Girls basketball: The tournament trail begins

By MICHAEL BURWELL
Staff writer
Tonight the journey to Columbus and Ohio State’s Value City Arena begins for area high school girls basketball teams as the first round of the Ohio High School Athletic Association girls basketball tournament gets underway.
While there will be some tremendous matchups in Saturday’s sectional finals and the district and regional tournaments down the road, we’re taking it one game at a time, which is what just about every area coach would say is their approach is at this time of year.
Here’s a look at the top five sectional semifinal girls basketball games involving area teams over the next two days:
Fostoria St. Wendelin (16-5) vs. Riverdale (17-5)
Where: Division IV sectional at Findlay.
When: Wednesday, 6:15 p.m.
What to watch: There will be plenty of star power on the floor when the Mohawks and Falcons square off.
It all starts with the Division IV District 6 Player of the Year, Kamryn Troike, of St. Wendelin.
The 6-foot-3 sophomore is averaging more than 21 points and 14 rebounds per game, including a 34-point 25-rebound performance in a 55-50 win over Seneca East Feb. 6. She has been sidelined by injuries in St. Wendelin’s last two contests, though, including Saturday’s loss to Old Fort that snapped a 13-game winning streak.
North Central Conference co-champion Riverdale, however, has plenty of talent as well. Jordyn Wright earned first-team District 6 honors and is averaging more than 16 points, three assists and three steals per game, while freshman Sydney Holderman is averaging more than 12 points and three steals per game.
NEXT: Winner advances to Saturday’s 6:15 p.m. sectional final to take on either Arcadia or Cory-Rawson.
Elmwood (16-5) vs. Bluffton (12-10)
Where: Division III sectional at Riverdale.
When: Today, 8 p.m.
What to watch: Elmwood has owned the Northern Buckeye Conference on its way to earning the regular-season title, with its only loss coming against Genoa 74-56 on Jan. 31. Kristen Curtis leads Elmwood with more than 16 points and seven rebounds per game. Bluffton ended the regular season playing six tough games in an 11-day span and went 2-4, including losses to 19-2 Liberty-Benton and 20-1 Convoy Crestview.
NEXT: Winner advances to Saturday’s 8 p.m. sectional final to play second-seeded Ottawa-Glandorf (20-2).
Patrick Henry (7-15) vs. McComb (11-11)
Where: Division IV sectional at Ottawa-Glandorf.
When: Wednesday, 6:15 p.m.
What to watch: It’s been an interesting season for McComb. With only nine players on the roster abd seven healthy, most players have had to play nearly every minute of the season. Emily Clymer, Nora Hemminger and Brenna Dee have been carrying the Panthers throughout the regular season, but their mental and physical toughness will be tested in the tournament. Clymer leads McComb with more than 17 points and eight rebounds per game, Hemminger chips in more than 15 points per game, and Dee adds more than five assists and three steals per game.
Patrick Henry, on the other hand, may not have the best record, but they have one of the area’s top players, Kristin Bostelman (14.6 points, 8.5 rebounds per game). The young Patriots have also played much better down the stretch for first-year coach Kyle Tietje after struggling to a 1-10 start to the season.
NEXT: Winner plays Pandora-Gilboa or Van Buren in Saturday’s 8 p.m. sectional final.
Upper Sandusky (13-9) vs. Kenton (8-14)
Where: Division III sectional at Riverdale.
When: Tuesday, 6:15 p.m.
What to watch: Taylor Graboski led Upper Sandusky through a magical tournament run last fall for the Rams’ volleyball team, reaching the state semifinals before losing to Versailles. Graboski has been equally impressive for Upper Sandusky’s basketball team as well, averaging more than 17 points and 13 rebounds per game.
Graboski has also had two triple-doubles: 18 points, 18 rebounds and 10 blocks in a 65-61 win over Bucyrus on Jan. 30, and 14 points, 11 rebounds and 12 blocks in a 56-46 win over Buckeye Central on Feb. 1.
NEXT: Winner plays top-seeded Liberty-Benton in Saturday’s 6 p.m. sectional final.
Tiffin Calvert (16-5) vs. Hopewell-Loudon (12-9)
Where: Division IV sectional at Tiffin Columbian.
When: Wednesday, 6:15 p.m.
What to watch: The regular-season matchup between the Midland Athletic League teams went all Tiffin Calvert’s way, as the Senecas won easily 60-40 on Feb. 3 behind Taylor Ritzler’s 17 points and a 16-7 free-throw advantage. But the Chieftains have the players to avenge the loss. Aleta Daniel and Courtney Burns combine to average more 26 points, eight assists and six steals per game, while Brooke Arbogast and Hope Brickner collect more 16 rebounds per game.
NEXT: Winner plays Old Fort or Monroeville in Saturday’s 8 p.m. sectional final.
Burwell, 419-422-5151,
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