BERLIN, Ohio—The annual Classic in the Country Challenge always finishes on the actual Martin Luther King holiday helping to celebrate the legacy of Dr. King as well as remind the athletes, coaches and fans of the history of the movement he historically impacted so many years ago. The audio clips played before the start of the games throughout the weekend bring to life once again the sounds, passion and ideals of one of the iconic leaders of our time. School may be out…but the teacher is always in at the Classic.
Sunday’s schedule of seven games wrapped up the 2017 event and true to form there were some exciting and well played games through the final buzzer of the Gilmour Academy – Berlin Hiland game. There were a few early games that didn’t live up to their billing and inflated the usually low average margin of victory. However, when all was said and done, the final contests down the stretch offered up not only competitive basketball but top tier talent as well. As we’ve done the past two nights, we’re again sharing statistical recaps of the day’s games as well as images from each of the teams. Photographs for teams playing their second game of the weekend are of different athletes than those in their first recap.
For coverage from day one and day two follow the links below.
The first quarter of the day’s initial game should have been an indicator of things to come. Ottawa Glandorf opened the game with a 16 – 0 first period and never looked back on their way to a 60 – 26 win over Massillon Tuslaw. To their credit the Mustangs did get on the board before the half but it was little consolation as they trailed 32 – 6 at the break. They more than doubled their output in the third but still went into the final stanza on the short end of a 47 – 15 count. When all was said and done it might have been the 20.6 percent field goal shooting that did them in or it could have been the 23 turnovers. Tuslaw did come within one rebound of Glandorf and shot 69 percent from the free-throw line.
The Titans were led by junior Kadie Hempfling who posted 20 points on 7 of 13 shooting. Sophomore guard Erin Kaufman added 14 more with her own 6 for 11 effort from the floor. As a team, Glandorf shot 50 percent from the floor knocking down 24 of their 48 attempts including 5 of 15 from three point range. Tuslaw got 11 points from senior Mayci Sales as well as a team leading 8 rebounds.
Game two started off the same way as game one with Westerville getting out of the gate to the tune of a 19 – 6 first quarter over Archbishop Hoban. This time around however there was life as Hoban responded with a 14 – 7 period of their own to cut the lead at the half to 26 – 20. After three the Knights were still within reach facing a seven point margin entering the final eight minutes. The Wildcats were not conceding anything and extended the lead to claim the 54 – 42 win. The fact that Hoban got back in the game and had a chance to pull off the comeback is impressive given their 28.6 percent shooting from the field. Westerville South shot 42.6 in the win and forced Hoban into 21 turnovers while committing 19 themselves. The Knights did win the rebound battle pulling 36 to just 27 for the Wildcats.
The underclassmen ruled the day with 2019 guard Summer Pitzer providing 13 points while 2020 backcourt mate Anyssa Jones added 13 more. Cailin Duffy, a 5-10 junior, added 10 more for Westerville South in the win. The Knights were led by sophomore guard Emma Tecca who posted a double-double of 19 points and 11 rebounds but did turn the ball over 5 times. Fellow 2019 Lonasia Brewer contributed 11 points and 9 boards while another sophomore, CarMia Bentley, grabbed 10 rebounds in the loss.
Christmas may be the season of giving but Shaker Heights continued the holiday a little while longer with the generosity of 32 turnovers that were heartily welcomed by Reynoldsburg in their 65 – 48 win. The Raiders (Reynoldsburg) were coming off an earlier loss in the Classic and responded early jumping out to a 19 – 3 lead after one period of play. Shaker Heights woke up in the second period outscoring Reynoldsburg in the quarter but they still trailed 32 – 19 at the half. The gap was 16 after three periods and ultimately stood at 17 at the end of 32 minutes. Add a 31.1 shooting percentage to those Shaker Heights turnovers and the final score is no surprise. They did out rebound the Raiders 53 – 47 as both teams combined for a staggering 133 field goal attempts in the game.
Reynoldsburg junior post Jalynda Salley and sophomore forward Obianuju Ezeudu both had 12 in the win while junior guard Adrian Crockwell added 11 more. In the loss, the other Raiders (Shaker Heights) had just one player in double figures. Forward Jamir Huston had a double-double of 13 points and 15 rebounds but the junior also had eight of those 32 team turnovers.
A much anticipated match-up between powerhouses Solon and Lakota West didn’t disappoint. The Firebirds came out strong holding a 19 – 11 margin after one period of play. Solon responded in a big way posting 25 points over the next eight minutes and holding the lead at the half, 36 – 32. The third period was a one point affair setting up the fourth quarter with a score of 50 – 45 in Solon’s favor. The Comets were not only able to hold off Lakota West, they extended the lead and claimed the statement win 66 – 44. The Firebirds outrebounded Solon by 10 (including a 16 – 3 ORB edge) but it wasn’t enough to overcome the Comets impressive 20 for 40 / 50 percent effort from the floor.
Dee Bekelja was on fire for Solon finishing with 30 points, 11 rebounds and 3 assists. Impressive still was her 8 for 13 shooting that featured 3 of 4 from deep. The DePaul signee was also 11 for 13 at the line. Senior Ohio University signee Alexis Stover added 11 more points while junior post Valencia Myers had some strong moments posting 9 points and 5 rebounds. Lakota West had three in double figures as junior guard Madisyn Oxley led the way with 15 and junior Abby Prohaska added 12 more. Fellow 2019 Jasmine Ballew followed up an impressive first game with 11 points and 8 rebounds in the losing effort.
Folks barely had time to relax before Homestead and Huber Heights Wayne took the floor for another showcase match-up. This was a battle royal from the start. Wayne took a one point lead after the first period and held on to a three point margin at intermission, 32 – 29. Homestead took the lead after three with the score standing at 43 – 41 entering the fourth. It’s only appropriate that game like this get extended a few minutes and dynamic Shai McGruder’s block of a game winning layup attempt under five seconds led to the day’s only overtime game with things tied at 51. The extra period went the way of the Warriors as they sent Homestead home to Indiana 64 – 59. For the game Wayne shot 25 of 54 for 46.3 percent while the Spartans came up short at 38.6 percent on 22 of 57 shooting. The Warriors won the boards by 6 but did commit 20 turnovers to Homestead’s 17.
Junior Maya Dunson paced the scoring for Wayne with 21 points while also grabbing 5 rebounds and dishing 4 assists. McGruder finished with 10 points and 9 rebounds and 2 blocked shots. Sophomore guard Destiny Bohanon added 10 points of her own in the win. For Homestead, once again Florida bound Karissa McLaughlin was impressive totaling 29 points, 12 of which came from a 4 of 12 three point effort. Senior forward and Northern Kentucky signee Jazmyne Geist had 14 points on 7 of 8 shooting while adding 9 rebounds to the team total.
The paced slowed for the next contest as Rocky River Magnificat took on Millersburg West Holmes. The game was tightly contested from the start with Magnificat leading after one by a 10 – 7 score. Across the second they extended the lead to 20 – 14 and ultimately 37 – 27 at the end of three. The fourth quarter was breakeven at 13 and the Blue Streaks took the win by way of a 50 – 40 score. Magnificat went 18 of 40 for 45 percent from the floor while the Knights were 13 for 35 at 37.1 percent. Things were all even on the boards and West Holmes committed one more turnover in the loss.
Three players were in double figures in the win as Theresa Farnan, Colleen Woidke and Sara Spicer had 11, 11 and 10 respectively. Freshman Asia McAuliffe had some strong moments adding 8 points and a team leading 6 rebounds for Magnificat. West Holmes had just one player in double figures. Sophomore Celeste Ryman had 13 points on 4 for 7 shooting including 3 of 6 from behind the arch.
The last game of the event proved to be one of the most competitive as the talented teams from Gilmour Academy and Berlin Hiland went head to head in the final game for 2017. The Lancers came out strong against the hosts from Berlin grabbing a 15 – 7 lead following the first period. Hiland wasn’t about to roll over at home and after a 19 – 12 quarter were down just one at the half, 27 – 26. Gilmour stretched it back out in the third leading 43 – 36 entering the final eight minutes of play. The Hawks couldn’t overcome the gap and ended up falling 60 – 49 despite some solid play. Hiland surprisingly struggled from the field on their home floor going 18 of 59 for 30.5 percent. Gilmour fared better knocking down 19 of 49 for 38.8 percent and the win. Both teams took over 20 three point attempts with Gilmour finishing 9 for 24 and Hiland shooting 6 of 29. The rebound war was solidly in the Lancer’s corner 40 – 27 but the Hawks held the edge in turnovers commiting just 9 to 15 for Gilmour.
Senior Emily Kelley led the scoring with 13 including three from deep. Naz Hillmon, a junior, recorded a double-double with 11 points and 16 rebounds while chalking up 6 assists for good measure. Senior Sydney Diedrich chipped in 11 with 8 boards while junior guard Sarah Bohn contributed 10 points. For Hiland, 2017 Angela Troyer scored 21 on an impressive 8 for 14 shooting night that included 2 for 4 from three point range.