Who wins the state title? Who makes the Final Four? Who is a wildcard? What region is deepest? All the answers are here…
36th Annual Ohio High School Basketball State Tournament Preview
Girls Basketball Report started 12 years ago and has been voted for the
last 9 years the No. 1 single-state scouting service in America by NCAA
D-I Head Coaches. Currently there are 208 colleges across America that
subscribe to Ohio Girls Basketball Report and rely on the information
provided in recruiting players
from Ohio. Ohio has become consistently one of the top 3 states in the
country for NCAA D-I signees.
This 36th Ohio High School State
Tournament Preview has been prepared by Tom Jenkins, director of Ohio
Girls Basketball Report (OGBR) along with OGBR administrative staff
member Bryce Mckey. Tom has over 40 years of playing, coaching and
evaluating experience associated with the game of basketball. Coach
McKey is currently the associate head coach at Hathaway Brown as well as
recently considered for several NCAA D-I assistant coaching positions
and has been with OGBR for 6 years.
OGBR is devoted solely to
the promotion of the game of Ohio girls basketball through its
publication, Ohio Girls Basketball Report and the promotion of the
players of the game through its events and services.
This year’s 36th Ohio High School State Tournament Championships are
as loaded with big time talent as I have seen in 13 years previous of
being associated with Ohio girls basketball. There are going to be some
phenomenal match-ups both team and individual this year at all 3 levels,
district, regional and state and in all 4 divisions.
does a tremendous job coordinating and putting on what friends of mine
from across the country call the best high school state tournament in
America. Just think 798 teams…a nightmare of a task. Come out and
support this great game. Come out and support all the teams, players and
coaching staffs that have worked hard all year and made sacrifices to
compete in this great game.
FINAL FOUR FAVORITES: Hathaway Brown, Indian Hill, Miami Trace & Clyde
STATE CHAMPION FAVORITE: Indian Hill
Division II, like Noah’s Ark, will be revolving around the number two this year. There are two teams who have the best shot to return to Columbus: Hathaway Brown from the Northeast and Miami Trace from Central Ohio. There will be two new teams to this year’s Final Four: Indian Hill from the Southwest and Clyde from the Northwest. And continuing with the theme of counting by two’s brings us to the tournament favorite: Cincinnati Indian Hill. Indian Hill is the second school Coach Scott Rogers will take to Columbus to participate in the Final Four and very well could be the second school he leads to a state championship (Coach Rogers is the architect of the former powerhouse Mount Notre Dame). As well, it could be Coach Roger’s 2nd Division he has won a state championship in, having won in Division I two times in both 2004 and 2006. As we move into the tournament, expect to see a new state champion crowned this year in Division II. Whoever makes it out of the Southwest stands the best shot to knock off reigning champion, Hathaway Brown, who’s state championship tally will also stay at two.
Cleveland Regional (Northeast):
Hathaway Brown may not have the shining record to make them look like a contender, but they according the Massey Ratings have played the most difficult 20-game schedule in the state. Eight of their nine losses have been to Division I teams who have been mentioned in either the OGBR/JJHUDDLE Power Poll, or the State AP Poll. If big game experience is key in a tournament run, Hathaway Brown is as seasoned as anyone.
Hathaway Brown is without a doubt the tallest team in the tournament (Sarah Poland 6’3 (Cornell), Molly Crosby 6’2 (Loyola Chicago), Marlena Smith 6’3 (sr) and Steph Poland 6’4 (soph)… but their guards of the past have carried them in recent years. This year HB may find out one thing: speed trumps height. In order for Hathaway Brown to get back to the Final Four and compete for a State Championship, there 2 highest recruited players on this year’s roster, Vanessa Smityh and Nia Marshall will have to steer clear of ‘the sophomore slump’ and making significant contributions especially on the offensive end. HB has plenty of successful tournament experience to make another trip down I-71 with guards Tanisha Lawler and Alanna Guy as well as posts Molly Crosby and Sarah Poland looking to make their 4th consecutive trip to The Schott.
Historical Note 2: If Hathaway Brown gets to the state Final Four, Coach Paul Barlow will become the 1st head coach to compete in 5 consecutive state Final Fours over the 36 year history of the Ohio High School State Tournament. (Cincinnati Mt. Notre Dame made it to 6 consecutive Final Fours…3 under Coach Scott Rogers with the next 3 under Coach Dante Harlan)
Mentor Lake Catholic is without a doubt the biggest challenger to Hathaway Brown in Barberton. Lake Catholic is led by Colette Hounshell who will continue her career next year at St. Francis University (NY) (joining Jaymee Veney from Fairnborn, D-I contender in the Westerville Regional). Lake Catholic ends the year with an 18-2 record against a difficult schedule, beating Elyria Catholic, Akron Hoban, Walsh Jesuit and Youngstown Ursuline. Guard, Beth Switzler leads the Cougars in scoring while junior Delani Stopp has been shredding defenses with her lethal outside shooting.
St. Vincent St. Mary and Akron Hoban will battle to come out of the Massillon district. In their first meeting, the Irish of St. Vincent St. Mary came out ahead by 7 (48-41). St. Vincent St. Mary is led by guards Jackie Murray and Maria Arnone and have been getting big-time contributions from post player Daja Dave. Expect the winner of the Massillon District (Hoban/St. Vincent St. Mary) to give Hathaway Brown a scare in the regional semi-final… but it will be just that… a scare.
Highly regarded junior Hannah McCue of Rocky River is a force to be reckoned with. With help from fellow guard Katie McNally, the Pirates of Rocky River could give Hathaway Brown an early exit home. The Pirates come into the tournament with an 18-2 record, not having lost since 12-18-10. If they can get help from their supporting cast, they could be a tough out at the St. Joseph Academy District.
Beloit West Branch could make an appearance in the regional and give teams some trouble, having beaten Division I Louisville and D-II Minerva earlier this year. The Warriors will look to get back to their glory days, having won the state championship in 2004 but will struggle against the likes of Lake Catholic and Hathaway Brown.
Springfield Regional (Southwest):
Southwest Ohio has been an absolute war this year in Division II. Carroll has beaten Alter. Alter has beaten Carroll. Chaminade Julienne has beaten Indian Hill. Carroll has beaten Chaminade Julienne. Alter has beaten Chaminade Julienne. Tippecanoe lost to Carroll by two in a competitive game. Kenton Ridge has beaten Tippecanoe…twice…heck, McNick beat Carroll. With the addition of Olentangy to the Springfield region, you can expect that the southwest will produce the team favored to win the 2011 Division II State Championship.
Indian Hill seems to be the team playing their best basketball at the right time of year. They are led by Coach Scott Rogers, architect of former Division I powerhouse, Mount Notre Dame. Coach Scott “Doc” Rogers has come up with a prescription for winning basketball at Indian Hill, having won more games each year there at the helm. What Doc has done in this affluent suburb of Cincinnati is even more impressive than what he did at Mt. Notre Dame. His guard core led by Ball State junior recruit Nicole Bell is one of the best backcourts in the state. Bell brings toughness and a winning attitude to the Braves as they look to continue getting further and further each year in the tournament. She will be helped by a supporting cast of Kelsey Matthews (sr), Natalie Newton (jr), Katie Markesbery (sr) and Sarah Arrington (jr) who have all had shining moments throughout the regular season.
There are no sleepers in this regional. They are all legit challengers. The challengers are led by Dayton Carroll who have played a tough schedule to prepare for the tournament. They are led by junior Kelley Austria (University of Dayton recruit), who sat out with an injury in two of their four losses, junior sharpshooter Ciarra Poppa and 6’6 senior Cierra Triplett (Wright State). Austria and Poppa may very well be the best 3-point shooting tandem in the state. If the Carroll Patriots were like the New England Patriots, Austria is their Tom Brady and Poppa is there Wesley Walker.
Kettering Alter is no stranger to success and always finds away to make it happen this time of year. They have been the representative of the Southwest for the last three years, winning the state championship in 2008 against final four foe, Hathaway Brown. They are led by seniors Courtney Christie, Kaila Howe, and Whitney Dabbelt (Walsh University), and will also rely heavily on junior Alison Bockrath. The Knights of Kettering Alter are well coached and hard to guard as they are one of the most fundamentally sound teams in the state.
Chamniade Julienne has been the surprise team this year. They did beat Indian Hill earlier in the year while Doc Rogers (Indian Hill) was sidelined recovering from open heart surgery. These Eagles will undoubtedly make some noise in this year’s tournament, but they may be a year away. Coach Duane Williams has done a fantastic job stabilizing this storied program all the while remaining a year-in year-out power in Southwest Ohio. Juniors Emily Michael and Ray’tea Long provide as good of guard post tandem as there is in this region…Michael can really stroke the 3 and Long may be the strongest and most physical player in this region. Defensively the length, quickness and athleticism of Krista White (sophomore) creates havoc on opponents as she is a true “lock down” defender. But in the end these Eagles from Ludlow Street in Dayton may have to wait a year before flying to Columbus.
Kenton Ridge is talented and has played very well at times. However, there have been other times…well to be honest…they just haven’t looked like a challenger. They are led by junior Michigan State recruit Mariah Harris who has to come up big if they want to make a run. Highly regarded and recognized junior Lindsey Fenwick provides an extra scoring punch to relieve Harris of all the pressure. The question will be, can get enough help from the rest of the team to compete with the big dogs in the Southwest? … I think these critters from the feline family will end up staying on the porch…
Tipp City Tippecanoe has a juggernaut of offensive power with top junior prospect Elise Sharpe leading the way, along with Wright State recruit Breanna Stucke inside the paint. The Red Devils have fared well this year but have all four of their losses to Division II teams (Lima Bath, Dayton Carroll and Kenton Ridge x2). Tipp has the firepower to play with the other powers but needs to put it all together at the same time… the odds of them doing that for enough games in a row to make it out of the district/region however, aren’t good.
Last but not least is Olentangy who made the most intriguing tournament draw decision of the year by going to the Springfield region instead of heading east to what appears to be an easier road through Zanesville. I guess some would say, these Braves are being brave…not so sure about that! Coach Feasel’s team, led by Ohio Dominican recruit Olivia Zwayer, has the ability to compete with the best, however, I don’t think these ‘injuns’ have seen the cavalry in the wild, wild southwest…it sure ain’t Little Big Horn!!!
Zanesville Rgional (Central/East):
Miami Trace has had another solid year under head coach James Stutzman. After a performance ending in the Final Four last year, the Panthers look to pounce on the competition in Zanesville to achieve another berth in Columbus. Miami Trace is led by seniors Ashley Lawson (Youngstown State) and point guard Josey Hull who both gained valuable experience in Columbus last year before eventually losing to perennial final four team Kettering Alter. Hull and Lawson are the lone returning starters from last year’s state Final Four team. Although the Panthers lost a special player to graduation, Jenna Cobb (Butler University), they return 3 other players with the ‘big floor’ experience at The Schott in Kristin Reisinger (jr), Julianne McKay (sr) and Deidre McKay (soph) where these felines will not have the jitters…they are not in a room full of rocking chairs.
West Holmes is playing their best basketball of the year after beating cross-county rival Berlin Hiland 48-41 in The Perry Reese Center. After losing to our D-II projected state champion, Indian Hill, at Classic in the Country VIII, the Knights have locked down defensively and have run the table. Although Coach Lisa Patterson has a lot to work with this year, their return to the glory days of West Holmes dominance are still on the horizon as the Knights have a bevy of talent all the way down to the 6th grade.
Even with the glory days ahead of them, Coach Patterson’s Knights pose the biggest obstacle for Miami Trace’s return to the state Final Four. Solid senior leadership in Lindsy Snyder and Paige Asche give the Knights a well balanced attack inside and out beyond the arc. From one of the spectrum to the other Coach Patterson can put on the floor as good a combination of freshmen as there is in the state with the extremely talented and multi dimensional younger Snyder (Laina) and legit D-I college prospect at the point in Emily Molnar. With Coach Patterson’s round table being deeper than any other squad in this regional, we like their odds in finding their game by game “X” factor… a lot to choose from… The Knights will take the next step in getting back to being one of the most storied programs in the state of Ohio… The question is will it be this year or will the road back to prominence start next year?
Minerva is finally playing their best basketball of the year and they are a team to be reckoned with. Led by senior 6’4 post player, Chelsie Butler (Marquette), the Lions look to roar in the tournament this year. Last year, the Lions made it to the regional, beating West Holmes in the semi-final (47-39) and losing to eventual state Final Four participant Miami Trace (38-48). Butler has a great veteran core around her with sister seniors Kassidy Hardgrove (Shawnee State) and Taylor Maurer. If they continue to jell and not revert back to their early season woes, this year will be the best opportunity Minerva has to make their first ever state Final Four appearance.
When you think of River View you think of one name: Daugherty. While the elder Daugherty sisters (Kristin/Kari) are doing their thing at the University of Dayton (after winning state championships in 2006/2007), it is young freshman phenom Andi Daugherty’s turn to shine under the bright lights. Division II teams cringed when they saw another Daugherty come up through the ranks and teams better be ready for River View for 3 more years after this season has concluded. River View is one of only two teams to beat West Holmes this year (other being Indian Hill), surprising them 39-24. Are there more surprises in store from the Black Bears down in Zanesville? If not this year, I am sure there will be more over the course of the younger Daugherty’s high school career.
Ontario Regional (Northwest):
Clyde is an up and coming power led by head coach John Cahill and his freshman daughter Amanda Cahill. Clyde has taken care of conference rival Sandusky Perkins by double digits in both contests between the two and compete on both ends of the floor. Coach Cahill’s defense gives the Fliers a chance to win any game. The future is bright for Clyde, having an opportunity to cap off an undefeated season with the school’s first ever trip to Columbus. The Fliers will look for leadership from their three senior captains, Alesha Dickman, Spencer Robles and Kaylea Griffin as they look to make history this year in making their first ever trip to the state Final Four.
Toledo Rogers is led by sophomore sensation, Charon Sweeny who along with Nicole Bell (jr Indian Hill / Ball State) are the best 5’2 and under players in the state of Ohio. In a battle of coaches and their daughters, Rogers will provide a big-time test for Clyde in the Ontario regional as first year varsity head coach Lamar Smith and a plethora of freshmen led by Coach Smith’s daughter Jasmine Smith initiate a rivalry with Clyde for years to come. Rogers recently moved to Division II and have played the likes of Toledo Start, Toledo Notre Dame and Inkster (MI) to prepare for the tournament. Rogers with all their youth very well may be the most athletic team in the division but lack of consistency and that youth may end their season short of Columbus.
Sandusky Perkins has had a hard time with conference rival Clyde this year, but as the saying goes, “It’s hard to beat the same team three times in one season.” Perkins is no stranger to the state tournament, making an appearance in 2007. This year, they are led by junior Jordan Fraley and sophomore Shannon Ebert…they simply do not have enough offensive threats to get by either Rogers or Clyde.
Lima Bath is also no stranger to the state tournament, having played in Columbus 5 times most recently in 2008. Their best win of the year was against Division II Tippecanoe. They also gave Division I Columbus Brookhaven all they could handle, eventually losing by 5 (52-57). They are led by…another coach’s daughter, senior Emily Mauk who would like to end her career where it ended her freshman year… in Columbus. To do so, the Lady Wildkittens will need to convert many of the never-ending three point shots they attempt…hey Mauk Math = 4 3s beat 5 2s!!!
Walsh Jesuit’s record is not pretty….it’s downright awful. But much like Hathaway Brown, their strength of schedule will carry them through. There is a reason that in their district, #1 seed, Ravenna passed waiting to see where Walsh Jesuit would go in the bracket and then jumped to the opposite side of the bracket (Walsh was the #4 seed). Walsh has lost to the likes of Twinsburg, Midpark, Lake Catholic, Marion County (KY), Mt. Lebanon (PA), Lake Ridge Academy and Hathaway Brown but had a big time quality win against Berlin Hiland in The Reese Center at Classic in the Country VIII. They will not see anyone near the caliber of those teams until they get to the regional. Coach Z’s Warriors are anchored on both ends by junior center Lizzy Reeves. If guard Maddie Sheppard can help in the scoring column, Walsh could make another deep tournament run. Watch out Ravenna !