It seemed like a simple idea at the time.
Compile a list of the top girls and boys basketball players over the last 25 years.
Why 25 years?
Well, I’ve been here just over 26 years for starters. And 25 seemed like a nice, clean number.
Call it our Silver Anniversary team, if you will.
Then, once the idea was hatched, the real questions began.
How many players would make our list?
Should we rank them?
Should current-day players be included?
Should their college careers count?
While we began to sift through the process, Lima News sportswriter Jim Naveau and I began digging through programs, websites and microfilm to find statistics, records and honors.
In the end, we decided on the following:
We would compile the top 25 players over the last 25 years. There would be a boys and a girls basketball list.
Current high school players would be ineligible. Players now in college would be considered.
The college careers would be considered as one piece to the puzzle, but certainly not the No. 1 factor.
We would rank the boys and girls 1 to 25.
In the end, I considered the players’ overall ability, not just their final points total.
Did they do other things besides score? Could they pass, rebound and play defense?
Did they elevate a team and make that whole team better by their play?
Were they considered one of the top players or the top player in the region in the year they played?
Winning was important as well. Trips to the state and state titles were plusses on their resume.
The years we considered went from the 1987-88 season to the 2011-12 season.
However, it must be noted that if we went back 26 years and included the 1986-87 team, Bath’s Kristen Holt would have been high on the list. She led the Wildkittens to the 1987 state title.
Other standouts who fell out of our 25-year time range included Bath’s Lisa Bradley and Amy Prichard, Delphos St. John’s Traci Gorman and Crestview’s Jackie Motycka. All would have ranked high on the list of 25.
Early in the process, I thought two players stood out above the rest, Bluffton’s Caity Matter and Elida’s Jennifer Phillips.
Matter received the No. 1 spot based on her scoring 2,274 points (15th best in Ohio all-time) at Bluffton, along with her scoring 1,523 career points at Ohio State. She led her team to the state finals and was runner-up as Ms. Basketball in 2000.
For me, Phillips was a close second. She scored 1,328 points at Elida and took her team to the 1997 state championship. She then went on to score 1,607 points at Xavier. She’s a member of both the Elida and Xavier halls of fame.
Players No. 3 to 5 came quickly after that with Fort Recovery’s Lynn Bihn at No. 3, St. Marys’ Nikki Miars at No. 4 and Lima Senior’s Tammy Williams at No. 5.
Spots No. 6 to 10 settled in with Minster’s Lauren Shenk, Upper Scioto Valley’s Gwen Hurley, Wapakoneta’s Lindsey Kentner, Elida’s Chrissy Billiter and Celina’s Carey Poor.
Bath’s Sherry Kahle is listed at No. 11, while her sister, Teresa Kahle, is ranked No. 24.
The middle spots filled in pretty well, with most of us agreeing with all the picks.
The toughest part of the entire process was deciding the final few spots and who would we be leaving out.
In the end, the final spots went to the following: 21. Sara Puthoff (Marion Local), 22. Lauren Slusser (Columbus Grove), 23. Carin Horne (Lima Senior), 24. Teresa Kahle (Bath) and Linda Horner (Perry).
The school leading the way was Lima Senior, who placed four players on the list with Williams, Madinah Slaise, Cobie Carlisle and Horne. Elida, Bath, Ottawa-Glandorf and Marion Local all had two on the list.
We wanted to include many more on the list, but the problem was who to take off?
Just missing the list was Devon Golden, Wapakoneta’s all-time leader in rebounds, assists and steals. She’s second on the school’s scoring list and led the team to the 2009 state finals.
Columbus Grove’s Amanda Schroeder scored 1,232 points in high school and 1,374 at Baldwin-Wallace. It was tough not including her.
Bath’s Stefanie and Rachel Mauk both scored 1,000 points and were strongly considered, as well.
Others who just missed making the final spot on my ballot included St. Marys’ Krissy Haines, Delphos Jefferson’s Kristen Klausing, Ottawa-Glandorf’s Shelly Bellman, Marion Local’s Lori Albers, Bath’s Jackie Frye, Ottoville’s Melanie Miller, Kalida’s Annette Trenkamp, Coldwater’s Amy Siefring, Delphos St. John’s Rachel Pohlman and Amanda Elwer, Allen East’s Jamie Zerbe, Crestview’s Melissa Eickholt and Bath’s AuBree Hamilton.
So, there it is. The top 25 girls basketball players over the last 25 years.
It was a simple idea, but there was nothing simple about it.