Classic in the Country

Day 2 of 2019 Classic in the Country produces a mixed bag of results

Photos by James Wagler


The second day of the 2019 Classic in the Country Challenge at Hiland High School’s Perry Reese, Jr. Community Center is a wrap. It produced a mixed bag of results for the 10 teams that participated. Fans were treated to a double-overtime contest, a game that was decided in the final two seconds after an 18-point deficit, and some great individual performances.

Kudos to Tenishia Benson, Bryce McKey and the rest of the CitC organizing committee for being able to once again rework the schedule to tackle the weather-related issues that wreaked havoc on the travel for a few participating teams.

Winners on the day were Tri-Valley, Cincinnati Mt. Notre Dame, Hamilton Heights (TN), Newark and Kettering Fairmont.


Game 1

Sycamore Aviators 43

Tri-Valley Scotties 44

Photo by James Wagler

Photo by James Wagler

Player of the Game: Kyndal Howe

Some games simply defy a description. This is one of those games, but we’ll try. In a “Twilight Zone” style game, Tri-Valley fell behind 18-0 before somehow managing to turn the game around and rally for a win that came on a Laiken Little free throw with 0.7 seconds left to play. Led by Leah Riley and Brianna Counts, Sycamore built a seemingly insurmountable lead in the first period. However, the Scotties used a 3-point barrage to get back in the game as Little hit a pair and Audrey Spiker and Lauren King each added one. Trailing by nine points at the half, Tri-Valley used its penetrating, up-tempo style to carve into the lead, abandoning the long ball and pushing it inside to All-Ohioan Kyndal Howe, who posted a 13-point, 11-rebound game. An Aliah McWhorter jumper gave Sycamore a momentary lead, but Howe tied it up. Going for the final shot, the Lady Aves coughed it up when Tri-Valley’s Janie McLoughlin stepped in to make a steal and heave a long pass down the floor to Little, who then stepped into the spotlight and delivered. Spiker added 13 points and six steals for Tri-Valley while Riley paced all scorers with 18 points.


Game 2

Cornerstone Christian Patriots 32

Mount Notre Dame Cougars 59

Photo by James Wagler

Photo by James Wagler

Player of the Game: Laila Phelia

In a game of one of the top teams in Div. I versus a top contender in Div. IV, it was all Notre Dame all day long in the 59-32 win that at one point saw the Cougars push out to a 43-13 lead before Dr. Scott Rogers emptied his bench for most of the second half. Once again led by the expertise of All-World entry Gabbie Marshall, who created another plethora of highlight-reel plays that showcased her gifts, Notre Dame took control and never relented as it did whatever it wanted to do in picking apart Cornerstone. Freshman KK Bransford was a force, scoring a game-high 14 points in just 17 minutes, while Laila Phelia racked up a double-double with 11 points and 11 boards for the Cougars. Cornerstone got eight points from Lauren Harris and seven points and seven rebounds from Madison Cloonan.


Game 3 – 2OT

Hamilton Heights Hawks (TN) 61

Lakota West Firebirds 59

Photo by James Wagler

Photo by James Wagler

Player of the Game: Kamilla Cardoso

Game 7 of Classic in the Country was just that, a true classic. Two juggernauts from two states duked it out as they went into double-overtime to determine a winner. Eventually Hamilton Heights pulled out a well-deserved 61-59 win. After dropping their initial foray in CitC hoops, Hamilton Heights wanted desperately not to go home collared with two losses. However, the Firebirds are the most successful team in CitC history and weren’t about to let down Ohio. However, in the second OT, Trinity Brady drove to put HH up by one at 60-59. After a stop, Tineya Hylton split two free throws. Up two, the Lady Hawks got a steal but turned it over with 4.3 seconds to play. Dominique Camp, who sent the game into overtime with a buzzer-beating drive, tried her luck again, but this one caromed off the rim and glass, and the Lady Hawks left Ohio with a split.


Game 4

Mason Comets 39

Newark Wildcats 52

Photo by James Wagler

Photo by James Wagler

Player of the Game: Katie Shumate

Mason might describe the way the Comets played in this one as they shot the rock at a tepid 24 percent and laid brick after brick. Meanwhile Newark was passing the rock around as four players reached double figures for the winners. Leading the way was Emma Shumate with 13 while Katie Shumate and Morgan Sharps each scored 12 and Gabby Stare tacked on 11. Sammy Puisis poured in a game-high 17 for Mason, but it was far too little for the Comets. Newark quickly built a 14-2 lead and never really allowed Mason to creep back into the game. A 20-12 first-quarter advantage turned into a 32-17 half-time lead. While the teams played evenly in the second half, Mason couldn’t ever trim the deficit to single digits as the Wildcats used their length at the guard spot to harass the Comets and disrupt their offensive flow. The Wildcats secured a huge regular-season win over a top-ranked team.

Game 5

Loudonville Redbirds 37

Kettering Fairmont Firebirds 69

Photo by James Wagler

Photo by James Wagler

Player of the Game: Mali Morgan-Elliott

Give this to Loudonville head coach Tyler Bates: He will take on anyone to get better. That included tackling Div. I powerhouse Kettering Fairmont in the nightcap of Day 2, where the Firebirds did not cut the Redbirds any slack for filling in at the last moment of the weather-ravaged CitC. Fairmont got off to a huge start in this one and rolled, using its superior height advantage to produce all kinds of points and to completely dominate the glass at a 50-32 clip. Mali Morgan-Elliott got the Firebirds started, and Madeline Westbeld began heating up as the game went along. Fairmont took a 40-11 advantage into the locker room, and head coach Jeremey Finn did plenty of substituting throughout the second half. Held scoreless throughout the entire first half until her buzzer-beating 3-pointer, Celeste Ryman came to life in the second half to rack up 14 points for the Redbirds while teammate Emily Seboe uncorked three 3-pointers as part of her 11 points. Fairmont was paced by Morgan-Elliott, who drilled 21 points, while Westbeld added 14 points to go with her 12 rebounds. Madison Bartley added 17 points and nine rebounds to complete a trio of dominant paint performances, and Kierra Thornton put together an impressive eight points, four rebounds, six assists and four steals.

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