SUGAR GROVE, Ohio -- Wednesday night, some of the area's best junior girls basketball players shared the same stage at Berne Union High School. The OCC all-stars outlasted the Central Ohio team by a score of 66-61.
The OCC was led by Maddie Vejsicky with 12 (four three pointers) followed by Bella Ward with nine, Lauren Scott and Cassidy Lafler with eight and Lauren Wood with seven. Olivia Baker led the Central Ohio team with 16 and was supported by Blessing King with 12 and Nahdia Alcorn with 10.
Let's take a look as some of the brightest stars of the night!
Cassidy Lafler (5'11 G / Dublin Coffman / 2022) - Wednesday's junior MVP, Lafler had herself a game. She is one of the most impactful players in the class. She is an elite rebounder, defender and strong finisher. She impresses us most with her elite motor and team first mentality. If stats would have been kept, she would have nearly had a triple double with points, rebounds and steals. Lafler has continued to improve each time out and will be a vital piece to a Coffman team that has the chance to win the region next season.
Bella Ward (6'0 F / Gahanna Lincoln / 2022) - A Butler commit, Ward is hands down one of the best interior players in the area. She has continued to develop her outside/midrange game which is making her a threat anywhere on the floor. There may not be a stronger finisher in the area. She has a tight handle, is a nightmare in transition and can guard both on the perimeter and inside. She's a game wrecker with her two-way impact, motor, smarts and toughness. Ward will be the straw that stirs the drink for a Gahanna team that should challenge for a district title and more next season.
Olivia Baker (5'8 G / Shelby / 2022) - Baker put on a great showing against some talented players. She is a strong guard who can score it on every single level. She made a big impact on the defensive boards and pushed well in transition off of a couple of steals. The junior guard kept the Central Ohio All-Stars in it with her shot making. One of the best north of Columbus prospects to watch, Baker is as talented as they come in the MOAC conference.
Blessing King (5'11 F / Worthington Christian / 2022) - Tuesday, King showed a lot of intriguing ability as a lead ball handler. She is extremely fast, has great length and can finish at the basket. King plays with great toughness and has a high IQ. We like her instincts on both ends of the floor, as she greatly impacts winning and elevates the play of those around her. Worthington Christian came just one bucket away from a trip to the state tournament and with King returning to the fold, the Warriors will once again be a threat in Division III.
Lauren Wood (5'8 G / New Albany / 2022) - Wood is as solid as they come. She has a smooth stroke from the perimeter, is a crafty finisher and very unselfish. She has a high basketball IQ and the ability to make great plays on both ends of the floor. We think she has a chance to put up really big numbers next year as New Albany will look to her to provide major scoring.
Maddie Vejsicky (6'0 F / Newark / 2022) - Picking up right where she left off during the season, Vejsicky put on a three point shooting clinic during the contest. She effortlessly knocked down four three pointers while playing excellent defense. Her length makes her a great rim defender and a challenge for opposing guards. She has a high motor and IQ. Easily a Division I recruit. You won't find a player in the area, male or female, who gets their shot off quicker than Vejsicky. She's an absolute nightmare to defend off movement with her elite release, range and consistency. Vejsicky has Klay Thompson level microwave scoring ability from the perimeter.
Lauren Scott (5'8 G / Worthington Kilbourne / 2022)- Scott is a hybrid guard and is one of the most talented scorers anywhere in the area - as she surpassed over 1000 points as a junior. She's extremely quick, extremely crafty and is a relentless competitor. She loves attacking off the bounce but can also get hot in a hurry from the perimeter. She will be one of the best players in the state next season after earning all-state honors this past season. Kilbourne relies heavily on Scott to provide the bulk of offensive production, which makes her one of the most entertaining players to watch in the area.
Chloe Jeffers (5'10 F / Delaware Hayes / 2022) - Jeffers put on a DAZZLING shooting display in the three-point contest, winning for the juniors. She has great shooting form, a high release and shoots a good ball consistently. She is one of the best defenders in the area (both at the perimeter and inside) and has a great nose for the ball. She is a winner that players love playing with, as she gives elite effort on both ends and is a generally enjoyable person to be around. You win with players like Jeffers, which will make her a highly sought after recruit because she's extremely talented as well.
Gwen Stare (5'8 G / Newark / 2022) - Stare is a winner. She got her team into a 1-2-2 press in the first quarter and really began to take over as a facilitator in the second. She can make every pass with either hand, has an elite IQ and makes everyone better. She is an easy D1 recruit because of her team first, win at all costs mentality. While Stare is an exceptional facilitator, she can also score when needed most, as she hit big shot after big shot this past season, none bigger than her game-winning layup to lead Newark to the regional championship. Some may think the Wildcats will take a step back next season, however, with seniors like Stare and Vejsicky running the show, the region will still run through Newark until further notice.
Nahdia Alcorn (5'8 G / Northland / 2022) - Alcorn really got into a rhythm as the game went on and her comfort level grew. She has a quick first step, knocked down the mid-range and showed an ability to hit the three. She is an active defender who, despite her size, is extremely impactful on the boards. One of the better juniors across the entire City League, Alcorn will be relied upon to help Northland win the City League North next season.
Justice Steinman-Ross (6'0 F / Marion Harding / 2022) - Steinman-Ross has the potential to be a game wrecker on the inside. She had some great looks at the basket thanks to her quick move in the post but didn't get many shots to fall. If she improves her shooting percentage, her stock will rise as she has the potential to be a dominant post player. Effort and consistency will be the key for Steinman-Ross, as she has what it takes to be a matchup nightmare on the block.
Kiley Graham (6'2 F / Bishop Watterson / 2022) - Graham is an intriguing player in the junior class. She is a legit 6-foot-2, can run the floor, is a strong rebounder and has a capable jumper. She is a hybrid post with some upside! She has a chance to be a major focus/piece for Watterson in next season and we are excited to see where it takes her, as she made a major impact on both sides in a tightly contested game against stellar talent.
Chloe Peloquin (6'3 F / Newark Catholic / 2022) - Peloquin's length and athleticism give her major upside. She is a true 6-foot-3 forward and impacts the game at a high level inside. She struggled a little to finish in a very physical game but still managed to connect on three baskets. She is a great rebounder and can handle the ball when needed. Peloquin is a legitimate Division I recruit with all the intangibles, measurables and upside to become a really productive interior player in college.