Reynoldsburg Roundup: Girls basketball squad ready to meet expectations

Jarrod Ulrey
ThisWeek group
Reynoldsburg's Jamiona Ross drives to the basket against Pickerington Central during last season's Division I regional semifinal. The Raiders expect to reach that level again this winter thanks to a talented returning cast that has been boosted by a trio of transfers.

With four underclassmen among its top players when it won a Division I district title last winter, the Reynoldsburg girls basketball team expected to remain among the area’s best this season.

A trio of talented transfers has only heightened those expectations for 19th-year coach Jack Purtell, although the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has caused the OCC to delay the start of conference games through at least Dec. 17.

The Raiders were ranked No. 12 in the nation in the preseason by MaxPreps.com after a 19-8 season that ended with a 62-56 loss to Pickerington Central in a regional semifinal.

It marked the ninth time in 11 seasons that Reynoldsburg had reached the regional level, and the Raiders also advanced to the state tournament in 2010, 2012 and 2016.

“We were recently ranked 12th in the nation, but I bet if we would’ve had a more nationwide schedule, we would’ve gotten even higher than that,” junior Makiya Miller said. “I’ve got confidence in my team. (Our newcomers are) good. We’ve all been playing with or against each other since we were young. I feel like it’s more of a team game this year.”

The 5-foot-7 Miller, who averaged 12 points last season and was second-team all-OCC-Ohio Division and honorable mention all-district, will be one of the team’s point guards.

Also seeing time at that position will be 5-6 junior Trinity Ramos, who averaged seven points last year for Olentangy Liberty as it went 17-8.

Another returning guard is 5-11 junior Mya Perry, who averaged 14 points and was first-team all-league and honorable mention all-district.

That trio will be joined in the backcourt by Imarianah Russell, a 5-11 junior who averaged 12 points at Dublin Coffman and was the OCC-Central Player of the Year and second-team all-district as the Shamrocks finished 22-3.

Junior Jamiona Ross (5-6) and sophomore Sam Savoy (5-9) also return at guard, and 

senior Taylor Starks (5-5) and freshman Simone Holifield (5-4) are expected to see action as well.  

Starks missed last season with a knee injury.

Looking to contribute inside will be junior Alexia Mobley, 6-2 guard/forward who transferred from Whitehall, sophomore Taryn Cornett (5-10, wing player/post player) and freshman Daniya McDonald (6-1, guard/forward).

McDonald should be one of the top freshmen in the state, according to Purtell.

Mobley is a Louisville commit who averaged 9.5 points and was second-team all-league and honorable mention all-district as a freshman for Reynoldsburg before spending last season at Whitehall.

She averaged 18 points, 19.1 rebounds and three blocks and set a Whitehall record with 29 rebounds in a 54-36 victory over Licking Valley in the second round of the Division II district  tournament. For the season, she set a program record with 402 rebounds as the Rams were district runners-up.

Mobley, Ramos and Russell all moved to Reynoldsburg and are expected to be eligible the entire season, according to Purtell.

Russell grew up in Reynoldsburg before moving into the Dublin school district before high school.

“We started a freshman and three sophomores last year and a couple others wanted to move here for our academics and for our athletics,” Purtell said. “We welcome them with open arms.”

Reynoldsburg finished third (6-4) in the OCC-Ohio last season behind co-champions Pickerington Central and Gahanna (9-1), but the Raiders and Central as well as Lancaster have moved to the OCC-Buckeye, where they’ll be joined by Central Crossing, Groveport and Newark.

Newark joined Reynoldsburg, Central and Gahanna as district champions last season, with the Wildcats winning the regional before the state tournament was canceled because of the pandemic.

“They know we’ve got a good collection of student-athletes and that we’re fortunate,” Purtell said. “The only thing we try to do is get better every day. We want to do whatever we can to give us the best chance to get to the regional and then see what happens. We can’t have a bad shooting day and we’ve got to stay healthy.”

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GIRLS BASKETBALL

Coach: Jack Purtell, 19th season

Top players: Makiya Miller, Alexia Mobley, Mya Perry, Trinity Ramos, Jamiona Ross, Imarianah Russell, Sam Savoy and Taylor Starks

Key losses: Londen Coleman, Cassidy Collins, Malaysia Miller and Kyria Walker

Last season: 19-8 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 Mifflin 84-32; def. Olentangy Orange 62-40; def. Westerville North 59-39; def. Westerville South 61-57; lost to Pickerington Central 62-56 in Division I regional semifinal