The high school basketball season is winding down with the playoffs just around the corner.
Who better to know what kind of talent Cincinnati offers than the players themselves?
The Cincinnati Enquirer asked players from multiple conferences for input on some impressive opponents on the court this season.
Check Cincinnati.com weekly to see which boys and girls basketball players have left an impression on their opponents this year. Last week’s offer was delayed due to Bengals coverage. You’ll find another at the end of the week.
“Cecelia Hilgefort has had great games both times we’ve played Turpin (this season). She’s extremely quick for her height and gets up like a guard. She’s a very humble player and she has moves like unstoppable post. Cecelia was able to get back into the game even when the first half didn’t go her way.”
—Mara Briscoe, Little Miami
Turpin trailed Briscoe’s Little Miami Panthers at halftime on Jan. 12, but the Spartans fought back for a 45-38 victory. That night, Hilgefort showed how she could take control of a game, going 6 of 9 from the field and 7 of 9 from the free throw line for a game-high 19 points with 10 rebounds, three steals and one. pair of blocks.
The 6-foot center led Cincinnati’s Eastern Conference in rebounding (12.2 per game) and scoring in scoring (17.7 per game). The junior also finished second in the ECC in steals and fifth in field goal percentage.
Hilgefort has 44 career high school double doubles. Three-year-old starter Hilgefort exceeded 1,000 points in December and has a shot at joining the 1,000-1,000 club with 792 total rebounds. This total is still climbing with Turpin still in the dance.
The Spartans are 20-3 this season and finished second in the CCE in the regular season. Turpin was the only team to beat Winton Woods this year, with Hilgefort posting 22 points, 11 rebounds and four steals in a 60-37 win on Nov. 29.
In the section opener, Turpin took a 22-6 lead over Fairfield after one quarter and earned a 57-46 victory behind Hilgefort’s season-high 27 points.
Kylee sucks, Talawanda
“This year I played Kylee Fears from Talawanda High School. She’s killer of the paint because she has a variety of post moves. She’s also a great shot blocker with good post defense. She’s also very good in defense and offensive rebounds.”
—Cadence Boyd, Monroe
Fears, a 6-foot junior, was instrumental in Talawanda’s three-year rebuild, helping lead the Braves this season to their first Ohio Southwest Conference championship since 2016. Fears was the SWOC leading scorer (19 points per game) and rebounder (13.9). The junior also led the league in field goal percentage (56.9) and was third in blocks (30). As Boyd mentioned, Fears was dominant on the offensive glass, racking up a league-best 104 offensive rebounds. No other SWOC player has gone over 80.
Talawanda finished the year 19-3 after a first-round playoff loss to Loveland in the section tournament.
Fears will be one of the best players in the region for the 2022-23 season. She surpassed 1,000 career points in a January win over Badin and also has a shot at joining the 1,000-1,000 club as she enters her senior year with 876 career rebounds. Fears has posted a double-double in 52 of 65 career prep contests.
Deborah Davenport, Woodward
“I choose Deb Davenport. She knows how to drop the ball well and being left-handed makes it better. What makes her difficult is that she is not just a point guard. She plays all the positions from 1 to -5 and she is a sniper.”
—Teliyah Dickerson, Withrow
Davenport, a senior, has had a strong record this season to be named Cincinnati Metro Athletic Conference Player of the Year, or at the very least the league’s Defensive Player of the Year.
Davenport ranked fourth in the CMAC in rebounds (9.4), was fifth in steals (four), and led the conference in blocks (5.8). Davenport also put in some great numbers on the offensive end. The 6-foot-2 guard finished seventh in the league with 16.8 points per game and fifth in assists (3.4).
Davenport helped Woodward produce his first winning season since 2008 when the Bulldogs won the CMAC at 17-4. Woodward went 14-7 – finishing second in the CMAC-Red division – before falling in the first round of the sectional tournament in Gosen, 48-32.
Davenport, who set a school record (boys or girls) with 47 points last season as a junior in a win over Aiken, finished the year with 12 points, eight rebounds, four steals and three blocks against Goshen . Davenport has two triple-doubles this year. She had 11 points, 11 rebounds and 14 blocks. against Scott on November 30 and 12 points, 14 rebounds and 11 blocks against Trotwood-Madison on December 8.
Sophie Huffman, Wilmington
“Sophie Huffman is one of the players I’ve played against who is a very tough competitor. She’s one of the best defenders around and she’s a real leader. She moves well (and) is very quick with and without the ball. She always finds the open person behind the wheel and she’s very good at finishing around the basket.”
—Sadie Foster, Western Brown
This is the second time Huffman has received praise from a Southern Buckeye Conference rival after being mentioned by Peyton Shafer of Goshen in January. Huffman was a true point guard this season as the SBAAC’s assist leader, averaging 5.5 per game. The junior guard also averaged 8.9 points and 2.8 rebounds per game.
Huffman helped lead Wilmington to a 12-9 record and a second-place finish in the SBAAC-USA Division behind Western Brown. The Hurricane suffered a season-ending loss to Milford in the first round of the Sectional Tournament on February 8.
Peyton Shafer, Goshen
“Peyton Shafer from Goshen High School gave me the most competition. She’s a very humble player who has no problem using her size guard to get to the basket. She finishes very well on contact and makes her shots frank if at fault.. When left open she is not afraid to pull it and will if challenged.
—Sophie Huffman, Wilmington
Shafer is the SBAAC’s leading scorer this season with 18.1 points per game. She has a well-rounded game as the league leader in steals (5.4 per game) and ranks third in the conference in assists (2.9). Shafer helped Goshen advance to the Section Finals before falling to top-seeded Summit Country Day. The Warriors are 14-8 and finished third in the SBAAC-American Division.