In Division I all four teams have over 20 wins on the year and one is
making its first appearance ever in the final four. The other three are
all making their second.
36th annual Girls Basketball State
In Division I all four teams have over 20 wins on the year and one is making its first appearance ever in the final four. The other three are all making their second.
Kettering Fairmont’s (25-1) lone blemish on the season came against Vandalia Butler in January, and the Firebirds have now registered 16 straight wins since to make their way to the state semifinals against Toledo Start. Head coach Tim Cogan, last year’s Division I Coach of the Year, has led Fairmont to its second appearance in the state final four in as many years.
Toledo Start (23-2) is making its second appearance in a final four. The Spartans were Division I state runners-up in their only other appearance, losing to Cincinnati Mt. Notre Dame in the 2009 title game. Start is led by seniors Azia Bishop (16.4 PPG) and Maleeka Kynard (14.2 PPG), who topped the 1,000 career points mark halfway through the 2011 season.
The other half of the Division I final four holds Twinsburg (25-0), coming off a win over returning state champion and undefeated Canton McKinley 48-39 in the regional final. The undefeated Tigers, led by junior Malina Howard, who is averaging a double-double (20 ppg, 10 rpg), are making their first trip to the state final four, and will take on Pickerington North in their state semifinal.
Pickerington North (21-5) has played its way to the final four after defeating Columbus Northland in the regional semifinal and Liberty Twp. Lakota East in the regional final. Led by senior Kevunaa Edwards averaging 21.0 points per game, the Lady Panthers have made it to the final four for the second time, with their previous trip occurring in 2007.
SEMIFINAL 1: Kettering Fairmont (25-1) vs Toledo Start (23-2), Fri. 6 p.m.
Kettering Fairmont (25-1)
Girls Enrollment: 851
League: Greater Western Ohio Conference (Central Division)
Final 2011 Rankings (AP/OGBR-JJHuddle): 4/5
State Appearances: 2011, 2010
Head Coach: Tim Cogan
School Rec.: 193-71 (11 yrs.)
PPG: 56.6; OPP: 34.1
F 32 Alona Skipper, 5-8, So., 7.8 ppg
F 33 Kathryn Westbeld, 6-1, Fr., 13.2 ppg
C 24 Makayla Waterman, 6-1, Fr., 12.9 ppg
G 22 Chelsea Welch, 5-9, So., 14.4 ppg
G 10 Kelly Hart, 5-6, Sr., 3.2 ppg
Did You Know: Talk about turnover. The Firebirds, who made last year’s state semifinals, have four new starters, including two freshmen. Since losing 49-44 to Vandalia Butler on Jan. 8, Fairmont has won 16 straight. Welch, Waterman and Westbeld were first team GWOC Central Division. Talk about young too – Fairmont’s roster is made up of nine 15 year olds and one 18 year old. The Firebirds dress six freshmen, three sophomores and one senior.
Quotable: “Early on in the season replacing four starters was not easy. We had some talented young kids but they hadn’t learned the schemes and philosophy of our defense and offense. As time has progressed they’ve really gotten it and gotten better and better. It’s been exciting. It took A lot of elbow grease and a lot of work but they’re coming together.” – Head Coach Tim Cogan
Toledo Start (23-2)
Girls Enrollment: 500
League: Toledo City Athletic League
Final 2011 Rankings (AP/OGBR-JJHuddle): 7/4
State Appearances: 2011, 2009
Head Coach: Robert Brown
School Rec.: 110-47 (7 yrs.)
PPG: 65.3; OPP: 42.0
C 50 Azia Bishop, 6-2 Sr., 16.4 ppg
G 12 Maleeka Kynard, 5-7, Sr., 14.2 ppg
G 23 Jaymie Jackson, 5-9, Jr., 11.6 ppg
G 4 Keia McCarver, 5-2, Sr., 4.9 ppg
G 1 Ariel Gaston, 5-7, Sr., 8.9 ppg
Did You Now: Start is undefeated against Ohio competition this year. The Spartans two losses have come to Louisville (Ky.) Dupont at Classic in the Country and at Detroit Country Day. Bishop is going to Kentucky. Kynard is going to Ohio State. Start is also seasoned, thanks in part to a daunting schedule and experience. The Spartans start two four-year starters (Bishop and Jackson) and a three-year starter (Kynard). McCarver also played several minutes in the 2009 state tournament.
Quotable: “You can’t get much more (experience) and I think it’s incredibly valuable. We’ve been through the battles. They’ve played on that court before. The schedule we played we tried to play (to make us tough). All of our non-league games we played away from home. We signed three new teams this year and we agreed to come to their place first because we wanted to deal with that type of environment. I think that has thickened our skin.” – Head Coach Robert Brown
SEMIFINAL 2: Pickerington North (21-5) vs Twinsburg (25-0); Fri., 8 p.m.
Pickerington North (21-5)
Girls Enrollment: 616
League: Ohio Capital Conference (Ohio Division)
Final 2011 Rankings (AP/OGBR-JJHuddle): NR/NR
State Appearances: 2011, 2007
Head Coach: Dave Butcher
School Rec.: 648-75 (28 yrs.)
PPG: 62.6; OPP: 39.2
F 25 Jordan Householder, 6-0, Sr., 5 ppg
F 35 Kevunaa Edwards, 6-0, Sr., 21.0 ppg
G 5 Christy Macioce, 5-11, So., 7.0 ppg
G 4 Jaila Bryant, 5-7, Jr., 8.0 ppg
G 14 Shelby Olszewski, 5-7, Sr., 10.0 ppg
Did You Know: The Panthers are seasoned. They returned four starters from last year’s regional finalist and play in the OCC Ohio Division, which advanced five teams to the district level. Pick North has seven seniors and has won seven straight district titles. This semifinal is a rematch of a game played in December at the Pickerington Holiday Tournament. Twinsburg won that game 59-49 and to makes matters worse, Pick North lost senior and Ohio Dominican recruit Paige Stought to a knee injury in the second half of that game. Since then the Panthers have rallied. Edwards is headed to Villanova. Olzewski is headed to Austin Peay. Several of Pick North’s girls played on the Panthers state runner-up soccer team and district champion volleyball team.
Quotable: “In the regionals I thought we played a lot more loose than in some years past where we were the team that was ‘hunted.’ There’s been years where we’ve gone into the regionals with the better team I thought and didn’t get out. But now that we are a hunter the pressure is not quite as bad. You look at the teams in the Final Four this week and I don’t think a lot of people are picking Pickerington North.” – Head Coach Dave Butcher
Girls Enrollment: 480
League: Northeast Ohio Conference
Final 2011 Rankings (AP/OGBR-JJHuddle): 2/2
State Appearances: 2011
Head Coach: Julie Solis
School Rec.: 48-2 (2 yrs.)
PPG: 64.0; OPP: 40.0
F 30 Nicole Carman, 5-10, Sr., 8.1 ppg
C 5 Malina Howard, 6-4, Jr., 21.4 ppg
G 1 Ashley Morrissette, 5-9, So., 11.2 ppg
G 12 Leah Fechko, 5-8, Jr., 9.3 ppg
G 21 Katie Fox, 5-5, Sr., 3.9 ppg
Did You Know: Solis joins a select group this year, becoming just the fourth coach in state history to lead two schools to the Final Four. In 2006 Solis-led Solon finished runner-up in D-I. Twinsburg has been considered one of the two best programs in the state this year and last week beat the other unanimous heavyweight Canton McKinley in the regional final. Howard is one of the country’s top 2012 prospects.
Quotable: “It takes a certain chemistry (to make the state tournament). I’ve been there as a coach before and I’ve always had a special feeling about this group and the possibilities that they could make it happen. Even though when there’s a lot of expectations, I believe a little luck has to come your way and we’ve had to beat some great teams to get to this point. These girls deserve this and I’ve been able to just sit back and hang out for the ride.” – Head Coach Julie Solis