Local girls basketball teams earn high seeds in tournament play

Yaneek Smith

Press Sports Editor

Winning a conference title is a tremendous accomplishment for any team, but making a deep run in the postseason is especially meaningful and noteworthy.
The tournament draw recently came out, and four area schools were seeded fifth or higher in their respective districts.
The Gibsonburg Lady Bears, who are 18-1 and 15-0 in the Sandusky Bay Conference River Division and are in the midst of one of the finest seasons in program history, are seeded first in the Division IV Bowling Green District, and are set to play (6) Holgate or (8) North Baltimore at home on Feb. 24.
Gibsonburg coach Bo Evarts, who leads the sixth-ranked team in Division IV, talked about the challenges that come with playing in the tournament where everyone has a record of 0-0.
“Our first game (could be against) Holgate, and they’ve won six games. That will be our sectional final,” he said. “If we win that, we play the winner of Lakota and Woodmore. We’ll be familiar with either of them.”
Last year, the Bears lost, 56-32, to Toledo Christian in a district semifinal, and the Eagles advanced to the state final.
Evarts talked about what his team learned from that game.
“We didn’t shoot very well against TC (in the tournament). After that game, I thought, on a good day, we could beat them. Their post player did transfer to Whitmer. I just know that we’ve had a very successful year and played Bellevue, Norwalk and Port Clinton — we won two of those games. Gibsonburg has never won a district title for girls basketball.
“We have three seniors who have worked some of the younger girls in, and we have two sophomores and a freshmen who are part of our rotation. Now we got past the point of hoping to win, and we’re getting everyone’s best. Those seniors have worked so hard to get us here.”
Woodmore, which is 12-7 in its first year in the River Division — including a 10-5 record in the league — is seeded fifth and gets a rematch with No. 2 Lakota, which is 13-5 and defeated the Wildcats in a district semifinal last season after losing to them in the regular season. This year, they’ll play in a sectional final. The teams, which are now in the same conference, split the two games this season with each winning at home by three points. The winner will likely face the Bears on Feb. 29.
Woodmore coach Kyle Clair talked about the great battles the Raiders and Wildcats have had in the last two seasons.
“We know each other pretty well, especially over the course of the last couple years. There were two close games last year in the regular season and then the district semifinal,” Clair said. “This year, we’re in the same league; we won by three (points) at our place, and they beat us by three (points) at their place. Coach (Erin) Foos does a great job with those kids. It will be another great atmosphere for a sectional championship with two teams that know each other pretty well.”
Woodmore, which had to replace a talented group of five seniors who graduated, is led by three new seniors – Cameran Quisno, Abby Sandrock and Madi Hammer. Some other key players are Kara Schneider, Kelsey Kaylor, Camille Strong and Ariana Florio.
“Cameran and Kara are the two returning starters from last year, and they’re the focal points of what we do. Offensively and defensively, they’ve stepped it up. Cameran is scoring and shooting the ball, and Kara has drawn a lot of attention. We expect a lot from those kids,” said Clair. “Abby Sandrock and Maddy Hammer are the other two seniors, and they provide stability. Maddy has kind of picked it up with her effort; she’s 5-6 or 5-7 and has at times gotten double-digits in rebounds for us. I’m proud of her efforts. Abby has realized that she’s got a great shot and has been knocking down shots. Kelsey, Camille and Ariana are sophomores for us and have stepped up.”
On the other side of the bracket is (9) Cardinal Stritch (0-12), which travels to Hamler to face Patrick Henry (13-5) in a sectional final on Feb. 24.
There are four area schools competing in Division III, all of them in the Anthony Wayne/Whitehouse District.
Oak Harbor, which is 14-3, is seeded second. The Rockets will host (6) Archbold (9-9) on Feb. 22 in a sectional semifinal with the winner taking on No. 5 Genoa (12-6) two days later.
The Comets and Rockets, which are longtime rivals, are currently fighting it out to see who wins the Northern Buckeye Conference, making a potential tournament matchup that much more emotional.
“Nothing’s guaranteed. You have to show up every night; you have to play well. Those are the biggest things,” said Genoa coach Glenn Black. “Every team in our district is tough, and we know that. We weren’t sure where we were going to end up, but anyone can beat anyone on any given night. Archbold and Oak Harbor are great teams – we are going to have our work cut out for us.
“The tournament’s a blast. Catch lightning in a bottle and anything can happen. Every game you win in the tournament is meaningful, whether it’s one, two or three games. I think if you can make a run, that’s something special. You’ve got to be really good, and you’ve got to have a little bit of luck,” Black said.
Eastwood, which is 12-8, is seeded eighth and travels to No. 7 Delta (10-8) on Feb. 22 in a sectional semifinal. The winner takes on Defiance Tinora (10-7), who the Eagles lost to earlier in the season, two days later.
No. 10 Northwood (9-5) faces the ninth seed, Evergreen (9-9), on the road on Feb. 22 with the winner traveling to Liberty Center, which is the top seed in the bracket with a 15-2 record.
Lake is the only area team competing in Div. II. The Flyers, seeded 12th in the Old Fort District with a 7-11 record, travel to Toledo to face No. 6 Central Catholic (11-6).
In Div. I, No. 17 Clay (5-13) takes on the winner of (1) Perrysburg (14-5) and (20) Southview (1-18) in a sectional final on Feb. 24. Waite, which is 2-13 and seeded 21st, faces (1) Anthony Wayne (16-2) on the road.


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