- Marc Pendleton Staff Writer
Alter graduates Braxtin Miller and Libby Bazelak formed the most celebrated – and successful – girls high school basketball backcourt in area history. Now, they’re making their marks at the next level.
Miller, a 6-foot guard at Oklahoma State University, was named the national freshman player of the week by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association. Recently inserted into the starting lineup, Miller had a breakout performance in the Cowboys’ 87-72 upset of then-No. 7 UCLA at the Stillwater campus last week.
She tallied a career-high 19 points, converted eight of 10 free throws, had four rebounds, two assists and two steals. She also was named the Big 12 freshman player of the week. Averaging 8.0 points, she also hit double digits in scoring against Wichita State and Tennessee.
Oklahoma State (7-2) hosts South Carolina Upstate on Tuesday.
Bazelak, a 5-9 freshman guard at Duquesne, is a top sub, averaging 3.3 points with a high of 10. Duquesne (9-2) hosts Central Michigan on Sunday. An Atlantic 10 Conference member, Duquesne is at Dayton on Jan. 31.
Miller and Bazelak were two key reasons Alter played in four straight Division II state championships from 2014-17. Alter lost the 2014 title game, then swept the last three championships. The Knights were 115-5 during the duo’s career (both were four-year starters), the best of any boys or girls Ohio program in that span.
Bazelak’s older sister, Maddie, is a sophomore regular on Duquesne’s volleyball team.
»RELATED: Girls basketball power rankings
• Kyle Ahrens (Versailles) and D’Mitrik Trice (Wayne) unfortunatley have something more in common than playing Big Ten basketball. Both are sidelined with injuries.
Ahrens, a 6-6 junior guard/forward at Michigan State (9-1), appeared ready to contend for a starting spot or top reserve role until he re-broke a leg in preseason. He’s been officially labeled as “out indefinitely” and has yet to play.
Ahrens has not previously redshirted, meaning that’s an option if he doesn’t see action later this season. Last season Ahrens played in 34 games, averaging 2.6 points. His brother, Justin Ahrens, is a senior at unbeaten Versailles High School and has signed with Ohio State. That means a future Ahrens vs. Ahrens matchup could happen.
»RELATED: Boys basketball power rankings
Trice, a 6-0 sophomore guard, was a starter for Wisconsin after being a top sub last season. However, he underwent foot surgery this week. A return this season hasn’t been ruled out, although that would be risky.
Trice was averaging 9.4 points and a team-high 31.5 minutes for the Badgers (5-7).
Trice’s brother, Travis Trice (Wayne), is a starter for the Brisbane Bullets in the Australian National Basketball League. He also played at MSU.
• Iowa junior Ahmad Wagner (Wayne) is averaging 3.0 points and 2.9 rebounds and has six starts, but it’s another sport that keeps him in the news. The 6-7, 235-pounder was an All-Ohioan in football at Wayne as a senior.
Wagner insists he won’t switch sports anytime soon. “I’m going to stick to basketball for now,” Wagner told Land of 10 writer Scott Dochterman. “We’ll see what happens.”
Wagner could join the Hawkeyes football team — or any other program — if he graduates in four years and elects to pursue another sport as a fifth-year graduate student. Ohio State was among the many football programs that would have offered Wagner had he elected to pursue football. Eventually playing for the Buckeyes isn’t out of the question, if only for one season. That would test his Hawkeyes’ loyalty, should he choose to pursue football.
“You never know,” he said. “A lot of people have done it. It’s not impossible.”
• Liberty is getting a big-time assist from two area products: Isaiah Williams (Stivers) and Myo Baxter-Bell (Chaminade Julienne).
A 6-7 redshirt freshman, Williams was named the Big South freshman of the week following wins at Georgia State and Maryland Eastern Shore, averaging 8.5 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists. He helped Liberty overcome a 16-point deficit to beat Georgia State in overtime. He averages 6.6 points.
Williams transferred to Liberty from Akron after last season.
Baxter-Bell, a 6-5 redshirt sophomore, had 28 starts last season and was named to the All-Big South freshman team. He’s averaging 7.0 points as a top sub and has put up remarkable shooting numbers: 29 of 52 (.558 percent) from the field and 12 of 13 (.923) in free throws.
Liberty (7-3) is off to its best start since the 2008-09 season.