Thursday, March 27th, 2008
Dream season for Versailles' Raterman
Stonebraker, Stetler share top coach honor
By Gary R. Rasberry
It was a dream season for Versailles' Justine Raterman as the senior forward hel. . .
In deciding The Daily Standard's Girls Basketball Player of the Year, it was an easy decision.
Picking the girls' Coach of the Year shaped up to be a little more interesting.
Versailles' senior Justine Raterman was the easy choice for winning her second straight Player of the Year award. Her coach - and sister - Jacki Stonebraker will share the Coach of the Year award - her second straight honor - with Celina coach Brian Stetler.
Stonebraker guided the Tigers to the only undefeated record in girls basketball in Ohio in capturing the Division III state title. Stetler guided Celina to its first Western Buckeye League title since the 1990-91 season in going 19-4 and advancing to the district finals, losing to state semifinalist Bath.
Raterman, who heads to Dayton after graduating this spring, becomes just the second player to win two straight Player of the Year honors in girls basketball, joining former Marion Local star and current Ohio State guard Maria Moeller, who took the previous two honors in 2005 and 2006.
The 6-1 senior forward was the unanimous choice for Midwest Athletic Conference Player of the Year this season and was a first-team all-Ohio selection, averaging 17.6 points and 8.4 rebound per game entering the state final four. Raterman scored 44 points and pulled down 29 rebounds in the two wins in Columbus to earn the Most Outstanding Player award in Division III at state.
"I felt a sense of urgency coming into this year, this being my last year," said Raterman. "It made this year more important. Being able to share with the team like I did all season was really great."
With teams looking to contain her scoring after a solid junior year, Raterman knew she had to do other things to help the team this season. In the state semifinal against Regina, Raterman took to taking the ball down the floor like a point guard - which she actually played in junior high before a growth spurt. Raterman had six assists in the win over Regina.
"I matured as a player coming into my senior year," said Raterman. "I realized it wasn't about how many points I put up on the board and anything like that. It was whatever was asked of me by my teammates that game. Whether it was getting assists or pulling rebounds or getting back on defense, that's what was really important."
For Stonebraker, who also guided the Tigers to the state semifinals a year ago, the five-year run from 5-16 to 28-0 was a tremendous journey.
"These seniors this year had a taste of it last year as did the juniors," said Stonebraker, referring to the team making it to state in 2007. "They've grown together as a family and just didn't want to lose a game."
One thing that kept the team in check was a pregame speech before the Tigers' first game after the first Associated Press Poll of the season, in which the Tigers were ranked first from wire to wire.
"There was a lot of talking throughout the year, by me and by the leaders of the team," said Stonebraker. "When the first ranking came out, I think it was around the Minster game, I remember going into the locker room before the Minster game and saying 'We have something to talk about. Everyone knows that you are, per se, the number one team in the state. I don't want to hear anything talked about it on this team about being number one. I'm sure you'll hear it, but I don't want you talking about it. We have to show we're number one. We can't talk about it.' Those girls took it to heart."
Celina started the season off slowly, going 1-2 with losses to Versailles and New Bremen, but then ran off 13 straight wins.
"During that stretch, I think our team grew with the amount of playing time," said Stetler. "The girls knew their roles. We didn't do a lot of talking about the league or winning the league. We talked about staying in contention, one game at a time."
During the streak the Bulldogs, who normally played a steady rotation of eight, lost junior Shelbi Nation to injury, meaning a lot more work for the rest of the team.
"That kind of set us back some, with some other little bumps along the way," said Stetler. "Girls had to play a lot of minutes. They did have to grit it out pretty much. We maybe could not have played how we would have liked, but we were content with where we were."
After going 10-17 the previous three seasons in league play, Celina started this year 7-0 in the WBL before losing to Bath, which had lost to Ottawa-Glandorf earlier. Needing a win over Ottawa-Glandorf in the final game of the season to clinch a share of the title, Celina persevered in winning 52-45 at The Fieldhouse to finish the regular season 17-3. Celina then won its sectional opener against Wapak and beat Ottawa-Glandorf in the district semifinals before Bath struck again in the final.
"That was huge for us. The atmosphere was great for us going into the tournament," said Stetler. "... O-G has been kind of been a thorn in our side the last few years. We just weren't able to come up with wins against them of late. To get that win for a WBL title was big for the girls."
2008 Grand Lake Area Girls Basketball Dream Team:
2008 Grand Lake Area Girls Basketball Dream Team Second Team:
85.2 FT percentage