10 State Storylines: Meltdowns, Drama, Neighbors, Rivalries and More


The 35th annual Ohio State Girls Basketball Tournament

So what’s happening at the Girls
Basketball State Tournament
Plenty. Here are 10
storylines to wet your appetite
for what should be a
truly remarkable weekend of high school
. There are first-time teams, familiar faces, friends,
foes…and plenty of action. And it all starts Thursday.

So what’s happening at the Girls Basketball State Tournament? Plenty. Here are 10 storylines to wet your appetite for what should be a
truly remarkable weekend of high school
. There are first-time teams, familiar faces, friends,
foes…and plenty of action. And it all starts Thursday.

1. How does Berlin Hiland respond to last year’s meltdown? Last year the Hawks led Columbus Africentric 26-11 at halftime of the Division IV state final only to be oustscored 44-20 in the second half. The result was a 55-46 loss and a sour taste. Seemingly so close to their fourth state title in five years, do the Hawks rebound to win their fourth in six now? Keep an eye on senior stalwart Hilary Weaver. Despite being the D-IV player of the year last year, Weaver was held scoreless in the state final going 0-for-4 for the field and fouling out with three turnovers. Expect the encore this year to be a lot different.

2. D-I has “Drama” written all over it:
Who will be the D-I champion? It won’t be Mount Notre Dame for the first time in five years and it will be a public school for the first time in seven. Beavercreek was the last public school to win the big school crown (2003) and this year one of Creek’s conference mates could do it as well. Kettering Fairmont – also from the Greater Western Ohio Conference – is making its first appearance at the state tournament as is its semifinal opponent Toledo Waite. In the other semifinal, Reynoldsburg also makes its state tournament debut against Canton McKinley, which is making its fourth trip.

3. What ending does Hathaway Brown write for its legacy?
Four years ago Hathaway Brown made the state tournament for the first time with a line-up littered with underclassmen, including several freshmen. This year that group takes its final tournament bow. The question is though, what will Hatahway Brown’s legacy be? The Blazers escaped becoming the first team in history to lose three straight state finals by holding off Wapakoneta in the D-II championship last year. This class – led by Division I recruits Mylan Woods (Northwestern), Alexis Dobbs (American) and Erica Almady (Miami, Ohio) – would like nothing more to usher out their careers with another state title. To do that though they’ll have to beat a familiar foe.

In the semifinals the Blazers face-off against rival Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit. Earlier this year the Warriors handed the Blazers a 57-55 loss at home.

“We have an awful lot of respect for Hathaway Brown and both teams know each other real well,” Walsh head coach Pete Zaccari said. “We’ve played them every year, we scrimmage them in the summer and we now each other. Both teams match up well and play similar styles.”

“It’s going to be fun to play what’s basically our biggest rival down in that setting,” Hathaway Brown head coach Paul Barlow said. “Our rivalry with them has become a pretty healthy one.”

In regards to the team’s first meeting, Dobbs did not play. In fact, three of the Blazers four losses came without Dobbs who missed nine games with a torn meniscus. She had surgery on Jan. 6.

Said Zaccari: “It will certainly be a different game with her there.”

Added Barlow: “We’re certainly a different team with her than without her.”

4. Knights-Blazers III?
Should Hathaway Brown get past Walsh Jesuit, there’s a good chance its state final opponent will be Kettering Alter. And that would be the third meeting between the two clubs in the last three state tournaments.

In 2008 the Knights beat the Blazers in the D-II final, while last year the Blazers returned the favor by beating Alter in the state semis.

Talk about intrigue.

5. Does Alter add another title to its trophy case?
Over the last decade, it can be argued that no other sports department in Ohio has been as successful as the Knights. Since 2000, Alter has won nine state titles in six different team sports and has won at least one state title in something each of the last four years. This marks the third straight season the girls basketball team has made the state tournament and the Knights are looking to add their second title (won in 2008).

“We have a long and strong history in our athletic and academic programs but athletics gets put out in front because it gets so much overage from the media.” Alter head coach and athletic director Chris Hart said. “Since the late 1990s we’ve been fortunate to have a number of different teams win state titles or be state runners-up. I think it speaks to the coaching staffs we have. Our facilities are not the greatest. We have all kinds of obstacles – and every school does – that you have to get over and around in order to be able to achieve. I think it really speaks to our student-athletes as well who are very disciplined and goal-oriented.”

Throughout its history, Alter has collected 21 state titles in football, boys basketball, boys cross country, boys golf, boys soccer, boys tennis, girls basketball, girls cross country, volleyball and girls tennis. 

6. Can neighboring communities Fort Loramie and Minster meet in the D-IV final?
Yes. Will they? Who knows. Both are rolling though.

After opening the season 6-7, Minster has won 12 straight. The Wildcats suffered from a mid-season gauntlet that included road games against Marion Local, Delphos St. John’s, Liberty-Benton, Kalida, Ottoville and Mogadore. Those six schools were a combined 140-18 after the district level. The turning point was regrouping after double-digit losses to Mogadore (73-50 at the Classic in the Country) and Ottoville (40-29).

The Wildcats haven’t lost since.

Loramie opened up 4-0 before suffering a three-game losing streak (including a loss to Minster). Since then the Redskins are 18-1.

“Somebody said we’re four miles a part and I think that’s an exaggeration, we’re more like three miles apart,” Minster head coach Nann Stechshulte said. “There would be no problem with the scouting reports. When we look at scouting reports for Fort Loramie we laugh because they know us and we know them. It would be interesting to see a sea of orange and a see of red (in the Schottenstein Center).”

Said Fort Loramie head coach Carla Siegel: “I think both communities would be extremely honored at the proposal of a rematch.”

7. Will youth be served?
Division IV semifinalist Canal Winchester Harvest Prep doesn’t have a senior in the starting line-up. Does that matter?

“It definitely was not by design,” Harvest Prep head coach David Dennis said. “We want to play the best people on our team and we’re not looking to the future. We’re looking to today. We’re happy that we’re young, because it gives us the opportunity to continue to build a successful program.”

The Warriors have four underclassmen that are potential NCAA D-I recruits in juniors Shicole Watts (13.5 points), Ayrealle Beavers (9.8) and Chelsea McKnight (15.7) and sophomore Jaren Francis (12.4).

Of Harvest Prep’s 10-player rotation, only one is a senior.

8. Can Madison win the Southwestern Buckeye League’s first state title?
Only two other SWBL teams in history have made the state tournament and neither won a championship. Waynesville made the D-III tournament in 2005 and lost 41-38 in the semifinals to Patrick Henry. Bellbrook finished runner-up in 1976 – the first tournament – in Class AA. The Eagles won their semifinal over Warren Champion 41-38.

“We feel like we have some athleticism and some length,” Madison head coach John Rossi said. “We like to get out and run and apply pressure.”

Madison has the tools to cut down the nets.

Junior Ally Mallot is the No. 1 ranked junior in Ohio and is being courted by every Top 10 program in the country including UConn. Senior Lindsey Hoskins is headed to Lehigh.

9. Will a state champion have seven losses?
Both Ironton (D-III) and Minster (D-IV) enter the state tournament with seven losses. No team with that many Ls has ever won a state title. Four teams with six losses have taken home the hardware.

“We started out (the season) somewhat slow,” Ironton head coach Doug Graham said. “Here as of late we’ve had different girls stepping up in different games. We’re really playing well and playing hard and as a team. And that’s what it takes to advance.”

Unlike Minster, which has won 12 straight games, Ironton dropped back-to-back games to Jackson and Marietta to end the regular season. Hasn’t mattered though.

Said Graham: “The girls just rededicated themselves.”

10.  Smithville’s second state tournament this year – first title?
The Smithies made a run at a state volleyball title in November but fell short in the D-III semifinals at the Nutter Center in Fairborn. With only six basketball practices under its belt, Smithville opened its hoop season with a loss to Loudonville. Since then the Smithies have rattled off 25 straight wins and are now 50-2 over the last two years (the other loss coming to Regina in last year’s regional final). Several of the same faces – including senior Jenna Pew (first team All-Ohio in both sports) – will suit up Thursday.

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