Area falls to 3-6 at the Classic

Perkins, Clyde and Bellevue have represented the area well
Mark Hazelwood
Jan 21, 2014

With Bellevue's 54-44 loss to Newark Catholic Monday at the 11th annual Classic in the Country Challenge at Berlin Hiland High School, the area fell to 3-6 at the prestigious showcase.

And given the caliber of competition, that record could be considered a compliment.
Of the 30 in-state teams that competed at the event in the heart of Amish Country over the weekend, 16 of them entered the games ranked in the top 10 of last week's Associated Press state poll. That included the top seven teams in Division I.
Led by players such as Cierra Bravard, Trish Krewson, Jordan Fraley and Shannon Ebert, Perkins leads the area with a total of five games played at the Classic. The Pirates lost to Cincinnati Princeton, Oak Hill and Regina, but came away with wins against Shaker Heights and Waterford.
Clyde is next with three overall appearances, each in the past three seasons, while finishing with a 1-2 record. The two losses to Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown and Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame are the only two regular season setbacks for the Fliers since the 2010-11 season.
The Fliers edged Cincinnati Winton Woods at last year's Classic on free throws by Amanda Cahill in the final seven seconds.

Forecast of champions
Who will be this season's four state champions and AP Ms. Basketball winner? Odds are, whoever it ends up being, they participated at the Classic over the weekend.
Since the inception of the showcase, every single Ms. Basketball has competed in the event, including eight of the 10 in the year they were crowned Ms. Basketball.
That list includes Mel Thomas (Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame); Maria Getty (Chaminade Julienne); Tyra Grant (Youngstown Ursuline); Jantel Lavendar (Cleveland Central Catholic); Amber Gray (Lakota West); Kendall Hackney (Mount Notre Dame) Natasha Howard (Toledo Waite); Ameryst Alston (Canton McKinley) and Ashley Morrissette (Twinsburg). Cincinnati Princeton's Kelsey Mitchell (Ohio State), Reynoldsburg's Alyssa Rice (Kentucky), Clyde's Cahill (Indiana) and Kettering Fairmont's Kathryn Westbeld (Notre Dame) are expected to be among the finalists for this season's award, and were all in action at the Classic this weekend.
Meanwhile, the Classic is also 29 for 40 in having a state champion play during their championship season. While only going 2 for 4 last season, it should be noted that in the two divisions missed, the state runners-up played in the Classic.Also, 71 of the 160 teams to make it to the state final four participated in the Classic the same year they made it, including Clyde last season and Perkins in 2006-07.
Given the amount of teams ranked in the top 10 over the three-day event over the weekend, it's safe to say that percentage will be on the money once again in late March.

Tradition-rich foes
Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame, which beat Clyde 67-61 on Sunday, brought with it one of the most decorated resumes in Ohio girls basketball history.
In 2005, the Cougars finished state runners-up in Division I. But they then proceeded to four-peat the big school division, winning state championships from 2006-09.
While Bellevue's opponent Monday, Newark Catholic, has just two all-time state appearances, the Green Wave won it all in 1984.

An athletic look
It's hard to expose a team that had lost just four total games in nearly the last 90 games, but Clyde coach John Cahill said that is what happened to his Fliers team in Sunday's loss.
And given the path down the road in a quest to reach a third state semifinal in four seasons, it certainly wasn't a bad thing.
"We didn't guard well in man or zone when we didn't pressure them well," Cahill said of Notre Dame. "They exposed some things, and athletically we had a hard time guarding them. But again, we're going to face a Toledo Central Catholic or Rogers in the tournament, and they are more athletic than us too. We just have to learn from this and do a better job."

Best of the best
To showcase state championship teams and Ms. Basketball winners, it obviously requires top-flight talent.
The Classic again didn't disappoint in that regard.

Of the 100 girls ranked in the top 25 of all four high school grades of the Ohio Girls Basketball Report, 51 of them participated in this year's Classic. Included in those rankings is Clyde's Cahill and Bellevue's Santoro, along with Oak Harbor sophomore Andrea Cecil, who worked at this year's event as a staff volunteer.
Furthermore, 77 nationally-ranked players in their respective top 100 of their grade and position participated this weekend, per Dan Olsen's Collegiate Girls Basketball Report. Seventeen of those players were ranked in the top 25, and four from the top 10.
Among the nationally ranked players were Cahill (26th, 2014 forwards) and Santoro (56th, 2015 guards).

The list of players is why coaches from the five power conferences (ACC, Big Ten, Big East, Pac-12 and SEC) were in attendance. Since 2004, 31 of the 32 NCAA Div. 1 conferences have been represented at the Classic.


Flocking to Amish Country

Prior to this past weekend, the total attendance for all 200 games over 10 years at the Classic exceeded 225,000, including spectators, college coaches, media, VIPs, sponsors, competing teams not playing and non-participating teams using the CITC discount rate).

The economic impact on the Holmes County community has been reported to be in excess of $12 million. Through the first two days of the event entering Monday, Classic director Tom Jenkins indicated the event had again broken attendance records.