Being ranked among the top of the heap is always a special accomplishment to behold.
However, when a pair of teams do what the Minford Falcons’ and Notre Dame Titans’ girls basketball programs have done all season long, the top billing is well deserved.
And on Monday evening, the pair of units got exactly what they bargained for as Minford and Notre Dame finished their respective campaigns inside the top-10 of their respective AP Polls to end the final 2017-18 girls basketball polls of the year.
Notre Dame (22-0, No. 3 in Division III AP Poll)
The Lady Titans, who capped off a thrilling season by obliterating Belpre, 81-40, in its final regular season affair, held serve at the No. 3 position after being ranked at that spot last week. Katie Dettwiller finished the regular season leading the unit in points (15.7), rebounds (10), and blocks per game (five) in addition to field goal percentage (77 percent) while Lexi Smith — who scored a team-high 22 points against Belpre to end the regular season — added 13.9 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 1.9 steals per affair on 53 percent shooting for the entire campaign to date.
Ava Hassel (10.2 points, four assists, 3.3 steals, and 2.5 rebounds per game), Taylor Schmidt (8.9 points, 3.7 steals, 2.6 assists and 2.6 rebounds per game), and Molly Hoover (5.6 assists, three steals per bout) headline a strong trio of guards, while Ali Smith (4.4 points, 2.77-to-1 assist to turnover ratio) and Clara Hash (3.8 points, 2.9 rebounds) added strong support off of the bench for Notre Dame.
The Lady Titans will be in action on Thursday evening when Notre Dame takes on Valley.
Minford (20-1, No. 10 in Division IV AP Poll)
Even though the Lady Falcons fell by a scant 62-60 margin to the Division IV AP No. 1-ranked Waterford Wildcats’ girls basketball program, fellow sportswriters, knowing that Minford lost to one of the Southeast District’s very best, dropped the Lady Falcons just one position in the poll.
Minford was led in that contest by Erin Daniels, who scored 27 points to eclipse the all-time scoring record set by Steve Yeagle at the school. Daniels now has 1,521 points for her career. Ashley Blankenship’s low-post play (12 points), and the all-around play of Caitlyn Puckett, along with Mackenzie Watters and Maddie Slusher, were among the big contributions during the affair. Three-point standout Marissa Risner, along with do-it-all guards Zoe Doll and Livi Shonkwiler, have also contributed heavily to the unit in 2017-18.
On the other side of the coin, Oak Hill fell to No. 8 in the Division III AP Poll after falling to Wheelersburg, 50-28, earlier in the week. The Oaks recovered by defeating South Webster by a 47-29 margin to maintain a top-10 overall ranking.
BB Tourney Brackets released
With the 2017-18 regular season campaign coming to a close, the fate of all 12 Scioto County units firmly rested in the hands of the district tournament draws. Several schools came out in a strong position in those very draws, which were released to the general public on Sunday afternoon.
Division III, Athens I and II District Brackets
In the Athens I District Tournament bracket, several intriguing matchups could very well be in play as No. 2-seeded Wheelersburg and No. 3-seeded Portsmouth could possibly meet at the Convocation Center in the Division III District Semifinals.
For now, however, Wheelersburg — who obtained a bye to the Division III Sectional Finals — will play the winner of either No. 7-seeded Minford or No. 10-seeded Ironton, with a ‘Burg-Minford contest also serving high on the intrigue list. With a victory in its Division III Sectional Semifinal at 8 p.m. on Feb. 19 at Jackson High School, the Falcons could face the No. 2-seeded Pirates on Friday, Feb. 23 at 8 p.m. at the same site. Portsmouth, who will play No. 14 Chillicothe Huntington in a sectional semifinal that will be held at 6:15 p.m. on Wednesday evening at Waverly, will advance to a sectional final date with either No. 6-seeded Lynchburg-Clay or No. 11-seeded Adena on Saturday, Feb. 24 at 8:30 p.m.
On the top half of the bracket, No. 9-seeded West will look to continue to make strides when the Senators face North Adams on Monday, Feb. 19 at 6:15 p.m. The winner of that game will get to face No. 1-seeded Piketon on Friday, Feb. 23 at 6 p.m. No. 12 Northwest and No. 13 Valley, who are on the opposite side of the bracket in the Athens II realm, can play each other for a Convo berth on Saturday, Feb. 24 at 6 p.m. in Waverly assuming that the pair defeat No. 5-seeded Paint Valley and No. 4-seeded Sardinia Eastern, respectively, on Tuesday, Feb. 20 at 6:15 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Division IV, Athens I and II District Brackets
In Division IV, a litany of Scioto County units were placed in the Athens I District Bracket, with No. 3 New Boston obtaining the highest seeding of the bunch. Adam Cox’s boys, who have had a resounding year, could face off against No. 11-seeded Clay for said berth on Wednesday, Feb. 28 at Northwest High School at 8 p.m. if the Panthers can defeat Leesburg Fairfield the week prior in a Division IV Sectional Semifinal on Wednesday, Feb. 21 at the same site and time.
South Webster, who is a No. 7 seed in the Division IV realm, could also make yet another Convo trip and possibly face the Tigers or the Panthers there if the Jeeps get past Federal Hocking and Racine Southern on Feb. 21 and Feb. 28 at Meigs High School. Those contests begin at 6:15 each. No. 9 seeded Notre Dame rounds out the Athens I District and will play No. 8-seeded Manchester on Tuesday, Feb. 20 at 7 p.m. at Northwest. A win has the Titans set up to play No. 1-seeded Coal Grove on Tuesday, Feb. 27 at 6:15 p.m. for a Convo spot at the same place.
In the Athens II District Bracket, No. 5-seeded Green can obtain a Convocation berth if the Bobcats can avenge a December loss to Ironton St. Joseph at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 27 at Northwest. No. 10 East rounds out the Scioto County units with its Division IV Sectional Semifinal contest against No. 7 Mowrystown Whiteoak on Wednesday, Feb. 21 at 6:15 p.m. at Northwest. A win there would allow the Tartans to face No. 2 Peebles on Wednesday, Feb. 28 at the same time and location.