Hayley Suchland didn’t want to be late for the all-Clark County girls basketball banquet Tuesday night, but she had a softball game to pitch.
Her basketball coach, Beth Marks, was nervous that her star player might miss being introduced as a member of the coaches’ all-county team. So Suchland, as she did all season, performed well for her coach. She threw a one-hour, five-inning no-hitter, made it to the banquet room in uniform at Wittenberg while dinner was still being served and set her coach’s mind at ease.
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The biggest reason for Suchland to make it was because she was also being honored with the Pam Evans Smith Miss Basketball award as the top player in Clark County. Suchland averaged 30.9 points a game and was first team all-Southwest District and first team all-state in Division III.
“I thought there was a chance I could get it, but the chance might be slim with all of these DI and DII schools,” Suchland said. “I’m glad that all my hard work and all my dedication throughout the years with basketball and softball and school and just being successful in everything I do has really paid off and is seen by others.”
When the coaches met to nominate their players and vote, Marks knew the competition was strong with all-state juniors Mikala Morris of Kenton Ridge and Presley Griffitts and Corinne Thomas of Tecumseh also on the all-county team.
“I said this is difficult,” Marks said of when she was in the meeting, in which the coaches also consider academics, community service and character. “Some of them had played for me in the past. It was difficult because I know them, I know the athletes they are, the students they are, the people they are. They’re all deserving of this.”
The players come knowing they have made the team. But they don’t know who will be named Miss Basketball.
“Coach Marks hid it from me,” Suchland said. “I asked her to tell me, but she wouldn’t budge. I was very surprised when I heard this news.”
Marks said it was one of toughest secrets she’s ever had to keep. “I didn’t tell a soul,” she said.
It’s no secret that Suchland is good enough to play basketball and softball in college, which is why she has decided to do both at Wilmington College. Marks played both at Urbana University.
“Her encouragement was one of the main reasons why I decided to go to Wilmington,” Suchland said. “She said that she loved being able to play basketball and softball when she was in college.”
Marks said she told Suchland to try both for a year, but if it’s too much and her grades suffer even a little then pick one.
“She loves both, she’s great at both, she just doesn’t want to give either one of them up yet,” Marks said. “I think she’s capable. She’s intelligent, she’s mature, she’s a great athlete. I think she’ll be able to do well with both sports as well as keep her grades up.”
The other all-county team members are Shawnee seniors Olivia Potts and Emily Lord, Southeastern junior Leslie Flores, Greenon sophomores Regan Ware and Lydia Henry and Catholic Central freshman Abbigail Peterson.
Shawnee coach Blake Garberich was named coach of the year. He led the Braves to 17 wins, the second most in school history. Garberich announced that he is stepping down after five years as the head coach.
Greenon received both sportsmanship awards from the Southwest Ohio Officials Association. Kylee Gmuca, a senior, won the player award. Gary Falkenbach, whose Knights were 11-13 this season, won the coach award for the fifth time. Falkenbach also announced he was stepping down as head coach.
Potts was awarded the $1,500 Jim Murray Scholarship.
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