After their performances over the weekend at the Tackett’s Body Shop Shootout in Ironton, it was clear that the Minford Falcons’ girls basketball program and Notre Dame Titans’ girls basketball program wanted to make a statement.
And after both did so successfully, the duo were deservedly bumped up in the Associated Press’ state rankings as Notre Dame jumped all the way up to No. 3 overall in the state’s Division IV Poll while Minford obtained a No. 9 ranking in the latest Division III Poll. Both were released Monday evening along with the rest of the state polls.
Notre Dame (21-0, No. 3, OHSAA Division IV Poll)
The Lady Titans, who now sit at 21-0 with just a makeup game against Belpre on Saturday separating itself from a perfect regular season, made a more than well-deserved jump to the No. 3 slot in the polls after claiming a victory over New Boston, 70-56, to obtain yet another SOC I Championship and 14-0 mark in conference play, then following that victory up with a major 56-48 win over Division III powerhouse Ironton en route to moving up to the No. 3 slot in the poll.
Ava Hassel (27 points, nine steals, seven assists, 53 percent shooting) and Taylor Schmidt (18 points, four steals, 67 percent shooting) were big in the victory against New Boston, while Katie Dettwiller (24 points, 16 rebounds, four blocks on a perfect 100 percent mark from the field) and Lexi Smith (11 points, eight rebounds, three assists) were vital in offsetting Ironton’s physicality en route to a victory in Saturday’s nonconference meeting.
For the year, Dettwiller continues to pace the unit with 15.6 points, 10 rebounds, and 5.2 blocks per affair on 77 percent shooting from the field, while Smith’s 13.4 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 54 percent shooting round out a strong starting frontcourt. Hassel (10.2 points, 3.8 assists, 3.1 steals), Schmidt (8.7 points, 3.7 steals, 2.6 assists), and Molly Hoover (5.6 assists, 2.9 steals) round out as solid as a starting five as you’ll find, while Clara Hash (3.9 points, 2.8 rebounds) and Ali Smith (4.1 points) bring experience and starting-caliber production off of the bench.
Overall, Notre Dame has 119 points to its credit in the Division IV Poll, comfortably ahead of fourth-place Fairfield Christian, who is 16-2. The Lady Titans only trail Waterford (161 points, 11 first-place) and Ottoville (150 points, five first-place) in the polls.
Minford (20-0, No. 9, OHSAA Division III Poll)
Minford, who grabbed sole possession of the No. 9 spot in the OHSAA Division III Poll, used two strong victories against gritty programs against South Webster (59-50) and West Carter (65-55) to accumulate 41 points in the latest Division III rankings on Monday.
With the win over South Webster, Minford finished the SOC II slate at an unblemished 14-0 overall in conference play, and held off the services of Morehead State signee Ellie Jo Johnson — and a 20-point effort from Avery Zempter — en route to doing so.
Then, on Saturday, the Lady Falcons, behind 28 points, eight rebounds, and two steals from Erin Daniels, along with 20 points and eight rebounds from Ashley Blankenship, overcame a 35-29 first-half deficit by going on a 9-2 second-half opening spurt to take a 38-37 lead. Minford fought off West Carter (16-6 overall on the year and a D-II sized school in Ohio) over the remaining length of time behind 16 second-half points from Blankenship, Daniels’ brilliant performance, and the gritty play of Maddie Slusher en route to turning the tables in a Tackett’s Body Shop Shootout contest held on the campus of Ironton High School.
The 41 points has Minford one point ahead of 10th-place Ottawa-Glandorf, while eighth-place Waynesville — who fell to Ashland by a 51-50 tally in overtime — sits three points ahead of the Lady Falcons. Versailles, who has a 19-1 record to its credit, leads the poll with 162 points, and 10 first-place votes. A big showdown with Division IV powerhouse Waterford awaits the Lady Falcons in its final regular season bout of the year at home.
Oak Hill (16-1, No. 7, OHSAA Division III Poll)
Oak Hill, who defeated West by a 53-40 count on Friday evening, lost the next night to Coal Grove by a 58-54 count in overtime, and as a result, suffered a slight drop to No. 7 in the polls. The Oaks sit nine points ahead of Columbus Bishop Ready and just two points behind Oregon Stritch. Canal Winchester Harvest Prep, who is undefeated at 17-0, holds the Division III boys point with 157 points and 11 first-place votes while Ottawa-Glandorf doesn’t sit far behind with 153 points and four first-place votes.
Reach Kevin Colley at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930 OR on Twitter @KColleyPDT