PORTSMOUTH – In a release Tuesday, three Scioto Countians were honored by the Ohio High School Basketball Coaches Association (OHSBCA) for their work on and off the court during the 2018-19 basketball season. These awards were up for nomination among all coaches in the state of Ohio and Scioto County, District 14, the Southeast District, and all of Southern Ohio were greatly represented.
Wheelersburg senior Tanner Holden was named the Division III boys’ player of the year in the state of Ohio by the OHSBCA, Wheelersburg head boys’ basketball coach Steven Ater was named Division III boys’ coach of the year by the OHSBCA, and Notre Dame head girls’ basketball coach J.D. McKenzie was named Division IV girls’ coach of the year by the OHSBCA.
Holden, a signee with Wright State University in Dayton, had a stellar senior season by all measures. The senior forward averaged 27 points per game while shooting 64% from the field and 43% from behind the 3-point line, 11 rebounds per game, and two assists per game during his senior season. Holden was also named SOC II player of the year, District 14 player of the year by coaches in the district, Southeast District player of the year by the media, first team all-state in Division III, and second team all-state across all four Divisions in Ohio by USA Today.
“Receiving this award is an amazing accomplishment,” Holden said. “It’s a huge honor to get recognized by coaches state wide, it’s just a testament to all the hard work I’ve put into this sport and goes to show no matter where you’re from, especially a small place like Scioto County, if you stay focused and work hard each and every day, you’ll get recognized somewhere along the line and get what you’ve been working for. I couldn’t have done it without my family, especially my parents and sister who have supported me from the start and guided me down the right path. The time I have spent playing at Wheelersburg are some of the best times of my life, the coaches here have taught me so much about sports but more importantly life and how to be a leader. The lifelong friends I have met here and the memories I have made are special and something that I will always cherish.”
In his sixth year at Wheelersburg, Steven Ater helped lead the Pirates to a perfect 22-0 regular season, their first SOC II outright title in his six years, a 26-1 overall record, a sectional and a district title, as well as a regional final appearance.
“I’m honored and humbled to receive recognition as the state COTY for Division III, especially because it comes from your peers in the state coaches association,” Ater said. “It means that we had a special season due to the commitment and talent of our players and that we have a tremendous coaching staff that is devoted to helping our student athletes get better each day as players and young men. It was a fun year, led by our seniors who spent countless hours together over their four years, because the team had great chemistry and truly enjoyed each and every day they had together. They came into practice hungry to push each other on the court but hung out like brothers off the court, so it was just a fun group to be around. The seniors leave that legacy of “Family” behind as their lasting trait, more than even the on court contributions that they offered throughout their four years. We have a talented group of younger players that followed their lead and will be trusted to carry on that legacy in future seasons.”
As for McKenzie, he and his group of Titans finished the 2018-19 season 24-2 with a 21-1 regular season record, a single loss to Division III Waynesville who was at the time ranked the third best team in the state. Notre Dame won their second ever district title in 2019, their first coming a year ago. The Titans domination in conference play is unparalleled. Their 2019 graduating class of Titans girls’ basketball players finished their career a perfect 56-0 in SOC I play, a truly remarkable feat.
“I’ve always believed coach’s awards are a direct reflection on your players and their successes,” McKenzie said. “I’ve been blessed to be surrounded by great players that have bought into what we as coaches are selling them about hard work, attention to detail, and a team first mentality. I have also been blessed to be surrounded by a great coaching staff that shares my vision and works hard every day to make the Titans the best they can be. Lastly, I have a very supportive wife (assistant coach Crystal McKenzie) and family that understands the time sacrifices involved to build an incredible program. In the end the relationships built with these players last a lifetime and these girls will forever be part of our family.”
Holden, Ater, and McKenzie all represent what it means to be a Scioto Countian and their achievements this season are more than deserving of this great achievement.
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT