GALLIPOLIS, Ohio — There were some debates about the top-12 in each division, but there was never a doubt about who the top players in the Ohio Valley Publishing area were.
Gallia Academy sophomore Zach Loveday and Meigs junior Kassidy Betzing were unanimous choices for player of the year honors as part of the 2018 OVP Super 12 basketball teams — as chosen by the sports staff from the daily publications of the Gallipolis Daily Tribune, Point Pleasant Register and The Daily Sentinel.
Both Loveday — a 7-foot-1 center — and Betzing — a 5-foot-7 guard — were repeat selections to the OVP Super 12 starting five and were also two of the six players that ended up on the lists from a year ago.
Loveday — who recorded what is believed to be the first triple-double in GAHS history at Chesapeake this past winter — was the main weapon for a Blue Devils’ team that went 20-4 while earning its first sectional title in a decade.
Loveday averaged 17.3 points, 11.5 rebounds and 4.3 blocks while guiding Gallia Academy to a second place finish in Ohio Valley Conference play.
Loveday, however, wasn’t the only member of GAHS to make the starting five as junior Cory Call — a 6-foot-1 guard — joined Loveday in the first five selections. Gallia Academy’s Gary Harrison was also named the Coach of the Year for the OVP Super 12 boys squad.
Joining Loveday and Call on the boys starting unit was Meigs sophomore Weston Baer, Southern junior Weston Thorla and South Gallia junior Braxton Hardy.
Baer — a 6-foot-2 guard — led the Marauders (10-14) in scoring with 20.0 points per game, while Thorla — a 6-foot-3 guard — paced the Tornadoes with 13.8 points and 3.1 rebounds per outing.
Hardy — a 6-foot-2 guard that joined the team midway through the season — led the Rebels (7-17) with 17.9 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.3 assists per contest. Call also averaged 8.7 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.1 assists for the Blue and White.
Of the remaining seven players on the boys team, only Meigs junior Zach Bartrum was a repeat selection. Bartrum — a 6-foot guard — averaged 14.0 points and six boards per night.
Eastern junior Isaiah Fish — a 6-foot junior — led the Eagles (10-13) in scoring with 13.7 points per night, while Wahama senior Noah Litchfield — a 5-foot-10 guard — paced the White Falcons (5-18) with 16.5 points and 6.6 rebounds per outing.
River Valley senior Jarret McCarley — a 6-foot-1 guard — led the Raiders (5-18) with 15.8 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.3 assists per night, while SHS senior Dylan Smith — a 6-foot guard — also made the list with averages of 10.1 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists each contest.
Hannan senior Malachi Cade — a 5-foot-11 guard — was the lone 1,000-point scorer on the boys team and averaged 22.5 points for the Wildcats (7-12). Point Pleasant senior Trace Derenberger — a 6-foot-7 post player — was the final selection after averaging 7.5 points and 8.0 rebounds per game for the Big Blacks (3-19).
Ohio Valley Christian (1-19) was the only boys program in the OVP area to not be represented on the Super 12 squad.
Loveday replaces former EHS standout Jett Facemyer as the OVP Super 12 boys player of the year. Harrison replaced former Meigs frontman Ed Fry as the Coach of the Year.
On the girls side of the OVP Super 12, Betzing became a three-time selection to the team while replacing former EHS standout Laura Pullins as the area’s top girls player.
Betzing led the Lady Marauders (10-13) with averages of 14.0 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.5 steals per contest.
Eastern senior Elizabeth Collins — a 6-foot-2 center — joined Betzing on the first team as a repeat selection after leading the Lady Eagles (15-8) with averages of 15.0 points and 10.0 rebounds.
The starting five was rounded out by a trio of first-time selections in Gallia Academy sophomore Alex Barnes, Eastern senior Madison Williams and Wahama freshman Emma Gibbs.
Barnes — a 5-foot-8 guard — paced the Blue Angels (10-13) with 15.8 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.7 steals per night, while Williams — a 5-foot-9 guard — averaged 13.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 7.0 assists for the sectional champion Lady Eagles.
Gibbs — a 5-foot-11 center — helped Wahama (9-15) more than quadruple its win total from a year ago while also leading the Red and White to its first league victories in over five years. Gibbs averaged 13.0 points, 12.6 rebounds and over three blocks per outing.
Two of the remaining seven selection were repeat performers on the OVP Super 12 girls team. EHS junior Jess Parker and South Gallia senior Erin Evans both landed on the area all-star squad again this winter.
Parker — a 5-foot-3 guard — averaged 12.0 points, 9.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists per contest for the Lady Eagles, while Evans — a 5-foot-8 guard — paced the Lady Rebels (8-14) with 10.2 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.1 assists per contest.
Appearing on the OVP Super 12 for the first time were Southern sophomores Baylee Wolfe and Phoenix Cleland, Wahama sophomore Hannah Rose, South Gallia senior Aaliyah Howell and Gallia Academy freshman Ryelee Sipple.
Wolfe — a 5-foot-6 guard — led the Lady Tornadoes (6-17) with 7.3 points and 6.8 rebounds per game, while Cleland — a 5-foot-6 guard — also averaged 7.3 points and had 4.5 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.7 steals a night.
Howell — a 5-foot-3 guard — poured in 7.4 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game, while Rose — a 5-foot-6 guard — led the Lady Falcons in scoring with 19.0 points per outing. Sipple — a 5-foot-7 forward — averaged 8.0 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.9 steals a game for the Blue Angels.
Second-year Eastern girls coach Jacob Parker was also a repeat selection as the OVP Super 12 girls Coach of the Year.
Point Pleasant (1-19), Hannan (5-16) and Ohio Valley Christian (7-15) did not have a representative on the OVP Super 12 girls squad.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.