Nobody asked me, but...
The five best boys basketball players I've seen this season -- emphasis on I've seen for all these picks -- are (in no particular order): Warren Harding junior Prescott Burgess, Austintown Fitch junior Greg Mayes, Wilson senior Ellis Moody, Springfield junior Dan Schuler and Ursuline senior Marc Palermo.
Five best girls: Boardman sophomore Amber Bland, Canfield senior Erin Martin, Mooney junior Aieshya Dixon, South Range senior Crystal Schuler and Boardman senior Ashlee Russo. (I haven't seen Ursuline sophomore Courtney Davidson yet this year, so please, no hate mail about leaving her off the list.)
Best dunk: Canfield guard Frank Turocy had an open-court dunk against Boardman. It was notable because Turocy is:
* 6-feet tall, and
* A sophomore.
Best games: (Boys) Boardman's 76-72 overtime win over Poland; (Girls) Boardman's 52-49 win over Hudson. (Yes, conspiracy theorists, I realize these are both Boardman wins. It's just a coincidence.)
Best freshmen: (Boys) Poland's Chad Fender; (Girls) Lowellville's Tami Nero.
Best student section: Both Newton Falls and Springfield have students who wear camouflage, but Springfield has a guy who can tumble alongside the cheerleaders. Springfield gets the nod. (Poland is third, if only because the students can be hilariously mean.)
Best atmosphere: Ursuline at Newton Falls on Dec. 29. The Tigers won 45-43.
Best exit: Boardman official scorer Ed Strauss, who was ejected in the third quarter of a game against Canfield because of his remarks to an official. (The Spartans were leading by 18 points at the time.)
Best quotes: Finally, to reward those coaches who didn't say, "I'm proud of my kids," or, "They're a well-coached team", here are the first-half quotes we loved the most.
Grove City coach Don Fee shunned "coach-speak" for honesty in a 76-73 win over New Wilmington: "Did I think we were going to win? Probably not." Then, after beating Sharon 83-78 in overtime, Fee said, "I tell everybody that my hair doesn't turn gray, it just falls out."
We're not sure, but East Palestine coach Jeff Berger may have wanted a better offensive effort from his team in a 65-33 loss to Springfield: "When you can't throw the ball in the ocean, it's tough to win."
After Champion lost to Newton Falls 49-47, Golden Flashes boys coach Jeff Rasile said, "Newton Falls is an outstanding team. But I think we should have won."
South Range was out-scored 15-3 in the third quarter of a loss to rival Springfield, prompting Raider coach Harold McCue to say, "We had a brain lock. We just stood around and watched them play. Our shooting was pathetic."
New Castle girls coach Luan Grybowski gets the award for "Best Interview of the Year" for her comments after a 56-49 loss to Sharon.
"I thought the first half was absolutely horrible. The first quarter was probably the worst quarter of basketball that any of my coached teams have played." Grybowski said after the Wildcats gave up the first 15 points of the game.
Then, after Grybowski's bench was whistled for a technical in the same game, she said: "Down the stretch the officials hurt us and I am not going to lie about it. I don't mind being out-played or out-hustled, but I thought the technical call against my assistant was a cheap call."
Reporters hear this stuff all the time, but it's always followed by, "But don't print that."
After Boardman's 80-55 loss to Warren Harding, boys coach Dan Gorski was on to something when he said, "Everybody who came here tonight got to see a great game. We just happened to have better seats."
We lucky scribes say the same thing.
XJoe Scalzo covers high school sports for The Vindicator. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.