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Thursday, January 17, 2002

Surprising SCPA, 13-1, performing on court

Girls basketball notebook

By Shannon Russell
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Five years ago, the School for the Creative and Performing Arts (SCPA) didn't have a girls basketball program. But now it might be the Division III team to beat.

        The Lady Raiders have won 12 straight games en route to a 13-1 record, falling only to Taft in the second game of the season.

        Coach Al Spickard said the credit goes to his seven seniors and five juniors. Their quick transformation from basketball fans to a basketball force was something Spickard never expected.

        “On the first day of practice four years ago, I only had two kids who could shoot layups. Others didn't even know how to dribble,” Spickard said. “The girls had to work hard to learn how to play.”

        Senior forward Kate Spickard and junior guard Kasey Hill lead the team with nearly identical production. Spickard averages 12.7 points, 4.9 assists and four steals a game; Hill, 12.4, 3.5 and 4.7. Starters Erin Hoernschemeyer and Tauhidah Williams have sparked SCPA for three years by giving strength to the man-to-man pressure defense.

        Senior center Crystal Gordon, who didn't touch a basketball until she was a freshman, leads the team in rebounds (10 rpg).

        Basketball gives an athletic alternative to SCPA's creative curriculum, in which students spend time on artistic specialties in addition to core classes. But if students have dance rehearsals, voice lessons or honor society meetings, basketball waits.

        “I've had girls show up at halftime of games because of rehearsals,” Spickard said.

        Adversity has been the team's theme, all the way down to its practice gym. Baseline jump shots are impossible, thanks to an arc-blocking overhanging running track. The only place the Lady Raiders can practice 3-pointers is directly behind the free throw line.

        Despite the team's best-ever record, Spickard focuses on footwork, post moves and body positioning every day. SCPA doesn't have feeder middle school programs or a powerhouse tradition that attracts transfers, so the Lady Raiders make the best of what they have.

        “These kids are all very coachable. They listen,” Spickard said. “I think that's how we got to be pretty good this year.”


        Harrison coach Stuart Scrivner said his team planned to keep the Oak Hills game quiet last week — until the Wildcats upset the top-ranked Highlanders 58-50 in front of a packed Harrison house Jan.12.

        Still reeling from its first league loss of the season, a 65-49 defeat by Fort Ancient Valley Conference rival Glen Este two days earlier, Harrison exercised caution for Oak Hills.

        “We wanted to play for fun since it wasn't a league game. We knew if we went out and shot the way Glen Este shot against us, anybody could beat anybody,” Scrivner said.

        Britney Brooks and Jill Helcher combined for 32 points to put the game out of reach. The Wildcats, ranked No.4 in the Enquirer's Division I coaches poll, are aiming for their first FAVC-Buckeye title.


        Sophomore Whitney Lewis leads area statistical leaders with 7.3 blocks a game and has registered three triple-doubles (points, rebounds, blocks) this season.

        “She has really long arms, and that helps,” coach Linda Hatten said of 6-foot-2 Lewis. “She's also really smart. She stands straight up and she's good at not getting into foul trouble.”

        Lewis leads the Lady Mustangs (12-1, 9-1 Southern Hills League) with 17 points a game.


        Drawings for the 2002 OHSAA Sectional Tournament will be at 10a.m. Jan.26 at Princeton High School. Southwest District coaches will draw from the following brackets: Div.I Lakota East, Div.I Milford, Div.II Springboro, Div.III Mason and Div.IV Waynesville. The sectional tournament is Feb.11-23.


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