Standing out of a crowd is quite difficult to do when there are so many talented youngsters alongside said person.
Yet, the individuals from the following 13 institutions have not only managed to stand out, but set new bars for their respective programs en route to standing out.
We honor a few of those very individuals in the latest version of the Daily Times’ “Time to be Thankful” series!
The women’s basketball program
With 26 20-win seasons in the 28-year history of the program, there’s no question that the Bears, under the direction of Robin Hagen-Smith and Jeff Nickel, have it rolling.
Nickel, who has already amassed 130 wins to just 36 losses in his fifth season at the head of the program, has put together another tremendous roster that, despite the loss of All-American Jonessa Moore and stretch four Jen Arnzen, has continued to roll as if nothing has changed thanks to the work of the South Shore, Ky. native and his fellow assistants, which include Moore, Tim Sammons, Jack Branon, Abby Feuchter, and Doran Martin.
Behind excellent guard play that includes two excellent All-American talents in Madison Ridout and Ashton Lovely — the former serving as arguably the best two-way player in the NAIA and the latter serving as arguably the best one-on-one player in the NAIA ranks — sharpshooting local native Hannah Miller, do-it-all point guard Bailey Cummins, and Shania Massie, who has served as an energy bug off of the bench, Shawnee State has itself ranked second in the country in scoring margin (27.7 points per game), field goal percentage (48.1), and total scoring offense and third in scoring offense per contest (82.7)
The same unit, behind the play of Ridout, Lydia Poe, Sienna King, Hagen Schaefer, Lakin Smith, and Leah Wingeier on the low block, have also stood out defensively as the Bears rank fifth in defensive field goal percentage (33 percent), sixth in defensive three-point field goal percentage (24 percent), and seventh in defensive scoring (55 points per game) — all stats that have allowed Shawnee State to win 15 games in a row.
The Bears will look to make the No. 16 a sweet one as Shawnee State begins the second half of its Mid-South Conference slate against Pikeville on Thursday evening.
Breaking the single-season record for blocks — just two weeks after breaking the single game record for blocks? Yes, EJ Onu has those records in his hands — and the scary part is that he’s only a freshman.
Virtually unrecruited as a 6-10 big out of the Cleveland area, the Richmond Heights High School graduate has made a massive impact on the Shawnee State program in his first year with the program, putting up numbers that will have Onu contending for All-MSC Freshman of the Year Honors at season’s end.
He’s averaging 9.8 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per contest, and is the only player on the Shawnee State roster to have played and started in each of the program’s 22 games at this point in the year en route to his 77-block campaign with at least nine games still left to play in the season. It’s safe to say that the sky is the limit for the rail-thin, but amazingly athletic 215-pounder.
It cannot be overstated enough — obtaining 1,000 kills and 1,000 points before even hitting your senior season is exceptionally rare. Yet, that is exactly what Warnock has done.
The exceptionally talented three-sport athlete, while accomplishing those feats, has already led her unit to a 21-4 overall record and a Division IV District Final appearance in volleyball. That, however, may just be the tip of the iceberg considering the talent that the girls basketball program and the softball program has in its arsenal.
Despite facing increased attention due to the departure of Akia Brown and Drew Lowe, JD Hatcher has stepped up and provided the Tartans with the energy and hustle that has made the forward a threat throughout the 2017-18 campaign.
The senior, who amassed 559 yards and 11 touchdown receptions on just 23 catches en route to becoming an All-Southeast District selection in football, has been a consistent 12 to 15 point per game producer for East, which has made the Tartans a contender in nearly every contest it has participated in during the season.
Even though this is only her initial high school campaign under the Lady ‘Cats umbrella, the 5-10 freshman has consistently been a major producer for Green, consistently finishing as the top scorer for Melissa Knapp’s ballclub. With a group of youngsters in Sweeney’s class and behind said class already producing in large numbers, it’s only a matter of time before the Lady ‘Cats begin turning a serious corner as a group.
What else can one say about this dynamo? Daniels not only scored 23 points en route to breaking the girls basketball program’s all-time record set by Cheryl Preston-Bolender, but followed that effort up just three days later with a 38-point outburst against Waverly. It’s certainly going to be scary for other opponents if Daniels keeps producing at such a level for the 18-0 Lady Falcons.
Kyle Sexton, Kade Conley, Mariah Buckley
Overall, it’s hard to point out any one particular person to highlight as far as New Boston’s increased success in the basketball realm this year is concerned, so when one looks at the overall body of work, it’s clear that the leaders have to be singled out.
Sexton and Conley, who have been consistent double-double and triple-double machines, have consistently taken on the roles of initiating the New Boston offense while taking pride on the defensive end to help spearhead a group that is enjoying a 10-win SOC I campaign (and possibly more considering how the results go in the next few weeks) under first-year head coach Adam Cox.
As for Buckley, the senior, who has been a major cog in New Boston’s ascension back to competitiveness as part of the volleyball, girls basketball, and softball programs, eclipsed the 1,000-point barrier after returning from an ACL tear within a four-month period last year. Her ability to manipulate pick-and-roll situations is only surpassed by the competitive grit that the point guard brings to the floor.
A well-oiled machine down in the low-post, Leslie, like he has been throughout his high school career, has been a consistent force all season long for the Mohawks, regularly leading the team in points and rebounds. A second consecutive All-Southeast District billing looks to be likely for the forward.
Despite various injuries and lineup changes that have forced Notre Dame to adjust along the way, the Lady Titans have continued to roll right along to an 18-0 start thanks to their disciplined and well-versed 6-4 big.
The junior, who has been nothing short of spectacular throughout the 2017-18 campaign, is averaging 15.8 points, 9.6 rebounds, and 5.1 blocks per contest on a ridiculous 76 percent clip. Dettwiller’s latest performance? A 21-point, 16-rebound outing against Whiteoak in a month that has already seen the 6-4 junior obtain a 18-point, 15-rebound, 11-block performance against Clay. Those kind of stats will put colleges on notice.
With one 27-point outing already in the bag for the month, Daniel Jordan decided that he needed a second 27-point game to go along with it in a recent victory over South Point on Friday evening.
Jordan, who has always been active in the low post, is a central figure in Portsmouth’s starting five — and perhaps its X-factor if the Trojans want to go deep into the postseason.
The only person to be put on this list twice so far, it is certainly well-deserved considering that Blevins has had several 25-plus point performances already this season. The two-sport standout could certainly stand out alongside his brother, Alek, at SSU in the soccer realm, but his potential on the basketball floor is off the charts, as well.
The sophomore guard has consistently been a steady force in the backcourt for the Lady Indians, as her 22-point outing in a win against Northwest shows. Call will have to continue to produce in that manner if Valley wants to make a run at district tournament competition.
Hall, who blocked for an offense that obtained 302.2 yards per contest, fittingly obtained an invite to the Scout Trout All-American Game in Mobile, Ala., and played in the contest on Sunday. What may come of that is unknown, but adding that contest to a resume for college football programs to look at certainly doesn’t hurt his own cause.
Tanner Holden, Cole Lowery
After outstanding campaigns on the gridiron, Tanner Holden and Cole Lowery haven’t slowed down at all during the boys basketball campaign, as evidenced by their performances against Minford last Wednesday. The pair, as a matter of fact, scored each of Wheelersburg’s first 23 points in the opening half of action en route to leading the Pirates to a 47-35 victory over Minford. Look for the pair to continue to spearhead the Pirates into a strong tournament run.
Reach Kevin Colley at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930 OR on Twitter @KColleyPDT