The Ohio Girls Basketball Report and JJHuddle Division IV Preview
Last year Harvest Prep overcame a ridiculous second half deficit (18 points) to shock Fort Loramie in a state semifinal before beating Berlin Hiland for the state championship. Those three teams and others - including Lake Ridge and Minster - begin the run at another state title next week. Here's how we see the D-IV race stacking up...
- 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 services.
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 years.
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
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
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 IV Previews
Massillon Region (NE Ohio)
Favorite(s): Lake Ridge Academy Lions
Lake Ridge Academy and 1st year head coach, former Regina assistant,
Keesha Allen are the benefactors of Regina closing its doors as 6 of
the top 9 that would have returned to the Regina Royals are now wearing
the Royal Blue & Gold of the Lions from North Ridgeville. The new
look Lions are now led by top tier highly recruited players in Martha
Thompson (soph) and swing player Davonna Bradford (jr) joined by guard
Sharday Baines (jr), guard Kourtni Taylor (sr Evansville), post Monet
Saunders (soph) and shooter Sydney Clark (soph). As if these Lions
aren't loaded for bear ther roster is further strengthened with one fo
the top 2 freshman post players in the state in 6'2 Alexa Hart and
talented point guard Seleena Benz. Credible sources reveal transfers
Destinee Brown (jr from PA), Brooke Thompson-Smith (soph from Solon) and
Stephanie Vukotic (sr from Revere) have not had their eligibility
cleared at the time of publication. All in all there probably is not a
more talented roster in the state in any division. Note should be made
amongst all the rumors and innuendos, Coach Keesha Allen was a legit
hire as a quality coach and has a pre-existing relationship with Lake
Ridge as a former player for Lake Ridge AD Debby Ghezzi during AD
Ghezzi's tenure as head coach at Case Western Reserve University.
Challenger(s): Berlin Hiland Hawks
Of the 4 D-IV Final Four teams from a year ago all return at least 4
starters except the Hiland Hawks...but the Hawk system and the Hawk way
of doing things do return. Plug in a new group...all who have big game
big stage experience...Ashley Weaver (sr), Arianna Schrock (sr),
McKenzie Miller (jr), Megan Hall (jr), Missy Mast (jr), Regan Miller
((jr) and Hannah Stoneman (jr). Like last year the Hawks will have one
legit game to get back to Columbus. Last year it was Lutheran East...the
Hawks found a way in a 57-52 OT win. This year it will be the roaring
Lions of Lake Ridge...To paraphrase Coach Pitino.."Weaver, Yoder,
Stuckey, Mast and Stutzman aren't walking thru the door"..can these
Hawks find a way?
Springfield Region (SW Ohio)
Favorite(s): Fort Loramie Redskins
No ambush...no surprises with these Redskins, as Chief Carla Siegel
returns 4 of her 5 starters, 5 of her top 6 from last year's Final 4
team with 12 players returning from Fort Loramie's state tourney roster.
The Redskins are led again this year by Janel Olbersding (sr) who has a
whole lotta "wig & wam" to her game. Returning to the warpath with
Olberding this year are seniors Clair Ruhenkamp, Brooke Turner, Tessa
Benanzer and Kristen Zumberbger. With challengers Ottoville and Delphos
Jefferson, this region will be the 2nd most competitive of the D-IV
Challenger(s): Ottoville Big Green & Delphos Jefferson Wildcats
Coach Dave Klemen's Big Green from Ottoville gets the nod by a nose
to be the #1 challenger to Fort Loramie come March. The inside outside
game of All-District selections Tasha Kaufman (sr) and 6'2 post Abby
Siefker (soph) lead the Big Green in its wave toward Columbus this year.
Having a year under her belt of extremely competitive varsity
basketball, Siefker should help the Big Green close in on the Redskins
from Fort Loramie.
Like Zenyatta in the Breeder's Cup the Jeffs from Delphos got edged
out last year at the wire in an overtime loss to Ottoville's Big Green.
All District Kristin Klausing (sr Findlay) returns to lead these
experienced 'Cats in making another run as they make it 2 years in a row
as the new Darlings of Delphos....sorry St. John's !!!
Outside Looking In: New Madison Tri-Village Patriots & Jackson
Anytime a team has a quality point guard and a player that can score
consistently that team has a chance. The Pats from Tri-Village have both
in sophomore point guard Shaye Thomas and junior Kayla Linkous. Most
will remember the fireworks ignited by Linkous last year when she lit up
the scoreboard with a 61 point performance in the tournament...so for
one game on one night the girls from New Madison have a shot.
It seems like every 10 years there is an ol' short guy with silver
fox hair at the
D-IV Final 4...last trip was in 2001 coming away with a state
championship. Coach Greg Gooding's Tigers from Jackson Center are
getting an extra bowl of frosted flakes this season as junior Brooklyn
Richards arrived at the breakfast table from Ben Logan joining veterans
Taylor Cummons (sr) and Mackenzie May (sr).
Pickerington Region (Central & Eastern & part of NW Ohio)
Favorite(s): Canal Winchester Harvest Preparatory Warriors
Of the 4 reigning state champions, Coach David Dennis' Warriors are
the odds on favorite to repeat this year. Of the 16 teams in last year's
Final Fours, only Harvest Prep returns all 5 starters...in fact they
return their top 8 from last year's championship team in Aryealle
"Shortee" Beavers (sr Loyola Chicago), Shicole Watts (sr Xavier),
Chelsea McKnight (sr Miami OH), the Francis twins (jrs Jarel &
Jaren), Sarah Crowder (jr), Destiny Turner (jr) and super soph Cheyenne
Rose. It would not be surprising to see the warriors of Harvest Prep go
wire to wire as the #1 team in Division IV... they are talented,
skilled, athletic and well coached.
Challenger(s): Waterford Wildcats
Much like Berlin Hiland in the Massillon Region, the Waterford
Wildcats like last year have one legit game to get to Columbus...a year
ago Harvest Prep skinned the Wildcats by 6 in the regional finals. Again
like Hiland, Coach Jerry Close's Waterford Wildcats got it hard by
graduation but they do return as a good a 2-guard backcourt combination
as there is in Division IV in junior Emily Brown and sophomore Brooke
Drayer. Whether they are a legit challenger for Harvest Prep will depend
on having some kittens grow into "Cats by mid February.
Elida Region (NW Ohio)
Favorite(s): Minster Wildcats
Of all the final 4 teams from a year ago, Minster returns more depth
than any of the other 15 final 4 teams as the Wildcats return 8 of their
top 9 including 4 starters, Delaney Wolf (sr Ashland), captain Erica
Fullenkamp (sr), top tier post prospect 6'3 Tara Clune (jr) and
sharpshooter Maria Dahlinghaus (sr). Scratching with the 4 returning
starters to make back to back state appearances are Kayla Wuebker (jr
expected to fill the pg slot), Heather Schmiesing (jr), Jayna
Stechschulte (sr) and Ellen Gruber (sr). The big stage experience
coupled with the returning talent along with having one of the top
all-time coaches on the sideline in Coach Nann Stechschulte make Minster
the pre-season favorite in this the 2nd most competitive region in the
state behind the D-I Fairborn region.
*Note: NW Ohio D-IV (Elida Region) is the most crowded D-IV field and
2nd most competitive region in the entire state regardless of division.
Challenger(s) (listed alphabetically):
Arlington Red Devils: Return the nucleus of last year's district
final team including junior Amelia Recker.
Marion Local Flyers: Only Minster's Coach Stechschulte has more
experience in Columbus from this region than Coach Treva Fortkamp who
returns seniors Alyssa Winner, Kelly Schlarman and underclassmen
Margaret Wuebker (jr) & Chelsea Winner (soph) from last year's
district finalist before bowing out to Minster by nine (54-45).
Outside Looking In (listed alphabetically):
Bucyrus Wynford Royals: Led by All-District senior Teneil Krebs, the
Royals are looking to get back to Columbus for the first time since
Mt. Blanchard Riverdale Falcons: Much heralded and justifiably so
senior Lacy Kessler (Findlay) leads the Falcons formation as they are
looking to land in Columbus for the second time in 4 years (2008).
Pandora Gilboa Rockets: The Last Waltz for senior Stephanie Recker as
she will remain a Rocket next year but it will be at the University of
Toledo. Recker is a good a playmaker in the state with and without the
ball..the question will there be enough support to get these their first
berth at the Big Dance?