This rivalry is exactly what we need right now. With this season in complete chaos on a daily basis, and a Thursday Governers’ meeting awaiting us in less than 24 hours that is expected to have even worse numbers than last weeks. This new county map may hold some unfortunate consequences for some counties, but tonight, its rivalry time!
In the eight years since Coach Butch has taken over the Polar Bears program, elevating it to multiple District Championships and their first Federal League title in 42 years, this has been a huge rivalry! Nevermind the huge rivalry between each community, its extra intense in girls hoops!
The bitter end to Jackson’s dream season last season? Hoover…
Since the days of Hoover’s dominance that ended with that incredible class in the state finals, its been back and forth since. In 2015 Jackson got their first win against Hoover in many years, splitting with the Vikings that year. The following year Jackson pulls out an OT win after a huge Lexi Manos three tied the game at the buzzer. Another season split.
Fast forward another season and you have another split, including a Jackson victory over 10-1 Hoover, until the playoffs. Hoover returned the favor from a few years prior, but only this time it was in the districts. Taylor Mikesell hit one of the biggest shots I can remember to force OT with a 30 footer at the buzzer. Hoover pulled the game out 57-51 and advanced to the district final.
2019, Hoover stuns Jackson at the buzzer with a Kate Haubert bucket, her only field goal of the game.
Last year, Jackson swept the season matchups, but Hoover got the last laugh at Perry High School when they stifled the Polar Bears 45-18 in the district semifinals.
The talent will be on display for both of these 2-0 teams tonight. Jackson’s underclassmen are off the charts. Lauren Pallotta and Leena Patibandla are the top two 2023’s in the entire league in my mind. They also feature a top 2022 in Emma Dretke. Megan Campbell may be the best freshman in the Federal League even though her minutes will be limited this year for to the depth in older classes. The Polar Bears also have a pair of D3 commits Ava Scroggs (Mount Union) and Alayna McMullen (Ohio Wesleyan) in the backcourt.
The Vikings are led by Mount Vernon commit Emily Walker, who I consider a top played in the league. Fellow senior Kate Haubert is one of the toughest and hardest working kids in the county. Angela Roshak is a top 2022 in the conference in the interior for Hoover. The 2023 class for the Vikings is very deep! Grace Craig and Janet Eriksen give them good young post players, while Reagan Jeffries, Lauren Rose, and others give them lots of guard talent. The scary thing is, maybe the most skilled 2023, Natalie Bell, hasn’t even stepped on the floor yet in high school due to injuries.
This rivalry is alive and well, it’s been heavy the last several years, it will be intense this year, and as the two most talented teams after this year, it will stay wild for a few years at least!