OHIO'S TOP TWO FRESHMAN TO SQUARE OFF

The Division Three regional semi-final will be more than just a game against two top teams. Ohio's two top freshman will battle one another in their quest for a state title.

VANDALIA - It will be without question, the most anticipated individual match-up of the regional tournament at Vandalia. Wednesday night, the Division Three regional semi-finals open at 6:15 p.m., as Jonathan Alder, who comes in with only one loss, battles the surprising Anna Lady Rockets.

In the second game, Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy squares off with the state's top ranked Madeira Amazons.

But all eyes will be on the first game, as the two girls considered the two premiere freshman girls basketball players in Ohio will finally get to square off.

Anna's 6-foot phenom Sarah Schulze, who comes in averaging 18 points and 12 rebounds per game, will lead her squad against the high-scoring Lauren Prochaska, a guard easily capable of taking over a game. She has scored nearly 600 points her freshman year, averaging 25 points per game, and has had tournament games averaging 27 points per game.

Despite the fact that they are both being compared at this point, they are two different types of players.

Schulze will either post up her defender, or can take the ball outside and hit the 18-footer.

Prochaska, 5-foot-11, who plays like a 6-footer according to her coach Terra McDaniels, is a slashing player who can seemingly score at will. Both are already receiving college attention, and bring a lot to the table.

"She has done some great things for us this year," said McDaniels in a telephone interview Tuesday morning. "She anticipates well, and shoots the ball very well for us."
"One thing she can do is make her teammates better. The better the team that we play, the higher she rises to the occasion."

McDaniels stated that in a recent big game against Licking Valley, one of the better teams Jonathan Alder has played, Prochaska stepped up and scored 41 points.

But she also knows that Anna will be a formidable opponent, and her team will have to be ready.

"We will have to concentrate on keeping our turnovers down," she said, after seeing Anna play this year.

"Our kids will be ready to go," she stated. "They are really glad they don't have to wait a week to play this game. We have been getting ready for this game for the past couple of days, so it will be a challenge."

When it comes to defending Schulze, McDaniels knows it won't be an easy task.

"It will be interesting to see how our posts adjust to her," she said. "She is a great player."

"I cannot take anything away from the Billing girls either, they are both talented players."

As for Anna, they come in with a lot of momentum. They survived a tough league schedule that saw them play the likes of Fort Loramie, Jackson Center and Russia, and prepares them for this kind of competition.

"No question about that," said Anna coach Jeff Reese. "It is never good to lose, but playing in our conference helps us. Records don't mean anything right now, otherwise, why even play? Just award the best record the state championship."

Reese knows this will be quite a battle between two good teams.

"I know Jonathan Alder will come out at us, they are a good team," he said. "But we will be ready, and there is no doubt, we have to play a solid game to win."

And as far as the match-up everybody is talking about?

"Sarah is playing well," he said. "But there is no way she can even come close to playing as well as she has without the other 10 girls on this team. They all seem to come up with a big play at different times."

"Look at our senior, Blythe (Billing), she has lifted us up a lot this year, as well as players like Whitney Muehlfeld, coming off the bench. She came in and lit a fire for us in the tournament. And Stephanie Lehmkuhle, playing her solid defense against our opponents best offensive player. She doesn't often get recognized for her defense, but she is a key part of this team."

Another freshman to watch is 5-foot-11 Rachel Billing, a player who can use her height at the guard position to create match-up problems for the opposition.

While Reese knows what his team has to do to win, he is also leery about the prospects of trying to stop Prochaska.

"She is a great player," he said. "Lauren does a little but of everything for them, and gets the other players on her team motivated and playing better."

Tipoff for this Division Three semi-final game is 6:15 Wednesday night at the Student Activity Center, on the campus of Vandalia-Butler High School
.


Ohio Prep Scene Top Stories