Hartley Roundup: Girls basketball team aiming for lofty goals

Jarrod Ulrey
ThisWeek group
Senior forward Kami Kortokrax (center) returns to help lead Hartley. An Ohio State recruit in softball,  Kortokrax averaged 17 points and eight rebounds last season and was second-team all-district.

Senior Milayna Williams isn’t taking lightly all the precautions she and her teammates on the Hartley girls basketball team believe are needed to ensure that they complete their season amid the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

The Hawks, she believes, have too much to play for to not be serious.

“This season is very different for everyone,” Williams said. “A pandemic is something that we’ve never lived or played through before. The team and myself make sure to hold each other accountable in doing what’s necessary to make sure we have a season and to not put ourselves or our teammates in jeopardy. 

“I’m so excited for this season with the girls. This year, all of our starters are returning and we’re all extremely motivated to be the champions of the CCL and state bound in Division II.”

Hartley has been in Division I the past three seasons, finishing 15-8 and reaching a district semifinal last winter. This year, however, the Hawks have dropped back to Division II, where they won a district championship in 2017.

Williams, a 5-foot-7 guard who has committed to Muskingum and averaged six points last season, is part of a group of experienced returnees.

The other seniors are Kami Kortokrax (5-8, forward) and Shania Davis (5-7, guard).

Kortokrax, an Ohio State recruit in softball, averaged 17 points and eight rebounds and was second-team all-district last season.

Junior Bella Parker (5-6) is at point guard, with junior Lexi Cashwell (5-9) a returning starter on the wing.

Also contributing last season were a pair of sophomores, 6-2 post player Ella Brandewie and 5-6 guard Kiarra McElrath.

Sophomore Morgan Donnelly, a 5-8 guard, should see regular minutes as well.

The only key loss to graduation was Sa’Haia Clark-Lee, who averaged eight points.

“We’ve got (almost) everybody back,” sixth-year coach Donald Dennis said. “They’re an experienced group. We’re going to try to play a little faster. We’ve got a lot of guard play and our guards are fairly interchangeable. 

“They know each other now and we’re going to try to play a little more up-tempo. We’ll be led by our seniors, but we’ve got Lexi and Bella who are experienced players as well, so we’re looking forward to that.”

Hartley went 4-2 to finish second behind Watterson (6-0) in the CCL last season but had won the title the two previous seasons.

The Eagles again figure to provide stiff competition with the return of seniors Danielle Grim, an LIU-Brooklyn recruit, and Kilyn McGuff, who was first-team all-district as Watterson was a district runner-up.

“(Watterson will) be solid,” Dennis said. “I think we’ll always be competitive and coaches in the CCL know each other pretty well. We’re back down to Division II this year, so we’re really excited about that. I feel like we’re going to be competitive in Division II.”

CCL contests are suspended through Dec. 18 because of the pandemic.

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek

GIRLS BASKETBALL

Coach: Donald Dennis, sixth season

Top players: Ella Brandewie, Lexi Cashwell, Shania DavMorgan Donnelly, Kami Kortokrax, Kiarra McElrath, Bella Parker and Milayna Williams

Key loss: Sa’Haia Clark-Lee

Last season: 15-8 overall

2019-20 CCL standings: Watterson (6-0), Hartley (4-2), DeSales (2-4), Ready (0-6)

2020 postseason: Defeated Hilliard Davidson 43-33; lost to Westerville South 46-40 in Division I district semifinal