By Ryan Kaczmarski
Four area high school girls basketball players have been selected by the Ohio High School Basketball Coaches Association (OHSBCA) as Academic All-Ohio selections for 2011-12. The players were selected for this honor based upon their academic excellence and contributions to their basketball teams.
In Division I, the two area selections are Lakewood High School’s Jessica Garcia and Westlake High School’s Katie Carroll.
Garcia had a scoring average of 17.8 points per game last season and has maintained a 3.70 GPA.
“She brought senior leadership to a first-year coach,” said Lakewood head coach Michael Gallagher. “She was an example for the underclass players, and had a drive to improve (her game) at practice. She brought a high level of confidence (to the team), as she and her twin sister Bridgette were the only seniors.”
Carroll, a Quinnipiac University basketball recruit, averaged 11.1 points per game last season and has maintained a 4.0 GPA.
“Katie has had quite a career in her four years at Westlake High School,” said Westlake head coach Chip Weiss. “She has played in 96 games here, which is a school record. We played in three district championship games, winning two, with her starting for the team. I’d say that’s a pretty good resume.”
Carroll was given second-team All-Southwestern Conference honors her sophomore year and first-team All-SWC honors her junior and senior years. She was also named to the All-District team this year.
“She was named the team captian last season,” Weiss said. “She did a fantastic job with the younger girls, even helping the ones who didn’t have a ride get to the games and practices.”
In Division II, the two area selections are Rocky River High School’s Ciara Kessler and Bay High School’s Claire Wilson.
Kessler had a scoring average of 11.3 points per game last season and has maintained a 3.90 GPA.
“On the court, Ciara is a relentless worker who is always striving to improve,” said Rocky River head coach Michael Sislowski. “She typically defended the best player on opposing teams – she possesses the versatility to defend both post players and guards. Offensively, she has an array of post moves that, in combination with her ability to knock down 15-foot jumpers, made her difficult to defend.
“Off the court, Ciara is a natural leader,” he added. “Demonstrating the ability to make strong decisions, she does not shy away from mentoring younger players in the program. She has the maturity to recognize her strong skill sets and is willing to take the time to share her abilities with others.”
During Kessler’s high school career, the Pirates have won 79 games, four West Shore Conference championships, three district championships and had one regional championship game appearance.
“It has been a tremendously rewarding experience to coach Ciara,” Sislowski said. “I can say in no uncertain terms that the Rocky River girls basketball program would not have enjoyed the recent success that it has without her.”
Wilson had a scoring average of 13.7 points per game last season and has maintained a 4.0 GPA.
“She has been the unquestioned leader of our basketball team,” said Bay head coach Chris Brewer. “She has been one of the most underrated players I have ever coached and finally is getting recognized, this year, for her contributions and success on the basketball court. As an athlete, she is a coach’s dream.”
Wilson’s high school career highlights include being named team MVP, first-team All-WSC and a WSC MVP nomination. She led her team in scoring, steals, field goal percentage and free throw percentage. She was also a two-year captain and a three-year starter.
“As a person, Claire is simply top-notch,” Brewer said. “Her character and integrity are something everyone should strive for. She epitomizes what a student athlete should be: a great student, a great basketball player, a great teammate and a great person.”