By ELLIOTT SCHREINER
Daily Record Sports Writer
The following is a look at the opening day of Classic in the Country V.
Waterford vs. East Canton (10 a.m.)
There stands a good chance each of these teams will be playing late into March in Div. IV.
East Canton (Div. IV, No. 8) has been a mainstay atop the small school world thanks to the work of 33rd-year head coach Tom Davis, who’s won 576 games. His Wizards come into this week with an unblemished 12-0 record and plenty of firepower. Thanks to senior Caitlin Sharp, a cross country stud who leads her school in 3-pointers made, leads the way.
Waterford will be paced by Sina King, one of the top-rated sophomores in the state. Her freshman season she led the Wildcats to a 21-3 record that included a regional appearance. Her season was wrapped up by winning a co-district player of the year award in her freshman season.
Wadsworth vs. Cincinnati Winton Woods (11:45 a.m.)
The Grizzlies have been the unofficial champion of the Classic, going 5-0 thanks to the antics of now Div. I players Cassie Schrock and Jen Uhl.
Despite graduating those two, Wadsworth (11-3) has some players. They return three starters from last season’s team, which finished 21-2 and was ranked at the top of the AP poll during the season. Rachel DeMita and Chrissy Pavlik rank as two of the top 50 seniors in the state, while Lindsey Tenyak does the same as a junior. The Grizzlies also have two of the state’s top freshmen in Robin Rotterschmidt and Taylor Woods.
But Winton Woods (12-1) isn’t likely to be intimidated. Led by Dayeesha Hollins (11.3 ppg), one of the top point guards in the country, the Warriors are one of the most talented teams in the country. She has two running mates that both average double digits scoring in Jasmine Shaw (12.1) and Shynishia Johnson (10.1)
Toledo Central Catholic vs. Cincinnati Princeton (1:30 p.m.)
The Irish rate as one of the top teams in Toledo. The Vikings are one of the best in Cincinnati. Something has to give.
TCC (Div. I, No. 5) returns everyone from a 2007 regional finalist. Brianna Jones, a 6-foot-2 junior, is the truth, averaging 14.3 points and 9.7 boards per game. Add in guard Sharise Calhoun (12.1 ppg), and the Irish (12-1) have a great one-two punch to go with their depth.
Brianna Sanders, one of the top juniors in the nation, leads the 9-4 Vikings. The team returns four starters off last season’s 18-6 team.
The game, while high-profile, will set the tone for what will follow.
Regina vs. Lakota West (3:15 p.m.)
This game could be considered one of the biggest of the entire season in Ohio girls basketball. Lakota West (Div. I, No. 1) is a favorite to bring home a Div. I title with Ohio’s top senior and junior. And Regina (Div. III, No. 2), which has Duke-bound Shay Selby in the backcourt, is a pretty safe pick in Div. III.
Needless to say, the magnitude for this one is off the charts.
Selby, one of the top senior guards in the country, is helped by Tay’ler Mingo, one of the best sophomores at the position. The Royals could use this game as a stepping stone to a record sixth OHSAA crown.
If only it were that easy.
Bishop McGuinness (NC) vs. Cincinnati Mt. Notre Dame (5 p.m.)
McGuinness, which finished the 2007 basketball season ranked No. 11 by USA Today, has some rebuilding to do — at least if they want to return to national prominence.
The Villains have a pretty good one to build around in 6-foot-3 post Erinn Thompson, who ranks as one of the top 100 juniors nationally.
But McGuinness, the 2006 and 2007 state champions in North Carolina, won’t be greeted by just any team.
They’ll be up against the Cougars, a team with five starters returning from a 2007 state champion. The Cougars (Div. I, No. 4) have won three of the last four in the big school division, while finishing as a runner-up in 2005. They’ve got the best starting five in the state, all of them ranked among the top 25 in Ohio. That’s all led by Kendall Hackney, the No. 9 small forward in America and the Most Outstanding Player in each of the last two state championship games.
Columbus Africentric vs. North Canton Hoover (6:45 p.m.)
This game could be the big one at the CITC V, with the defending Div. IV champions taking on Hoover, a consistent powerhouse among the big schools.
Last season Africentric (Div. IV, No. 1) handed Div. II state champion River View its only loss in a seemingly easy 60-48 victory.
It could be a bit different story this time around. The Nubians will have trouble with the inside tandem of 6-foot Brittany Orban and 6-3 Kyle Baumgartner, who are going to Northwestern and Akron, respectively. The Vikings return four starters from last year’s team, which was ranked in the USA Today top 25 at points of last year. The Vikings play one of the toughest schedules in Ohio, so Africentric won’t bring anything they haven’t seen.
But the Nubians have quite a lot more than most teams. There are plenty that believe they could win any division this season. Tyeasha Moss and Alesia Howard return for their senior seasons and are among four starters that return. On top of that the Nubians added Columbus’ top two freshmen to their roster.
This one will be a war.
Hiland vs. Columbus Brookhaven (8:30 p.m.)
The Hawks are on a three-game losing streak at the Classic. That comes with good reason as they keep playing teams like the Bearcats.
Brookhaven is led by senior wing Da’Keisha Mann, a Classic record-holder for points in a game with 33. She’s helped by likely the best freshman class in Ohio, three of which are rated in the top 50 in the state.
But don’t count the 2005 and 2006 state champions out. They return four starters from last year, including Kent State-bound Jena Stutzman, one of the state’s bes shooters.
This will be the first of two games the Hawks are the underdog in. Only time will tell if they can stop the three-game skid.