She can play anywhere on the court — guard, wing, or even post position, and she’s only a sophomore who stands 5-foot-10.
Oak Harbor standout Andrea Cecil caught the eyes of many prep basketball fans, enough so that she was voted this year’s Alan Miller Jewelers All-Press Player of the Year.
After leading the Rockets to a 20-5 season, which included a Division III sectional championship and district runner-up, the third team All-Ohio selection narrowly defeated Genoa senior guard Ciara Albright, an honorable mention all-state selection, in voting.
Out of 10 area coaches and 10 media members voting, Cecil had just two more than Albright for POY, and they were the only two who received any votes on an open ballot. In addition, Cecil’s coach, Tom Kontak, narrowly edged Genoa coach Mike DeStazio and Clay coach Corey Slovak in Coach of the Year voting.
Cecil averaged 19.5 points and 7.6 rebounds on a team that is bound to be going places in the next two years because multiple starters are underclassmen. They were so young when the season started, that no one knew for sure what was coming, not even the coaches.
“We started two freshmen (Emma Barney and Maddy Rathbun) who were on the eighth grade SBC championship team the year prior,” Kontak said. “The other sophomore who started was Athena Eli. Three sophomores, Allie Kuhn, Emma Bergman and Brandy Lochotzki, came off the bench. There were so many questions that needed to be answered, with only two players with playing time returning.”
Kontak said his coaching staff realized early on what kind of players it had to work with.
“Right away you found out that they had a great competitive spirit,” he said. “They were a very competitive group and they were very coachable players. Then, we just had to go day to day to teach what it takes to play at the varsity level. They’re winners. They understand that part of it.”
Kontak said he brought in a local personal trainer, Tyson Smith, to work with the girls’ conditioning.
“We spent a lot of time on stamina and agility and built up the girls from a physical standpoint,” Kontak said. “Our stamina was as good as anybody.”
Oak Harbor graduates just two seniors in Amanda Hetrick and Nikki Weiss, who only played in five games because of a knee injury. Next year’s team will not have a senior on the roster.
“With young kids, there are no guarantees,” Kontak said. “There are always so many distractions going on that we’ll have to stay focused and committed.”
Albright (18.4 pts., 7.2 reb.), who has been offered a full ride to continue her career at Columbus State Community College, scored 1,082 career points, including 461 her senior year. She was the leading scorer in the Northern Buckeye Conference, was a first team All-District 7 and All-NBC selection and will play in the District 7 all-star game. She is the seventh player in Genoa girls’ basketball history to score 1,000 points.
“What’s more important, she did this in three years,” DeStazio said. “Most players reaching 1,000 points play four vears varsity.”
Albright is joined by teammate Haley Pickard, a 5-6 sophomore point guard, who avarged 16.3 points, 6.8 rebounds, and had 110 steals this season. She has been DeStazio’s starting point guard the past two years and was the second leading scorer in the NBC. She was first team All-NBC and second team District 7.
Lake 5-7 junior guard Jordyn Taylor, despite averaging just 10.2 points, was first team because of her play out in the backcourt and on defense. She had 107 assists, 84 steals, made 42.2 percent (78 for 185) of her two-point field goal attempts and despite her size, led the team with 116 rebounds. Playing almost every minute of every game, she had just 40 turnovers — less than two per contest.
Rounding out the All-Press first team is Woodmore 5-10 senior wing/post Allie Wank, who averaged 14.5 points, six rebounds, 1.7 assists, and 1.9 steals. She shot 40 percent from two-point range, an outlandish 53 percent from three-point range, made 58 percent of her free throws, and had 42 steals.
Along with Genoa, Clay and Waite, playing against larger schools in the Three Rivers Athletic Conference and Toledo City League, were the only teams to have three players each on the All-Press first team, second team, or third team.
Slovak, after restoring the Clay girls’ basketball program to a winning mindset, saw two players on the second team, guards Haley Hess and Morgan Connor, both underclassmen. In voting, Hess narrowly missed earning a first team selection.