CINCINNATI -- The Ohio high school girls’ basketball season resumed Monday night after the holiday break.
With the start of the second half of the season upon us, WCPO.com presents the “Power 9” rankings, a weekly look at the top nine boys’ and girls’ teams based on records, strength of schedule, and overall statistical success and our staff observations from the season.
WCPO.com will highlight these teams throughout the winter leading up to the sectional tournaments starting the week of Feb. 13 (girls) and the week of Feb. 20 (boys). There will be separate Northern Kentucky rankings.
The season’s first Associated Press statewide media polls start next week. The boys’ basketball poll will publish Jan. 9 and girls on Jan. 10.
This week’s schedule: At Sycamore Wednesday.
Mason coach Rob Matula would never admit it but the Comets appear to be the team to beat in the Cincinnati area this season. Lakota West, Mount Notre Dame and McAuley will certainly have something to say before March about that, but the Comets have proved themselves the first half of the season.
Mason, a Division I state runner-up last season, is ranked No. 23 nationally by the MaxPreps Xcellent 25. Sophomore forward Sammie Puisis -- one of the nation’s top players in the 2019 class -- averages 15.8 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.2 steals. Senior 6-2 forward Samari Mowbray, a Miami University commit, averages 13.9 points and 4.1 rebounds. Freshman point guard Megan Wagner (5.8 assists per game) is an emerging standout. The Comets likely won’t be tested until the Classic in the Country the weekend of Jan. 14.
2. Lakota West
This week’s schedule: At Middletown Wednesday. Versus Fairfield 2 p.m. Saturday.
Never underestimate the coaching of Andy Fishman.
The Firebirds’ only blemish this season was a two-point loss to Mason. That's hardly saying much. The two teams meet again at Mason Jan. 28. The Firebirds earned excellent holiday tournament wins over Toledo Start (by 20 points) and over Kettering Alter. Lakota West junior guard Abby Prohaska (Notre Dame commit) averages 11.7 points, 7.4 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.9 steals.
Lakota West has a GMC-best 589 points this season. The Firebirds figure to make a solid run in the tournament and have the depth to pose a challenge for any team in Southwest Ohio.
3. Mount Notre Dame
This week’s schedule: At McAuley Tuesday.
Mount Notre Dame is always a team to watch and the Cougars will prove to be formidable for someone in the district or regional tournaments.
MND’s only loss was to a very talented Huber Heights Wayne team 60-57 Dec. 29. Some of these young players for MND will only get better as the season progresses. Coach Scott Rogers knows that and it will be interesting to see this team in February.
Sophomore guard Gabbie Marshall averages 13.8 points, 2.8 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2.4 steals. Sophomore 6-foot forward Julia Hoefling averages 11.5 points and 6.2 rebounds. Watch for the game at McAuley on Tuesday -- it should a GGCL classic.
This week’s schedule: Versus Mount Notre Dame Tuesday. At Mercy 6 p.m. Saturday.
Coach Dan Wallace had this season circled for quite a while and the Mohawks continue to build off an 18-win season and district finals appearance from last season.
Senior 6-1 forward Alexah Chrisman (Rice signee) averages 12.9 points, 6.8 rebounds, 2.3 blocks and 2.2 steals. Junior guard Hallie Heidemannn averages 11 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.4 steals and 1.8 assists. A home game against Mount Notre Dame this week will give McAuley a good indication of whether it can compete with the elite teams this year.
5. Summit Country Day
This week’s schedule: At Clark Montessori Wednesday. At Williamsburg 2:30 p.m. Saturday.
Summit returned nine players from last season and this team is reaping the benefits of experience on the court. Junior guard Kiana Allen averages 11.9 points, 2.3 assists and 2.3 steals. Junior guard Alea Harris averages 11.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 2.0 steals. This is definitely a team to watch in the Division III tournament.
This week’s schedule: At Milford Wednesday. Versus Walnut Hills 2 p.m. Saturday.
The Knights have a one-game edge over Turpin in the Eastern Cincinnati Conference standings. The Knights have three players averaging double figures in scoring including sophomore guard Carolyn Bruns (11.4 ppg.), sophomore guard Devin Biesbrock (11.3) and senior guard Taylor Brown (11 ppg.). The Saturday game against Walnut Hills will provide a solid test for the Knights.
7. Walnut Hills
This week’s schedule: Versus Loveland Wednesday. At Kings 2 p.m. Saturday.
The Eagles’ only two losses were to 9-1 McAuley and 7-2 Turpin in overtime. Walnut Hills has quality wins over Seton, Fairfield and Ursuline this season. Sophomore Kennedi Myles averages 13.5 points and 9.0 rebounds. Watch this time once the sectional tournament arrives. It could upset a team or two.
This week’s schedule: Versus Withrow Wednesday. At Anderson 2 p.m. Saturday.
The Spartans are the third ECC team in the rankings and their only losses came to Kings and a very solid Little Miami team early this season. Turpin defeated Hamilton and Walnut Hills on their schedule. Senior 6-foot center Charlotte Kerregan averages 9.6 points, 9.6 rebounds and 1.3 blocks.
This week’s schedule: At West Union Thursday. Versus Western Brown 5:30 p.m. Saturday.
Lynchburg-Clay had three players averaging double figures in scoring in December including Peyton Scott (22.2 ppg.), Hannah Binkley (18.5) and McKayla Binkley (17.7). The Ohio Girls’ Basketball Report ranks the squad among the top 13 teams in Division III this season.