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Girls Basketball Tournament Preview: Games to tip-off Monday

Lead Summary
The 2010-11 Girls High School Basketball tournaments for all divisions is set to start on Monday, Feb. 14 with the first games of the sectional tournament.

Highland County will have three teams playing on that Monday, with two others to play later in the week.

Here is a look at each first-round game for all five Highland County teams.

Monday, Feb. 14
Division II
No. 8 Hillsboro Lady Indians (3-16) vs. No. 9 Waverly Lady Tigers (3-15)
At Adena High School, 7 p.m.

The winner of this game will have the task of playing No. 1-seeded Miami Trace on Wednesday, so as the winner will advance in the tournament, they will have their hands full the following game.

As for the game at Adena on Monday, the Lady Indians enter as the higher seed, gaining three wins this year, their most in the past four seasons. HHS is led by seniors Jenni Willey and A.J. Sanders, who control the post for the Lady Indians.

Through their first 15 games, Willey leads HHS with 220 points (14.7 ppg). She also has 96 total rebounds (36 offensive), 10 steals, 14 assists and four blocked shots. The senior starter is 44-of-82 from the free-throw line for 53.7 percent.

Sanders has scored 98 points for HHS this year (6.5 ppg). Defensively, she grabbed 80 rebounds, 44 defensive. Sanders has shot over 50 percent from the free-throw line at 26-of-52 for 52 percent. She also has 12 steals, seven assists and one blocked shot.

HHS wins have come against Whiteoak, Fairfield and East Clinton. HHS is 3-16 overall and 0-11 in the SCOL.

As for Waverly, they are 3-15 after 18 games but have been improving their scoring as the season has continued. They have defeated South Webster twice and Western Pike once; both are Division IV schools.

Waverly's leading scorer is junior guard Hannah Brewster, and their leading post player is senior Bailey Diener, as she has earned a starting spot later in the season. The top 3-point shooter and defensive player for WHS is Ali Walls, a 5-10 senior. Off the bench for WHS new additions from the JV team are Bri Wiget and Kayla Riffe. Another player the Lady Indians must watch out for is junior Alex Roback as she is known for her athletic ability, guarding the opponent's top scorer.

"They have good size and a couple girls who shoot the ball well. They play some pretty good teams during the season, so I’m sure they are battle-tested and well-prepared," HHS head coach JR Moberly said. "They will bigger than us, but we will match up well. We will need to do some fundamental things well and will need to be prepared for a physical game."

- - - -

Monday, Feb. 14
Division IV
No. 10 Whiteoak Lady Wildcats (1-18) vs. No. 7 Western Latham Lady Indians (4-12)
At Northwest High School, 8 p.m.

The regular season for the Whiteoak Lady Wildcats hasn't had much on the winning side, as their one win this season has come against the one-win Fairfield Lady Lions, when at the time both teams played each other for their first win. Since then, FHS defeated WHS in their second meeting of the season.

"It has been a frustrating year, if you look at just wins and losses," WHS head coach Mike Cooper said. "We have continued to improve as the season has progressed. As a team, we feel we have a great opportunity to do something we have been working all year for."

Cooper talked about what his team needed to do to be successful in the tournament opening round game.

"We must take care of the basketball, limit Western Latham to one shot, and knock down open shots when we have them," he said. "We must control the tempo. If we can force them to run, and play at a quicker pace than they want to, we will have a great chance at advancing to the sectional finals."

Western Latham plays in the Southern Ohio Conference and they are a tall and athletic basketball team. They have four players who are 5-9 or taller. Those four girls are: senior Kelcie Hawk (5-10), junior Shelley Russell (5-11), sophomore Alexis Coulson (5-11) and sophomore Brittany Reader (5-9).

They are also described as a patient team on offense that prefers to attack from the inside, then work the basketball to the perimeter.

Latham's four wins have come against New Boston, Portsmouth Clay, Green and Huntington.

- - - -

Monday, Feb. 14
Division IV
No. 8 Fairfield Lady Lions (1-17) vs. No. 9 Franklin Furnace Green (1-18)
At Northwest High School, 6:15 p.m.

For the Green Lady Bobcats, their season consists of one win. They defeated Western Latham 53-43 on Dec. 6 this season at Green High School. In their lone win, Ali Suttles and Dinah McCloud led Green with 15 and 11 points, respectively.

Green likes to use a 3-2 zone defense, as they average around 35 points a game, but their leading scorer left the team a few weeks ago, so scoring has been an issue for GHS.

"We pretty much mirror each other. We struggle to score 40 points a game, and up until recently we have struggled shooting the ball," Hodson said. "We match up pretty well from a personnel standpoint … they are not real big and neither are we.

"One thing that will help us as we head into the tournament has been our strength of schedule – yes, we have only won one game, but our schedule doesn't give us a night off anytime during the season."

The Fairfield Lady Lions also have one win this season, defeating the Whiteoak Lady Wildcats, 42-31 at FHS.

The Southern Hills League has been a tough league this season in girls basketball, as has the non-league schedule of the Lady Lions.

"Our non-league schedule has been brutal playing Division II and III schools all year long. We only play three Division IV schools all year, and even though we have taken our thumpings, this year I think this will help us as we hopefully advance in the tournament," Hodson said. "The big key to our team is to not turn the ball over, and we have cut back on the turnovers these last few games."

Without All-Ohio player Chelsey Riddle playing this season due to injury, the Lady Lions have struggled at time this season. The brightest spot this season was the emergence of senior Megan Sword, who has become the go-to player for the Lady Lions.

Sword leads FHS in all major categories. The senior has 17.8 points per game, 8.9 rebounds, 4 assists per game, 4.6 steals per game and 2.8 blocks per game. In the Lady Lions' lone win this year, Sword scored 26 points, the game-high. She tallied a double-double in the win with 10 boards and added seven steals and two blocks.

"Megan Sword has had a tremendous season thus far, as defenses continue to key on her, but she still manages to put up good numbers," FHS head coach Matt Hodson said.

- - - - -

Wednesday, Feb. 16
Division II
No. 4 McClain Lady Tigers (14-5) vs. No. 5 Logan Elm (12-7)
At Adena High School, 8 p.m.

The McClain Lady Tigers have five losses on the season but have gained 14 wins en route to a 14-5 record. In South Central Ohio League games, they finished 10-2 under head coach Dennis Overstake, who is in his 30th season as head coach of the Lady Tigers' varsity program. Currently, he has 474 career wins.

As for the Lady Tigers this year, they split their annual season series with the Miami Trace Lady Panthers, and their other league loss was to the Clinton-Massie Lady Falcons, with whom they also split the season series this year.

Through 18 games this year Chrissy Cobb is the leading scorer for MHS, averaging 13 points per game. She's made 16 3-pointers and has a free-throw percentage of 72.7 percent. She leads MHS with 62 steals and 60 assists after their first 18 games.

The leading rebounder for MHS has been junior Jenna Perie with 142 after 18 games. Against MT, she had a season-high 22 boards. Three other Lady Tigers have 60 or more rebounds in Kate Crabtree (65), Taylor Faulconer (64) and Brittany Mullikin (65), all after 18 games.

Logan Elm has a 1,000-point scorer in senior Emily Robinson. She reached that mark in late January against Circleville. Robinson averages around 17 points per game and 4.3 rebounds per game. On the all-time list, she was 43rd in 3-pointers with over 160-plus 3-pointers.

As a member of the Mid-State League, one of their most recent wins came against Fairfield-Union, 60-48 last Saturday.

"You aren't going to get away from good teams in our sectional," Overstake said. "Logan Elm is a very good team. They have two or three kids that can get it up and down the floor, they can score. They just knocked off Teays Valley, who clinched a share of their league. Again, they are well-coached."

- - - - -

Saturday, Feb. 19
Division III
No. 6 Lynchburg-Clay Lady Mustangs (12-6) vs. No. 3 Adena Lady Warriors (12-5)
At Valley High School (Lucasville), 1 p.m.

Lynchburg-Clay head coach Tiffany Barnett described the Adena Lady Warriors as a solid team that has the capability to play a quick-paced game.

One of the strengths of LC will be their height, with Laney Lewis and Brooke Hertlein playing post for LC.

"Adena has really good guard play in their point guard (Ashley Smith), and it is going to be extremely important that we close off her drive. She makes things happen for her team off of her dribble penetration but is also capable of shooting from the outside," Barnett said.

In Adena's win against Southeastern, Smith scored 13 points. Another top player for AHS is Jenny Grigsby, who also had 13 points that game.

LC must play top defense in order to have the opportunity to defeat Adena.

"We have to show up, play to our strengths through solid defense and a good inside-outside game on offense," Barnett said. "We can't be dependent on just scoring from the outside. The girls are on a five-game win streak, and I am hoping that they are peaking at the right time."

Leading LC this season in scoring is Laney Lewis, who is averaging 11.9 points per game. Lewis has 9.8 rebounds per game and 2.6 blocks per game. Lewis is shooting 48.8 percent from the field and 68.5 percent from the free-throw line.

Lillian Blankenship leads LC with 3.2 assists per game and 3.7 steals per game.

Hannah Blankenship is shooting over 30 percent (30.6) in three-point attempts. All season averages are as of Feb. 9.[[In-content Ad]]

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