Girls Basketball: Great expectations for talent-laden Wayne

Bree Hall of Wayne (with ball) is checked by Cotie McMahon of Centerville. Wayne defeated visiting Centerville 56-37 in a GWOC girls high school basketball game on Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF
Bree Hall of Wayne (with ball) is checked by Cotie McMahon of Centerville. Wayne defeated visiting Centerville 56-37 in a GWOC girls high school basketball game on Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

Warriors enter season with four Division I signees, eight seniors

HUBER HEIGHTS – The Wayne Warriors high school girls basketball program has made history even before the regular season officially tips off Friday.

And the Warriors don’t plan on stopping there.

Wayne enters the 2020-21 girls basketball season with four Division I college signees – Aubryanna Hall (South Carolina), Alyssa Hargrove-Hall (Stetson), Lovie Malone (Valparaiso) and Jacquel Bronaugh (Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis). That’s in all likelihood the most D-I signees from one senior class for the girls program.

A fifth senior, Saharra Murphy, is drawing D-I interest, too.

Those five, along with a talented bench and roster that includes eight seniors, makes coach Travis Trice’s team one of the top contenders in the Southwest District and beyond.

“They feel like and I feel like we have enough talent to take this to the next level and get an opportunity to get to a final four and win it all,” Trice said. “Everybody might say that at the beginning of every year, but very few teams realistically have a chance of winning it especially with the amount of talent in Ohio. I think this team has a shot, for sure.”

Hall, one of 15 players nationally awarded five-star recruit status in the 2021 HoopGurlz Recruiting rankings, returns as the Greater Western Ohio Conference’s leading scorer (21.4 points per game) with the ability to score from anywhere on the court. She also led the Warriors’ with 7.4 rebounds.

Hall, ranked No. 14 in the nation, signed with Dawn Staley’s South Carolina team that also received commitments from players ranked No. 2, 3 and 4 overall.

“I think she’s one of the best defensive players I’ve ever coached, especially on the women’s side,” Trice said. “She’s got a competitiveness about her that she wants to win at every single thing she does.

“She’s a person that wants to come out and destroy her opponent. I love that about her. I love that she’s part of my team. I’d hate to have to game plan against her.”

Hargrove-Hall averaged 8.2 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 2.7 steals for the Warriors last season. She was also one of the team’s top three-point options.

“She’s playing some of her best basketball,” Trice said. “She likes to get other people the ball. I think what makes her special is she plays on both ends.”

Malone, who has battled through nagging injuries in past seasons, averaged 6.2 points for Wayne.

“She’s in full swing right now and she had a really, really good summer,” Trice said. " … She’s got a chance to be very special for us.”

Bronaugh averaged 4.8 points and 3.4 rebounds in her first season at Wayne after transferring from Northmont.

“She’s really worked hard and grinded the last several months and it’s really paid off for her. She’s going to be an enforcer for us,” Trice said. “We’re going to be counting on her to anchor things down in the paint and she has the ability to do that.”

Bronaugh, Hall, Hargrove-Hall, Malone and Murphy are joined by fellow seniors Ariyah Long, Cydne Campbell and AntyNazia Hill. Juniors Ma’kaylia Lute and Jaleah Stiner and freshman Morgyn Rose, among others, give Wayne a deep bench as it challenges Centerville for front-runner status for the GWOC title.

“Centerville has a nice three-headed monster with Cotie McMahon, Amy Velasco and Kendal George so I know they’re going to be very good. Adam (Priefer) is a really good coach so they’ll have something to say … about the Southwest district,” Trice said.

Wayne and Fairmont shared the GWOC title last season at 12-1. Wayne finished 23-3 overall and reached the Division I district final before falling to Cincinnati Mercy McAuley 51-49.

In addition to their basketball success, the Warriors are putting up impressive numbers off the court as well. The team’s recent picture day was nearly postponed with a mandatory National Honor Society meeting scheduled at the same time. Had the NHS meeting taken place the Warriors would have been missing too many players for a team photo.

“I’m even more proud of that than some of the basketball accolades,” Trice said.

Wayne was scheduled to open the regular season against Reynoldsburg on Saturday at the Journey To The Tourney three-day event at Lakota West High School. The tournament was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Warriors are currently on quarantine and anticipate opening at Tecumseh on Nov. 30.

“I tell our girls to focus on the things you can control. The girls have been doing the best they can to be careful,” Trice said. “They’ve been wearing their masks and social distancing, all those things. But some of this is out of our control. We’re trying to stay as prepared as we possibly can.

“We’ll try and do the right thing by the young ladies and their health. That’s always going to be first. At the same time we’ll be trying to allow them to enjoy a season. … I think it’s a long shot to be able to get a (full) season completely in. We’re going to take whatever we get and make the most of that.”

15 Players to Watch

Leah Butterbaugh, senior, Waynesville: Averaged 13.6 points, 6.6 rebounds, 3.1 steals and 2.6 assists for Southwestern Buckeye League division champs.

Briyanna Combs, junior, Dunbar: Averaged 12 points and 6.7 rebounds for the Wolverines last season.

Abigail Dickson, senior, Valley View: All-around game of 8.1 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 2.3 steals helped Spartans win Southwestern Buckeye League division title.

Kendall Folley, senior, Lebanon: Leads the Warriors’ move from the GWOC to the Eastern Cincinnati Conference with her 14.6 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.8 assists from a season ago.

Bree Hall, senior, Wayne: The South Carolina five-star recruit led the GWOC in scoring with 21.4 points last season. She highlights the Warriors’ four D-I signees along with fellow seniors Alyssa Hargrove-Hall (Stetson), Lovie Malone (Valparaiso) and Jacquel Bronaugh (Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis).

Emma Hess, senior, Legacy Christian: The Metro Buckeye Conference player of the year averaged 20.3 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.7 assists for the defending league champs.

Kenzi Hoelscher, senior, Fort Loramie: Along with Dana Rose provides scoring (9.6 points) and defense as Redskins look to return to Division IV state tournament.

Quantaijah Huffman, senior, Trotwood-Madison: Ranked among GWOC leaders and led Rams in scoring (18.0) and steals (3.3) and was second on team in rebounds (6.2).

Ava Lickliter, senior, Carroll: Helped Carroll reach D-II state tournament with 6.7 points, 3.6 assists and 2.4 steals.

Ashleigh Mader, senior, Tippecanoe: Top returning scorer averaged 10.7 points, 2.6 assists and 2.1 steals for Red Devils’ team that look to defend its Miami Valley League division title.

Cotie McMahon, junior, Centerville: Led the Elks with 18.9 points and 8.0 rebounds and teams with fellow senior Amy Velasco (13 points, 4.0 assists) for a run at the GWOC title.

Natalie Oktavec, junior, Fairborn: Led Miami Valley League division champs with 15.8 points and added 5.1 rebounds and 2.3 steals.

Macie Taylor, junior, Troy: Returns her 17.3 points, 6.1 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 3.3 steals for the Trojans.

Hailey Unger, junior, Arcanum: Returns 15.7 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.3 steals for the Trojans in the Cross County Conference.

Ivy Wolf, senior, Minster: The Midwest Athletic Conference player of the year and Miami University recruit led the two-time defending Division IV state champ Wildcats with 19.1 points, 4.5 steals and 3.7 assists.

In Other News