Classic in the Country

Day 3 contests close out a competitive 2019 Classic in the Country

Photos by James Wagler


Day three of the 2019 Classic in the Country Challenge on Monday, Jan. 21 at Hiland High School’s Perry Reese, Jr. Community Center was a continuation of the nine competitive games that took place the prior two days. Of the seven games played on Monday, six of them were extremely competitive, making it a fine finishing day for a wild wintry weekend in Berlin.

It really cannot be said enough that the CitC organizing committee really deserves a whole lot of credit for being able to rework the schedule all weekend to tackle the weather-related issues that wreaked havoc on travel for teams and game officials. It was another year of talented teams, skilled players, crazy coaches and competitive games. Now in its 16th year, this marks the very first time CitC has had to trim its slate of games back to less than 20, which is a real credit to the staff.

“While every event on the eastern side of the U.S. was shutting down and cancelling because of the weather, we had so many people pull through to make sure our event moved forward, and we pulled it off again and made for an entertaining weekend for those who were here,” OGBR co-owner and CitC co-director Teniesha Benson said. made new friends and saw old friends, and we wish everyone safe travels back to wherever you call home. Winners on day three were Loudonville, Hopewell-Loudon, New Philadelphia, Newark, Pickerington Central, Aurora and Hiland.


Game 1

Dalton Bulldogs 41

Loudonville Redbirds 46

Photo by James Wagler

Player of the Game: Celeste Ryman of Loudonville

It was a roller coaster affair in the day-three opener at CitC. The Bulldogs used a ferocious defense to force Loudonville into five quick turnovers to start the game, leading to an 8-3 lead. When Jalyssa Turner drove for two to beat the buzzer, Dalton held a 13-10 edge at the end of one. While defense picked up in the second period, Weber ignited a Redbirds comeback that saw them inch ahead 20-19 at the half. The third period belonged to Loudonville, specifically Celeste Ryman, who caught fire and poured in 14 of her game-high 18 points, lifting the Redbirds to a 40-31 lead through three quarters. The lead grew to its largest at 44-31, and it was then the Bulldogs went to a trapping half-court press that stymied the Redbirds. Led by Ellie Martinez’s eight straight points, Dalton got back to within two but could never completely close the gap. The game came down to a one-possession game late, but Dalton couldn’t connect, and Loudonville was able to hang on for a tough win. Ryman’s 18 and Nikki Weber’s 14 led Loudonville while Dalton got 12 from Emma Cannon and 10 from Martinez.


Game 2

West Holmes Knights 41

Hopewell-Loudon Chieftains 50

Photo by James Wagler

Player of the Game: Makayla Elmore of Hopewell-Loudon

While West Holmes had its hands full with agile center Makayla Elmore, who dominated for 32 minutes, it was guard Olivia Zender who stole the show early in Hopewell-Loudon’s victory. Zender canned three 3-pointers to help ignite the Chieftains to a 21-8 lead early in the second period. Katie Sprang would help the Lady Knights crawl back into contention, getting West Holmes within six, but a pair of Elmore step-back 3-pointers extended the H-L lead to 27-17 at the half. Enter guard Paige Race, who ignited a furious West Holmes comeback bid. Race hit a triple and drove the paint relentlessly to help WH crawl back to within 40-36, and her 3-pointer went in and out that would have trimmed it to one. The Chieftains then turned to Elmore to finish off the game, and did she ever. After Race trimmed the deficit to four again at 41-37, Elmore canned 5-of-6 free throws to salt the game away for the Chieftains. Elmore dominated with a 27-point, 14-board effort, adding five steals, and Zender knocked down 13 while Race came off the bench to lead West Holmes with 20 points. Sprang added 14.


Game 3

Magnificat Blue Streaks 55

New Philadelphia Quakers 62

Photo by James Wagler

Player of the Game: Julia Ress of New Philadelphia

While the records might not have signified a big struggle in game 12 of Classic in the Country XVI, a scrappy and spirited Magnificat crew that sported a losing record made for some fierce competition with one-loss New Philadelphia. Magnificat continued its trend of having one of the toughest schedules in the state, which leads to its deceiving record. New Philadelphia knew that coming in and didn’t take the Blue Streak lightly, but this one turned into a real battle before the Quakers pulled out a late 62-55 win. The two teams fought tooth and nail throughout the first half until the Quakers turned a four-point deficit into a 27-22 half-time lead on the strength of Julia Ress’ scoring outburst. Even as heavily favored, New Philadelphia picked up the pace in the second half, but the Blue Streaks latched on and wouldn’t let go, pestering the Quakers into turnovers that allowed them to hang close, but the play of Ress and Aaliyah Currence kept Magnificat at bay and allowed the Quakers to notch the W. Ress scored 23 points to lead the way while Currence added 16 and Josie Pry added 11 for the Quakers. The Blue Streak got a balanced attack, getting 10 apiece from Claire Chambers and Molly Laspisa and nine each from Cameron Jones and Mary Spear.


Game 4

Newark Wildcats 44

Wadsworth Grizzlies 28

Photo by James Wagler

Player of the Game: Katie Shumate of Newark

Newark is widely regarded as one of the state’s top teams this season, and they went out and proved it against the Grizzlies. The Wildcats systematically pulled ahead of Wadsworth on the strength of some great on-ball defense, and while it never won a quarter big, it won all four consistently by spreads of six, three, six and one. Katie Shumate has made the CitC her own personal playground the past two seasons and did so again in this game, churning out 14 point and grabbing nine rebounds while serving as a calming factor when things started to get crazy. Newark built an early 10-4 lead, and Wadsworth simply struggled to put the ball in the hole. Meanwhile, Newark took great care of the ball, coughing it up just nine times. At one point Newark built a 21-point lead in presenting some real match-up issues for Wadsworth. The Grizzlies got eight points from Maggie Long and seven points and nine rebounds from Kacie Evans. Aiding Shumate was Morgan Sharps, who scored 10 points and added five boards.


Game 5

Kettering Fairmont Firebirds 43

Pickerington Central Tigers 50

Photo by James Wagler

Player of the Game: Madison Greene of Pickerington Central

In a match-up made in heaven, Pickering Central and Fairmont went at it during game five of the Monday slate of action. It may have been a dream match-up between these two juggernauts, but the first eight minutes was straight out of a Freddy Kruger film for Fairmont. The Tigers raced out to a mind-boggling 15-1 lead and led 23-5 at the end of a first quarter, in which they could do no wrong and the Firebirds could do no right. Skye Williams ignited the big Pick Central run that ultimately was the difference-maker. That’s because Fairmont’s quartet of bigs finally found their footing and began playing the way they expected to play. Led by All-Ohioan Madeline Westbeld, Fairmont began clawing back into the game and got the deficit back to 11 at the half. Central kept threatening to pull away throughout the second half, but Fairmont continued to fight back. Eventually the Firebirds made it somewhat tight, but Central’s talented crew simply never opened the door to let them record a comeback. Mal’ya Perry led all scorers with 16; Madison Greene scored 12 points, added six boards and six assists; and Williams ended with 10 points. Westbeld scored 13 to lead Fairmont while Madison Bartley and Makira Webster each chalked up 11.


Game 6

Bellevue Redmen 52

Aurora Greenmen 56

Photo by James Wagler

Player of the Game: Shyanne Sellers of Aurora

This penultimate game of Classic in the Country XVI featured a unique chance to see if two small packages could equal two big ones. The two small packages were Bellevue’s spark plug mighty-might twins Cory and Casey Santoro while the large packages were Aurora sisters Shayla and Shyanne Sellers patrolling the paint. The high-flying Santoro sisters played an incredible game, attacking the rim with a passion, but the Sellers sisters, daughters of former OSU-great Brad Sellers, proved a tad better. The two teams fought tooth and nail throughout this tight contest, where Aurora took a 14-11 lead through one quarter and held a 28-24 lead at the intermission. Bellevue battled back to actually take a three-point lead in the third period, but Aurora responded quickly with a mini-run to seize the lead. Every time Bellevue threatened from then on, it seemed like Shyanne Sellers was there to keep them at bay. Shyanne Sellers poured in 27 points, collecting five boards, three assists and three steals along the way, while sister Shayla notched 11 points and added three blocks and two steals. Casey Santoro came up big for Bellevue with 25 points, five boards and three steals while sister Cory added 11 points and a pair of steals.


Game 7

Lincoln Gahanna Golden Lions 36

Hiland Hawks 44

Photo by James Wagler

Player of the Game: Morgan Yoder of Hiland

The final game of CitC proved to be a physical, relentless battle between two terrific teams in Gahanna Lincoln and Berlin Hiland, and those two well-coached and athletic teams did not disappoint those who hung around. Both teams simply threw their bodies all over the hardwood in an effort to emerge victorious, and that made for some entertaining basketball as the officiating crew let them have at it. Hiland got a hot start, the Lions roared back to get within four at the half and the Lady Hawks then turned on the defensive pressure in the third period to take control. Hiland didn’t give up a score in the third quarter until the 2:30 mark, and by that time Morgan Yoder had helped Hiland build a double-digit lead. After Aila Miller and Kelsey Swihart helped build the lead to 14, Gahanna Lincoln used a monster defensive effort itself to force its way back into the game as Gabby Anderson and Edyn Battle helped drive the train that cut the deficit to six, but it wasn’t enough, and the Lady Hawks won their second game of the weekend.

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