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Saturday Recap: Teams make first impressions in season-opening showcase

By Gee Dowlen III, 11/21/21, 1:30PM EST



WESTERVILLE, Ohio -- The girls High School Basketball season tipped off with a trio of matchups between some of the best teams in the area, and plenty of young talent. We take a look at how each team fared, and the top performers of the day from yesterday's showcase at Westerville South.

The first two games didn’t see much controversy. First, Pickerington Central ran away from Westerville North, as Madison Greene and Berry Wallace led the Tigers to a 66-32 win with a combined 42 points. 

Pickerington Central jumped out to a 16-6 lead and it didn’t take long for that lead to balloon further. Westerville North couldn’t find any answers offensively as the Tigers pressed for the majority of the game. With each falling shot, you could see Pickerington Central gain more momentum. The energy and excitement on the floor clearly fueled the Tigers on their way to victory.

While the Tigers seem to already be in rhythm and poised for another great season, the Warriors struggled to find any offense and will hope to find more production from their role players as the season progresses. 

Then, it was a shorthanded Gahanna squad making a statement of their own. Gahanna went wire-to-wire in a 51-30 win over Africentric despite not having their best player in Bella Ward.

Gahanna’s defense was well on display early, as they were able to shut down any lanes towards the basket and did a great job of preventing open shots. However, the Lions offense didn’t come along as quickly. Gahanna only held a 10-7 lead after the first quarter, but with each quarter, the Lions were able to gain rhythm by attacking the basket, offensive rebounds, and of course, their defense. By the third quarter, Gahanna led 37-17. 

Similarly to game one, defense was the biggest difference in this game. Africentric struggled to score all game due to Gahanna’s brutalizing defense, which helped open up the offense for Clarke Jackson, Laila Marshall, and Kimora Perkins, who carried the scoring load. We expect Gahanna to rely heavily on their defense this season, and we saw a lot of that in their first game of the season. 

The day ended with Dublin Coffman and Westerville South. The Wildcats came out swinging, leading by as many as nine in the first quarter. Nelia and Zoe Guice brought a lot of energy as they made some huge impact plays defensively, while Tamara Ortiz wasted no time scoring with a quick eight points. That’s when Coffman showed up.

The Rocks dominated the rest of the game, as Westerville South could only stay within striking distance through the third quarter. Coffman outscored Westerville South 51-29 in the final three quarters. 

Coffman struggled to shoot the ball early, and even had some uncharacteristic turnovers. Coffman quickly adjusted and began to move the ball inside, where they would find success at drawing fouls. By the second half the floor had opened up mostly due to the guard play of Taylor Covington, as well as crucial plays from Tara Flynn and Tessa Grady. The shots began to rain in as the combination of size, speed, and hot three point shooting was too much for the Wildcats to handle. The 58-45 win goes to show how difficult getting through Coffman will be this season.

Madison Greene (5’7 PG/ Pickerington Central / 2023); Greene was elite on both ends of the floor as she dropped 24 points in a dominant win. Her relentless energy was felt around the entire gym on Saturday. The pace of the game is dictated by Greene. She got whatever she wanted on offense or defense with her intense play style, which allowed her to get through defenders, or create separation on a jump shot. She knew exactly when it was time to push the pace and she did it well. Greene is already one of the best point guards in the state, but it looks like the junior will only continue to improve over her next two years.

Tessa Grady (6’1 WF / Dublin Coffman / 2023); Grady’s offense came in spurts, but it was always at the perfect time. Grady scored all seven of Coffman’s first quarter points, and hit a pair of dagger three-pointers in close out minutes. The junior hit big shot after big shot, including five threes as her 22 points helped Coffman pull away in a come from behind effort. 

 Kimora Perkins (5’3 G / Gahanna Lincoln / 2022); Perkins was easily Saturday’s most impressive performer. The senior guard came off the bench after two starters got into early foul trouble and dropped 21 points. She began with some nice hustle plays early before working her way to the free throw line. Eventually, Perkins would help blow the game open as she scored 17 points in the final three quarters, while forcing turnovers on the defensive end as well.  She’s expected to be another useful guard in the rotation for the guard-heavy Lions, but she was much more than that today as she led all scorers in the game. We don't know what her role will be going forward, but Perkins is definitely worth keeping an eye on, as she could be a late-bloomer this season. 

Tamara Ortiz (5’4 G / Westerville South / 2023); Ortiz is a flat out scorer.  While she may have made a lot of noise over the summer, we've only seen the beginning from her. The junior gave Westerville South a much-needed instant boost as she scored 8 of the team's first 16 points. After four first quarter field goals, she cooled down to hitting just three for the remainder of the game, however she did manage to make her way to free throw stripe six times in an 18 point outing. Ortiz is going to be a huge difference maker for the Wildcats this season, and we expect to see more offensive outbursts like the first quarter from her this season.

Laila Marshall (5’8 G / Gahanna Lincoln / 2023); Marshall had a solid performance to start the season after a successful sophomore campaign. The junior got to see a slightly bigger role than normal with Bella Ward’s absence, and she used it to get off to a quick start. She showed some explosiveness on her way to the basket on a couple of occasions and knocked down some jump shots to tally 14 points on Saturday.

Taylor Covington (5’7 PG / Dublin Coffman / 2022); Covington only registered two field goals, but her passing game was a difference maker in Coffman’s win. She was masterful with her court vision as she found countless teammates for wide open shots, and used her ball handling to help create space for her teammates. Covington is going to pile up assists with players like Tessa, Grady, Jenna Kopyar, and plenty of other scorers around her, but Covington can score when necessary as well, and her overall playmaking ability makes her one more dangerous piece to worry about. 

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