Classic newcomers vs. DII State champs

Game 11  JAN 16 SUN 5:15 pm  Hathaway Brown Blazers vs. Lakota East Thunderhawks

By Dave Mast

While it is usually the players on the floor who make the highlight reels, Lakota East’s coaching staff certainly could apply when you’re looking for star quality. Head coach Nikki Kremer-Drew left Xavier University after her senior year as an All-American who became the school’s all-time leading scorer. She also played professionally in France before settling into the coaching ranks. She is joined by assistant coach Brooke Wyckoff, an All-American at Florida State University, and a former WNBA all-star.

However, Kremer-Drew’s talented team will have its work cut out, trying to tame Paul Barlow’s Blazers. All Barlow’s teams have accomplished over the past four years is four straight Final Four appearances, including back-to-back championships.

“We know they are coached very well and they are very tall up front,” said Kremer-Drew. “They are a pretty tall order for our first trip to the Classic in the Country.”

That Blazers height includes two of the top 10 junior prospects in Ohio, 6-foot-1 guard Vanessa Smith and 6-foot forward Nia Marshall. But the biggest Blazer is 6-foot-2-inch Molly Crosby, who is headed to Loyola University in Chicago, and 6-foot-4 Sarah Poland, who will be taking her skills to Cornell University.

Lakota East (14-11 last season) will feature five juniors who bring plenty of experience. Molly Blomer, transfer Tazzie Shaw, who averaged eight points, five assists last year with Lakota West, Whitney Wyckoff, Alyssa Grevenkamp and Bernice Satterwhite, who is returning from a lost season due to a knee injury. They will be led by returning starting point guard Aeth Pashi, who is an experienced veteran who knows the game.

“We’ve got great experience and I can play five perimeter players who are very versatile,” said Kremer-Drew. “We will run a wide-open offense and have the personnel to move around a lot. “But best of all, we’ve got a lot of really unselfish kids who don’t care who gets the credit, and play very well together as a team.”

One thing that will definitely play to the Blazers’ advantage will be playing at the Reese Center in front of a huge crowd. Hathaway Brown, who cleaned up to the tune of 23-4 last season, will be making its eighth and ninth appearances at the Classic this year, and have an understanding of what the weekend is all about.

“I’ve been to the Classic as a spectator, and it is an awesome experience,” said Kremer- Drew. “It is fabulously run, a first-class weekend, and I told the kids that we can be very excited about the opportunity to come there and play in one of the nation’s best showcases for girls basketball. It will also be fun for them to experience a new way of life in Amish Country. We are looking forward to a good time and an exciting game.”