BERLIN, Ohio—The third day of any bracketed tournament always holds a special place with looming championship ramifications. In a classic format, like the Classic in the Country, you get another day of prearranged match-ups that lead to excitement like Sunday’s action that included both a single and a double overtime contest as well as a combined average margin of just 8.1 points per game.
However, putting basketball aside for a moment, Monday at the Classic in the Country represents much more than just a day off from school or work and simply another basketball tournament.
For 15 years, this special event in northern Ohio has honored the legacies of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and late Highland High School boys basketball coach Perry Reese Jr. Utilizing a national holiday established for Dr. King serves as a reminder to another generation of young people of those individuals that came before them, their parents and even grandparents. People who paved the way for some of the freedoms that have not always been given so readily in our often less than enlightened society. To this day that paved road still comes with unbelievable potholes and mountainous speed bumps. However, if some of these young people learn more of the sacrifice and effort of individuals like Dr. King and Coach Reese, new leaders may emerge from this generation who will take up the torch. If basketball can help create that necessary awareness…even just a little bit…it’s a very good day in the gym.
To see images and stat recaps from the first two days of the Classic in the Country, follow the links below.
Monday’s itinerary featured the final seven of a slate of 20 games that tipped off Saturday morning in the Reese Center on the campus of Berlin Hiland High School. Another overtime game and four games decided by five or less points and you get the idea it was another great day for fans, recruiters, evaluators and media. Once again, we look at the results and statistical recaps of each game and offer up some images to complete our on-site coverage. Check back with Blue Star Media later in the week for additional coverage featuring evaluations of some of the promising prospects who took the floor in Berlin.
Things got started with a close one Monday morning as Loudonville and Tuscarawas Valley went at it from the tip. Both teams were hesitant and cold out of the gate and the first period saw both teams struggle to score ultimately leading to an 8 – 8 tie after one. The Trojans from Tuscarawas Valley found their way in the second posting 20 points for the quarter and racing to a 28 – 23 halftime advantage. At the end of three they had extended the lead by just a single point taking a 42 – 36 edge into the final period. Unfortunately for the Trojans the Redbirds mounted a furious fourth quarter attack and roared back to claim a hard fought 53 – 52 win.
Neither team lit it up from the floor as Loudonville went 17 for 46 for 37.0 percent while Tuscarawas Valley was 20 of 61 for 32.8 percent. Loudonville also had the benefit of 7 three pointers to just 4 for the Trojans. The Trojans did hold a 42 – 37 rebounding margin and forced one more turnover out of their opponent than they committed themselves (18 – 19). Celeste Ryman, a 2019 point guard, paced the scoring in the win with 20 points and helped add to the team total by way of her 6 assists. Sophomore Emily Seboe added a double – double of 11 points and 11 boards as well. For the Trojans, senior Kierrah Stewart went 8 for 16 from the floor on her way to 21 points while grabbing 8 rebounds in the process. Classmate Jenna Franks added 10 points for the Redbirds.
Not many match-ups anywhere could have the marquee firepower that the Toledo Rogers – Dublin Coffman game had. Both teams feature high scoring and exciting 2019 guards in Rogers Zia Cooke and the Shamrocks Jacy Sheldon. Nobody was disappointed as things started off fast and aggressive leading to a 16 – 15 Coffman lead after the first period of play. The Shamrocks upped the ante in the second posting 23 more points while limiting the Rams to just 11 for a 39 – 26 halftime lead. The problem for Cooke and her Rogers teammates was that things would get colder in the third as Coffman added 14 more to their total while giving up just five points on the defensive end for a 53 – 31 lead going into the last eight minutes of play. Rogers added 11 more in the fourth but the Shamrocks tossed in 15 to seal the 68 – 42 win.
Coffman shot 45.7 percent in the first half and 50.0 percent in the second to finish at 47.5 for the game. Rogers started at 33.3 percent only to see their shooting percentage drop like the temperature outside to 19.4 percent in the final two periods for a 26.6 frosty day of shooting. Coffman also won the glass pulling 47 rebounds to just 34 for the Rams. Rogers did force 20 turnovers on the defensive end while committing just 17 of their own. Sheldon, an Ohio State verbal commitment, broke the single game scoring record for the Classic with a dynamic 37 point performance. She was 16 of 22 from the floor including 3 for 8 from behind the arch. The junior guard also showed off some instinctual passing while chalking up 7 assists in the win. Senior Dana Axner added 14 on 6 for 11 shooting while Lily Edwards, another 2018 grad, put up a double – double of 10 points and 11 rebounds for Coffman. Cooke was the only Ram to hit double figures finishing with 14 points on 5 for 21 shooting that saw her surrounded on virtually every shot attempt by Shamrock defenders.
Colorado powerhouse Regis Jesuit carries a big bullseye on their back wherever they go and the Warriors from Huber Heights Wayne took aim right square in the middle of it during their match-up Monday. Wayne jumped out on the highly-regarded Raiders 14 to 11 after the first quarter of play. Regis wasn’t going to sit back and take it as they responded with a 15 – 10 quarter of their own to take a 26 – 24 lead into the locker room at the half. The cold crept in from the outside in the third as play got sloppy and shooting was less than impressive in a 9 – 9 period. The fourth wasn’t much better but did see Wayne get the two points back and tie things at 42 all by the end of regulation. The Warriors kept the momentum in the overtime period and went on to claim a signature win 49 – 44.
It’s hard to imagine 31.4 percent shooting could get you a win against a team like Regis but that’s exactly what Wayne did shooting 16 of 51 in the win. It helped that Regis was even more off the mark making just 16 of 59 attempts for 27.1 percent. Regis did dominate the boards 48 – 31 including 27 offensive rebounds that were negated by the less than successful shooting effort. Both teams were careless with the ball as the Warriors turned it over 24 times while the Raiders gave it up on 23 possessions themselves. Junior guard Olivia Trice was the only player in double digits for Wayne finishing with 10 in the win. Sophomore Nyla Hampton added 9 while freshman Bree Hall and junior Kyra Willis each chipped in 8 more. The Raiders were led by junior forward Fran Belibi’s double – double of 13 points and 14 rebounds. Sophomore guard Jada Moore added 10 more but struggled from the floor with 3 for 17 shooting.
The 12 point Lakota West win over Wadsworth may appear to have been easier than it actually was for the Firebirds. Lakota West claimed each quarter but only by margins of 6, 2, 1 and 3 respectively. The Grizzlies never backed down and weren’t conceding anything until the final buzzer. A 12- 6 first period lead became 25 – 17 at the half. By the end of the third it was 35 – 26 before the stretch run to the Firebird final margin of 44 – 32.
The cold shooting of earlier games hung around for this one as well with Lakota West grabbing the win while connecting on just 18 of 50 field goal attempts (36.0 Percent). Wadsworth fared no better going 13 for 41 resulting in 31.7 percent for the game. The Grizzlies had a two rebound edge on the boards but turned the ball over 22 times to just 12 miscues for the Firebirds. The low scoring win saw Notre Dame signee Abby Prohaska again lead the way with 14 points on 6 of 12 shooting. Senior guard Sarah Jones and sophomore forward Nevaeh Dean each added 7 more for Lakota. Nobody hit double digits for Wadsworth in the loss. Senior forward Lexi Lance, a Toledo signee, finished with 9 while fellow junior forward Kacie Evans chipped in 7 more.
Playing without two key players (discipline) hardly slowed the Tigers of Pickerington Central down at all. In fact, they had little trouble with a North Canton Hoover team that struggled start to finish. It was 11 – 6 after one and before the half Pickerington had rolled out to a 34 – 14 advantage. It didn’t help Hoover to shoot just 15.4 percent across the first 16 minutes of play. The Vikings slightly woke up posting 10 in the third but the Tigers added 18 more of their own to take a 52 – 36 lead into the final period. Hoover did get the best of the final quarter but ultimately fell in the end, 58 – 36.
Pickerington Central shot 40.4 percent from the floor making 23 of 57 attempts across the course of the game. Hoover did improve on their first half shooting woes but still limped home with an uncharacteristic 11 of 54 – 20.4 percent effort. The Tigers won the boards as well 39 – 37 and had just 11 turnovers to 16 for the Vikings. Sophomore guard Nicole Stephens had 19 points in the win including a 3 of 4 effort from downtown. Always impressive junior point guard Madison Greene had 16 and Dayton bound senior Kyla Whitehead added 13 on a 6 for 7 effort from the floor. Junior forward Annie Roshak again led Hoover finishing with 21 points but struggled while going 6 of 26 on the night.
Holding the lead following the first three quarters of play will be no consolation for the Generals from Wooster as they saw a nine point lead disappear in the final quarter as they fell to Magnificat Monday evening. Wooster was up 15 – 11 after the first and extended their lead before the break to 28 – 22. After three with just eight more minutes to play it was 39 – 30…but then it all fell apart. Magnificat was on task in the fourth posting an 18 – 7 margin over the quarter to edge Wooster by two, 48 – 46.
From the floor Magnificat started slowly shooting 30.0 percent in the first half before cranking it up to 40.0 percent in the second to finish 19 of 55 for 34.5 percent. It was the opposite for Wooster as their 37.0 percent first half effort melted down to just 17.2 percent in the second half to finish 15 of 56 at 26.8 percent for the game. Wooster ruled the rebounding category 49 – 30 which included 23 offensive boards. The Blue Streaks had just 10 turnovers in the win while Wooster had a good night with the ball as well giving it up just 12 times. Brenna Varga, a sophomore guard, led the way with 17 for Magnificat. Fellow 2020 Maura Robinson chipped in 9 more in the winning cause. Wooster had three hit for double figures in the losing effort. Sophomore Daisha Brown finished with 13 while senior Ny’Eemah Brown and sophomore Macyn Siegenthaler each had 11.
The Newark – Hiland contest represented the 300th game in the history of the Classic in the Country. Landmark games should be good ones and both the Wildcats and Hawks competed to the end in a low scoring but competitive battle. As in several other games, both teams were slow to find their rhythm leading to a quiet 8 – 8 first period standoff. The Wildcats from Newark edged ahead by two at the half 19 -17 with both teams still somewhat cold from the field. Hiland got two back in the third to tie things at 25 entering the final period of play. Newark got some timely perimeter scoring in the fourth and used a 12 – 8 quarter to finish off the hosts from Hiland 37 – 33. While not a high scoring game, it was a back and forth affair that went down to just a couple of possessions at the end.
Newark can breathe a sigh of relief after winning a game while shooting 17 for 50 at 34.0 percent. Hiland was 13 for 42 on their home floor finishing at just 31.0 percent for the game. The Hawks did control the boards 37 – 29 but had double the turnovers that Newark produced (12 – 6). Junior guard and Kent State commit Katie Shumate led the Wildcats in the win with 25 points on 11 of 25 shooting including 3 for 11 from deep. Nobody hit double figures for the cold shooting Hawks. Senior guard Kennedy Schlabach had 7 in the loss while classmate Sara Keim added 6 more. Five other players finished with four points each.