Notebook: Canal Winchester Indians girls basketball team hopes to build on strong finish

Dave Purpura
ThisWeek group
Sophomore forward Kate Ratliff averaged 10.2 points for Canal Winchester, which played its best basketball of the season in February before losing in a Division I district semifinal. The Indians finished 9-9 overall and 5-8 in the OCC-Capital.

The Canal Winchester girls basketball team enjoyed its best stretch of the season during February, winning six of eight games after a 3-4 start before falling at third-seeded Reynoldsburg 71-42 in a Division I district semifinal Feb. 23.

Seeded 27th in the tournament, the Indians won two road games — 61-52 at 17th-seeded Delaware in the first round Feb. 17 and 44-40 at 20th-seeded Teays Valley two nights later — to reach a district semifinal for the second consecutive season. They finished 9-9 overall and 5-8 in the OCC-Capital Division.

Coach Mark Chapman hoped that strong finish would catapult the team toward next season, especially considering the Indians expect to return their top three scorers in juniors Maddie Frank (forward) and Kierstyn Liming (guard) and sophomore Kate Ratliff (forward).

“When we play together and help each other get good looks, that’s when we were a tough team to beat because opponents didn’t know who to key on,” Chapman said after the win at Delaware. “When you get everyone to buy in, that’s what helps you be a successful team.”

Liming averaged 11.7 points, ahead of Ratliff (10.2) and Frank (8.7). Senior guard Ally Hawkins had a team-high 11 points at Reynoldsburg.

“We’ve really tried to limit some dribbles from our guards. That’s where we found some of our turnovers were coming from, just too much dribbling in the gaps, even though that’s what our offense calls for,” Chapman said of the team’s late-season success. “We had one girl (Ratliff) that really had varsity experience and a team that didn’t know each other very well, didn’t know their roles, and then we started to see our girls start to know and accept their roles. They (didn’t) try to do too much.”

•The Groveport Madison boys bowling team is faced with an overhaul of its roster as five of its six postseason competitors will graduate, while four of the girls team’s top six are eligible to return.

The boys team’s season ended Feb. 22 in the Division I district tournament at HP Lanes, as the Cruisers finished 12th (3,660) of 16 teams behind champion Marion Harding (4,195). The top three teams and top three individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to state.

Senior John Maynard was 10th (628) to lead the Cruisers, followed by junior Hunter Rathburn (55th, 521) and seniors John Blanton (tied for 64th, 487), Mitchell Ashburn (66th, 485), Jamell Mitchell (tied for 86th, 323) and Brandon Cordle (tied for 195th, 123).

“We’re kind of sad to see it end,” coach Christi Middendorf said. “They were amazing. They just waited too long to get started sometimes.”

Rathburn averaged a team-high 208.9 pins per game, ahead of Maynard (191.8), Blanton (173.2), Cordle (161.6) and Mitchell (158.3).

The girls team finished 28th (2,414) in a sectional Feb. 18 at HP Lanes behind champion Jonathan Alder (3,580) as 35 teams scored. The top 16 teams and top 16 individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to district.

Juniors Kaylee Boyer (100.8), Alexis Kells (94.4), Natasha Langham (103.2) and Leah Sporleder (88) are expected to return. Senior Kayla Sheets, a Rio Grande recruit, averaged 129.

“Kaylee Boyer has come a long way since her freshman year,” Middendorf said. “She’s definitely the most improved bowler we had.”

•The Canal Winchester boys basketball team won three of its final four regular-season games and maintained that momentum through the first round of the Division I district tournament, scoring 40 second-half points and making 12 of 16 shots after halftime to defeat host and 19th-seeded Lancaster 61-51 on Feb. 23.

Kevian Poindexter had 19 points, Anthony Millner scored 17 and Cortez Freeman added 12 — all in the second half — as the 23rd-seeded Indians improved to 13-8 before visiting 18th-seeded Northland in the second round Feb. 26. 

Those three combined for all but two of the Indians’ points after halftime. 

“We just weren’t ourselves in the first half. We weren’t playing with our usual pace and with the attack mindset on both ends of the floor,” coach Zach Olson said. “We got back to who we were and what we’re all about, and that’s competing every single trip down the floor for your teammates.”

The Canal Winchester-Northland winner likely will visit top-seeded Gahanna in a district semifinal March 3. That winner will face fifth-seeded Olentangy Liberty, ninth-seeded Dublin Coffman, 30th-seeded Dublin Jerome or 36th-seeded Dublin Scioto in a district final March 6 at the home of the better seed.

Groveport's Jamier Friedman puts up a shot surrounded by Westland defenders during a game earlier this season. The Cruisers lost to Marysville 53-48 on Feb. 23 in the first round of the Division I district tournament.

•Duane Davis and Abubakar Diallo each had 13 points Feb. 23 as the 33rd-seeded Groveport boys basketball team lost 53-48 at 20th-seeded Marysville in a Division I first-round game.

Groveport led 19-17 at halftime but was outscored 21-20 in a fast-paced fourth quarter to finish 6-13. Scotty Lomax added eight points for the Cruisers.

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave

CANAL WINCHESTER GIRLS BASKETBALL

Record: 9-9 overall

OCC-Capital standings: Westerville North (12-2), Delaware and Westerville South (9-5), Worthington Kilbourne (7-7), Dublin Scioto (7-6), Big Walnut (6-8), Canal Winchester (5-8), Franklin Heights (0-14)

Seniors lost: Kaylee DeShong, Ally Hawkins and Elle Howard

Key returnees: Maddie Frank, Kierstyn Liming and Kate Ratliff

Postseason: Defeated Delaware 61-52; def. Teays Valley 44-40; lost to Reynoldsburg 71-42 in Division I district semifinal

GROVEPORT MADISON BOWLING

Record: Boys — 9-6 overall; Girls — 1-9 overall

League finishes: Boys — Seventh (6-5) in COHSBC-B behind champion Gahanna (11-1), fifth (3-3) in OCC-Cardinal behind champion Hilliard Bradley (7-0); Girls — Tied for ninth (1-6) in COHSBC-B behind champion Gahanna (10-0), eighth (0-5) in OCC-Cardinal behind co-champions Bradley and Newark (6-1)

Seniors lost: Boys — Mitchell Ashburn, John Blanton, Bradley Campbell, Brandon Cordle, Jeremiah DeLong, John Maynard and Jamell Mitchell; Girls — Makayla Harold and Kayla Sheets

Key returnees: Boys — Hunter Rathburn; Girls — Kaylee Boyer, Natasha Langham, Ellisia Little and Leah Sporleder

Postseason: Boys — Eighth (3,867) at sectional behind champion Marion Harding (4,316), 12th (3,660) at district behind champion Harding (4,195); Girls — 28th (2,414) at sectional behind champion Jonathan Alder (3,580)