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Lovely nominated for McDonald’s All American game

Greeneview hasn’t seen the likes of a girls high school basketball player like Ashton Lovely since, well, never.

“That brand of basketball, we don’t get that very much here in Jamestown,” reflected Rams head coach Gregg Haines prior to Wednesday’s game at Triad.

“She definitely has been nice to have to game-plan around. We’ll have to fill that void at least halfway next (season), but we’ll see what we can do.”

The 5-foot-10 guard further separated herself from area players this week when she received a nomination to play in the McDonald’s All American girls basketball game.

Lovely, a senior, is one of 18 boys and girls throughout the Miami Valley — and 984 nationally — to be nominated for the girls/boys doubleheader at Chicago’s United Center on April 2.

The games will be televised live on ESPNU. The 24-player East and West rosters will be revealed live on ESPNU at 6 p.m. on Jan. 29.

An effective inside and outside presence, Lovely is scorching the Ohio Heritage Conference, averaging 23 points, 5.5 assists, 3.5 steals and 3.0 rebounds.

Those are just the kinds of numbers the University of Cincinnati envisioned when the Bearcats landed her during the November signing period.

Evan Bradds, a 2013 Greeneview grad, signed with Belmont (Tenn.), an NCAA Division I men’s program. Haines said Lovely is the first Rams girl to sign with an NCAA D-I program.

“That was a big thing for us,” Haines said. “She’ll be battling (Big East rival and defending national champion) UConn at least twice a year. That’ll be a whole different jump from the OHC.”

Lovely has been at the center of the Rams’ continued success. Two seasons ago – Haines’ first – Greeneview was 18-5. Last season the Rams rolled to a 23-2 record, falling 67-61 to nemesis Fayetteville-Perry in a D-III sectional final.

Facing a schedule upgrade, Greeneview was 1-2 this season following losses to Springboro and again to Fayetteville-Perry, the state’s No. 4 team in the first Associated Press poll.

But the Rams haven’t lost since, mounting a six-game win streak prior to the Triad game.

Lovely moved to the point when Natasha Seibenhaler went down with a knee injury. Since Seibenhaler’s return, Greeneview has hiked up its defense and appears to be in good position to defend its OHC title. If that happens and another deep postseason run follows, Lovely will have played a key role.

Lovely also is on pace to surpass 2,000 career points and 450 assists.

“She’s really stepped up this (season) as far as being a leader, especially when Natasha was out,” Haines said. “She’s really distributing the ball and getting others involved.”

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