West Branch Warriors 5-0 (3-0)
Salem Quakers 3-1 (2-0)
Carrollton Warriors 4-2 (2-0)
Minerva Lions 1-2 (1-1)
Canton South Wildcats 3-2 (1-2)
Marlington Dukes 3-3 (0-2)
Alliance Aviators 1-4 (0-2)
Louisville Leopards 0-5 (0-2)
This year the NBC is a very senior heavy league. The reigning POY, Sarah Lairson, is playing ball at Ursuline. After having 3 coaching changes last year, all 8 teams return their fearless leaders. This is the last year for the league as Louisville is being removed, or every other team is removing itself from Louisville, taking the rich history of girls hoops in the Northeast Buckeye Conference with them.
It would seem West Branch has a great chance of repeating as Champions while returning a trio of post players that will benefit the Warriors in the middle. Zuckowski is headed to Shawnee State, Hovorka to Mount Vernon, and Wolfe rounds out the front court. The area where the Warriors might see some issues is on the perimeter. The younger Rito decided not to play this year and they return little experience in the backcourt. West Branch will have to establish some perimeter scoring and ball handling leadership. Hannah Ridgeway and Peyton Alazaus are two young guards who will need to step in and contribute.
Louisville graduated a big and very successful class, however I don’t believe there will be as big of a dropoff as some people think. Ellie Jackson is a very capable lead guard and fellow senior Israel will step up and knock down shots as well as be big on the defensive end. In the interior I like the tandem of Erin Hahn and Hanna Lautzenheiser. Erin is the long athletic type that will challenge shots and get up and down the floor. Hanna is a tough rebounder that knows what to do with the ball around the basket. The emergence of Kayla Gibson to sort of replace Lairson will be big for the Leps. She’s long on the top of the zone and will make lots of plays to help set the tone for Louisville.
Carrollton looks to finally be healthy after suffering many injuries that derailed their season last year. Guards Husted and Starre are back on the floor and are big pieces of a nice backcourt along with Mikayla Poole. Post Pridemore is also back on the court and ready to be a game changer at 6’4″. With all the pieces back, Poole will be able to play a little more freely and not have to shoulder the entire load.
Marlington comes in with a lot of confidence. The have maybe the best PG in the league in Robin Campbell and a nice athlete and goal scorer in Hoopes, which will most likely be the highest scoring combo in the league. With Lepley and an emerging shooter in Ferrett they have a solid core. Sophomore Springer is a solid young player who will contribute for the Dukes.
Salem is deep, with some talent, but most importantly young. The longer the season goes the better the Quakers get, and possibly challenge some of the league’s top teams. Allee and Ellie Davidson will lead the Salem, the cousins are reliable scorers that can get to the rim. Casey Johnson is one of the best young PG’s in the area, she will make freshman mistakes but continue to get better. Mayer-Kutz will patrol the inside for the Quakers as a quick athletic post along with freshman Kyla Jamison who is more of a traditional post.
Canton South is low on numbers, depth and experience. This won’t stop them from being a hard working team. They have two of the better players in the league, post Brooke Noll and Megan Mitchell. Noll is an active athletic post and could put up a double double on any given night. Mitchell is a strong guard who just finds a way to produce, she could also have a double double any night. Add in a couple younger guards, Aubrey Noll and Alex Smith and the Wildcats have decent production.
The Minerva Lions and Alliance Aviators are team I haven’t seen much and can’t speak about too thoroughly. The Lions have some returning size with Kinsey and Fridges but did lose their top returner. They will be looking for someone to step up and put some points on the board, without anyone who can create their own shot that may be tough. Alliance has been working hard and will try to end their winless league streak, before the league itself ends. Davis, Thomas and Fletcher are guards who will do their best to end the streak.
Player of the Year Candidates:
Robin Campbell (SR, Marlington) – Robin is a high intensity PG who is more than ready to carry her team. They have enough talent that she doesn’t have to do everything but she will still most likely average 20+ and be a thorn in the leagues side.
Kayla Hovorka (SR, West Branch) – Kayla will put herself in this category simply because of her effort and heart. Not the best shooter or ball handler but she is the toughest, and she works the hardest. That will always make for good results. If West Branch can win the league it will have a lot to do with Kayla’s energy.
Mikayla Poole (SR, Carrollton) – Poole can fill it up. She’s a very intense player that isn’t often matched in that sense. Mikayla can score on all three levels and that makes her very good.
Natalie Zuchowski (SR, West Branch) – 6’3″ traditional post whose solid frame takes up lots of space. Opposing game plans always have to focus on Natalie, and for good reason. We will see what she has added to her game this year in order to remain at the top of both points and rebounds categories.
Players to Watch:
Allee Davidson (SR, Salem) – Big strong guard that can get to the rim. Will battle and rebound. Has a scoring mentality that will help her young team.
Kayla Gibson (SO, Louisville) – Long and athletic, nice shooter that can also get to the rim. Will cause lots of turnovers with her length and energy. My pick for biggest impact newcomer.
Erin Hahn (JR, Louisville) – Long and diverse. Can play inside and also attack from the perimeter. Nice athlete who will change/block shots and get up and down the floor.
Bri Hoopes (SR, Marlington) – Big scorer, has deep range. Fast and athletic guard who likes to defend. Very quick and shifty.
Cailee Husted (SR, Carrollton) – Fundamental player who makes great decisions and great with her left hand. Will shoot the ball well.
Ellie Jackson (SR, Louisville) – Experienced guard who gets up and down the floor and is a good leader. Plays both ends of the floor and can score on multiple levels.
Megan Mitchell – (SR), Canton South) – Tough strong guard. Won’t overwhelm anyone with her skills but she’s strong and a huge competitor who gets results.
Brooke Noll (SR, Canton South) – Athletic post who thrives on the offensive glass, and gets to the line a lot. Matchup problem for most posts because of her athleticism.
Jaci Pridemore (SR, Carrollton) – Very tall, making her a natural rebounder and shot blocker. Someone who you always have to account for.
Angela Starre (SR, Carrollton) – Tall guard with good IQ and instincts. Can shoot the ball and defend. Has the ability to score in bunches.
Freshmen to Watch:
Alex Brown (Canton South) – Combo guard who is a good shooter already, has a little swag to her game and will contribute immediately.
Mackenzie Fletcher (Alliance) – Nice ball skills, nice looking shot and a natural basketball awareness and instinct.
Kyla Jamison (Salem) – Nice size and build, pretty polished post awareness and moves for her age. Knows how to score in the post.
Casey Johnson (Salem) – Natural PG, handles the ball and pressure well. Can shoot the ball decent and loves getting up and down the floor.
Abby Laisure (Carrollton) – Primarily a shooter right now, can handle the ball. Knows how to get her shot off against bigger defenders.
Past Champions (from nbcohio.com)
2016-17 • West Branch Warriors
2015-16 • Louisville/Carrollton
2014-15 • West Branch
2013-14 • Carrollton
2012-13 • West Branch/Louisville
2008-09 Canton South
2004-05 West Branch
2003-04 West Branch
2002-03 West Branch
2001-02 West Branch
2000-01 Carrollton/West Branch
1999-00 West Branch
1998-99 West Branch
1996-97 West Branch
1995-96 West Branch
1989-90 Louisville/West Branch