SCIOTO COUNTY — A year ago in March, when the all-Ohio girls basketball teams were officially announced, it made for great news that most of the ladies listed from Scioto County were coming back for more.
So, one year later, and here we are.
The Division III and IV all-Ohio girls basketball teams were indeed released on Monday, and Scioto County’s top three all-Ohioans from a year ago are right back on these lengthy lists —and better yet back at higher levels.
That’s because Notre Dame senior point guard Ava Hassel and Wheelersburg shooting guard Kaylee Darnell, both now three-time all-Ohio honorees, captured first-team all-state — Darnell doing so in Division III and Hassel in Division IV.
In addition, South Webster all-around standout Bri Claxon — a third-team Division IV all-Ohioan from a year ago — climbed the ladder to the second-team squad this season.
The annual all-Ohio girls basketball teams, as this is officially the fourth 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.
Traditionally, the all-Ohio teams are announced during the week of the respective gender’s state tournament — but with the coronavirus situation hanging over Ohio high school basketball this year, the OPSWA panel elected to release the clubs later this time.
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.
For the 5-5 senior Hassel, a DePauw University signee and a three-time all-Southeast District first-teamer, she moved up from all-state second team last season — and was within two spots of landing on the first-team all-Ohio unit last year.
She shared the Southeast District Division IV Player of the Year with Peebles senior Jacey Justice, who was also a first team all-Ohioan for the second time — and fourth in total.
Hassel hit for 20.8 points per game in her senior season, leading the Lady Titans to a 20-1 regular-season mark — part of 22-2 overall.
She was also a third-team all-Ohioan as a sophomore, as the Lady Titans played in the regional semifinals and championship tilt in her sophomore and junior years.
Late in her senior season, Hassel set the new career girls scoring record at Notre Dame.
The 5-6 Darnell was also a three-time all-Southeast District first-teamer, and was third team all-Ohio as a junior — after earning Special Mention as a sophomore.
She signed 10 days ago with the University of Rio Grande, and averaged 19.8 points per game in leading the Lady Pirates to a 20-3 campaign—and their second Division III district championship and regional runner-up to Hiland in the past three years.
Claxon, the Lady Jeeps’ 5-9 point guard, could score at will at times — and averaged 25.7 points per game, as her all-state selection is her second.
In fact, her 43 points against Eastern established the new South Webster single-game girls scoring record.
There was also a Scioto County fivesome for Division III Honorable Mention — Minford senior Livi Shonkwiler, Northwest seniors Haidyn Wamsley and Valerie Copas, Portsmouth West junior Eden Cline and Wheelersburg junior Alaina Keeney.
Wamsley was a Special Mention selection a year ago, while Keeney claimed repeat Honorable Mention accolades.
In Division IV, Green guard Kasey Kimbler —a 5-7 junior who averaged 18 points per game —repeated as Special Mention.
Green senior Kame Sweeney repeated as Honorable Mention, and was joined on that unit by Notre Dame senior Claire Detwiller.
For Division III, Darnell was joined on the first team by senior Addi Dillow of Coal Grove (24 ppg) and sophomore Rylee Leonard of Eastern Brown (20.4 ppg) — the Southeast District Division III Co-Players of the Year.
Interestingly enough, Darnell pumped in 31 points against Coal Grove in the district championship game —before tossing 25 in in the regional semifinal against Eastern Brown.
Darnell’s Lady Pirate career concluded against Hiland in the regional final, as senior Zoe Miller of the state champion Lady Hawks was the Division III state Player of the Year.
Also representing the Southeast District in Division III was Huntington’s Allison Basye —who averaged 24 points per game and amassed second-team all-Ohio.
The Division III state Coach of the Year was Ourtney Bryant of Warrensville Heights.
The top Division IV all-Ohio awards went to Xenia Legacy Christian’s Emma Hess for POY and to Waterford’s Jerry Close for COY.
Waterford, which defeated South Webster and Notre Dame in the Southeast District round en route to the Region 15 championship, was also represented on the all-Ohio third team by junior Cara Taylor.
Another coach of a Southeast District team which led his charges to the state tournament, Rod Bentley of Vinton County, captured Division II state Coach of the Year.
A pair of Waverly Lady Tiger seniors — Paige Carter and Zoiee Smith —made Division II Honorable Mention.
For a complete list of the 2020-21 girls basketball all-Ohio honorees, please see Wednesday’s edition of The Portsmouth Daily Times.
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @BoggsSports © 2021 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved