Classic in the Country releases All-Classic honorees plus a lot more

Solon superstar Dee Bekeljia

Super players making super plays, that is what many people who visit the Classic in the Country Challenge high school girls basketball sensation want to see.

They got their wish January 14-16, where talent was on display at every turn, including some from out-of-state, with St. Rose (Belmar, NJ) and Homestead (Ft. Wayne, IN) joining in with some of Ohio’s best and brightest talent and teams.

Following is a the All-Classic team, plus the weekend’s most memorable individual game performances and one particularly impressive and meaningful play that went for the Play of the Weekend.




McLaughlin was the premier player at this year’s CitC. Her floor presence and ability to handle the rock and shoot it were second to none. The Florida-bound senior was the queen among queens at this year’s Classic.

52 points

9 rebounds

8 assists

5 three-pointers



Hale caught a lot of college scout’s eyes with two great performances, and made a buzzer-beater to send a game to OT against Wadsworth, a game they eventually won. Hale was poised and smooth all weekend long.

43 points

6 rebounds

7 assists

8-of-10 FT



If there is a poster child for the talent at CitC, Bekeljia is it. She poured in 23 points – in the first half in a win versus Lakota West – and proved again why she is one of Ohio’s best as Solon became the only team to win both of their contests at this year’s CitC.

45 points

21 rebounds

8 assists

4 three-pointers

4 steals



Puisis was everything advertised. A smooth-shooting hustler who can bang it inside or connect from downtown, she ignited an unbelievable Comets comeback, rallying her team from 17 points down to nip Gilmour Academy in OT. The super-soph played great in both of her team’s games.

42 points

15 rebounds

4 assists

4 three-pointers



Banks might not be the flashiest kid on the floor, but heart counts for a lot, and although the Grizzlies dropped both of their games to state powers Glen Este and Mt. Notre Dame, it wasn’t for lack of effort on the junior forward’s part.

43 points

8 rebounds

6 three-pointers

16-of-19 FTs



The super-smooth southpaw impressed in both of Hiland’s games. Her consistency has been a thing to marvel, and her ability to fire daggers from deep combined with her opportunistic drives to the bucket make her a dual threat, and she rebounds far better than her size might indicate.

38 points

14 rebounds

14-of-16 FTs



Big, strong and a quite capable passer from the post, Hillmon had a pair of great efforts against two of Ohio’s top teams. Hillmon creates such a huge match-up problem for teams, and she also controls the paint so well, deterring would-be drivers from approaching the rim.

26 points

25 rebounds

7 assists

3 blocked shots





We do love a player willing to dish out dimes, and Porter was an assist machine as her team destroyed Orrville. Somehow the fleet-footed point guard found time to score 11 points while doling out a dozen assists, just one off of the CitC record. Tack on four rebounds, a steal and a three and you’ve got a game worth writing home about.

11 points

12 assists

4 rebounds



McMillen put the Lady Hawks on her broad shoulders and carried them to a victory in the nightcap of day one. Strong, gutsy and a deadly shooter, the word relentless comes to mind with this junior. Her game saw her make crucial plays at just about every stop, including in OT where she sealed the win at the free throw line.

26 points

8 rebounds

3 steals

11-of-12 FTs



Myers is just a beast, but to put up a 15-point, 18-rebound effort against a team like Huber Heights Wayne is remarkable. Myers seemed to haul down every key rebound, and make every opportunistic play at the right time in helping the Comets take down Wayne in one of the weekend’s better games.

15 points

18 rebounds

3 blocked shots



Talk about filling up a stat line, Huston crunched numbers like an accountant in April and looked awesome doing it. With a number of Big10 schools hoping to have her services in two years, the junior wowed everyone in keeping the Raiders in their game with Reynoldsburg.

13 points

15 rebounds

3 blocked shots

5 steals



Horston might be the smoothest, brightest and most gifted talent at the CitC, and she is only scratching the surface. The sophomore is long and athletic, can frustrate opponents into practically giving her the ball and is lethal on both ends of the floor. Hiland coach Dave Schlabach said, “She can write her own ticket to wherever she wants to go to school.”

14 points

8 rebounds

5 assists

5 steals





Shai McGruder – Huber Heights Wayne

Everyone who watches NBA basketball will remember LeBron James’ block in game seven of the NBA finals that allowed the Cleveland Cavaliers to defeat Golden State. While McGruder’s play won’t live in infamy like that one, it was eerily similar, and it also allowed her team to earn a win over one of Indiana’s best teams.

With the score tied and precious seconds remaining, Homestead raced down the floor for what looked like a sure-fire game-winner as all-world point guard Karissa McLaughlin dumped a pass to the block to Haley Swing. Swing grabbed the pass and went up for the shot, but McGruder, who traversed the entire length of the floor and never stopped giving an A-plus effort, soared through the air and smashed the shot into the wall, forcing overtime. Once there, Huber Heights made the most of its second chance, and it was fitting that McGruder drove home the free throws that put the nail in the coffin.

While rumors that she knocked several banners down and put a monster dent in the wall with the block may have been a bit of an exaggeration, her hustle and desire, and the ferocity of the block, brought the weekend’s biggest ovation from the crowd.

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