SCIOTO COUNTY — The third time, for both Bri Claxon and Alaina Keeney, apparently was a charm.
That’s because the Co-Players of the Year in the Southern Ohio Conference Division II and OPSWA all-Southeast District first-team selections despite differing levels reached their highest all-state status to date —and in their final attempts.
Claxon — South Webster’s all-around standout and second-leading all-time scorer — captured first-team all-Ohio honors in Division IV, while Wheelersburg’s all-around exceller Keeney claimed third-team all-Ohio accolades in Division III.
Both were seniors this past season, and both achieved their highest statewide basketball honors — per the OPSWA announcement on Monday.
The five-foot and nine-inch Claxon — a signee with NCAA Division II program Gannon University — kept climbing the all-Ohio ladder for three years, going from third team two years ago and second team last year.
Claxon, in averaging 26.3 points per game, was the unanimous Southeast District Division IV Player of the Year —and with that an automatic first-team all-Ohio selection.
The 5-10 Keeney, conversely, was a two-time all-Ohio automatic Honorable Mention maker as a sophomore and junior —but was voted to the Division III third team for 2022, as she led the undefeated for the regular season Lady Pirates at 15.6 points per.
The annual all-Ohio girls basketball teams, as this is officially the fifth 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 were announced during the week of the respective gender’s state tournament — but with the coronavirus situation hanging over Ohio high school basketball for the past two years, the OPSWA panel has elected to release the lists at later dates.
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.
Claxon could score at will at times — and averaged 26.3 points per game, as her all-state selection is her third and final.
In fact, her 44 points against Waverly — in her final Lady Jeep game — established the new South Webster single-game girls scoring record.
She averaged 25.7 points per tilt as a junior, a jump of exactly seven from her 18.7 points per bout as a sophomore.
Keeney’s two-time all-district second-team choice kept her at all-Ohio Honorable Mention, but her first-team all-district selection allowed her to leap into the state voting pool.
She made her splash with the third team, as the Lady Pirates posted a 24-1 record — losing only to Region 11 champion Union Local in the regional semifinals.
It was Wheelersburg’s first undefeated regular season in girls basketball since at least 1976 —and is believed, but not officially confirmed, for the first in school history.
Wheelersburg was also the wire-to-wire Associated Press Division III poll champion for 2022.
Keeney was joined on the Division III list by teammate Makenna Walker (5-6, jr. 13.0 ppg) and West junior Maelynn Howell (5-9, jr. 11.7), as both Howell and Walker were Honorable Mention — and are first-time all-staters.
In Division IV, Green guard Kasey Kimbler —a 5-6 senior who averaged 22.1 points per game —three-peated as Special Mention, while Notre Dame’s Annie Dettwiller was a first-time all-Ohio pick.
Dettwiller, a 6-1 junior who averaged 12.2 points per, was also Special Mention, as that duo joined fellow Special Mentions from the SOC I —senior Abby Cochenour of Eastern, senior Bella Whaley of Ironton St. Joseph and sophomore Desiree Simpson of Symmes Valley.
Kimbler, Cochenour and Whaley were all Special Mentions in 2020 and 2021 —and all were third-team all-district selections as freshmen.
There were three Scioto County Honorable Mention choices in Division IV —first-time honorees Kenzie Whitley of New Boston, Faith Maloney of South Webster and Gracie Ashley of Notre Dame.
Western was represented by two on Division IV Honorable Mention, juniors Jordyn Rittenhouse and Kenzi Ferneau, while Waverly juniors Kelli Stewart (Special Mention) and Bailey Vulgamore (Honorable Mention) repped the Lady Tigers in Division II.
The Pike County foursome was all first-time all-staters.
Oak Hill’s only all-Ohioan was 6-1 senior Special Mention Chloe Chambers, who averaged 16.3 points per game — and was an Honorable Mention moveup from a year ago.
Allison Basye of Huntington and Rylee Leonard of Eastern Brown, the Division III Southeast District Co-Players of the Year, landed first-team all-Ohio —including a repeat first-team accolade for the junior Leonard.
Tomi Hinkle of Fairland was a second-teamer in Division III, while Cara Taylor of state champion Waterford was a second-teamer in Division IV.
Rounding out the Division IV awards from the Southeast District were Waterford’s Mackenzie Suprano and Trimble’s Briana Orsborne —both on third team.
Speaking of awards, Sheridan —the Division II state runner-up —shared the top honors, with Faith Stinson as one of two players and J.D. Walters as one of three coaches.
For a complete list of the 2021-22 girls basketball all-Ohio honorees (Divisions III & IV), please see Saturday’s edition of The Portsmouth Daily Times.
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @paulboggssports © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved