Longtime assistant takes over Tecumseh girls basketball program

The successful Tecumseh girls basketball program has been entrusted to the familiar leadership of Chasity Russell, an assistant to Danielle Thomas for the past nine years.

Russell never expected to be head coach. But that changed when the school chose not to renew Thomas' contract after 12 seasons .

“I hadn’t really thought about it since I became the assistant because I really enjoyed my role,” Russell said. “Why fix something that’s not broken? And we were successful and I liked the people that I was coaching with.”

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Thomas led the Arrows to a 17-8 record this past season and their fourth straight Central Buckeye Conference Kenton Trail Division championship. She compiled a record of 184-99 and won five league titles in the past seven years.

“I’ve learned so much – she’s been a great mentor,” Russell said. “And I’ve learned so much continuously because she’s always learning too.”

When the job came open, Russell did not hesitate to apply.

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“We’ve worked really hard on the program as a whole, and I didn’t want to see that go to the wayside,” she said. “So it was important in the discussions that her and I had that we continue the success that we’ve put so much time into.”

The Arrows’ new look will be more than just the head coach. Four starters graduated, including three who will play college basketball. Corinne Thomas, who tied the state record for career 3-pointers made and scored 2,000 points, will play at Division II West Liberty in West Virginia. Presley Griffitts was a four-year starter who will play at Division I IUPUI. Mackenzie Pauley will play at Wittenberg, and Macy Berner will compete in track at Wittenberg.

The only returning starter is guard Mae Mastin, who averaged 11.2 points as a freshman. Rising juniors Terah Harness, Lyndsey Back and Delaney Martin are the only other players with varsity experience. Russell will depend on a freshman class that was unbeaten throughout middle school to fill out a roster with no seniors.

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“We’re going to have our growing pains, we’re going to do dumb things,” Russell said. “That’s part of us being young. But with the way the youth program is set up into our high school program, we’re not going to fall off as much as people think that we might.”

Tecumseh has played a difficult non-conference schedule in recent years. The Arrows are in Division I and play Division II and III schools in the CBC. So they’ve been playing Division I schools like Beavercreek and Springboro to be more prepared for tournament play.

“We don’t want to back it off too much,” Russell said. “I think it’s important to play those teams, because that is who we play come tournament time.”

Another factor in the growth of the Arrows’ program has been the youth program that Thomas started and was the face of. Russell said she will also take on that responsibility. Russell is a mother of four and has two daughters playing in the program. The youth program is where she got her start before joining the varsity staff.

Russell is from Findlay and played at Liberty Benton before playing college ball at Heidelberg.

“I knew at an early age that I wanted to coach because of the impact that my coaches had on my life,” she said. “And I knew that I wanted to affect those lives like that, and I’ve always loved basketball.”

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