Word! Breaking down some interesting Headlines in Richland County prep basketball

MANSFIELD — There are a ton of mini Headlines surrounding high school basketball in Richland County.

Some aren’t quite big enough to get their one spotlight, but still deserve to be talked about.

Introducing Word! A special column designed to talk about those Headlines in an interesting and fun way. We start with a statement that leaves one word out and I have to fill in the blank with a word that fits perfectly and talk about why it does so.

Let’s check it out.

Annika Labaki’s hot shooting streak is blank for the Clear Fork Colts.

Paramount.

Since Labaki started getting hot from beyond the arch, the Colts have pushed their scoring average up to 48.6 points a game, the third-highest average in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference. Six times this season, the Colts have been held below that average and they are 1-5 in those games. With Labaki, who leads the MOAC in 3-pointers made with 37, adding a dynamic dimension to the Colts’ offense, it should take Clear Fork to a whole new level as tournament time approaches and her ability to knock down open 3s is extremely important to the Colts’ success. Labaki drained six 3-pointers in a win over Ontario on Friday night marking the third straight game she has five or more. She had seven against Galion tying the school record for most 3s in a game and she made five in a loss to River Valley where she had 15 of the Colts’ 28 points. Her shooting ability is paramount to the Colts’ Offensive success and ultimately, will be the x-factor for the rest of the year.

Lucas' Shelby Grover dropped 39 points in a win over Mansfield Christian on Saturday for a vintage Grover performance.

Shelby Grover’s 39 points in a 49-46 win over Mansfield Christian was blank.

Vintage.

After she missed the entire first half of the season with stress fractures in her ankle, one couldn’t help but wonder just how impactful Grover would be when she returned. Those questions were answered loud and clear on Saturday when she dropped 39 points in an upset win over Mansfield Christian. It was a vintage performance for Grover who has a school-record, career-high 40 pieces on her resume last season as she seems fully recovered from her injury and has returned to form. To come out and drop 39 against one of the best teams in Richland County is huge for Grover and the Cubs. Lucas is 6-1 with Grover in the lineup and she is averaging well over 25 points a game in that span. The Cubs are now 7-10 and creeping back towards a .500 record. They have a tough 3-game stretch coming up with Fredericktown, Loudonville and then back at Mansfield Christian. With Grover playing at a vintage level, getting to .500 before the tournament starts wouldn’t be a complete surprise.

The Shelby Whippets took a 16-point loss to Marion Harding over the weekend, a loss that might actually be the best thing for the team moving forward.

Shelby’s 64-48 loss to Marion Harding on Saturday night was blank for the Whippets.

Solace.

That’s right. I said it. The Shelby Whippets losing to Marion Harding on Saturday by 16 was actually good for them. It ended the pressure of a 13-game winning streak, it ended the pressure of trying to go undefeated in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference and it ended the pressure of trying to live up to the hype every single night. What did the Whippets actually lose on Saturday? Not much. They lost a basketball game, sure, but other than that, they are still in great shape. They are tied atop the MOAC standings with River Valley, a team they met on Feb. 4 for what looks like a winner-take-all game for the league championship. And they are going to go into it without much pressure. They still have to play Galion and Highland before getting to RV, but those two games should be contests where they can find their rhythm and get back on track. There is absolutely nothing to worry about in Whippets Country after an upset loss on Saturday.

Clear Fork's Kaden Riddle and the Colts have six wins on the year, a mark that might propel the program into a string of bounceback seasons.

The Clear Fork Colts boys basketball team won six games so far this year blank for that program.

Momentous.

Now, we don’t usually want to make a huge deal out of winning six games in a season, but in this case, the Colts sitting at 6-10 after the first 16 games of the season is kind of huge for the direction of that program. After going 0-23 last year and suffering through a 27-game losing streak, winning six games this year is a pretty big deal when you look at the grand scheme of things. Their 62-54 win over Galion on Saturday just showed how much this team has grown after losing 67-62 to the Tigers earlier in the season. If you need a measuring stick on the 2022-23 Colts, let that be it. The Colts are trying to build a consistent winner in The Valley and have a chance to possibly put up the first winning season since 2018-19 if they can pull off some upsets down the stretch and maybe pick up a tournament win. But what this season has done for the direction of the program is momentous and will be looked at as something that could be contributed to setting the tone for a successful future.

Mansfield Senior's Kyeona Myers suffered a writing injury that kept her out against Lexington.  She is a player the Tygers need healthy this week.

Kyeona Myers’s wrist injury is blank for the Mansfield Senior Tygers.

Disquiet.

Myers is one of the best freshmen in all of Richland County and has been a huge reason why the Tygers have 13 wins so far this season, but she missed the game against Lexington last week with a wrist injury and the recovery time is uncertain. The Tygers did come away with a convincing 60-34 win over Lady Lex, but they have some bigger fish to fry in the near future. After the Tygers travel to Madison on Thursday, they have to head to West Holmes on Saturday with the Ohio Cardinal Conference lead on the line. The Tygers beat West Holmes at Pete Henry Gymnasium 45-43 last week and Myers had 10 huge points in that win. Depending on how serious the wrist injury is, the Tygers might have to head to Millersburg without their star freshman and see if they can pull off a big win that puts them in the driver’s seat for the OCC title. Hopefully, Myers can get back soon as the Tygers have some important games coming up.

Crestview's Owen Barker leads the Cougars into Lucas with their undefeated record on the line.

Tuesday’s Crestview at Lucas boys basketball game is blank for small-school basketball in Richland County.

Heeding.

This game is about putting small-school basketball in Richland County on the map. Neither team is getting a ton of respect in the AP Poll with undefeated Crestview being the 17th-ranked team in Division III, which is an absolute travesty. The Cougars beat Division I Madison last week and should see a nice jump in their ranking this week so we will have to wait and see how it comes out. On the other side, the Cubs are playing well and are coming off of a narrow loss to Colonel Crawford last weekend, a team Crestview did beat by single digits, one of the few teams that could stay within striking distance of the Cougars this year. I am fully expecting a packed house in the Cubs Cave on Tuesday for one of the best mid-week games of the year.

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Twitter: @JakeFurr11

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