Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
After an exciting season, we’re putting the final touches on our fall sports coverage and, like the weather, transitioning to winter.
With the start of high school basketball season less than 24 hours away — we can’t believe it either — here’s a list of 10 girls players in our coverage area, and in no particular order, to keep an eye on this coming season.
Allison Basye, Huntington
By all accounts, Basye is considered one of the best young talents in Southeastern Ohio. The sophomore will be coming off a freshman year where she averaged 17 points and 10.2 rebounds per game, leading the Huntsmen to a mark of 17-7. She’s gaining interest from several Division I schools with offers from Providence, Northern Kentucky, Detroit Mercy, etc.
Kaylee Darnell, Wheelersburg
When Darnell sees a lane to the basket, she’s like a bull in a china shop. The junior has great instincts and runs the floor as well as anyone else. She was a special mention All-Ohio selection last year while leading the Pirates to a 23-5 mark and a regional final run. She averaged 16.5 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.6 steals and 2.5 assists per game last season. She’s fun to watch.
Emily Coleman, Unioto
If there was ever a player you love to have on your team but hate to play against, it’s Coleman. The Shermans’ fiery point guard plays with emotion, tenacity and toughness while frustrating opposing ball-handlers with her in-your-face style of defense. As a junior last season, Coleman posted per game averages of 10.8 points, 3.1 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 2.7 steals per game.
Zoiee Smith, Waverly
Smith is the engine that keeps Waverly running, and has been for quite some time. The Tigers rely on their junior point guard to do many things, including distributing the basketball, commanding the offense and putting the ball in the bucket. Her quickness on defense allows her to disrupt passing lanes while she’s one of the area’s best offensive players in transition.
Livi Shonkwiler, Minford
Shonkwiler’s size doesn’t stand out on paper but once she gets on a roll, that quickly goes out the window. Last year, Shonkwiler depended on Minford’s size, as a whole, to create scoring opportunities. But if she can be consistent this season while creating her own looks at the basket, she has the ability to lead the Falcons in scoring and single-handedly take over games.
Marcy Dudgeon, Westfall
After leading the Mustangs in scoring last season with 12.8 points per game, alongside 7.1 rebounds, Dudgeon will lead her teammates into battle this season … a group that may just be getting overlooked. She’s versatile enough to play any position and, with a new head coach in Zane Miller, she may be asked to do so. Either way, she’ll play a huge role in WF’s game plans.
Ava Hassel, Notre Dame
Hassel was a third-team All-Ohioan last season after helping her Titans win an SOC I title and a second straight district championship. The talented point guard spent her sophomore year averaging 11.2 points, 2.9 assists, and 2.4 steals per game while Notre Dame went 24-2. She’ll be asked to shoulder more of the scoring load this winter, which has never been a problem.
Caitlyn Brisker, Oak Hill
There are some players who just habitually piece together big nights in a quiet manner. Brisker fits that description. She led the Oaks in scoring last season while scoring her 1,000th career points and earning special mention All-Ohio honors. This year, with Oak Hill coming off an 18-7 mark, Brisker will again take center stage in an offense that can be dangerous if its hitting.
Kasey Kimbler, Green
In a Saturday morning game last season, Kimbler broke the school’s single-season 3-point record with 11 triples. If that’s how locked in she is on Saturday, you can imagine how good she is on game nights during the week. The sharp-shooter will only continue to develop as a pure shooter, helping the Bobcats turn the corner as a program. Keep your eye on her from deep.
Shaylee McDonald, Miami Trace
After earning special mention All-Ohio and first-team all-district honors last season, McDonald returns in one last season where she’ll feast on opposing defenses. She was the FAC’s Player of the Year last winter and averaged just over 19 points per game. The four-year starter enters her senior year needing less than 100 points to reach 1,000 in her career.