Girls Basketball: Callahan sisters ready to lead Hilliard Bradley
The Hilliard Bradley girls basketball team is healthy and ready to pursue another league championship.
The Jaguars had an 11-win improvement from 2018-19 when they finished 17-7 overall last season. They also earned a share of the OCC-Cardinal Division title, tying Worthington Kilbourne at 11-3.
Bradley has moved to the OCC-Central and will see the return of senior guard and four-year starter Carly Callahan, who was averaging 11.4 points a year ago before suffering a season-ending knee injury in the fourth game.
Callahan, a 6-foot Hillsdale recruit, is one of four returning starters. One of the others is her twin sister, 5-11 senior guard Chloe Callahan, a Findlay recruit who averaged 14.0 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.2 assists last season and was named third-team all-district and league Player of the Year.
“Carly has been totally cleared since September and they both have worked so hard,” said third-year coach Steve De Dent, who was league co-Coach of the Year with Kilbourne’s Stephanie Jones. “I’ve never had two players work so hard to get ready for a season.
“They’ve grown every year, and so has their games. Chloe had a lot of pressure on her last year when Carly was injured, but she handled it like a champ. We look for them to lead us this year.”
Hilliard schools announced Nov. 19 that games and scrimmages would halt until at least Dec. 20 because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, although teams still could hold workouts in pods of 10.
Junior forward Macy Chapman (honorable mention all-league) is another returning starter after averaging 6.2 points and 4.1 rebounds, and sophomore Leigha Dennison, a 5-10 forward, also started at times.
“There aren’t too many kids who can play better defensively than Macy,” De Dent said. “She really worked to improve her offensive game as well, and I expect her to do some big things for us this year.
“Leigha is back after a strong freshman season. As the year went on, she didn’t play like a freshman anymore and she still has continued to grow.”
Senior forward Tori McClelland returns after not playing last season and will compete for time inside with junior forward Mackenzie Maynard. Sophomore Hailey Parsell also will be in the rotation at shooting guard and forward.
Junior guards Abby Harden and Megan Walker and freshman guard/forwards Makenna Sandy, Reagan Swendal and Reagan Voigt round out the roster.
“Right now I think we’re doing well getting underclassmen involved and incorporating them in team practices,” Chloe Callahan said. “We’re trying to get them involved because we’re young and they’ll be an important part of the team.”
Carly Callahan said communication will be key to the Jaguars’ success.
“(De Dent) has been stressing a lot of communication,” she said. “We’re trying to get everyone to break out of their shells and communicate with each other and trust each other when we’re playing.”
Davidson is seeking its fourth consecutive winning season after going 13-11 last winter.
“We’re just thankful every day that we’re getting everybody in there together in a big group,” 11th-year coach Joy Taylor said. “It’s been nice. We talk about it a lot and the expectation that everybody in our program has to make everybody else a priority. We have to be a little bit selfless and make good decisions when we’re not here.”
Expected to lead the returnees is 5-8 senior guard Brianna O’Connor, who averaged 9.5 points and a team-best 3.0 assists last season and was named second-team all-league and honorable mention all-district.
O’Connor will play at Tiffin University.
“I’m excited for her about that,” Taylor said. “It’s probably a good thing for her to just feel secure in that. There’s so much right now out of their control for the players.”
Also back is 5-10 senior forward Grace Royer, who averaged a team-high 5.3 rebounds and was honorable mention all-league.
Senior Ashley Barrington, a 5-9 guard/forward, should be another key contributor.
“The team is looking really good this year,” Barrington said. “We’re really trying to bond with the underclassmen and get the team to get together. … We really have to work as hard as we can. We never know when our last game is going to be this year, so we have to leave everything out there.”
Other returnees include seniors Kylie Fetty (5-4, guard) and Kira Kaufman (5-10, forward), junior Abby Emery (5-6, guard) and sophomore Kiersten Cashell (5-10, guard).
Also looking to contribute are senior Sadie Rudduck (5-8, forward), junior Emory Trout (5-11, guard) and freshman Gwen Jenkins (5-8, guard). Jenkins should see playing time at point guard, according to Taylor.
“We have a really good group of seniors,” Taylor said. “They understand what our program is all about. They really want to pass the torch to the younger kids and they work to do that. They don’t separate themselves at all. It’s been really positive. We have good upperclassmen leadership.”
The Wildcats are competing in the new-look OCC-Central with Bradley, Dublin Coffman, Olentangy Liberty, Olentangy Orange and Upper Arlington.
Davidson went 7-3 in the league a year ago to finish second behind Coffman (10-0), but the Wildcats must replace their top scorer and rebounder in junior guard Kierstyn Liming, who transferred to Canal Winchester.
Liming averaged 10.3 points and 2.9 rebounds and was named first-team all-league and honorable mention all-district after transferring from Teays Valley following her freshman year.
Panthers return lineup
loaded with experience
Darby returns a veteran group as it looks to improve on last season’s 7-16 record, and fourth-year coach Tay Tufts believes those growing pains will translate into more success.
“We hope that experience can help us over the edge,” said Tufts, whose team finished seventh (2-12) in the OCC-Cardinal. “We only had two seniors last year and mostly everyone is back. We return a lot of juniors and seniors, and they’ve been through it."
Sofie Gentile (special mention all-league), a 6-2 senior center, is one of four returning starters along with senior guard Sophie Williams and junior guards Tayen Brown (honorable mention all-league) and Bella Heaton.
Junior guard Alexis Finnegan also started some games last season.
“I expect to push the ball more this year,” Tufts said. “We slowed things down last year because a lot of the girls hadn’t played much varsity before. This year we plan to push the ball more and get out and play full-court defense. The girls like that and have done well in practice.”
The Panthers have flexibility in the post with Gentile, juniors Leslie Goff (5-7, forward), Ashley Powers (5-11, guard/forward) and Emily Thomas (5-11, forward) and sophomore center Ashley Cox (6-0).
“In the past, we’ve gone with two posts, but in the scrimmages this year we’ve gone with four guards and one post,” Tufts said. “We have four girls who started last year, but we’ll take some time to iron things out.”
Tufts said defense would be an integral part of the Panthers’ success.
“We’ve focused a lot on defense early,” Tufts said. “We wanted to get them used to getting after it on defense and picking up the full court. I think the girls like that style of basketball and are adjusting to it well.”
•Coach: Steve De Dent, third season
•Top players: Carly Callahan, Chloe Callahan, Macy Chapman and Leigha Dennison
•Key losses: Emily Marschhausen and Madi Phillis
•Last season: 17-7 overall
•2019-20 OCC-Cardinal standings: Bradley and Worthington Kilbourne (11-3), Dublin Scioto (10-4), Dublin Jerome (8-6), Delaware and Olentangy Berlin (7-7), Darby (2-12), Thomas Worthington (0-14)
•2020 postseason: Defeated Marysville 36-32; lost to Gahanna 60-38 in Division I district semifinal
•Coach: Tay Tufts, fourth season
•Top players: Tayen Brown, Sofia Gentile, Bella Heaton and Sophie Williams
•Key losses: Jenna Rasul and Briana Turner
•Last season: 7-16 overall
•2020 postseason: Lost to Watterson 54-19 in second round of Division I tournament
•Coach: Joy Taylor, 11th season
•Top players: Ashley Barrington, Brianna O’Connor and Grace Royer
•Key losses: Lydia Brooker, Kiersten Liming, Taylor Monturo, Sydney Petersen and Sally Sell
•Last season: 13-11 overall
•2019-20 OCC-Central standings: Dublin Coffman (10-0), Davidson (7-3), Marysville (6-4), Upper Arlington (5-5), Central Crossing (2-8), Westland (0-10)
•2020 postseason: Def. Logan 37-31; lost to Hartley 43-33 in second round of Division I district tournament