Unbeaten Fairmont tops nationally ranked girls basketball team

The Fairmont girls basketball team landed an impressive 53-46 overtime defeat of nationally ranked Chattanooga (Tenn.) Hamilton Heights Christian Academy in this past weekend’s season-opening Journey to the Tourney 24-team high school invitational at Lakota West.

Ranked No. 2 in the girls hoop preseason national rankings by USA TODAY, Hamilton Heights is led by five-star and University of Kentucky signee Treasure Hunt, a 6-foot-2 standout.

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Fairmont has its own 6-2 treasure in senior Maddy Westbeld. The Notre Dame signee went for 36 points, 12 rebounds, eight steals and four assists to super-charge Fairmont’s win. Fairmont senior Madison Bartley added 11 points, six rebounds and three blocks.

Fairmont defeated Cincinnati Roger Bacon 55-29 the day before to sweep its Journey games. Fairmont (2-0) is idle until Monday, Dec. 2 against visiting Fenwick.

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Wayne (2-0) also swept Loveland and Toledo Notre Dame, a Division I final four qualifier last season, in the event. Nyla Hampton hit 5 of 7 three-pointers for 22 points and Jaida Wolfork bottomed four more 3-pointers for the Warriors in the 62-41 defeat of TND.

Wayne will host Fairmont on Saturday, Dec. 7. The boys high school basketball season begins on Friday.

• Xenia senior offensive lineman Gavin Gerhardt has been invited to play in the Blue-Grey All-American Bowl at the Falcon’s Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Jan. 13. The contest will be nationally televised on ESPN3 (6 p.m.).

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Buccaneers coach Trace Smitherman also said Gerhardt is in the running to land a spot in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, on Jan. 4.

A 6-5, 315-pound tackle, Gerhardt was a big reason why Xenia (9-2) won the initial Miami Valley League Valley Division title (7-0) and made its first playoff appearance. He is verbally committed to Cincinnati.

• Beavercreek girls soccer coach Steve Popp and Beavers senior Diana Benigno will be on the West team in the 9th Annual East/West All-American Game at Orlando, Fla., on Dec. 7.

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Benigno tied Dara Russo of Miamisburg as the Greater Western Ohio Conference scoring leader (46) this past season with 19 goals and eight assists. Beavercreek completed a 24-0 season in 2018 by winning the Division I state championship and was 19-1 this year. The Beavers’ 43-0 run over the two seasons is an all-time Ohio record for consecutive girls wins. Benigno signed to play at Dayton.

• Ohio State seniors Abby Nichols (Alter) and Lainey Studebaker (Centerville) paced the Buckeyes women’s cross country team to a program-best 23rd place in this past weekend’s NCAA D-I national championships at Terre Haute, Ind. Nichols (20:50.2) was 41st overall Studebaker (21:47.2) second among the Buckeyes over the 6,000-meter course.

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Arkansas won the women’s title. Beavercreek senior standout Taylor Ewert has signed to run for the Razorbacks. Ewert will be among the favorites in the Foot Locker Midwest Regional at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside in Kenosha on Saturday. The top 10 qualify for the following week’s Foot Locker National Finals at San Diego.

• Indiana (girls) and Michigan (boys) won the recent Mid-East Cross Country Championships at 5-K course at the Kettering Recreation Complex. Christopher Hunter (Springboro) paced the Team Ohio boys by placing seventh (16:04.2).

»» RELATED: All-Southwest District football teams

The event began in 1986 and draws the state’s best senior runners from Ohio, Michigan and Indiana.

• Missouri freshman quarterback Connor Bazelak (Alter) completed 8 of 12 passes for 64 yards in a 27-0 loss at No. 6 Georgia earlier this month. It was the second appearance for Bazelak with the Tigers and his first collegiate passes.

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Bazelak hasn’t played since and appear in more than four games to be considered for a red-shirt season. Missouri (5-6) ends the regular season at Arkansas (2-9) on Friday.

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