Opening game 'As good as it gets'

Game 1  JAN 15 SAT 10:00 am  Minerva Lions vs. Minster Wildcats

By Dave Mast

Why beat around the bush when it comes to pitting two great teams against each other in an event like the Classic? Tom Jenkins, Classic organizer and creator of the Ohio Girls Basketball Report, said succinctly, “This is as good of an opening game as we have had in our eight years at the Classic.”

Division II Minerva brings a trio of talented players to the floor. Senior center, 6-foot-4-inch Chelsie Butler is headed to Marquette
University next season, while sharpshooting junior Taylor Maurer and lightning-quick senior point guard Kassidy Hardgrove, slated to play at Shawnee State next season, provide the ability to fill it up when teams try to drop in on Butler.

“They are athletic and can present some real matchup issues,” said Jenkins.

Back at the helm for Minerva is longtime coach Bruce Wright, who resigned at the end of last season only to be lured back for one more go-round with the Lions, a task which he gladly accepted knowing that he had plenty of ammunition to carve out another fantastic season.

Wright will have the unenviable task of trying to tame the Wildcats of Minster, a Division IV powerhouse which returns four of its five starters from last year’s Final 4 team. Nann Stechschulte’s squad will be trying to improve on their coach’s impressive 414-212 career
record. The Wildcats are led by Delanie Wolf, a senior who is headed for Ashland University, whom Jenkins describes as one of the toughest competitors to take the floor at the Reese Center.

“She’s the kind of kid who will compete for the last biscuit on the dinner table,” said Jenkins. “She has turned down numerous offers from quality Div. I schools so she could stay closer to home.”

Inside for Minster, 6-2 junior Tara Clune, a talented big post in her own right, will be afforded the opportunity to do battle with the 6-4 Butler, while senior Erica Fullenkamp provides athleticism in running the floor. “Both those big kids are strong, thick kids that are anchor-type players on both ends of the floor,” said Jenkins. Kayla Wuebker moves into the starting point guard spot for the Wildcats.

Jenkins said that with West Holmes located right down SR 39, this contest should offer a real draw for the locals of Holmes County, since Minerva could well be a Regional opponent for the Lady Knights.

“Minerva has their whole team back, and they will be headed to the same regional as West Holmes,” said Jenkins. “Both of these teams have a legitimate shot at the State tournament, but they may have to go through each other to get there.”