By Chris Chaney
An era came to a close in the middle of last week as New Richmond, Goshen and Milford saw the flame extinguished on their 2013-14 campaigns. Influential senior classes at all three schools played their last games in the high school colors, but not before leaving enduring marks on their respective programs.
Perhaps the most lauded of the three senior contingents represented the Lady Lions of New Richmond who fell short in their bid for a sectional title appearance in a physical, up-and-down loss to McNicholas on Wednesday, Feb. 19, 51-43.
“It was two really good teams and a game that really came down to two or three plays at the end of the game that decided it,” New Richmond head coach Brad Hatfield said. “The game was tied and we had a couple things not go our way in the last minute and a half that allowed the game to fall into their lap.”
The sectional semifinal represented the last game in black and red for four Lady Lions — Josie Buckingham, Bailey Workman, Alexis Meyer and Hannah Hall.
“We’ve had a winning record at the varsity level for the last four years and there have been a lot of girls that have helped bring back a winning tradition, even before this year,” Hatfield hedged. “But this year we had Josie who is the all-time leading scorer and maybe the best player to ever play hoops for New Richmond; Bailey Workman, a three-year starter and a tremendous on-the-court leader; Alexis Meyer, the going-to-out-work-the-opponents-every-nigh type of kid; and Hannah Hall, a real solid part of our program for four years.”
That group of seniors, along with sophomore point guard Maren Hance and junior role players Tina Lawrence, Taryn Rupp and Madison Holdsworth won 20 games this season, and the school’s first Southern Buckeye Conference title since 1984.
One of the teams that the Lady Lions had to overcome en route to their league title was Goshen. The Lady Warriors’ season ended just a few hours before New Richmond’s, losing to Wyoming in the other half of the Division II sectional semifinal.
An up-and-down season for Goshen culminated with a 46-24 loss to Wyoming on Feb. 22. Three Lady Warriors suited up in the red and gray for the last time — Becca Davidson, Hannah Owens and Taylor Wells.
“All three seniors were post players,” Goshen head coach Dave Mason said. “(Wells) was fighting illness and injuries all year, so we didn’t have her at full strength and the other two we depended on, but when I say post players, they were just 5-9 and 5-10.”
With most of the Lady Warriors height graduating out, a solid junior class of guards will have to use their perimeter skills to their advantage in the season to come.
Finally, the lone Division I school to win a tournament game, Milford, will have a quartet of shoes to fill next year as Bridget Rheude, Brooke McDonald, Shayna Simmons and Andrea Swensen graduate out of the program.
A year removed from a team that won just three games, the Lady Eagles’ four seniors put the program on their back to claw out a 14-10 record and a third-place finish in the Eastern Cincinnati Conference.
McDonald and Simmons will be missed most in the scoring column as two of the top five leading scorers on the team, but Rheude will leave the biggest gap to be filled as she leaves Milford as the glue that holds the team together.
The senior guard returned to the lineup this season after tearing an ACL last year that kept her on the sideline as another assistant coach for Kristi McKenney. This season Rheude was among the top-16 in the league in assists, steals and points.
All three schools will have holes to fill left by the outgoing seniors, but those seniors’ true impact will be shown by those who work to fill in those pieces, following in the footsteps of those who came before them.