Junior Mylan Woods has Hathaway Brown thinking state title. (Phto by Nick Falzerano)
Always the bridesmaid and never the bride…That has been the story for the Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown girls basketball team the last two years, reaching the state tournament back-to-back but coming home empty-handed both times. That could change this season.
Always the bridesmaid and never the bride…
That has been the story for the Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown girls basketball team the last two years, reaching the state tournament back-to-back but coming home empty-handed both times.
The Blazers bowed out in the semifinals in 2007 and in the championship game last season, but this Hathaway Brown team could finally hoist the trophy after this season's campaign with a wealth of talent and experience returning.
However, defending champ Kettering Alter should not be discounted yet as the Lady Knights lost little from last season and return a solid core from its title team.
TOP PLAYERS: WHO YOU WANT TO SEE * Erica Almady, 6-1, Jr., F, Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown - Almady played in 21 games for Division I state runner-up West Chester Lakota West last season averaging 4.7 points per game but has moved north and will suit up for the Blazers this season. She is the No. 10 rated player at her position in the country and No. 82 overall by the Collegiate Girls Basketball Report (CGBR). * Mary Brunner, 5-11, Sr., Kettering Alter - Brunner netted 12 points in the state title game for the champion Knights and averaged 3.5 per game in last season's title run. * Ashley Christie, 5-7, Jr., G, Kettering Alter - Christie averaged 8.7 points per game last season as a sophomore and had a game high 20 points in the state championship. * Molly Crosby, 6-2, Sr., P, Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown - The transfer from Chagrin Falls Kenston will contribute to the Blazers and vie for a starting position. * Kari Daugherty, 6-2, Sr., P, Warsaw River View - Daugherty has started for River View since her freshman season and won back-to-back state titles her first two years of high school ball. She was named to the Division I All-Ohio first team last year with 21.0 points per game and is a University of Dayton recruit where her older sister, Kristin, is a sophomore guard for the Flyers. Daugherty is rated as the No. 27 player in the country at her position and No. 148 overall by the CGBR. * Ashley Dennis, 6-1, Sr., W, Bexley - Dennis earned second-team All-Ohio honors last season with 17.5 points per game for district semifinalist Bexley. She is a Stetson recruit * Alexis Dobbs, 5-5, Jr., PG, Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown - Dobbs started for the state runner-up Blazers last season running the point and scoring 8.6 points per game earning all-state Special Mention recognition. * Jillian Halfhill, 5-5, Jr., G, Canfield - Michigan State in hot pursuit of this All-Ohio Honorable Mention selection. She is ranked as the No. 48 player in the country at her position by the CGBR. * Catheryn Hardy, 5-11, Sr., F, Dayton Oakwood - Hardy is committed to the College of Charleston (S.C.) and was All-Ohio Honorable Mention last season. * Nicki Hopkins, 5-6, Jr., G, Lima Bath - Hopkins started for Lima Bath on its run to the state final four with 7.7 points per game. She is a Buffalo recruit. * Tanisha Lawler, 5-6, So., W, Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown - Lawler is slated to start for the Blazers this season and is considered one of the top players in the state for her class by the Ohio Girls Basketball Report (OGBR). * Patricia Mack, 5-11, Sr., P, Columbus Mifflin - Mack had 9.0 points per game for the state semifinalist Lady Punchers last season. * Rachael Mauk, 5-10, Sr., Lima Bath - The Central Michigan recruit contributed 16.6 points per game last season for the state semifinalist Wilkittens and was All-Ohio Honorable Mention. * Stephanie Mauk, 5-10, Sr., G, Lima Bath - Mauk netted 18.7 points per game last season for the state semifinal Wildkittens earning second-team All-Ohio recognition. She is a Central Michigan recruit. * Amy Scullion, 6-1, Jr., P/W, Salem - Scullion already has an offer to Penn State after earning All-Ohio Special Mention recognition last season. She is rated as the No. 2 player in the country at her position by the CGBR. * Courtney Taylor, So., PG, Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary - Taylor returns from injury this season and is considered a top player in Ohio in her class by the OGBR as a major Division I college prospect. * Mylan Woods, 5-10, Jr., G, Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown - Woods has led the Blazers to the state tournament each of the last two season reaching the title game last year. She was named was to the All-Ohio first team last season with 13.2 points per game. Michigan State has offered and Northwestern, Connecticut and Cincinnati have all shown interest. She is the No. 9 rated small forward in the country by the CGBR.
TEAMS TO WATCH
The following are some of the key contenders in Division II:
The Lady Knights lose just three seniors from last season's regional semifinal team and return All-Ohio special Mention Rachel Tecca.
Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary
Joe Jakubick is entering his third season as the Irish head coach. His team lost some key seniors to graduation but return seven letter winners that gained experience last season during the run at the district championship game.
SVSM faces a tough schedule with tilts against Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit, Akron Hoban, South Euclid Regina and Hathaway Brown but the Irish are confident with the return of sophomore point guard Courtney Taylor.
The Cardinals fell to state runner-up Hathaway Brown 45-41 in the regional championship last season and lose three starters off that team, including 6-4 center Kate Popovec, who is now playing at Pittsburgh.
Junior guard Jillian Halfhill will run the point again and Anokha Padubidri returns in the front court for the Cardinals. Senior guard/forward Kalie Luklan will join Halfhill in the back court. Junior guard Rachael O'Hara and sophomore guard Kaitlin Kaleel will play more prominent roles this season.
Cincinnati Indian Hill
The Braves finished 15-8 last season and third in the Cincinnati Hills League but could have the tools to build a run at the state tournament this season.
Senior forward Amy Taylor finished fifth in the league in scoring with 12.1 points per game and fourth in rebounds with 8.4. Junior guard Aubrey Rogers, daughter of head coach Scott Rogers, had 2.9 assists per game - good enough for fourth in the CHL. Junior center Morgan Givens is expected to fill the role Mackenzie Rolls left behind. She saw action in 14 games last year and had 2.4 points and 1.5 rebounds. Freshman point guard Nicole Bell has the Indian Hill coaching staff excited as well.
State semifinalist Mifflin loses five seniors from last season's team, including three starters. Senior post Patricia Mack and guard Alisa Marshall will take the floor again and will have to lead a young squad following last season's run.
Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit
The Warriors lose four seniors from last season's district finalist team, including third-team All-Ohio selection Brianna Sergerson. Senior All-Ohio Honorable Mention Amy Gardner will take on the leadership role of this year's team and incoming freshman point guard Rachel Theriot and freshman post player Elizabeth Reeves are expected to step into key roles immediately.
The Lady Knights won their first girls basketball state title last season with a convincing 60-46 win over heavy favorite Hathaway Brown. Alter lost only three seniors from that squad but they were the main cogs of last season's success. However, the cupboard is not empty.
Guard Ashley Christie is the next in line to take the reins of the program in only her junior season as well as senior Mary Bruner and junior guard Ali Mygrants. Sophomore wing Kaila Howe is a youngster that saw plenty of floor time last season and gained valuable experience. Don't be surprised if a return trip to Columbus in March is in the cards for the Lady Knights this season.
Four starters returning from last year's state semifinalist team make the Wildkittens legitimate contenders to return to the state tournament this season. The Mauk twins, seniors Rachel and Stephanie, captained last season's team and are the natural leaders for this season under the tutelage of their uncle Greg Mauk, who is entering his 11th season as head coach. Senior guard McKenzie Snoke was also a co-captain and guard Stephanie Sanders and junior guard Nicki Hopkins provide experience and talent on the floor. Sophomores Alyssa Brandon in the post and Emily Mauk, daughter of head coach Greg Mauk, at guard are two up-and-coming players in the program that will also contribute this season. Lima Bath won the state championship in 1987.
Perkins was a regional finalist last season but noticeably missing from this year's Lady Pirates team will be D-II Player of the Year Cierra Bravard (Florida State) and second-team All-Ohio pick Trisha Krewson (Bucknell). Senior Bethany Caudill returns to run the point position and junior wing Mallory Mullins will contribute on the floor but the Lady Pirates could have a hard time making a long run in the postseason due to inexperience.
Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown
The Blazers have finished their past two seasons in the state tournament but have failed to come home with the hardware both times. D-II Coach of the Year Paul Barlow hopes to buck that trend this year and this could very well be the team to do so.
The Blazers are the only D-II team in the state that can start five Division I college prospects (5-10 junior forwaard Mylan Woods, 5-5 junior guard Alexis Dobbs, 6-1 junior post Erica Almady, 6-2 senior post Molly Crosby and 5-6 sophomore wing Tanisha Lawler) and the only team that will be able to go nine deep.
Woods is rated as one of the top players in the country in her class by the CGBR and Dobbs is rated as the No. 21 point guard in the nation. Off the bench will be senior wing Lauren Ryan, who was a major contributor last year, and senior post Ashley Benedict. Sophomores Sarah Poland in the post and Alanna Guy on the wing will also provide depth off the bench. Crosby is a key addition transferring in from Kenston
Also Keep An Eye On
Kenton Ridge, Tipp City Tippecanoe, New Albany, Bellbrook, Bucyrus, Minerva, Salem, Ravenna Southeast, Parma Heights Holy Name, New Philadelphia, Mentor Lake Catholic, Lewistown Indian Lake and Millersburg West Holmes