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Raiders’ Lamparty tops All-Area girls

The South Range girls have a long list of outstanding basketball players and senior Izzy Lamparty ranks with those at the top.

Lamparty, who guided the Raiders to back-to-back regional championship games for the only time in school history, is the Morning Journal’s 2020-21 All-Area girls basketball player of the year.

“Girls like Izzy don’t come around very often,” South Range coach Jeff Fishel said. “South Range hasn’t had a player like her in 30 years. She’s a different level athlete and basketball player. She makes things easy on me.”

Lamparty, a first-team Division III All-Ohioan, guided the Raiders to a 23-5 season. They finished 74-28 in her four seasons.

She led the Raiders in scoring (20.4), rebounds (10.1), field goal percentage (57.4) and free throw percentage (73.6).

“She has a knack for basketball, what she is able to do,” Fishel said. “You could have a plan to stop her, but she did it so well you couldn’t.”

Fishel said she could play any position, calling her a point-forward.

“She is such a good rebounder,” he said. “Anytime she could get close to the hoop, her instincts kick in.”

Lamparty finished as the Raiders’ all-time leader with 862 career rebounds and the third-leading scorer with 1,628 career points.

“Obviously you don’t replace somebody like that,” Fishel said. “She showed up every night. Her talent, numbers and records speak for themselves. She’s a special basketball player and an even better person.”

Lamparty emerged after her freshman season when Dani Vuletich moved on to Western Reserve. Lamparty took over the Raiders from there.

“You look at our roster with her little sister (Gabby Lamparty), Lexi Giles and Bree Kohler, people are saying, ‘Imagine how good you would have been with Vuletich been there,'” Fishel said. “You only get to play with one basketball. Sometimes you’ve got too many good players.

“When Dani left, it shined the light brighter on Izzy and made her work harder. When you work harder you get better. The better you get the more you want to work. It’s funny high it works.”

It sure worked out for Lamparty.

Vuletich was a three-time Division IV second-team All-Ohioan at Western Reserve and reached the regionals this season. Former South Range coach Tony Matisi led McDonald to a state runner-up finish.

“I think it worked out for everybody,” Fishel said. “Everybody involved from whatever happened here three years ago did well.”

Salem’s Sarah Hamilton is the All-Area Coach of the Year after guiding the Quakers to a 16-6 season and a share of the Eastern Buckeye Conference. She helped put grit in a talented Quaker crew searching for an identity.

“Changing the culture is not the easiest thing to do,” said Hamilton, who was the 2005 All-Area Player of the Year at Salem.

The Quakers opened the season with four returning starters and played the usual lineup for a while, until Hamilton slowly worked in a 10-player rotation.

“I knew it didn’t start off that way, but it was originally what I intended,” Hamilton said. “I kind of followed my gut instinct. Stepping into the role as a head coach for the first time in basketball, you have to make it your own. We went 10 deep into the bench this year and we’ll go 10 deep into the bench next year.”

There were some growing pains as the Quakers lost three straight games in early February.

“The seniors are the first ones who bought into the team-first mentality,” Hamilton said. “They’ve been starting since they were freshmen. You’ve got to thank your seniors and they can see we have a bright future.”

And there was the coronavirus pandemic everyone was dealing with.

“I was impressed with the girls and their work ethic,” Hamilton said. “We faced a lot of adversity with a lot of shutdowns (three times due to coronavirus concerns). The girls answered the call.”

The Quakers were on a roll late in the season. The Quakers fell down 14-0 to Perry in the Division II district final, but rallied to go up two points with 4.4 seconds remaining. A 35-foot bank shot at the buzzer allowed Perry to post a stunning 41-40 win and advance to the regional.

“To be honest, that 4.4 seconds stings, as close as we were,” Hamilton said. “Coming back after the first quarter, I didn’t see that (quit) in the girls’ eyes at all. I remember last year we didn’t have that response in the district semis against West Branch (a 47-19 loss).”

Five of the seven All-Area first-teamers are repeat honorees.

Krista Perry is on the first team a fourth straight year, while Lamparty and Salem senior Kyla Jamison are three-time first-teamers and East Palestine senior Joclyn Fristik and South Range junior Lexi Giles also return.

Columbiana senior Grace Witmer and West Branch senior Jillian Pidgeon are newcomers.

Here is a look at the All-Area honorees:

KYLA JAMISON (Salem) — Jamison was a big factor in the Quakers’ success, which included a share of their second Eastern Buckeye Conference title in three seasons. “She is the kind of player who is a coach’s dream,” Salem coach Sarah Hamilton said. “She’s the first one in the gym. She put the most time in and it shows. She’s at the top of her class for a reason — her insane work ethic.” The EBC Player of the Year, Jamison topped the Quakers in scoring (11.4), rebounds (7.6) and field goal percentage (45 percent). “We’ve got so much talent, her stats were different than they have in the past. She’s completely fine with that. She’ll do whatever she needs to do for the team.” Jamison scored 1,202 career points and set a school record with 33 consecutive free throws made.

KRISTA PERRY (Crestview) –The versatile Perry led the Rebels in scoring all four seasons as Crestview collected 64 victories. She is a hard worker and unselfish player who always puts winning first,” Crestview coach Aaron Blatch said. “Her ability to defend, rebound and make plays from the post and perimeter helped our team be successful. Perry led the Rebels in scoring (15.4), rebounds (9.0) and steals (2.8). She finished as the third-leading scorer in school history with 1,294 career points to go along with 841 rebounds.

JILLIAN PIDGEON (West Branch) — Pidgeon’s play was what was needed for the defensive-minded Warriors, who returned only one starter and went on to enjoy a 20-5 season, three of the losses coming to Marlington. “Jillian really stepped up this year,” West Branch coach Walt DeShields said. “She has a very good basketball IQ and was our leader in points, assists and steals, helping us to another successful season at West Branch.” Pidgeon led the Warriors in points (8.4), assists (2.9), steals (2.6) and three-pointers (37).

GRACE WITMER (Columbiana) — Witmer developed into one of the top players in the Eastern Ohio Athletic Conference. She averaged a team-high 20.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.9 steals and 3.0 assists for the Clippers, who finished with an 11-9 record. “Grace is a coach’s dream,” Columbiana coach Dave Crismon said. “Not only a great player, but a great leader who manages to make everyone else around her better. Grace will be in the top five of players who made the biggest jumps between there junior and senior years. She did exactly what she had to do this year for us to be competitive. It is truly a tribute to her drive and work ethic. “ Witmer shot 46 percent from three-point range and 79 percent from the foul line.

JOCLYN FRISTIK (East Palestine) — Fristik guided the Bulldogs to a 9-3 season and the Eastern Ohio Athletic Conference overall championship. She averaged 15.4 points and 1.7 steals a game. She topped the Bulldogs in scoring for a third straight season and finished with 910 points in her career. “She would have easily been the third 1,000-point scorer in school history if not for our shortened schedule (due to the coronavirus pandemic),” East Palestine coach Will Franklin said. “Joclyn holds the school record for three-point field goals in a season and career. Joclyn was our No. 1 scorer and a three-point threat. She had many tough defenders play against her and was face-guarded a lot the last two years. She is an excellent teammate and has had a great career for East Palestine.”

LEXI GILES (South Range) — Giles’ all-around game gave the Raiders whatever they needed from her. She was second on the team in scoring (12.8) and rebounds (4.1) to go along with 3.6 steals and 2.0 assists. “Lexi is as hard working as they come,” South Range coach Jeff Fishel said. “She’s the first in the gym and the last out of gym. She’s fun to watch. The scary thing about Lexi is she’s nowhere near reaching her potential yet.” Giles will enter her senior season with 819 career points.

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