Early look at AAC Red Tier girls basketball

Sports

Fitch won the league last year but return just 1 starter

All-American Conference High School Basketball

Last year’s Player of the Year Sabria Hunter graduated from Fitch

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – We begin to focus in on girls basketball in the area with an early look at the All-American Conference’s Red Tier. The league went from six schools to five with the departure of Lakeside – who left for the Chagrin Valley Conference.

Fitch welcomes back just one starter from last year’s league championship group. Each of the other four teams will have at least three returning starters in the fold this season. Justin Coffin begins his tenure at Boardman replacing Jeff Hammerton as the girls’ head coach. The last two Player of the Year recipients (Fitch’s Sabria Hunter in 2019; Canfield’s Serena Sammarone in 2018) both graduated last spring. Hunter went onto play at West Point this winter while Sammarone will compete for Findlay.

This should be another competitive season in the Red Tier with a number of teams vying for positioning in the standings throughout the campaign.

2018-19 All-American Conference Red Tier Standings
Fitch – 9-1 (18-6)
Howland – 8-2 (17-7)
Canfield – 6-4 (15-8)
Harding – 4-6 (14-10)
Boardman – 3-7 (11-12)
Lakeside – 0-10 (7-16)

Around the League
Boardman Spartans
Coach: Justin Coffin
…First-year head coach Justin Coffin inherits a roster with 3 starters returning in juniors Raegan Burkey (15.5 ppg, 3.6 apg), Kate Stamp (9.8 ppg, 8.3 rpg) and Maria Torres (16.4 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 2.1 apg). Burkey and Torres were named First-Team All-AAC while Stamp took home Second-Team honor. With the graduation of five seniors including Alicia Saxton (4.2 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 2.5 apg), Ashley Saxton (3.4 rpg) and Cate Green (6.0 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 2.6 apg) – the Lady Spartans will rely on youth with Emma Tokarsky, Serene Khatib and Bailey Moore all in the running for lots of playing time this year.

“We want to build team chemistry,” says Coffin. “I’m excited to see who will be our team leaders on-and-off the court. We’re athletic but struggled to shoot a high percentage last year, so becoming more consistent shooters is a key to our offense in taking high percentage shots. Our expectations are that we’ll field a team that will compete on both ends of the floor for 32 minutes.”

Canfield Cardinals
Coach: Matt Reel
…The graduation of leading scorer Serena Sammarone (17.5 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 3.7 apg) and Gianna Flask (7.6 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 1.7 apg) leaves a big hole in the Cardinals’ lineup. However, Canfield returns three starters in Grace Mangapora (14.2 ppg, 5.6 rpg), Gabby Demidovich (3.7 ppg, 4.1 rpg), and Marissa Ieraci (3.0 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 1.7 apg) so the cupboard isn’t bare by a long shot. Mangapora connected on 31% of her three-point shot a year ago (39-127). Last year, Canfield’s defense forced their opponents to 21.2 turnovers per game and to shoot just 34.4% from the floor.

“We have some varsity experience returning,” indicates coach Reel. “It’s about how quickly our players adapt to new roles and the varsity level will determine our success. In the realm of basketball, our defense and rebounding are concerns.”

Fitch Falcons
Coach: Dan Schnurrenberger
…Last year’s Red Tier champs return just one starter – senior Daria Williams (6.8 ppg, 4.8 rpg). The loss of Sabria Hunter (23.2 ppg, 14.1 rpg) in conjunction with the graduation of Taylor Fronk (7.9 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 3.3 apg), Jada Lazaro (8.7 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 2.6 apg), and Mia Jackson (6.4 ppg, 3.4 rpg) will be impossible to replace. At Fitch, coach Schnurrenberger says it’s next ‘girl’ up, “I expect to compete at a high-level with this team. We must play with high energy. We’ll have to defense and rebound as a team at a high level. I know how hard our girls have worked, we must continue this effort and focus throughout the season.”

Harding Raiders
Coach: Frank Caputo
…”We have very high expectations for this group,” comments coach Caputo. “We have a lot of returning varsity players from with only graduating two seniors, we’re hoping to build off our experience and ability to defend and score at a high level.”

Three double-digit scorers are back in the fold for Harding in Kamarah Bender (21.6 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 3.4 spg), Faith Burch (12.6 ppg, 10.6 rpg) and Diamond Phillips (10.7 ppg, 4.9 spg). Bradean Morris also returns after putting together a stat line of 3.2 points, 3.3 boards, 1.8 steals a season ago.

“We have to be disciplined on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball,” Caputo points out. “Looking for effort and hustle the entire game and continuing to grow and work together as one unit.”

Howland Tigers
Coach: John Diehl
…Coach John Diehl says, “Our younger players need to learn to play defense and asjust to the speed of the varsity level. We must replace our post players (Kayla Clark – 10.5 ppg, 8.9 rpg; Alex Ochman – 17.0 ppg, 6.2 rpg). We expect to contend for the league title.”

A trio of backcourt standouts return in a pair of seniors in Maria Dellimuti (6.5 ppg) and Ashley Chambers (4.1 ppg) to go along with sophomore Alyssa Pompelia (9.8 ppg). Dellimuti averaged 3.5 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game. Chambers shot 64.5% from the foul line (20-31) while averaging 1.9 assists. Pompelia made a team-high 28 three-point shots and recorded a percentage of 45.2% (28-62) as a freshman.

2019-20 Schedules
Boardman
Nov. 25 – Liberty, 7
Nov. 29 – Indian Creek (at Walsh)
Dec. 2 – Mooney, 7
Dec. 7 – at West Branch, 1:30
Dec. 12 – at Canfield, 7
Dec. 14 – United Way (at Poland)
Dec. 18 – at South Range, 7
Dec. 21 – Struthers, 2:30
Dec. 28 – Lake, 2:30
Dec. 30 – at Kenmore, 1:30
Jan. 4 – Ursuline, 2:30
Jan. 8 – at Massillon, 7
Jan. 11 – Howland, 2:30
Jan. 15 – Fitch, 7
Jan. 18 – at Mohawk, 1
Jan. 22 – at Harding, 7
Jan. 29 – at Howland, 7
Feb. 1 – at Fitch, 2:30
Feb. 5 – Canfield, 7
Feb. 8 – Harding, 3:30
Feb. 10 – at Mooney, 7:30
Feb. 15 – at Salem, 1

Canfield
Nov. 22 – Struthers, 7
Nov. 26 – at West Branch, 7
Dec. 2 – Louisville, 7
Dec. 4 – at Salem, 7
Dec. 9 – Ravenna, 7
Dec. 12 – Boardman, 7
Dec. 14 – Willoughby South, 7
Dec. 21 – South Range, 7
Dec. 28 – at Poland, 1:30
Jan. 4 – Howland, 7
Jan. 8 – at Harding, 7
Jan. 11 – at Fitch, 7
Jan. 15 – at Laurel, 6:30
Jan. 19 – Stow-Munroe Falls (at Hoosier Gym), 4
Jan. 22 – at Howland, 7
Jan. 25 – Harding, 1:30
Jan. 29 – Fitch, 7
Feb. 5 – at Boardman, 7
Feb. 10 – at Louisville, 7:30
Feb. 13 – Poland, 7

Fitch
Nov. 22 – vs. Lutheran East at Lakeside, 6
Nov. 23 – at Lakeside Tournament
Dec. 1 – vs. Mayfield (Walsh), 2:20
Dec. 4 – Chaney, 7
Dec. 7 – Jackson, 7
Dec. 11 – at East, 7
Dec. 14 – at Mooney, 2:30
Dec. 18 – Twinsburg, 7
Dec. 21 – Perry, 2:30
Jan.2 – Kenmore, 7
Jan. 8 – at Howland, 7
Jan. 11 – Canfield, 7
Jan. 15 – Boardman, 7
Jan. 18 – at Harding, 2:30
Jan. 22 – at Chaney, 7
Jan. 27 – Howland, 2:30
Jan. 29 – at Canfield, 7
Feb. 1 – at Boardman, 2:30
Feb. 5 – Harding, 7
Feb. 8 – at West Branch, 2:30
Feb. 10 – at Hathaway Brown, 7
Feb. 12 – Struthers, 7

Harding
Dec. 1 – vs. Elyria Catholic (Walsh), 1
Dec. 5 – Liberty, 7
Dec. 7 – at Newton Falls, 1:30
Dec. 11 – Akron North, 7
Dec. 14 – Akron Garfield, 11
Dec. 16 – Orange, 7
Dec. 19 – Ursuline, 7
Dec. 21 – Poland, 1:30
Dec. 27-30 – Tampa Holiday Tournament
Jan. 4 – at Mooney, 1
Jan. 8 – Canfield, 7
Jan. 15 – Howland, 7
Jan. 18 – at Fitch, 1:30
Jan. 22 – Boardman, 7
Jan. 25 – at Canfield, 1:30
Jan. 27 – at Ursuline, 7
Feb. 1 – at Howland, 1:30
Feb. 5 – Fitch, 7
Feb. 8 – at Boardman, 2
Feb. 12 – Champion, 7

Howland
Nov. 22 – Lakeview, 7
Nov. 29 – Toni Ross Spirit Foundation
Nov. 30 – Toni Ross Spirit Foundation
Dec. 7 – Niles, 1
Dec. 11 – Geneva, 7
Dec. 14 – Kenston, 1
Dec. 21 – at Madison, 1
Dec. 23 – at Champion, 7
Dec. 27 – South Range Holiday Tournament
Dec. 28 – South Range Holiday Tournament
Jan. 4 – at Canfield, 7
Jan. 8 – Fitch,7
Jan. 11 – at Boardman, 2:30
Jan. 15 – at Harding, 7
Jan. 22 – Canfield, 7
Jan. 27 – at Fitch, 7
Jan. 29 – Boardman, 7
Feb. 1 – Harding, 1
Feb. 4 – at Chaney, 7
Feb. 6 – at Louisville, 7
Feb. 10 – at Poland, 7
Feb. 12 – Salem, 7

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