Girls Basketball: Irish seeking second straight OHC crown

Catholic Central High School junior Serenity Castle is guarded by Cedarville sophomore Ciara Horney during a game last season at Jason Collier Gymnasium. Michael Cooper/CONTRIBUTED
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Catholic Central High School junior Serenity Castle is guarded by Cedarville sophomore Ciara Horney during a game last season at Jason Collier Gymnasium. Michael Cooper/CONTRIBUTED

Credit: Michael Cooper

Credit: Michael Cooper

SPRINGFIELD — A year after winning its first Ohio Heritage Conference South Division championship in school history, the Catholic Central High School girls basketball team is ready to defend its title — with a new coach in charge.

South High School graduate Danielle Roe is the Irish’s new coach this season. She takes over for Brandon Peterson, who resigned last spring after five years with the program. After playing collegiately at both Sinclair Community College and Kentucky Wesleyan University, Roe coached at Sinclair and most recently coached two seasons at Olentangy Orange High School in Delaware County. She also serves as the AAU Director for We Got Next Basketball.

The goal has always been to return to Springfield and make a difference in the community, Roe said.

“I know this community and these young people need a lot more than Xs and Os,” she said. “I’ve never called myself a basketball coach. I’m a leadership developer. … I believe God planted me here to develop these young women who have already experienced a level of success and the goal is to take them to the next level, not in the record books, but really for their life.”

She’s joined on the coaching staff by Steve Evans and former Kenton Ridge player Morgan (Walton) Reeder. They’ve made several changes, including new offensive and defensive systems, Roe said.

“Everything’s new,” she said. “Nothing is the same. We’ve even got new uniforms. I wanted to be able to give them a clean slate.”

The Irish return four starters from last year’s squad, including seniors Mallory Mullen, Serenity Castle and Meghan Foster and sophomore Jordyn Smoot. They graduated three seniors, including the school’s all-time leading scorer Abbigail Peterson.

The Irish have a tough schedule this season, including games against Wayne and Newark Catholic. They open the season tonight at Urbana.

While they won the OHC South last year, the Irish are still seeking postseason success. They lost to Covington in a D-IV district quarterfinal game last February.

“They still have a chip on their shoulder that they still want to be able to push through,” Roe said. “We’re not waiting for tournament time. We want to start now.”

Mullen, a 5-11 senior post player, led the OHC in rebounding (13.7 rpg) and ranked second in both field goal percentage (61.5 percent) and blocks (1.7 bpg). She recently committed to the University of Kentucky for track and field, where she’ll compete in the high jump — which Roe believes will help her this winter.

“She really just gets to relax and enjoy her senior year,” Roe said. “Now, she’s ready to play ball and go all-in for this season mentally.”

Castle, a 5-8 guard, was a first team All-OHC South Division selection. She averaged 11.3 ppg last season and shot 37 percent from behind the 3-point line.

“She has a nice motor,” Roe said. “With our offense this year, it will look a little different for her. … She’s playing with a chip on her shoulder as well. She knows what we call the “smoke” that’s coming, but we want the smoke, we want everything coming at us so that we know how to respond.”

Foster, a 5-7 guard, will also play a key role in the Irish’s system, Roe said.

“She’s going to play a huge role for us and a role that she’s never really been in,” she said. “We’ve got high expectations for her. She can handle (the ball) and she’s a mentally tough kid.”

Sophomore N’Kaya Stinnett and freshman Lili Roberts will also play a key role on the squad this season, Roe said.

The Irish will be tested every night in the OHC South, Roe said, but the goal is for her team to stay focused on themselves.

“I think it should be very competitive this year,” she said. “I’m excited for everything that comes at us and everything that we’re going to do.”

FIVE PLAYERS TO WATCH

Mallory Mullen, Catholic Central: The senior post player was a Division VI All-Ohio honorable mention selection last season, averaging 14.3 points and 13.7 rebounds per game last season.

Serenity Castle, Catholic Central: The senior guard averaged 11.3 points, 6.0 rebounds, 4.0 steals and 3.1 assists for the Irish last season, earning first team All-OHC South Division honors.

Claire Henry, Greenon: The junior guard was a first team All-OHC South Division selection last season, averaging 11.6 points and 2.9 assists per game.

Gabby Russell, Tecumseh: The junior forward averaged 11.2 points and 8.0 rebounds per game, earning first team All-CBC Kenton Trail Division honors.

Mae Mastin, Tecumseh: The senior guard averaged 12.5 points, 3.8 assists and 3.6 steals for the Arrows, earning second team All-CBC Kenton Trail Division honors.

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