OhioSportsTicket.com’s Golden Ticket Awards are presented by Hummel Group Insurance & Wealth Management
Following each sports season, OhioSportsTicket.com enjoys rewarding the hard work of our local Holmes County area athletes and doling out the Golden Ticket Awards. This winter, like every season around this area, was epic and had its special moments. There were many great efforts by teams and individuals, so without further ado, these are your 2018 Winter Golden Ticket Awards.
Male Athlete of the Winter: Cael Woods, West Holmes wrestling
If not for an unlucky draw at state, Cael Woods could have easily have been featured center stage in the finals of the Div. II state wrestling meet in Columbus. Instead, he had to settle in for a third-place finish that marked the second straight season he has earned All-Ohio honors. If you made a checklist of things you would want a wrestler to be, Woods would check every single one of the boxes. He is super quick. He totally understands the art of wrestling. He is a mastermind at working an opponent’s weakness. He is strong, tenacious and knows he is great without taking that greatness for granted. And after his sophomore year, he is only going to get better, which is bad news for the competition.
Female Athlete of the Winter: Kennedy Schlabach, Hiland basketball
Kennedy Schlabach wasn’t very big in physical stature, but the Hiland senior made up for it with grit, a work ethic that was second to none and a shot that could serve as a demo tape for coaches teaching their youngsters proper technique. Deadly at the free throw line and a threat to drill a trey at the drop of a hat from deep downtown, Schlabach proved that players don’t have to be huge to play the game well. Few would ever outwork her, and in the end she earned First Team All-Ohio honors this past winter. She went above the 1,000-career-point mark and left Hiland as its all-time leading free throw shooter in percentage, boys or girls.
Team of the Winter: Hiland Hawks boys basketball
Not many people saw Mark Schlabach’s crew as one to beat this year. Talk of the town was a team that might finish a little over .500. The Hawks never listened to that talk. Instead, they chose to listen to their head coach and his staff and bought into a style of play that focused on half-court team defense. It is rare for a team to invest itself like the Hawks did on the defensive end, but the final result was an astronomical success. In regional play the Hawks held both of their opponents to a total of 13 second-half points. A rugged district tournament, Hiland’s defense came up huge down the stretch as the Hawks slipped past Malvern and River. Their effort made them extremely fun to watch as anyone who enjoys basketball can appreciate that kind of effort to a part of the game that isn’t all that much fun to do.
Coach of the Winter: Scott Vaughn, West Holmes wrestling
Yes, Scott Bodiker has won a ton of games year in and year out during his illustrious career. But this season’s 11-4-4 effort was something noteworthy because of how Hiland got there. Having lost 15 seniors from the previous year, the Hawks returned just one starter. In addition the team started the year off horribly at 1-2-1. After that the new-look Hawks seemed to settle in. Its defense proved to be very difficult to score on, and Hiland turned in another great season. This may have been one of Bodiker’s best coaching seasons in a career of many of them.
Female Game Changer Award: Morgan McMillen, Hiland basketball
Even in missing more than half the season, it didn’t take long for McMillen’s presence to make a huge impact upon her return. McMillen’s inside-outside game transformed the Lady Hawks and helped stabilize a youthful team that often played four freshmen at a time. More importantly McMillen allowed Kennedy Schlabach to play her game, which was spotting up for triples and penetrating to the hole. McMillen’s rare breed of tenacity, athleticism and skills made her one extremely tough player to guard.
Male Game Changer Award: Ethan Roden, Garaway basketball
Big and strong, when Ethan Roden got rolling, he was a load to handle. The thing about Roden is that game in and game out he was playing against a center that was usually several inches taller than he was. That never stopped Roden from doing his thing. He used great footwork, a very natural and easy shooting touch around the bucket, and a fierce competitive nature to help him grab boards like every one belonged to him. Twice this season he snared 24 rebounds in a game. Every trip down the floor Roden had to be accounted for because his ability to score in the paint was a dagger to many opponents.
Female Lifetime Achievement Award: Haley Shutt, Garaway basketball
Haley Shutt was one of those kids that any coach would love to have. She worked at her game, and she could do a lot of different things really well. A four-year letter winner, Shutt ended her career just a few points shy of becoming a 1,000-point-career scorer. Her knack for getting to the free throw line made her a major threat on offense, and her ability to defend and dole out assists helped her fashion a career that just about any kid would love to have.
Male Lifetime Achievement Award: Thane Kaufman, West Holmes wrestling
Three times Thane Kaufman found his way to the state wrestling tournament. Not only that, but when the season was over, Kaufman found himself atop the Knights’ all-time wins list, topping Colt Sponsellor, who was just a three-time state champion. Kaufman’s quiet demeanor hid the intense competitor that he was, yet off the floor he was genuine and easy-going. It could be a long time before any Knights wrestler knocks him off the top perch in wins, although Cale Woods could have something to say about that.
Male Hustle Award: Andy Miller, Hiland basketball
Andy Miller well may have redefined how coaches should select All-Ohioans this season. Miller wasn’t the Hawks’ big-time scoring threat. However, he was by far the most important cog in a Hiland defense that was the biggest reason the Hawks found their way to the Div. IV state tournament in Columbus. Miller’s never-ending on-ball pressure was mesmerizing to watch and devastating to guards who continually found his harassment more than mind-boggling. It is rare to see a kid’s defense have such a game-changing impact.
Female Hustle Award: Maddie Woods, West Holmes basketball
Maddie Woods is simply relentless on defense. While the offense will probably develop for the sophomore Lady Knights’ guard, the defense is already tremendous. Throughout the course of this past season, Woods was sensational in defending opposing guards. She was not afraid to get up on someone and force their hand, knowing her athleticism and speed could help her recover.
Female Unheralded Award: Kaylor Perone, West Holmes basketball
Exactly how important Perone was on a very young Lady Knights team could be determined when she wasn’t on the floor. Many times she would be the one source of scoring for a team that didn’t score a lot. Over her career Perone has played behind some incredibly gifted talent. She has bided her time to become the go-to player, and she definitely became that player about midway through this past season. Yet she fashioned a solid season without a lot of glitz and pizzazz.
Male Unheralded Award: Scott Troyer, Hiland basketball
It might be hard to be unheralded when you lead a team in scoring, but Scott Troyer went about his business in such a manner this year that he kind of flew under the radar. Yes, he did score 37 points in a game against Garaway, including Hiland’s first 19 points of the game, but for the most part he simply took care of business and helped his team win. Whether it was handling the ball, facing opponents’ top defenders, finding the open man for a wide-open look, slashing to the hole, stopping on a dime, firing a three-ball or creating space to get off a pull-up jumper, Troyer did it all with little fanfare.
Male In Your Face Award: Chase Wells, West Holmes basketball
Unless you’ve ever had someone like Chase Wells guard you, it is hard to realize the kind of constant pressure his electric quickness can create. Defensively his quick hands and feet led to all kinds of steals, and on offense his cross-over dribble and lightning-quick first step made every team wary of his ability to get into the paint.
Female In Your Face Award: Sydney Mullet, Garaway basketball
A four-year starter and 1,000-point scorer for the Lady P’s, Sydney Mullet will go down as one of the all-time greats in a great program. While she could score and assist, perhaps her most defining attribute was her ability to defend on ball. Mullet was listed at 5 feet, 2 inches, maybe on her tip-toes, but despite her size, her quickness and expert timing allowed her to pick dribblers clean. They would be left holding air as Mullet sped down the floor for another lay-in.
Youth Impact Award: Zoe Miller, Hiland basketball
Zoe Miller’s age makes her a freshman, but she is built like a senior and understands the game like a player well beyond her years. Miller proved to be a handful all season long as she stepped into a key role and never relinquished it for Dave Schlabach’s team. Miller was so tough to stop once she got the ball on the low post, but she also could take bigger defenders outside with her jumper, reminding many of Hiland great Erin Hostetler, who was nearly impossible for teams to stop. Miller’s effort and game should make her a four-year star for the Lady Hawks, and she will get plenty of help from a stable of gifted freshman who made quite an impact for Hiland this year.
Play of the Winter Part I: Chance Wells delivers late deep three for the win
After trailing the entire game from start to 16 seconds left, the West Holmes boys basketball team clung to hope as it rallied against Ashland late in the year. Trailing 40-38 with time winding down, Chance Wells delivered an arrow to the heart of the Arrows, driving home a ridiculously long 3-pointer to put the Knights up one. It wasn’t until a moment later on a great defensive stand that the Knights were able to celebrate, but the Wells shot was awe-inspiring.
Play of the Winter Part II: Trevor Donaldson from downtown
OK, let’s be frank here. Donaldson’s most memorable play might have been when he snapped some kids’ ankles in the Pirates’ win over the Aviators of Alliance, but no shot he hit this past season was more critical nor heart-pounding than the 3-pointer he drained against Hiland in round one of this awesome rivalry. With his team trailing by three with eight seconds to play, Donaldson took a sideline in-bounds pass, dribbled to the top of the key, and hoisted an off-balance triple that found the bottom of the net to force OT. The Pirates took control from there and won by three in a wild night on The Hill.
Game of the Winter: Hiland vs Africentric – Div. III Girls Regional title game
This was one of those games for the ages. Ask anyone in the know, and they will tell you that this game deserved to be showcased in the finals at Value City arena in Columbus. Yet, here were two of the state’s most successful programs duking it out for the right to just get to Columbus. Hiland fell behind by seven and came back to lead by six with 90 seconds to go, only to watch the Nubians storm back in the closing seconds. Hiland had a shot to win it in regulation, but Kennedy Schlabach’s driving runner missed the mark. Africentric would go on to win it on a free throw with 1.6 seconds left. It was not a game anyone from Hiland will want to relive over and over, but for true fans it was a sensational contest.
In case you missed it, you can listen to the 2018 Golden Ticket Awards podcast here.