COLUMBUS — The great thing is that most of these girls will be back for more.
That’s because with Monday’s official announcement of the Division III and IV all-Ohio girls basketball teams, Scioto County’s top three honorees are all underclassmen —and will return for at least more season, if not two.
Leading the way with this year’s group was Notre Dame junior guard Ava Hassel, who made second team in Division IV —and was within two spots of landing on the first-team all-state.
Third-team all-Ohio honorees were junior guard Kaylee Darnell of Wheelersburg in Division III and sophomore guard Bri Claxon of South Webster in Division IV.
Hassel and Darnell are repeat honorees to the all-Ohio unit, as Hassel moved up a spot from third team last season.
The annual all-Ohio girls basketball teams, as this is officially the third season for such, are selected by an Ohio Prep Sports Writers Association panel — with the Associated Press no longer affiliated with ANY all-district and/or all-Ohio teams.
All players which make first-team all-district automatically earn — AT LEAST — Special Mention all-Ohio, while all second-team all-district selections automatically make Honorable Mention all-state.
The all-Ohio teams are announced during the week of the respective gender’s state tournament.
Hassel and her Notre Dame Lady Titan teammates, the second-ranked squad in the final Division IV Associated Press statewide poll, were within an eyelash of punching that state semifinal ticket —having played for the first time in school history in Saturday night’s regional championship tilt.
The Lady Titans went 24-3, and won their fourth straight Southern Ohio Conference Division I title without a single solitary league loss, before winning their third district championship in a row.
The five-foot, five-inch Hassel — who averaged 11.2 points per game last season as then-teammate Katie Detwiller was the Division IV Southeast District Player of the Year and first-team honoree at 16.4 points —had to increase her scoring average for this season.
She did just that, averaging 16.3 points per game — and was the 12th-highest vote-getter for all-Ohio honors in Division IV for this year.
The top-30 point-gatherers are named all-Ohio for each division, as 10 are voted upon by the OPSWA panel to first team, 10 more to the second team and finally another 10 to the third team.
Speaking of third team, the 5-6 Darnell moved up a position from Special Mention last season, leading the 22-3 Lady Pirates to a seventh consecutive Division III sectional championship — after winning the SOC II outright again at a perfect 16-0.
Darnell eclipsed the 1,000-point plateau for her career, and averaged 15 points per game as a junior.
Claxon, the Lady Jeeps’ 5-3 point guard, could score at will at times — and averaged 18-and-a-half points per game, as the all-state selection is her first.
Northwest’s Haidyn Wamsley, a 5-10 junior, averaged a dozen points per game in earning Division III Special Mention.
There was also a foursome for Division III Honorable Mention — Wheelersburg sophomore Alaina Keeney, Northwest senior Keirah Potts, Portsmouth West senior Morgan Rigsby and Portsmouth senior Hannah Hughes.
In Division IV, Scioto County’s Special Mention picks were New Boston senior Lexus Oiler (5-9, Sr., 14.8) and Green sophomore Kasey Kimbler (5-7, So., 19.5) — as Clay senior Jaelyn Warnock, New Boston senior Sammy Oiler, Green junior Kame Sweeney and Notre Dame senior Taylor Schmidt all earned Honorable Mention.
For Schmidt, she was named to the same level last year.
Two programs which the Lady Titans toppled on their way to the regional runner-up were Peebles and Belpre, as Peebles junior Jacey Justice was a Division IV first-team selection — while Belpre senior Kyna Waderker was a third-team choice.
Justice, who averaged 26-and-a-half points per game, was the Division IV Southeast District Player of the Year — after making second-team all-Ohio as a sophomore and Special Mention as a freshman.
For Division III, Ironton senior Lexie Arden and Oak Hill senior Caitlyn Brisker both made first team — as Arden was the Southeast District’s Player of the Year in the division.
Both are three-time all-Ohio honorees, as Arden —who was injured all of last season with her second torn knee ligament —amounted Special Mention accolades as a freshman AND sophomore.
Brisker, who averaged 20 points per game as a senior, was Special Mention last winter and Honorable Mention two years back.
Camryn Pickerill of Eastern Brown was a Division III second-teamer, while Huntington sophomore Allison Basye boasted third team and averaged a Southeast District Division III-high 23 points per game.
Pickerill’s father, Kevin Pickerill, shared state Coach of the Year honors in Division III with Arcanum’s Michael Dean.
Pickerill, who was also the 2017 Division III COY, mentored the 24-2 Lady Warriors to the district championship —in which they edged Oak Hill in the final few seconds.
The Division III state Player of the Year was Bellaire senior Katrina Davis.
The top Division IV all-Ohio awards went to Toledo Christian’s Madison Royal-Davis for POY and to Cornerstone Christian’s Lisa Stopp for COY.
For a complete list of the Division III and Division IV all-Ohio honorees, please see Tuesday’s edition of The Portsmouth Daily Times.
Wheelersburg’s Kaylee Darnell (23) earned Division III third-team all-Ohio honors from the Ohio Prep Sports Writers Association.
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @BoggsSports © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved