Ciara Albright woke up Thursday morning with a big day ahead of her.
At 2 p.m., the Genoa senior was scheduled to sign a letter of intent to play basketball at Columbus State Community College beginning next fall.
“It’s going to be a good experience,” said Albright, one of seven players in Genoa girls basketball history to score more than 1,000 career points. “I’m just happy that all my hard work since fifth grade has paid off. Basketball has always been my favorite sport. I always told myself I wanted to go to the next level. I’m thankful for getting a scholarship. I’m just trying to work hard these two years (at Columbus State) so I can go Division I or D-II my last two years.”
Columbus State plays in the same conference as Owens Community College, in the eight-team Ohio Community College Athletic Conference. The Cougars, coached by Joel Renner, finished 20-7 and 7-5 in the OCCAC (tied for third) last season.
The 5-foot-7 Albright, a two-time honorable mention All-Ohio selection in D-III as a junior and senior, finished with 1,082 points in just 69 career games. She led the Northern Buckeye Conference in scoring the past two years (15.6 ppg. and 18.4 ppg) and averaged 7.3 rebounds last year. She was a three-time first-team All-NBC selection.
“She loves the game,” Genoa coach Mike DeStazio said. “One of the things that defines her is she hates to lose. She’s a hard-working kid and a good student. I think she’ll bring a lot to somebody’s program that they will appreciate once she gets there. You don’t know how good she is until you put her with your team. When the lights turn on in the gym on Friday night, she’s there. She knows what to do when the ball is thrown up at the center court.
“She’s matured so much. Two years ago I didn’t think she could play college basketball. This year she’s really matured and showed leadership.”
Albright, a shooting guard, led Genoa to an 18-8 record last season and a second-place finish behind Elmwood in the NBC. The Comets were the only NBC team to win a sectional title.
Albright, 18, who plans to study nursing, said she visited Columbus State in March. She took a Genoa-Elmwood game film with her to give to the coaches.
“When we had meetings on the official visit, they said they were going to watch the film and call within 12 hours,” Albright said. “I kind of had an idea (they were going to offer). I was excited and happy. I was relieved that I’m not going to have to pay for college for two years.”
Albright said Renner called her that night, after her visit, and asked her to join the Cougars’ program.
“I had offers from Bluffton, Trine, Defiance, and Cincinnati State,” Albright said. “(Renner) was the first one to contact me and the first one to make everything official. The other coaches had been waiting to offer. I visited there and liked what I saw. It’s not too far away from home, but I didn’t want to play too close to home. I felt there was no one I liked better than Columbus State.”
Albright is the daughter of Mike and Shari Albright.