Gahanna Lincoln Roundup: Girls basketball team features new look

Jarrod Ulrey
ThisWeek group
Junior Bella Ward is the top returnee for the Gahanna Lincoln girls basketball team, which lost four key players to graduation after going 20-7 and winning a Division I district title last season.

Over the past four seasons, the Gahanna Lincoln girls basketball team won two Division I district championships and was a district runner-up twice.

The foundation that group set could be especially important this winter, considering the limited amount of varsity experience returning for the Lions.

Four key players were lost to graduation, including the district’s Player of the Year in Edyn Battle and a four-year contributor in guard Morgan Darnell. Battle is playing at Miami University and Darnell is at Hartford.

In addition, junior Gabby Anderson transferred to IMG Academy after being named second-team all-OCC-Ohio Division.

The top returning player is 6-foot junior forward Bella Ward, another second-team all-league selection who should see time at guard and forward after averaging 9.5 points and 4.5 rebounds.

“We have a very young team as far as varsity experience, but I’m very proud of my team and the effort we’ve put in this season so far,” Ward said. “We come to practice each and every day with a good attitude and high intensity. The overall team morale is very high and we’re hungry to prove ourselves. 

“I’m confident in my team and our ability. We still have to work on fundamentals and our continuity, but we’re getting better every day and I’m excited to see how the season goes.”

The Lions finished 20-7 overall a year ago and went 9-1 in the OCC-Ohio to share the title with Pickerington Central. They lost 61-31 to Newark in a regional semifinal.

In addition to Ward, third-year coach Ron Bailey has a four-member senior class that will be counted on to provide leadership. 

Forward Naomi Johnson (5-10) is a Florida A&M recruit who will take on a bigger role, while Cece Carter (5-8) and Constance Scott (5-7) are returning guards.

Rounding out the class is 5-7 guard Imari Poindexter, a move-in from Virginia who has significant varsity experience.

The roster also includes juniors Juju Grubich (5-7, guard) and Keeley Wright (5-7, guard), sophomores Clarke Jackson (5-8, guard), Laila Marshall (5-7, guard) and Emily Marzetz (5-11, forward) and freshmen Kya Jordan (5-6, guard) and Aaliyah Younger (5-6, guard).

Despite its youth, Gahanna should remain a contender in the realigned OCC-Ohio, which includes the teams that finished at the bottom of the division last season in Grove City and Pickerington North and has added New Albany, Westerville Central and Westland.

Gahanna is the only team in the league that posted a winning record last winter.

“With everything they’ve been going through as far as school and things like that, I’m definitely glad to be back for another season for the girls,” Bailey said. “We’ve still got some talent. We’re really young, but I’m definitely excited about this group. They work very hard. We’re athletic. It’s going to be a very exciting season.”

Senior forward Thomas Giles is being counted on to help lead the Lions hockey team. He had 12 goals and 27 assists last season.

Hockey team excited

to take next steps

The hockey team has improved its record during each of its first three seasons under coach Kevin Schodorf.

Now the Lions are starting to get their overall program numbers moving in the right direction for more sustained success.

With 31 players out, including 10 freshmen, Gahanna will have an expanded junior varsity schedule to go along with a varsity team it hopes can compete for the CHC-Blue Division title.

The Lions finished third (5-11) in the CHC-Blue last season behind Columbus Academy (7-7-1-1) and Watterson (7-9).

“I was really hoping we’d have enough for a j.v. team,” Schodorf said. “We’re a little low with 31 total, but some guys can go back and forth. Being my fourth year, one of my goals was to bring back a j.v. team. It gets kids reps and opportunities.”

The Lions will be led by seniors Thomas Giles (forward) and Ashwin Kumar (defenseman) and juniors Nick Hoerig (defenseman) and Rohan Schmidt (forward). Giles had 12 goals and 27 assists last season, leading the CHC-Blue with 19 assists, and was honorable mention all-league.

Kumar had nine goals and nine assists, Schmidt had 17 goals and 13 assists and Hoerig added nine goals and six assists.

Senior John Warner (defenseman) and juniors Ethan Brehm (forward), Brendan Phillips (defenseman) and Hayden Waara (forward) also are key returnees.

Rounding out the senior class are Mykohl Martin (forward) and Sincere Ruffin (forward).

The other juniors are Noah Amos (forward), Bradley Geiman (defenseman), Joshua Knuckles (forward), Chase Pry (forward), Defang Ndematebem (forward), Morgan Rumpke (defenseman), Cole Tiberio (forward) and Gracie Travers (defenseman).

The sophomores are Josh Goldman (forward), Madeline Keglewitsch (forward) and Kennedi Rachal-McClain (forward).

The freshman class includes Toni Dejanov (forward), Morgan Heck (goalie), Nate Highland (forward), Bennie Hoerig (forward), Porter Kinkel (forward), Trey Martin (forward), Jack Pabst (forward), Isaac Stanley (forward), Deke Travers (goalie) and David Van Hoose (forward).

Keglewitsch attends Columbus School for Girls.

“I’m excited about our potential and there’s an experience we haven’t had before,” Schodorf said. “My seniors have played varsity a lot and the juniors know what to expect. If we play sound, positional hockey and play up to our potential, there’s no reason we couldn’t win the (CHC)-Blue Division.”

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek

GIRLS BASKETBALL

Coach: Ron Bailey, third season

Top players: Cece Carter, Juju Grubich, Clarke Jackson, Naomi Johnson, Laila Marshall, Imari Poindexter, Constance Scott and Bella Ward

Key losses: Gabby Anderson, Edyn Battle, Morgan Darnell, Kennadi Harris and Kyla Smith

Last season: 20-7 overall

2019-20 OCC-Ohio standings: Pickerington Central and Gahanna (9-1), Reynoldsburg (6-4), Lancaster (4-6), Grove City (2-8), Pickerington North (0-10)

2020 postseason: Defeated Groveport 68-34, def. Briggs 79-20, def. Hilliard Bradley 60-38, def. Dublin Coffman 52-39, lost to Newark 61-31 in Division I regional semifinal

HOCKEY

Coach: Kevin Schodorf, fourth season

Top players: Ethan Brehm, Thomas Giles, Nick Hoerig, Ashwin Kumar, Rohan Schmidt and John Warner

Key losses: Matt McElligott and Hayden Sindledecker

Last season: 11-20-1-1 overall

2019-20 CHC-Blue standings: Columbus Academy (7-7-1-1), Watterson (7-9), Gahanna (5-11), Dublin Scioto (2-14), DeSales (0-16)

*Note: The Lions are now joined in the CHC-Blue by Academy, DeSales, Olentangy, Scioto, Watterson and Worthington Kilbourne.

2020 postseason: Def. Centerville 8-4, lost to Olentangy Liberty 10-0 in second round of district tournament