By CHRISTY JOHNSON & ART HOLDEN
Daily Record Sports Writers
What: Classic in the Country VII
Where: Hiland High School’s Reese Center
When: Saturday, Sunday and Monday
Cost: $10 for a one-day pass, $25 for a three-day pass.
Area teams: Hiland, Smithville, West Holmes
Other teams: Canton McKinley, Cincinnati Indian Hill, Cincinnati Mt. Notre Dame, Columbus Africentric, Columbus Brookhaven, Dayton Chaminade Julienne, Dresden Tri-Valley, Marion Harding, Mason, Minster, Mogadore, North Canton Hoover, Potter’s House Christian Academy (Jacksonville, Fla.), Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown, South Euclid Regina, Springboro, Springfield Kenton Ridge, Toledo Start, Twinsburg, University (Newark, N.J.), Wadsworth, Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit, Waterford, West Chester Lakota West, Westlake, Youngstown Boardman.
Minster vs. Mogadore at 10 a.m. — The opening game of the CitC is a battle of the Cats. The Mogadore Wildcats are led by four-year starting point guard Jordan Poth, while the Minster Wildcats look to the versatile 5-foot-10 Erica Fullenkamp for production.
Columbus Brookhaven vs. Wadsworth at 11:45 a.m. — Two Div. I teams will face off when No. 16 state-ranked Wadsworth takes on Brookhaven. The Grizzlies return six letterwinners to the court from last year’s Sweet 16 appearance, and are led by senior guard Sam Gearhart. The Bearcats bring a solid perimeter game, but have a lot of youth in their starting lineup.
Columbus Africentric vs. Canton McKinley at 1:30 p.m. — Africentric comes off a Div. IV state title with three starters, including go-to player Raven Ferguson, back in Purple and Black. Ferguson is the eighth-ranked junior small forward in the country. The Nubians moved up to Div. III this season, where they are ranked No. 7 by the state AP Poll. McKinley, ranked No. 11 in Div. I, have three starters returning from its Final Four team. The Lady Pups are led by Ameryst Alston, the fifth-ranked sophomore off-guard in the country.
University, N.J. vs. South Euclid Regina at 3:15 p.m. — This is University’s second appearance in the Classic. One of two out-of-state teams, the Phoenix will face the ultimate Ohio test in Regina, which is currently on top of the Div. III poll with an 8-2 record. The University Phoenix are usually led by Maryland recruit Laurin Mincy, who is currently rehabbing a knee injury and is doubtful for the CitC. The returning Div. III state champion Regina Royals are led by Florida State signee Tay’ler Mingo and have a nice core of athletes in starters Therany Dunnigan and Pa’Sonna Hope, who is committed to play at Ole Miss next year.
Twinsburg vs. West Chester Lakota West at 5 p.m. — In a battle of Div. I powerhouses, No. 6 ranked Twinsburg takes on No. 21-ranked Lakota West. The Tigers are a young group, led by 6-foot-4 sophomore post Malina Howard and 5-6 junior guard Katie Fox. The Lakota West Firebirds are also young as nationally-ranked sophomore post players Olivia Wrencher and Tazzie Shaw are two of the team’s key contributors.
Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown vs. Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame at 6:45 p.m. — In a battle of state champions, (Hathaway Brown in Div. II, MND in Div. I), the Cougars don’t have back the numbers that the Blazers do. Look for CMND to be led by Raeshaun Gaffney (No. 7-ranked sophomore in the country). The Blazers sport two girls over 6-foot, and a talented power forward in 5-10 Mylan Woods, headed to Northwestern next year.
Potter’s House, Fla., vs. Hiland at 8:30 p.m. — Hiland coach Dave Schlabach has called the Lions the “Oak Hill Academy of girls basketball.” At one point, Potter’s House was ranked No. 11 in the country. They have a trio of nationally-ranked players, headed by 6-foot junior Loliya Briggs, already committed to Pittsburgh. Hiland will be led by Div. IV Player of the Year Hilary Weaver (headed to Lehigh) at the point, and shooting guard Noelle Yoder, a Bowling Green State University signee.
Marion Harding vs. Springboro at noon — Sunday’s tipoff game is a matchup of two teams on the rise. Last year Springboro started four freshmen, and this year, 6-foot junior Olivia Schretzman is leading the way. Sophomore guard Katie Schubert shot 50 percent from beyond the arc last year. Marion Harding, 9-0 and ranked No. 8 in Div. I, is led by Louisville signee Shawnta’ Dyer, a 6-2 power forward. Dyer is ranked No. 6 in the nation by one publication, but isn’t a one-girl show as 5-10 Brenae Harris makes a good sidekick.
Waterford vs. Indian Hill at 1:45 p.m. — Lefthander Sina King, who is headed to Akron, leads Waterford. The 6-footer has some help inside from teammates Kim Barker (5-11) and Emily Brown (5-10). Indian Hill, ranked No. 8 in Div. II, has everyone back from last year’s team, and will bank on that experience to combat Waterford. The Braves don’t worry about who gets the points or rebounds, just the final score.
West Chester Lakota West vs. Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown at 3:30 p.m. — The Blazers and Firebirds match up in their second CitC games. A good showing at Berlin should vault Lakota West up in the rankings (currently tied for 13th in Div. I), while Hathaway Brown can’t do much better than its No. 2 Div. II ranking.
South Euclid Regina vs. Mason at 5:15 p.m. — Regina’s Mingo will get tested by Mason’s Sarah Hunter, who is headed to Cincinnati in two years. Hunter is called by some the best junior point guard in the state. It’ll be the Royals’ second game in as many days at the Classic, but Mason’s first.
Dayton Chaminade Julienne vs. University at 7 p.m. — Maybe the best player in the tournament will take the floor in this game as CJ is led by Samarie Walker, an all-everything dynamo who is headed to powerful UConn. Chaminade Julienne also boasts the Gage sisters, point guard Simmone, a sophomore, and senior shooter Sierra. University will definitely know how it stacks up nationally after taking on the Eagles and Regina in this year’s CitC.
Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame vs. Toledo Start at 8:45 p.m. — Sunday’s finale is a matchup of last year’s Div. I state championship game. Enough said. Start returns four starters from last year’s team, and all five Spartan starters have received scholarships.
Westlake vs. Smithville at 10 a.m. — The Smithies will be making their first-ever CitC showing against a Westlake team that is ranked 12th in Div. I. Senior (5-11) Jenna Pew leads the once-beaten Smithies, having recently become the school’s all-time leading scorer. Alex Leister has been a solid sidekick to Pew. Westlake is led by 6-2 junior Kalpana Beach, ranked No. 6 in the country and a Notre Dame recruit. Even though she’s 6-2, Beach isn’t the Demons’ center, as that spot is handled by 6-1 senior Lauryn Smith, backed up by 6-footer Katie Carroll.
Springfield Kenton Ridge vs. Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit at 11:45 a.m. — Sophomore Mariah Harris runs the show from the point for the Cougars, who are coming off a 20-3 season, while Kenton Ridge’s top scoring threat is senior Saira House, who put up nearly 23 points a game last year. The third-ranked (Div. II) Warriors have a talented point guard of their own in Rachel Theriot, while senior teammate Nneka Offodile will play for Loyola University in Maryland next year.
Hoover vs. West Holmes at 1:30 p.m. — Hoover played last year looking ahead to this year, and the Vikings should present a stiff test for the local Knights. West Holmes has prided itself on defense recently, and will need to step it up Monday. Junior Allison Peare is a three-year starter for Hoover, while Lindsey Arnold and Lindsy Snyder lead a balanced West Holmes attack.
Twinsburg vs. Dayton Chaminade Julienne at 3:15 p.m. — The Tigers’ Howard, the No. 2 ranked sophomore in the country, and the Eagles’ Walker will provide a marquee matchup of individuals in this game. It may come down to the role players, though, as both teams will be playing their second CitC game of the tournament.
Toledo Start vs. Potter’s House 5 p.m. — After its rematch game of the state championship vs. CMND, Start will get one of Florida’s best teams in Potter’s House. It’s just another top game on the Lions’ rugged schedule. Start is led by Div. I recruits Tiffani Blackman (Seton Hall) and Maleeka Kynard (Ohio State).
Dresden Tri-Valley vs. Boardman at 6:45 p.m. — Tri-Valley may not be a school some associate with Div. I, but the Scotties are not only D-1, but successful in the division and currently are ranked No. 4 in the state behind Pickerington, Start and Upper Arlington. Seniors Hannah Luburgh, Carly Young and Alyssa Miller lead Tri-Valley, while Boardman’s game starts with post Darryce Moore, a 6-3 senior headed to Ohio State.
Mason vs. Hiland at 8:30 p.m. — The Div. IV Hawks will end the CitC with Div. I power Mason. After opening with Regina, Mason will receive a different type of test from the run-and-stun Hawks, who will not only play 10 girls in the game, but 10 in the first quarter. The Comets boast a balanced squad, but do have standouts in Cincinnati recruit Sarah Hunter and Kayla Lamotte, who is headed to Morehead State.