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Published: Thursday, 1/17/2013

GIRLS BASKETBALL

Rams, Wildcats ready to play in Country Challenge

BY DONALD EMMONS
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

The girls basketball teams from Rogers and Northview are facing tough midseason tests this weekend when both compete in the Classic in the Country Challenge in Berlin, Ohio.

"It's always a special event," Rogers coach Lamar Smith said. "It's one of the top girls events in the country. This is our second year in it, and it's an honor for our program to be offered to play in it. The girls are excited to be in it."

Six of the eight schools involved in Ohio's four state championship games (Divisions I through IV) last year are among 30 teams in the event.

Defending state champions Twinsburg (D-I), Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown (D-II), and Columbus Africentric (D-III), as well as defending state runners-up Kettering Fairmont (D-I), Millersburg West Holmes (D-II), and host Berlin Hiland (D-IV) will compete.

Teams from Tenneseee, Maryland, and Colorado are also scheduled to play.

Northview (7-5) will face Hathaway Brown at 11:45 a.m. Saturday, while Rogers (9-2) will play Cincinnati Winton Woods at 11:45 a.m. Monday.

The event, being held for the 10th season, is great preparation for teams with aspirations of making a deep run in the state tournament, according to Rogers coach Lamar Smith.

"It's always tough competition," said Smith. "You know you’re going to play in front of a packed crowd. There's a lot of college coaches in the crowd, and it's great for girls basketball. It's a great opportunity for your players to get to play in it in front of big crowds and a lot of college coaches."

The Rams will be without Smith's daughter, Jasmyne, who is rehabbing her right knee after suffering an injury in December during a game at Notre Dame. She has been limited to just shooting in practice, but is hoping she'll be able to play by tournament time.

"She's still working through therapy," Lamar Smith said. "She's definitely giving it a shot to try and come back."



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