Who are Ohio’s top Division I girls basketball teams? Canton McKinley? Pickerington North? Fairborn? Toledo Statrt? Twinsburg? Yep…and a cast of other talented squads. Today we continue previewing the Girls Basketball Season with Ohio Girls Basketball Report’s Tom Jenkins.
– 2011 Preview & Prognostications: Ohio High School Girls
Ohio Girls Basketball Report started 13 years ago has become over
the last 10 years the #1 single-state scouting service in America.
Currently there are 208 colleges across America that subscribe to Ohio
Girls Basketball Report and rely on the information provided by Tom
Jenkins and his staff in evaluating players from Ohio. Tom has over 45
years of playing, coaching and evaluating experience associated with the
game of 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
Collaborating on this year’s 2010-2011 Preview & Prognostications
is Bryce McKey, Associate Head Coach at Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown
School and Head Coach of Sports City U, ESPN’s #8 ranked travel team in
the country this past year. Coach McKey is credited in getting HB “over
the hump” in winning their 2nd consecutive state championships in 2009
and 2010. A disciple of the legendary coach Perry Reese, Jr., Coach
McKey at age 24 has been a member of the OGBR staff for the last 5
It seems as though every 6 or 7 years a chapter ends and a new chapter
begins in Ohio girls high school basketball.
A new chapter began in ’96 as interest in the game of girls/women’s
basketball was re-ignited by way of the US Olympic team, in Ohio Regina
reeled off 4 consecutive state championships and then this chapter
culminated with Ohio’s record breaking class of 2003 signing 103 NCAA
D-I scholarships, solidifying our state as one of the 3 national hotbeds
of girls basketball.
The next chapter began in 2004 as Mt. Notre Dame furthered Ohio’s
position as a national hotbed with their run winning 5 state
championships over a 6 year period including 4 in a row and this chapter
concluded prior to the beginning of this season with the dismantling of
the Mt. Notre Dame program, the closing of the doors at Regina, some
schools not even being able to field a team, transfers galore and more
coaching changes than you can shake a stick at.
Thank goodness given the ending of the last chapter, this season is time
for a new chapter in the book of Ohio girls high school basketball to
began. My good friend Eric Frantz here at JJ Huddle / Ohio High Magazine
has asked me to write a statewide all-division inclusive preview for
this upcoming season…so the following is as Bob Seger and The Silver
Bullet Band once sang “is like working on a mystery without any
clues”…here goes…out of 798 high school basketball programs…
Nov. 15: Division IV Preview
Nov. 16: Division III Preview
Nov. 17: Division II Preview
Nov. 18: Division I Preview
Nov. 22: Division IV Preseason Power Poll
Nov. 23: Division III Preseason Power Poll
Nov. 24: Division II Preseason Power Poll
Nov. 25: Division I Preseason Power Poll
Division I Previews
Canton Region (NE Ohio)
Note: Schools on the west side of Cleveland go through the Norwalk
Region and will be discussed in that region’s section.
Favorite(s): Canton McKinley Lady Pups & Twinsburg Tigers
Expect this new chapter to begin as the last chapter ended with
Twinsburg facing off against the reigning D-I State Champion, Canton
McKinley. The Lady Pups of McKinley may very well have the best 4-guard
combination/rotation in the state with Ameryst Alston (jr), Aaliyah
Dotson (soph), Marquia Turner (fresh) and Jasmine Neal (sr). Post play
will be key with returning starter Leneisha Lennon (sr) receiving help
from Gabby Kendall (jr) and Regina Ross (jr)… help in the post this
year will be much needed…especially against Twinsburg
Twinsburg, on the other hand may have the best supporting cast for their
2 top tier prospects 6’4 Malina Howard (jr) and Ashley Morrisette
(soph) in LaShawna Gatewood (jr), Leah Fechko (jr), Chardell Dunnigan
(soph) and senior point guard Katie Fox.
It is a consensus among college coaches that Howard, a member of the USA
U18 Gold Medal Team, (Twinsburg) and Alston (McKinley), also invited to
the USA National Team tryouts, are the top 2 prospects in Ohio’s 2012
class while Morrisette (Twinsburg) is considered one of the top 3
prospects in Ohio’s 2013 class. No question if these two teams were from
different regions they would both be pre-season picks for the D-I State
Challenger(s): Wadsworth Lady Grizzlies & Shaker Heights Raiders
Run downhill not uphill to get away from a Grizz…fear the Lady Grizz
of Wadsworth..better be focused, loaded and locked for bear cause Coach
Booth’s Grizz ain’t hibernating this winter. Led by seniors Robyn
Rotterschmidt and Taylor Woods (both Ashland bound) along with a healthy
Sharlee Bailey, Wadsworth on any given day against any given opponent
is capable of being the best team on the floor.
By all accounts Coach Mike Coreno and his staff appear to have the Red
Raiders of Shaker Heights on the same page as we open this new chapter
of Ohio girls high school basketball. Led by 4 year starter Shelby
Stokes (sr/East Tennessee State), shooter Jordyn Peck (jr), the big
heart of Danae Rock (jr), banger Monteya Ford (sr) along with transfers
Takesha Harden (sr from Shaw) and Chyress Lockhart (sr from Central
Catholic), these veteran Raiders are ready to blow their bugle and make a
charge in NE Ohio D-I this season.
On the Outside Looking In: Green Bulldogs
Players like Logan Pastor (sr Bowling Green) do not come around every
year…talented and versatile but more importantly has the uncanny
ability to make those around her better. It will be interesting to see
Pastor’s transition and the transition of the Lady Bulldogs to new head
coach Lynn Wess as he takes over for longtime fixture in NE Ohio Coach
Tony Whitmer. If the transition is smooth these Junkyard Dogs could
surprise a lot more than Wadsworth in the Suburban League…if it ain’t
Norwalk Region (NW Ohio)
Note: Schools on the west side of Cleveland go through the Norwalk
Region and are included in this section.
Favorite(s): Toledo Start Spartans & Middleburg Heights
Sparty missed its’ chariot to Columbus last year. On paper Toledo Start
had the most prospect loaded roster in Ohio last year but only played
like it in defeating USA Today’s #9 ranked team, Potter’s House
Christian Academy (FL), at last year’s Classic in the Country VII then
losing 3 times to cross town rival and state runner-up team Toledo
Waite. This year the Spartans lost Charon Sweeney to Toledo Rogers but
picked up Ariel Gaston (sr) from Sylvania Southview. On paper this year
Start still has the most dominant looking roster in the state with
Maleeka Kynard (sr/Ohio State), 6’3 Azia Bishop (sr/Kentucky), Jaymie
“Puff” Jackson (jr), 6’5 CeDra Evans (jr), Keia McCarver (sr) and senior
transfer Ariel Gaston. The Spartans (on Paper) can cover the Rock but
have to get by the Scissors…Rock, Paper, Scissors?
Coach Stephanie Mentz’s Midpark Meteors are burning brightly this year
as they return the nucleus from last year’s team in Kaila Barber (sr and
last year’s Gatorade Track Athlete of the Year), Brittany Smith (jr)
and Korie Maryo (soph)…if there were those who thought these Meteors
would flame out…no chance with the addition of 6’2 freshman Stasha
Carey along with “The Surgeon” and “The Beast” showing up on campus.
With the basketball as her scalpel, “The Surgeon”, Rachel Theriot, can
carve defenses up. She is considered the top point guard prospect in
Ohio’s 2012 class…and “The Beast”, Therany Dunnigan (North Carolina
State) is like a runaway freight train going to the rack..you may take a
charge from her, but you will only take 1.
As a closing thought on these 2 favorites in the Norwalk Region…isn’t a
Meteor a flaming rock? Do you think it can burn through paper?…Rock,
Paper , Scissors?
Challenger(s): Toledo Notre Dame Eagles & Sylvania Northview
Eagles & ‘Cats are the primary challengers to Start and/or Midpark
this year in the Norwalk Region but are either worthy of being the
“Scissors”…Rock, Paper, Scissors?
Out front in the Eagles of Notre Dame Academy’s formation is Kat Wells
(jr) flanked by Demy Whitaker (jr) and Michelle Holmes (jr). While the
Eagles are expected to fly high this season, Coach Travis Galloway’s
birds will be soaring a year from now as rumor has it that the #1 player
from Ohio’s 2015 class, Tierra Floyd will be added to a solid returning
formation at Notre Dame Academy.
Coach Jerry Sigler has his ‘Cats from Northview hungry and on the prowl.
Senior Katelyn McCoy is joined by juniors Miriam Justinger, Jessica
Jessing and Skylar Rose in their search to deliver a widespread epidemic
of cat scratch fever.
On the Outside Looking In: Lorain Titans & Toledo Rogers Rams
Following Aristotle’s wavelength of applied logic where if a one-school
school district splits into 2 or more schools the practical art of right
reasoning tells us that athletic programs would become a bit weaker by
the split. Thus on the converse where a 2-school school district becomes
a 1-school school district the athletic programs could get a bit
stronger….as Cheech said to Chong….”that’s deeeeeeeeep”…D-I Lorain
Admiral King High School consolidated with Lorain Southview High School
into Lorain High School…benefactor? …Head Coach Mark Feldman. The
Titans with 6’3 multi position top 3 Ohio 2013 prospect Alexandra Harris
(soph) in the navy and silver along with 6’1 ruling the paint Shanique
Ogle (sr Bowling Green State) have the best frontcourt combination in
the state rivaled only by 6’3 Bishop (sr Kentucky)/6’5 Evans (jr) out of
this same division and region over at Toledo Start. Opponents will as
stated in the scrip…’remember forever the night they played the
“Let me in, let me in” is the chant heard in the distance coming from of
Coach Lamar Smith’s Deveaux Middle School bus as he takes over the helm
at Rogers bringing with him as talented a group of players from the
2014 class entering any Ohio high school in Sasha Dailey, Jasmyne Smith,
Tori Easley to go along with Start transfer and “elder” stateswoman
Charon Sweeney (soph).
Westerville Region (Central & Eastern OH)
Note: There will be one district champion from the Cincinnati / Dayton
area coming through this region but are not included in this section.
Favorite(s): Reynoldsburg Raiders & Pickerington North
Looking to make a second consecutive trip across town to Value City
Arena this March are the Raiders from Reynoldsburg. The only question
is, was last year’s experience enough to carry this year’s club
dominated by underclassmen back to the Schott? If the answer is yes,
expect Coach Jack Purtell to make a raid on the Schott for the next 3
years…giving him 4 appearances in a row at the D-I Final 4. Returning
lone senior Kacia Grant and junior Aliyah Zant lead as talented a group
of underclassmen on any one team as there is in the state in sophomores
Yamonie Jenkins, Destini Cooper , Shiloh Murphy (transfer from
Zanesville) along with highly touted 6’3 freshman Alyssa Rice.
Having set the bar in the final decade of the last century in making 8
final 4 appearances winning 5 of his 6 state championships, Coach Dave
Butcher is looking at taking this Pickerington team to their 2nd Final 4
appearance in the new millennium. With seniors Kavuna Edwards
(Villanova), Shelley Olzewski (Austin Peay) and Paige Stought (Ohio
Dominican) leading the way along with Taylor Jones (jr) and Brittney
Johnson (fr), the Panthers could make it an even dozen for Coach Butcher
at the Final 4. (’85, 8 in the 90′s, ’00, ’07).
Challenger(s): Columbus Brookhaven Bearcats
The ‘Haven is a legit contender and without question the overwhelming
sentimental favorite this year…Coach Lee has stated this is his last
year on the sidelines…30 years in the gym, 30 years on the track and
35 years in the classroom all at Brookhaven. All of us associated with
this great game of Ohio girls high school basketball in some form owe
Coach Lee. Often referred to as “The Urban Legend”, Coach Lee is one of 3
folks that laid the foundation for girls high school basketball in the
state of Ohio…as you see him this year, I encourage all of us to thank
him for his unsurpassed efforts, personal sacrifices and setting the
stage we all enjoy.
To go with the emotional ride of Coach Lee’s farewell tour, The “Haven
has as good a 3-guard combination in the state in Travecia Franklin (sr
Indiana State), Brianna Holmes (sr Marist) and Jasmine Johnson (jr)
along with one of the state’s best “rim-runners” in Marah Morris (sr
Indiana State). The key for the Bearcats in being a legit challenger to
Reynoldsburg and Pickerington North will be the health and focus of 6’2
senior post Chanae Ward.
On the Outside Looking In: Columbus Northland Vikings &
Pickerington Central Tigers
Led by one of the top 3 prospects in Ohio’s 2013 class, Alexis Peterson,
along with highly recruited Symone Denham (jr), Tatianna Chappell (sr),
Brandi Curd-Watson (jr), Kierra Simpson (jr) and Ayana Calvin-Jones
(sr), Northland on paper appears to be more than a pretender. Coach Dean
Washington added depth to his staff when he hired Coach Carla Norris,
an ol’ skool Akron stand-out. The question is, do the Vikings have depth
enough to put the needed number of oars in the water to become a legit
With arguably one of the top 5 frontcourt players in Ohio’s class of
2013 in Marley Hill along with Jasmine Henshaw (jr), Alexis Newsome
(soph) and Lancaster transfer Hillary Jacks (sr) to go with the senior
leadership of Katie Stevens, Coach Wade Brockwell’s Tigers are looking
to get in the mix to determine the ruler of the central Ohio jungle.
Fairborn Region (SW Ohio)
Note: There will be one district champion from the Cincinnati / Dayton
area going through the Westerville region but are included in this
Favorite(s): Cincinnati Princeton Vikings
Upon the dismantling of the Mt. Notre Dame program and disbursal of
players who left the Cougars den, the GMC’s position as the best
conference in the state was strengthened and Coach Jill Phillips’ Lady
Vikes of Princeton have emerged as the clear cut favorite to come out of
the D-I Southwest Region this year. Prior to the MND dismantling,
Princeton was already one of the favorites but picking up MND transfers
Neschille Williams (sr Ball State) and versatile athlete Breanna Rucker
(jr) filled some of the Vikings frontcourt needs given the ACL injury
sustained by Karen Nelson (sr). Add Williams and Rucker to the returning
talented trio of juniors Shakira Lang & Alexis Chinn and sophomore
Emily Roper ; then mix in the best perimeter freshman in the state in pg
Kelsey Mitchell with twin Chelsea…you now have a recipe that makes
even the Skyline Chill folks jealous !!!
*Note: SW Ohio D-I (Fairborn Region) is the most crowded D-I field
and the entire state for the 2nd year in a row. in particularly in the
crazy good Greater Miami Conference. Given the space allowed only the
teams and a few of their top players will be listed below:
Challenger(s) (listed alphabetically)(players listed by class
Fairborn Skyhawks with Candice Alexander (2011); Jaymee Veney (2011 St.
Francis NY); Alexis Gassion (2013), and; Brooklyn Pumroy (2012).
Lakota East Thunderhawks with Molly Bloomer (2012); Alyssa Grevenkamp
(2012); Tazzie Shaw (2012 transfer from West), and Whitney Wycoff
Mason Comets with Sarah Hunter (2011 Wright State); Brianna Glover
(2012), Sarah Ammons (2013), and; Kayla McDowell (2013).
Springboro Panthers with Olivia Schretzman (2011 Army); Ashley Morrow
(2012); Katie Schubert (2012), and; Jenny DeGraaf (2013).
Sycamore Aviators with Ashley Schaefer (2011); Kari Kleist (2012
transfer from Mason/MND); Alexis Newbolt (2012), and; Chloe Pavlech
On the Outside Looking In (listed alphabetically):
Colerain Cardinals with Shelley Harper (2012); Sheira Jones (2012), and
Alexis Fitzpatrick (2013).
Fairmont Firebirds with Alona Skipper (2013); Chelsea Welch (2013);
Kathryn Westbeid (2014), and; Makayla Waterman (2014)…young will start
there multi-year run next year.
Lakota West Firebirds with Ronni Grandison (2011 UMass); Mea Williams
(2011); Adrianna McNeal (2012); Rachel Huxhold (2012), and; Olivia
Wrencher (2012) …as deep as any D-I team in the state
COMING NEXT WEEK…