By John Bassetti
It didn’t take long to assess the quality of Ursuline’s opponent in the first few minutes of Saturday’s game when Gahanna Lincoln made several steals, grabbed several rebounds and took a 19-9 first-quarter lead.
With three players on the floor headed to Division I schools, the Lions were in cruise control even before their three-hour return trip home following a 53-40 victory.
“What’s sad is that I have four Division I kids and we’re probably the second-most talented team in our league, maybe third,” coach Rick Hauser said of the Ohio division of the Ohio Capital Conference of which Gahanna Lincoln (7-2) is a member.
Attesting to the strength of the Lions’ league and team was the scoring of Quiera Lampkins (20 points); Maddison Blackwell (12) and Zenobia Bess (nine points and eight of her team’s 21 rebounds).
Lampkins is committed to Ohio University, Blackwell to Xavier and Bess to Illinois State. A fourth Division I-bound player who was injured will play at Cleveland State.
Sydney Stokes also had 10 points for the winners, who made most their 25 of 49 baskets in the paint. Gahanna was 2 of 3 at the line.
Ursuline (3-6) got 17 points from both Sydney Beasley and freshman Tanaya Beachum. The Irish made 14 goals and 9 of 18 free throws.
“I thought Quiera played really well today,” Hauser said of Lampkins. “I thought she kept her composure, I thought she kept her head up, got people involved and made good shots and was able to pressure without fouling, which is an issue with us.”
Gahanna Lincoln got 90 percent of Ursuline’s second missed free throws, despite being a tired troupe.
“We played last night and had a three-hour bus trip today,” Hauser said of back-to-back games, the first of which was a win over Lancaster on Friday.
“I can’t get people in our league to move games off of Fridays,” Hauser said of the weekend scheduling difficulties. “I want to play good teams out of town, but the girls have sacrificed by playing twice on the weekend.”
Of Gahanna Lincoln’s 17 steals, most came near halfcourt where the Lions adeptly picked off a pass or took advantage of an unsuspecting Ursuline handler.
The coach also said that the 6-1 Bess did well under the basket.
“We were really concerned about keeping the freshman [Beachum] off the glass.”
Blackwell also stands 6-1.
Hauser said that his staff felt that Beasley was also a worry.
“We had to make sure we always got a hand in her face because the one time we didn’t she stood right in front of us and popped it,” the coach said of a three-pointer in front of Gahanna Lincoln’s bench and one of the senior’s three first-half, three-point goals.
“We were kind of able to neutralize Beachum and keep her from scoring a lot because she was really active and that kind of hurt them [Ursuline] a little bit.”
The talent disparity was obvious.
“We knew they’d be one of our tougher teams,” Ursuline coach Courtney Davidson said. “I was proud of the way our girls played against them. They’ve got some seniors who are Division I players and we’re kind of rebuilding and trying to get some freshmen some playing time.”
Of Beasley, Davidson said she expects her to take over the scoring, as she did, at times, but that other players are capable of stepping up every game.
Ursuline’s loss to Gahanna Lincoln in 2011 was in single digits.
“We lost three seniors,” Davidson said of Arielle Irizarry, Courtney Powell and Briana Curd.
Gahanna Lincoln’s other wins this season were over Toledo Notre Dame, Pickerington Central, Newark, Groveport Madison, Lancaster, while the Lions lost to Reynoldsburg and Solon.
Hauser said Reynoldsburg has six Division I-bound players, including two juniors.
Ursuline’s wins have been over East, Bedford and Mooney, and Irish losses came at the hands of West Branch, Stow, Akron SVSM, Kennedy Catholic and Boardman.