Coach Tom Rettig brought a Tippecanoe High School senior named Jim Dabbelt into the girls basketball program in 1986. Dabbelt’s job that season was to keep stats.
“We had a buzzer-beater to win district,” Dabbelt said. “We had a buzzer-beater to win the regional. And we go to the state final and get beat by West Holmes in overtime. They had a 108-game winning streak. We almost had them.”
On the way home after that 46-42 loss in Akron, Dabbelt told Rettig he was hooked on girls basketball, and Rettig told Dabbelt to take his love for writing and use it to promote the game.
For the last three-plus decades, Dabbelt has done that as well, if not better, than anyone in Ohio. He worked for the New Carlisle Sun from 1998-2008 and continues to write for websites that cover New Carlisle, Enon, Tipp City and Troy. On his personal website, he publishes the Dabbelt Report, where he ranks the top players in the area.
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“It’s just something I’ve always loved,” Dabbelt said. “The girls game has never had publicity, and I’m just blessed enough to still be in it.”
Now Dabbelt is using his knowledge to honor the history of high school girls basketball in the state. He has begun work on a book that he’ll self publish next year. It will list the top 150 girls basketball players in Ohio from 1990-2019, the years he has covered the sport.
“Every player will get their own chapter,” Dabbelt said. “It will be a breakdown of their careers. I’ve talked to 50 or 60 players already. I’ve talked to people that I haven’t talked to in 30 years.”
The most common reaction from the former players Dabbelt has talked to is, “Thank you for remembering me.”
The book will have a number of familiar names from the Dayton, Hamilton, Middletown and Springfield areas. Chaminade Julienne alone will have graduates in the book: Tamika (Williams) Jeter; Megan Duffy; Brandie Hoskins; Samarie Walker; and Maria Getty.
“That may be the school that has the most,” Dabbelt said. “Pickerington has a lot, too. If you were around in the 90s and 2000s, you will know how good CJ was.”
Dabbelt doesn't want to give away all the names, but among the other local players who will be featured are: Tara Cosby (Kenton Ridge); Lynnette Roeth (Covington); Ally Malott (Middletown Madison); Brittany Smart (Shawnee); Bianca Quinsenberry (Tecumseh); and Alison Bales, Amanda Reese and Mikaela Ruef (Beavercreek).
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Dabbelt’s goal is to make the new generation of girls basketball players aware of those names and many more.
“Everyone knows LeBron (James) and Michael (Jordan), and they’re always going to remember those names,” Dabbelt said, “but the biggest name in Ohio girls basketball history is Katie Smith, and you won’t believe the people today who may not even know her name. She’s a three-time Olympian.”
Dabbelt started with 350 names and started narrowing it down. He won’t rank the players in the book, but Smith is his No. 1.
Smith, now an assistant coach with the Minnesota Lynx in the WNBA, was one of the players he called when he started compiling the top-150 list. He also talked to Marlene Stollings, the state’s all-time leading scorer (3,514), who’s now the head coach at Texas Tech.
“Marlene told me if anybody could write a book like this, it’s you,” Dabbelt said. “That was validation. That was the final straw to make me think I’m going forward with the book. it’s basically a chance for people to learn about the history of the game.”
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