Game 2  JAN 15 SAT 11:45 am  Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame Cougars vs. North Canton Hoover Vikings

By Dave Mast

One of the state’s most illustrious girls basketball programs has fallen on tough times recently, resulting in coaching change and the exodus of several key players from the program. Gone from Mount Notre Dame is coach Dante Harlan, who was a major contributor for years under former coach Dr. Scott Rogers as an assistant before taking over as head coach the past four seasons. Following Harlan’s dismissal, no less than eight Notre Dame players flew the coop, among them a number of prized talents.

However, the Cougars, now under the helm of Kelly Main, will face a North Canton Hoover team facing a similar transition. After 14
years, head coach Paul Wackerly opted to take on the Massillon Perry boys hoops program. His position will be filled by Tim Vick, who most recently served as assistant boys coach at Canton South. Before that he led the Fairless girls program to new heights. In addition to a solid senior group and an incredibly deep team, freshman newcomer Kaylee Stroemple, a big- time Div. I prospect, will be featured as part of Vick’s team. “Here is a kid who can really stroke it,” said Tom Jenkins, Classic organizer. “She is talented enough that she has already caught the eye of a number of big-time Division I colleges.”

But Vick’s biggest asset will be a well balanced team with no superstars to speak of; just a hard-working group that goes 12 deep. “Each of the kids has their own talents and skills that they bring to the floor,” said Vick. “We don’t have that one big-time Div. I kid. This group has been all about the team concept.”

Vick has used this past summer to evaluate a group of players he new little about coming in, which was OK with him. It allowed him to see each one for who they were, with no preconceived notions. “We’re not where we want to be by any means, but we just want to work at this and get better and better, so that by tournament time it all has come together,” said Vick.

Point guard Hannah Romano will lead the team as the floor general. Vick said that the team is noticeably better when she is on the floor.

Another pleasant surprise is 6-0 post Laura Wheeler, who was the Federal League POY this year in volleyball, but hasn’t played basketball for several years. “She has been a revelation,” said Vick. “She is an incredibly gifted athlete, and has improved quickly.”

He describes Erika Warren as a tough kid who loves to battle, and at 5-10 uses her strength to get position. “It’s been a learning
experience, but a fun one,” said Vick. “I’ve always seen Hoover as kind of a dream job for me. Now here I am, in my first year getting to take the program to one of the best high school basketball showcases in the nation, and against one of the best programs in the state in Notre Dame. I don’t care how many kids left, they will certainly be a very good team.”