X and X mark the spot for fantastic CitC weekend of hoops

X and X mark the spot for fantastic CitC weekend of hoops

Image Credit: SheHoopsOhio

Fans who love the game of hoops will want to get to the Perry Reese, Jr. Community Center at Hiland High School over Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend Jan. 14-16 to experience roundball the way it’s supposed to be played.

That’s when Classic in the Country XX, one of the nation’s top-rated high school girls basketball showcases, will bring the heat during the cold January weather.

Bryce McKey, co-director of She Hoops Ohio, which sponsors the event, said the line-up of games this season is equal to any the Classic has ever hosted.

“This is going to be a special weekend,” McKey said.

Day one will feature plenty of local flavor with Northwest, Waynedale, West Holmes and Hiland all on tap to play throughout the day.

“We enjoy giving local teams a chance to showcase what they can do, and these are all highly successful programs who should present some fun games to watch,” McKey said.

The Saturday 3 p.m. game will feature Archbishop Hoban squaring off with Lakota West. Hoban features a deep and talented team that loves to get up and down the floor quickly, but Andy Fishman’s Firebirds love to shine in the glow of the CitC, and they trot out three freshman who are talented and love to run.

Waynedale boasts a deep and seasoned crew including seniors Jewel Persinger and Lacey Walters and juniors Alyssa Geiser, McKenna Baney and Cheyanne Chupp, along with Dalton transfer Adessa Miller.

Undefeated West Holmes comes back to the CitC after a few years off and brings a defensive-minded group led by senior Ella McMillen, junior guards Keegan Uhl and Allie McMillen, and some hungry younger talent who have showed they can contribute. The Lady Knights will face Lima Bath, a team blessed with four talented returners.

A Schlabach at the helm of the Hiland Lady Hawks is nothing new, but this time it is All-Ohio great Dave Schlabach’s son Brady Schlabach leading the Lady Hawks, who will come into the Classic looking to ride a wave of hometown support as they tackle Convoy Crestview, who has three all-league talents returning including junior Gail Gregory.

The Sunday, Jan. 15 slate of games doesn’t let up, with seven games featuring top talent ready to impress.

Ashland-bound Kylie Leibacher will lead Margaretta against a deep Proctorville Fairland team to open the day. Lakota West and Solon, two teams very familiar with the CitC, will square off in game two, where a fast and aggressive guard-oriented Firebirds team will take on mirror image Solon.

North Canton boasts a pair of 6-footers in Janet Eriksen and Grace Craig, West Clermont will bring aggressive full-court pressure, Div. I power Mason will showcase why they are again going to be a factor in determining a state title, and Massillon will usher in three stars in talented point guard Megan Campbell, Wisconsin committee senior Leena Patibandla and Lauren Palotta, a guard heading to Dayton next season.

“One great thing about the Classic is that it provides a chance for fans to experience some of the best basketball Ohio has to offer,” McKey said. “This showcase is a weekend to experience for players and fans alike. When Tom Jenkins and Dave Schlabach first started this thing two decades ago, they may not have anticipated it becoming as big as it is after 20 years. It’s amazing that it’s remained at such an incredibly high level of play.

“Everyone who comes in, whether fans, players or coaches, gets treated like royalty, which has been the case since day one, and we’ve been able to adapt year after year. This is just a perfect community to host this event because of the commitment to their girls basketball team, as well as people’s desire to help create and maintain something special.”

Then comes Monday, the day college coaches and scouts will be seeing stars.

“We pretty much jammed all of the top prospects in games 16-20 to allow college coaches and scouts the opportunity to see them play in a short period,” McKey said.

Monday’s first game features Toledo Christian’s Kendall Braden, a big guard who has the likes of Pittsburgh and DePaul trying to land her.

New to the CitC this year is Streetsboro, and it boasts Naomi Benson, a 6-foot, 3-inch sophomore who has plenty of big schools licking their chops in anticipation over what she brings to the table. She will be matched up against Toledo Central Catholic center Brooklyn Vaughn, a 6-foot-1 wrecking machine in the paint.

“That’s going to be a terrific battle in the paint,” McKey said.

Lawrence Central (Indiana) is coached by former WNBA player Jannon Lampley, who will let her sophomore Jaylah Lampley, daughter of a former WNBA player, showcase her immense skill set.

“She’s a really big, athletic guard with a ton of offers already,” McKey said of Lampley.

Jaylah isn’t the only Lampley who will grace the floor. Joining her will be her freshman sister Naomi Lampley, who operates the point at 6-foot-1.

“I’d say worst-case scenario she is top five in the country,” McKey said of the younger sister.

They will square off with Toledo Start, and their point guard, junior Sanai Douglas, has offers on the table from Iowa and all the MAC schools.

“She could be considered one of the best point guards in the state,” McKey said. “That should be a fast-paced, athletic game led by two dynamic point guards.”

Purcell Marian will trot out Darianna Alexander, ESPN #4-ranked sophomore in the nation. A 6-foot-2 wing player, Alexander is a prolific talent with loads of offers on the table.

Her match-up will be versus another equally tall and talented guard in Laurel’s Saniyah Hall, whom McKey said is a top-10 talent in the nation’s sophomore class.

Game 20 features Mason sophomore Madison Parrish, a player McKey said is among the finest players in the state. She will try to tame Bolingbrook (Illinois) junior tandem Angelina Smith and Persais Williams.

West Clermont’s Senei Hicks will highlight game 21. She is the daughter of former NFL defensive back Adam “Pacman” Jones. She has Xavier, Cincinnati and Ohio State looking at her.

“She’s a Charles Barkley-type player who is so strong inside and so much fun to watch because you just don’t see kids play like she does anymore,” McKey said.

As always Hiland will put the wraps on the weekend in game 23, where the Lady Hawks will face a stiff challenge. Ashley Mullet will lead Hiland against Midview star Olivia DiFranco.