Classic in the Country

Thrilling Day 1 at Classic in the Country Challenge with four games decided by 13 total points

The first day of the 2018 Classic in the Country Challenge at Hiland High School on Saturday, Jan. 13 is in the books. With game schedules needing to be reshuffled due to some teams not being able to make the trip to Berlin due to the icy roads throughout Ohio, kudos to the event organizers, school officials, players, coaches and the many volunteers for stepping up and rising to the challenge. Despite Mother Nature’s plan to put a damper on things, there was nothing but food and fun with warm hospitality and fantastic high school girls basketball action inside the Perry Reese, Jr. Community Center.

The players came ready to play. The final four games of the day were decided by a total of 13 points. Victorious teams on the day were Thornville Sheridan, Shaker Heights Laurel, Toledo Notre Dame Academy, Mason, Solon and Regis Jesuit.


Game 1

Thornville Sheridan 52

West Holmes 33

Player of the Game: Kendyl Mick of Sheridan

The Lady Knights put up a good fight, and their defense allowed them to be competitive throughout their matchup with a tough Sheridan squad. The Knights D held Sheridan to just 18 of 53 (34%) shooting from the field, but the Knights offense was held to a dismal 13 of 51 (25.5%). Sophomore Kendyl Mick paved the way for the Generals with 18 points and three blocks. West Holmes was led by Kaylor Perone with 11 points, four rebounds and two steals.


Game 2

Shaker Heights Laurel 55

Youngstown Ursuline 36

Player of the Game: Giuilana Marinozzi of Laurel

With a last-second invite to this year’s Classic in the Country, the Laurel Gators made the best of their opportunity by coming ready to play from the opening tip, outscoring Ursuline 32-13 in the first half, which led to the final point differential for the game. Giuilana Marinozzi led Laurel with 15 points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals for the Gators. Ursuline was led by Lindsay Bell with 15 points and 10 rebounds.


Game 3

Toledo Notre Dame Academy 40

Kettering Fairmont 37

Player of the Game: Jala Johnson of Toledo Notre Dame Academy

After falling behind by 16 points, Fairmont came storming back in the fourth quarter. The Firebirds found themselves within one possession to take the lead; however, the Eagles held on for the victory in a game that kicked off a string of four straight thrilling battles. Jala Johnson led Toledo Notre Dame Academy with 17 points, five rebounds and six steals. Madeline Westbeld stuffed the stat sheet for Fairmont with nine points, 12 rebounds, four assists, five blocks and two steals.


Game 4

Mason 54

Gilmour Academy 51

Player of the Game: Sammie Puisis of Mason

This game was all Mason early on before Gilmour Academy trimmed a 14-point deficit to just a single point late in the game with under a minute left. Maddie Puletti’s three-point attempt bounced off the rim for Gilmour, and Sade Tucker gave the Comets a three-point lead with under a minute to play by making two free throws. Gilmour’s final three-point fling was too long to end the comeback bid. Sammie Puisis, a Florida State recruit, led Mason with 27 points, six rebounds and six steals. Naz Hillmon, a University of Michigan signee, finished with 16 points, 12 rebounds and four steals for Gilmour Academy.


Game 5

Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame 44

Solon 47

Player of the Game: Gabby Mitchell of Solon

Solon pulled away late in the third quarter, building a 31-18 lead. However, Mount Notre Dame clawed their way back to take the lead, but the Comets proved their mettle by playing their best basketball down the stretch, getting stops on defense when they needed it. Gabby Mitchell, an Iowa recruit, led Solon down the stretch with her defense and poise. She finished with eight points, three rebounds, two assists and was a ferocious defender throughout the contest. Valencia Myers, heading to Florida State, scored 14 points and had nine rebounds for the Comets. Gabbie Marshall led Mount Notre Dame with 11 points, and Makira Cook had 12 points.


Game 6

Regis Jesuit (CO) 46

Hiland 40

Player of the Game: Francessca Belibi of Regis Jesuit

The Hiland Hawks faced a tall order when they squared off against Regis Jesuit (CO) in Day 1’s final showcase at Classic in the Country Challenge XV. Facing a team full of six-footers, the young Lady Hawks were able to hold their own with a swarming defense and had a chance to take the lead late with under a minute to play. However, the Raiders stepped up defensively, getting several key stops late. Francessca Belibi not only threw down a monster jam in warm-ups, but the 6′ 1″ center led Regis Jesuit with 11 points, 10 rebounds and two assists. Hiland was led by Kennedy Schlabach with 13 points, inducing four three-pointers, and Sara Keim finished with nine points on three triples.

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