Taken in, overheard and experienced: Officiating, Freshmen, Public vs Private, Attendance…


Did you know…

The 36th annual Ohio High School Girls Basketball State Tournament
concluded Saturday and the event was
another good one. Here are 10 things we took in, overheard and experienced…

The 36th annual Ohio High School Girls Basketball State Tournament
concluded Saturday and the event was
another good one. Here are 10 things we took in, overheard and

1. Public vs. Private:
For those keeping score, public and private schools each won two titles. Twinsburg (Division I) and Anna (D-III) represented the publics and Hathaway Brown (D-II) and Harvest Prep (D-IV) represented privates.

High Praise: One of the perks of the state tournament is getting to sit next to Tom Jenkins all weekend. Jenkins runs the Ohio Girls Basketball Report and knows more about Ohio girls basketball than anyone. What he says is not to be taken lightly and this weekend Jenkins had nothing but positive things to say about Fairmont head coach Tim Cogan. Jenkins said Cogan “game-plans” better than any coach in Ohio and that if were told he had three days to prepare a team for a big game he would pick Cogan to coach the squad. There have been rumors that Cogan might be a candidate for a boys head coaching job but it’s hard to fathom him leaving Fairmont right now. Consider…

3. Fairmont is the team most likely to make it back to the tournament next year:
The Firebirds played in their second straight state tournament and don’t be surprised if they make it three, four or five in a row. Fairmont made it back to state this year despite losing four starters. Next year they return four. Overall, Fairmont loses senior Kelly Hart and that’s it. Battle-tested? Next season Fairmont will play Twinsburg and Canton McKinley in the Classic in the Country.

Oak Hill is the team most likely to get back to the tournament next year: What we said about Fairmont holds true for Oak Hill too. The Lady Oaks have been in two of the last three D-III state finals and could finally get that elusive championship next year. In addition to three starters, including juniors Taylor Hale (13.8 points per game) and Breanna Butler (18.7 ppg), the Lady Oaks will return southeast district co-player of the year Lakin Caudill (10.9 ppg). Caudill, who shared POY honors with Butler, was lost to a knee injury in the sectional finals. Oak Hill has won 12 district titles the last 15 years. They could get a much larger prize next season.

5. Can Hathaway Brown make six straight D-II state tournaments?
That’s the question and one that has a high probability of ending in a “yes.” The Blazers return three starters in sophomores Vanessa Smith, Lysetta Roman and Nia Marshall. Smith and Marshall made the JJHuddle D-II All-Tournament Team. They were that good this weekend.

6. Fort Loramie will be back sometime in the next four years:
The Redskins have been to state six times and have yet to win their first state title. They will have more opportunities in the coming years. One of the most impressive underclassmen in the tournament was Fort Loramie freshman Darian Rose who had 12 points and four rebounds in a semifinal win over Shadyside. Fort Loramie graduates all five of its starters so look for this team to revolve around Rose the next three years. That being said, the rest of the roster will be talented too. Fort Loramie won the Shelby County League girls basketball tournaments in the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth grades this year. 

7. Most Impressive Freshman? There were six freshmen starters in the
state tournament and a few more that played significant roles. The most
impressive? Fairmont’s Kathryn Westbeld. Westbeld, a 6-foot-1 forward,
had 17 points and 11 rebounds in a semifinal win over Toledo Start and
15 points and 11 rebounds in the state final loss to Twinsburg. The
kicker is one scout thinks Westbeld’s teammate, fellow freshman Makayla
Waterman might eventually be the better prospect. Regardless, the
overwhelming feel is that neither is going to have to worry about
paying for college.

8. JJHuddle All-Ohio Teams Coming:
The first annual JJHuddle All-Ohio Girls Basketball Teams will be announced the week of April 4. The teams will feature five-player first, second and third teams and will have a 10-player honorable mention. There will also be an “Also Receiving Votes” section. The teams will encompass all divisions and will be selected by a panel that includes the best in the business: Tom Jenkins (Ohio Girls Basketball Report), Mark Lewis (ESPN HoopGurlz) and Dan Olson (Collegiate Girls Basketball Report). A points system will be used and a player’s collective career will be taken into consideration (i.e. high school and club seasons). Stay tuned.

9. Officiating Woes:
Let me preface this statement by saying I’d rather remove road kill than referee high school basketball games. That being said, those that do it need to do a better job of it, especially on the state’s grandest stage. They are professionals and paid. If I were grading this weekend’s officiating performance I’d hand out a “C” and that’s being somewhat generous. Whistles weren’t blown loud enough, there were several instances of confusion that caused delays in games, the wrong score was posted on the scoreboard for a time and often there were just too many “non-calls” on plays where contact clearly impacted play. Perhaps officials are afraid to “affect” the outcomes of games too much, but by doing nothing they ARE affecting outcomes. All that being said, kudos to the crew working the Division II final between Dayton Carroll and Hathaway Brown. They did their job in calling traveling on a premature celebration and there was no replay of the debacle that took place in the Big East Tournament.

10. Attendance Figures: Just some fodder for the water cooler…

D-III: 4,962 – Anna (public) vs. Oak Hill (public)
D-IV: 4,892
– Fort Loramie (public) vs. Harvest Prep (private)
D-I: 4,386 –
Twinsburg (public) vs. Fairmont (public)
D-II: 3,501 – Dayton Carroll
(private) vs. Hathaway Brown (private)

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