Hartley Roundup: Growing depth making difference for Hawks girls basketball team

Jarrod Ulrey
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Kami Kortokrax (right) was averaging 19.5 points through eight games for Hartley, which received key contributions from several players during a 6-2 start. “We’ve been really happy,” coach Donald Dennis said. “We’ve had balanced scoring from our bigs and our guards.”

Even with leading scorer and senior forward Kami Kortokrax sitting out because of an ankle injury, the Hartley girls basketball team had five players score between eight and 12 points and beat DeSales 54-28 on Jan. 7 in its CCL opener. 

It was an example of what the Hawks believe they’re capable of this season because of the complementary players they have on their roster. 

While Kortokrax returned Jan. 9 to score 16 in a 76-57 loss to Dublin Coffman and was averaging 19.5 points through eight games, sophomore Ella Brandewie has developed into a second consistent scoring option. 

Brandewie had 12 points against DeSales and was averaging 12 during a 6-2 start. 

In addition, senior guard Milayna Williams and junior wing player Lexi Cashwell were averaging eight points, and junior guard Bella Parker and sophomore guard Kiarra McElrath were averaging 6.5 points. 

“We’ve been really happy,” coach Donald Dennis said. “We’ve had balanced scoring from our bigs and our guards. We’ve been winning by large margins, sharing the ball and we’ve been defending. That’s what you want.  

“(Kortokrax is) our leader. She’s a senior and she’s just a really positive kid and hard worker, the kind of kid you want to lead your program. She’s there every night with consistency. We know what we’re going to get out of her and she gives it every night.” 

Brandewie, a 6-foot-2 post player who already has received major-college offers in volleyball, had 13 points against Coffman.

Hartley lost its first game 52-46 on Jan. 4 to Granville, which also figures to be one of central Ohio’s top Division II programs. 

“Definitely last year I was raw and not as confident with my game, but this year I feel like I just have more confidence and am just able to finish around the rim more,” Brandewie said. “I feel like our chemistry this year is a lot better and that helps. The relationships are a lot better. Kami obviously contributes a lot to our team and it showed (against DeSales) that we’re willing to fight. I feel like we kind of were getting a little too cocky, so losing to Granville in the end made us get back into practice motivated.” 

Cashwell is a returning starter who often guards the opponent's best offensive player. 

“We take pride in our defense, especially this year,” Cashwell said. “Everybody is helping out, getting steals and getting into the lane.” 

Braden Blanchard and Hartley were 4-2 overall and 2-0 in the CCL after beating Watterson 51-41 on Jan. 8.

Boys team starts 

to hit stride

The boys basketball team has been focused on growing through every situation it has faced this winter. 

The Hawks didn’t have junior forward Amari Gaston, who was their leading scorer last year, to begin the season and also have had senior forward/center Nico Thomas and sophomore guard Jacob Thomas miss action. 

Senior forward Will Miller scored 18 points in a 56-51 win Jan. 6 over Ready and senior guard Dejon Donnell scored 17 in a 45-43 double-overtime loss Jan. 5 to Jonathan Alder. Miller was averaging 14 points and Donnell was averaging 11.5 through six games.

“Jacob was out for five weeks and Nico was out for two weeks,” coach Randy Kortokrax said. “We’re getting guys back slowly. We got the big lead (against Ready) and they punched us in the mouth. Against Jonathan Alder, we were down six with a minute left in regulation and tied it up and sent it to overtime. (Against Dublin) Jerome (in a 60-47 loss Dec. 30), we got punched and we just laid there for two quarters. We’re trying to establish everybody playing hard when they’re on the court. Some of it was the guys (have gotten tired).” 

Hartley was 4-2 overall and 2-0 in the CCL after beating Watterson 51-41 on Jan. 8. 

Miller, who has been receiving college interest from schools such as Ohio Northern, scored in double figures in each of Hartley’s first five games. 

“Every day in practice we’re going hard,” Miller said. “Even after that Jerome loss, we got back on it and we didn’t let that stop us. Last year I was sitting around the (3-point line) more. This year I’m mixing it up on all three levels, layups, mid-range and 3s.” 

Wrestlers gearing 

up for postseason 

About a month remains before the wrestling team begins Division II sectional competition. 

After beating Hamilton Township 39-15 and Bexley 51-6 on Jan. 7, the Hawks were 8-3 in duals. Included in those matches was a 35-33 victory over Watterson on Dec. 19 in the Caledonia River Valley Duals. 

“Things have been going great for our guys,” coach Kevin Petrella said. “They come to practice ready to work and they’ve done that following protocols set out by our school and they haven’t complained a bit. Each and every one of the (wrestlers) have handled the beginning of this unique season about as maturely as possible. There’s a lot of gratitude for the opportunity to compete. I know our seniors are very appreciative. We have a pretty young team and we have some seniors that are doing an excellent job of teaching these younger kids.” 

After the Hawks' matches Jan. 7, sophomore Dylan Newsome (170 pounds) was 11-0, freshman Cooper Rathburn (113) was 11-1, senior Tony Thivener (220) was 9-2 and senior Cody Ihm (145) was 9-4. Senior Brody Halenar (182) and sophomore Griffin Halenar (195) both were 8-3 and senior Noah Houchins (126) was 5-2. 

“Dylan Newsome has looked phenomenal,” Petrella said. “You can tell that he’s put in a ton of work in the offseason. Tony Thivener is also trending up. ... The great thing about those two guys is that they do everything the right way.

“Cooper comes in with a ton of experience. (He) wrestled with our junior high the past couple of years. I’ve seen a tremendous difference in (Houchins). He’s someone that really wants to be successful and has had a tough time putting it all together. I’m seeing him finally turn a corner.” 

julrey@thisweeknews.com 

@UlreyThisWeek