Game 17  JAN 17 MON 3:15 pm  Cincinnati Sycamore Aviators vs. Wadsworth Grizzlies

By Dave Mast

Chalk this one up as the grizzled veterans who seem to take everything in stride against an upstart team that grew through addition.

The Cincinnati Sycamore Aviators finished last year 13-11, but it was a very good learning year for head coach Paula Hayden’s crew, plus they played in the meat grinder Greater Miami Conference, which boasts about as many State-hopefuls as any in the state. Sycamore returns a load of talent, and in addition was the recipient of some of the fallout at Mount Notre Dame.

Guard Courtney Tucker and point guard Kelly McDonald transferred in after playing for the Cougars, and will join 6 foot-1-inch junior post player Keri Kleist, who transferred in from Mason. That trio will cohort with returning senior wing player Ashley Schaefer, junior wing Alexis Newbolt, and 5-foot-10-inch sophomore Hannah Locke. They will all play supporting roles to Chloe Pavlech, a junior wing bound for the University of Maryland.

“Pavlech is a tremendous talent, who is capable of taking over games,” said Tom Jenkins. Andy Booth’s talented and disciplined Grizzlies will present a good challenge for Sycamore, especially since they have played eight times to date under the bright lights and big crowds of the Classic in the Country, and have performed well, carving out an impressive 5-3 record.

Because of all of the transfers coming in to Sycamore, the team has instantly been transformed into a legitimate contender for the Greater Miami Conference title, and a threat to do some real damage on the tournament trail.

Booth said that even though his team enjoys playing an up-tempo style, they are more than willing to settle in on both sides of the court, doing whatever it takes to force mistakes from their opponents.

“We stress to the kids that we want to be the team that forces mistakes, not the one that makes them,” said Booth.“This is a good veteran group that really understands the game, and what we want to achieve. We like to play fast, but we’re not helter-skelter out there. We’d like to think of it as controlled chaos.”

With his top six players returning, Booth is anticipating a fantastic tournament run, and has bolstered his non-league schedule with six of the state’s top-tier teams.

“This is a team of hard workers, great leaders and we are coming off the best summer we’ve had since I’ve been here,” said Booth, “We’ve got great chemistry on this team.

The question is, will Sycamore’s fresh faces gel in time for the Classic, and will the Grizzlies be able to continue to play superb fundamental basketball.