Talawanda girls basketball team takes Southwest Ohio Conference

The Talawanda girls’ basketball team celebrated a Southwest Ohio Conference championship after a win at Mount Healthy Jan. 29. CONTRIBUTED

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The Talawanda girls’ basketball team celebrated a Southwest Ohio Conference championship after a win at Mount Healthy Jan. 29. CONTRIBUTED

Featuring a balanced and complementary roster, the Talawanda girls’ basketball team captured the outright championship of the Southwest Ohio Conference.

The team carried a league record of 8-1 into their final regular-season SWOC game on Wednesday. Their overall record stood at 17-2 as they prepared to face Ross.

The clincher came in a 55-46 win at Mount Healthy on Jan. 29, capping an exciting week in which junior Kylee Fears reached the 1,000-point scoring mark for her career and the team played — and won — four games in six days.

That string of wins included a one-point victory over rival Badin which gave Talawanda a 49-48 win on a free throw in the final seconds by junior Taylor Farris.

In addition to the home game with Ross, the Braves are scheduled to play a Friday (Feb. 4) game against the Trailblazers, a game added to the schedule with a home-school group.

Talawanda will then have a week to prepare for a first-round sectional game against Loveland the next weekend.

“We played Loveland a couple years ago and they were good,” Coach Mary Jo Huismann said.

Talawanda has now won titles in five of the 10 years in the history of the SWOC and the third outright championship with twice sharing the top honors.

Fears became the seventh player in program history to reach 1,000 points, reaching the mark while scoring 30 in the win over Badin. She carried an average of 17.6 points per game after a 50-44 win at McNicholas on Monday, good for second in the league, while leading the league in field goal percentage at 56.7 percent. Proving herself to be a well-rounded player, Fears also held the league lead in rebounds, with 13.6 per game. She is third in the SWOC in blocked shots, as well.

“The more the game is on the line, the more she picked up what she had to do,” coach Huismann said. “She has been consistently good all three years.”

New to the team this year has been Farris, who moved into the district and brought unselfish play to the team, leading the league in assists, with 3.7 per game.

“She is a strong Division 1 player, very strong and leading in assists,” the coach said. “They complement each other.”

Sophomores McKenna Weekley and Myah Keene bring strong play to the team after solid freshman play a year ago.

“They are experienced and it shows,” Huismann said.

Junior Kaelyn Wright does not have the statistics of her teammates but plays a major role in the team’s success guarding the opponent’s top player. She stands fifth in the SWOC in assists, with 2.4 per game.

“Kaelyn is our stopper. She is on their best kid and does not get the stats because she’s always in somebody’s face,” the coach said.

The team’s lone senior is Eva Motta, who was a starter last year and is the first player off the bench this season, contributing in that role, averaging just under three points a game and 1.5 rebounds.

Talawanda leads the conference in points scored per game (53.4), freethrow percentage (66.8), assists (232), and rebounds (627).

Huismann knew she would have a good team this year despite a middle of the road season a year ago but with most players coming back. She got her first strong indication of how good they would be last June.

“I saw Taylor Farris in June and I realized coming in she could help,” the coach said. “It’s neat her and Kylee Fears complement each other. Fears is so strong, she just takes her opponent to the basket. She does it all.”

The time gap between the game this past Friday and next Saturday’s sectional contest not only gives the team the week to prepare for the game, it will give them a little time to rest, as well, after playing eight games in two weeks.

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