Rec.: 241-111 (15 yrs.)
PPG: 52.3; OPP: 31.9
Probable Starters
F 32 Mary Bruner, 5-10, Sr., 4.8 ppg
F 21 Whitney Dabbelt, 6-0, So., 5.3 ppg
G 24 Ali Mygrants, 5-8, Jr., 4.4 ppg
G 14 Ashley Christie, 5-7, Jr., 10.7 ppg
G 22 Courtney Christie, 5-7, So., 6.4 ppg 

Hathaway Brown (19-6)
Shaker Heights
Nickname: Blazers
Girls Enrollment: 246
Final ‘09 Ranking: 14th
State Appearances: 2009, 2008, 2007
Head Coach:
Paul Barlow
School Rec.: 146-67 (9 yrs.)
PPG: 60.4; OPP: 42.9
Probable Starters
W 31 Mylan Woods, 5-11, Jr., 16.4 ppg
W 23 Tanisha Lawler, 5-7, So., 7.0 ppg
W 2 Alanna Guy, 5-7, So., 5.9 ppg
P 33 Erica Almady, 6-0, Jr., 12.7 ppg
G 12 Alexis Dobbs, 5-5, Jr., 10.0 ppg 

River View (23-2)
Nickname: Lady Bears
Girls Enrollment:
Final ‘09 Ranking: 7th
State Appearances: 2009, 2007, 2006, 1983, 1982, 1977
Head Coach: Caroline Daugherty
School Rec.: 131-15 (6 yrs.)
PPG: 51.1; OPP: 34.8
Probable Starters
F 44 Kari Daugherty, 6-2, Sr., 25.1 ppg
F 14 K.J. Todd, 5-7, Sr., 4.9 ppg
C 40 Olivia Neace, 6-0, So., 10.2 ppg
G 20 Karly Jones, 5-6, Sr., 5.7 ppg
G 22 Jenna Saylor, 5-2, Sr., 2.0 ppg 

Wapakoneta (24-1)
Nickname: Redskins
Girls Enrollment: 376
Final ‘09 Ranking: 11th
State Appearances: 2009
Head Coach: Rusty Allen
School Rec.:
24-1 (1 yr.)
PPG: 55.4; OPP: 37.1
Probable Starters
P 34 Heidi Schlegel, 6-0, Jr., 15.2 ppg
G 24 Devon Golden, 5-10 Sr., 11.8 ppg
G 10 Emily Steveley, 6-0, Sr., 9.1 ppg
G 14 Christy Steinke, 5-8, Sr., 5.8 ppg
G 12 Kailey Schneider, 5-7, Sr., 4.1 ppg


Semifinals: Warsaw River View over Wapakoneta; Hathaway Brown over Alter
Finals: Hathaway Brown over River View

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