Alter three-peat D-II state title completes historic run

Published: Saturday, March 18, 2017 @ 11:01 AM
Updated: Saturday, March 18, 2017 @ 12:39 PM

            Alter’s six seniors hoist the D-II championship trophy. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF
Alter’s six seniors hoist the D-II championship trophy. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

Braxtin Miller, a prized centerpiece of Alter’s girls basketball success the last four seasons, was clueless as to what the Knights accomplished Saturday afternoon. That’s for record keepers.

“I really don’t know much about the history of all of this, so this might be big,” Miller shrugged while accepting congratulations following a 58-41 defeat of Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown that secured Alter’s third straight Division II girls high school basketball state championship. “I don’t know. It’s cool that we might have an opportunity to really have an impact on history.”

It was fitting that Alter’s talented six-player senior class made its finest – and last – effort on the grandest stage at Ohio State University’s Schottenstein Center. That enabled Alter (28-2) to wrap up an unprecedented four-year program run of 115 wins and just five losses. Besides the three-peat D-II state championships, Alter also was a D-II state runner-up in 2014 when these seniors were freshmen.

According to Ohio High School Athletic Association records, no other boys or girls teams have won that many games in four seasons. Alter joins Fairmont (2010-13) as the only area girls program to play in four straight final fours. No other area girls team has played in four straight state title games.

Hathaway Brown (18-11) had no answer for Alter’s talented backcourt duo of Miller and Libby Bazelak. Miller, an Oklahoma State signee, bottomed three 3-pointers for a game-high 23 points, and added eight rebounds and three assists. Bazelak (Duquesne) was just as good, going for 21 points (two 3-pointers), eight rebounds, six assists and five steals.

Brown’s Kaydan Lawson had 11 points and her 6-foot-2 sister Dani Lawson (Purdue) 10 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks. Alter led by nine after the first quarter and Hathaway Brown closed to within five at the break, but Alter reasserted itself in the second half.

“We wanted it our senior year,” Bazelak said. “We have such a great senior class and we’ve had great leadership every year, which is really important. Going along with talent you also need to really love the game of basketball and we had that all four years.”

Emily Long, a senior move-in from Michigan, added six points and Lauren Lush and Nicole Hoeflinger four apiece to complete Alter’s scoring. All are seniors, as is Olivia Gillis, who added five rebounds.

Co-coach Kendel Peck sensed the Knights had something going following a 7 a.m. Saturday shoot-around at the high school.

“We were laughing and joking when we got off the bus,” he said. “We play better when we’re having fun and not so serious. It’s hard for a coach to let go of that but I had a good feeling (Saturday).”

Chris Hart, Alter’s other head coach, blinked back tears when addressing what this team and four-season run means to her.

“I don’t know how you adequately put into words what those six kids mean to us, to our program and to Alter High School,” she said. “What they’ve done is simply amazing. We’re very blessed to have had them go through our school for the last four years.”


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High School Football: Middies snap 18-game losing streak

Published: Friday, October 20, 2017 @ 10:14 PM

            Middletown’s Blake Marshall scored four touchdowns in Friday night’s 28-21 win over Oak Hills at Barnitz Stadium. FILE PHOTO
Middletown’s Blake Marshall scored four touchdowns in Friday night’s 28-21 win over Oak Hills at Barnitz Stadium. FILE PHOTO

The streak is over.

The Middletown High School football team snapped an 18-game losing streak Friday night with a 28-21 Greater Miami Conference win over Oak Hills on Senior Night at Barnitz Stadium.

Middletown senior quarterback Blake Marshall rushed for 166 yards and four touchdowns on 18 carries. All four of Marshall’s scores came in the first half as the Middies (1-8, 1-6).

Diondre Cooper added 98 yards rushing and Shadon Williams had a fumble recovery and an interception.

The Middies’ last victory came on Oct. 30, 2015, a Week 10 victory over Princeton.

The loss was the 11th straight for Oak Hills (0-9, 0-7).

George Karlaftis commits to Purdue: Boilermakers get No. 2-ranked player from Indiana

Published: Friday, October 20, 2017 @ 10:14 PM

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Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan and Notre Dame may have wanted George Karlaftis, but they couldn’t land him when push came to shove.

The winner of the Karlaftis sweepstakes was Purdue.

Purdue isn’t just getting a guy that top-tier programs wanted. The Boilermakers got its hands on the Class of 2019’s second-best player from its own state and never let go. That’s a recruiting win.

According to 247Sports, Karlaftis is a 4-star recruit and is ranked as the No. 176 player overall, regardless of position. Outside of David Bell — a 4-star wide receiver from Indianapolis, Ind. — Karlaftis ranks as the next-highest player.

With the 6-foot-5, 260-pound defensive end’s commitment, the Boilermakers now have its first 2019 verbal commitment. His pledge on Oct. 20 comes 13 days after taking an unofficial visit to Purdue.

Karlaftis also ranks as the No. 16 strong-side defensive end in his class.

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LaDainian Tomlinson says TCU can ‘absolutely’ make playoff

Published: Friday, October 20, 2017 @ 10:09 PM

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Baylor’s homecoming winning streak at risk against West Virginia

Published: Friday, October 20, 2017 @ 10:04 PM

For Baylor, the 2017 season has been different in many ways from the years the program has grown accustomed to. Saturday could represent another change.

Saturday’s matchup with West Virginia is the Bears’ homecoming game. Baylor has won seven straight homecoming games, dating to 2010. That season also marked the first of the Bears’ now seven straight seasons reaching seven victories, a program record.

Both streaks, of course, are at risk Saturday. The Mountaineers are one of the Big 12’s better teams, easily putting the Bears in position to suffer their seventh straight loss and miss a bowl game instead.

Baylor’s homecoming streak began narrowly, a 47-42 victory against Kansas State. The next year, the Bears won 42-39 over Missouri. Not until 2012 did the Bears have a comfortable homecoming victory, beating Kansas 41-14.

En route to the Big 12 title, Baylor defeated Iowa State, 71-7, in 2013. The Bears again dominated Kansas in 2014, winning 60-14. After beating Iowa State 45-27 in 2015, the 2016 homecoming game against came against Kansas, who the Bears defeated 49-7 to improve to 6-0.

The Bears are 46-43-4 in homecoming games all-time. The West Virginia team Baylor will face Saturday is far different than the lowly Cyclone and Jayhawk teams of homecomings past. Beating the No. 23 Mountaineers won’t come easily for the winless Bears, but maybe homecoming is just what they need to return to winning.