Shadyside primed for regional tourney
• Tigers set to face undefeated Loudonville Thursday at Perry
SHADYSIDE — They’re back!
The Shadyside girls basketball team just two seasons removed from playing in the Division IV state semifinals finds itself just two wins short of going back to the OHSAA State Tournament, which will be held at University of Dayton arena.
And while they’re only two wins away, plenty of work remains.
The quest resumes Thursday evening an 5:30 in the regional semifinal against undefeated Loudonville at Perry High School in Massillon.
Shadyside head coach Serge Gentile gives all of the credit for the success to his players, many of whom played a key role on the 2019 team.
“One of the main reasons we’re in this position is because of the group of girls we have,” Gentile said. “They’re athletic, skilled and they play together, which is a huge part of it. It’s been a great run.”
It’s a run that Shadyside hopes doesn’t end for a couple of more weeks, but a big challenge lies ahead in a 25-0 Redbirds club that scores almost 80 points a game and has connected on an impressive 196, 3-point goals.
“They’ve got at least four players who can space the floor and shoot it,” Gentile said. “They remind me of us a little bit. They play fast and we’re very similar in a lot of ways. They want to get out, run, shoot 3s in transition and we’re like that, too. It could turn into one of those games where if we played with a 14-second shot clock, there would never be a shot-clock violation.”
Loudonville head coach Tyler Bates, who is in his eighth season at the helm, had nothing but high praise for the Tigers.
“Shadyside has a great team and a program that has a lot of tradition,” Bates said. “They’re very skilled at the guard spot and they’re fun to watch because of the up-tempo style they play. It’s going to take our best effort to be in the game in the fourth quarter.”
The Tigers come into the game with a strong 20-4 mark. Three of their five losses came to teams that played at least in their respective division’s district championship game and one of those was to Division II regional-entrant Indian Creek.
Along its tournament trail, the Tigers have taken no prisoners, easily dispatching Bridgeport, Beallsville, Frontier and Rosecrans.
All of those games were played inside the friendly confines of the ‘Tiger Den’ which means Shadyside will be boarding a bus for the first time since Feb. 6 when it treks to Stark County on Thursday. Ironically, that last road trip was also Shadyside’s last loss, which was a double overtime setback to Shenandoah.
“”I’m not going to lie. I kind of enjoyed playing all these games at home,” Gentile smiled. “It’s worth it though. We get to go to the regional and there’s nothing like it. We’ve played in these (big-game) situations before. These girls have played in a regional in volleyball already this year, and I think playing in that atmosphere definitely helps because they’re accustomed to it.”
On the other side, Loudounville, which is in its first season in Division IV after dropping down after spending many years in Division III, has had a bumpier path to the regional. It easily dispatched Richmond Heights in the play-in game, but then fended off Andrews Osborne by eight and then needed overtime to survive Dalton, 78-74. They capped off their first district title since 1992 with a victory on Saturday over two-time defending regional champion Willoughby Cornerstone Christian.
“Being our first season in Division IV, it definitely presented some new challenges,” Bates said. “We’d been in and out of the state rankings the last three or four seasons, but could never get out of the district. It was nice to play some fresh faces and be able to get to this level.”
Interestingly, Shadyside and Loudonville, which are separated by almost 130 miles, have a common opponent in Frontier. The Redbirds defeated the Cougars by four in early January. Shadyside actually owns three wins over Frontier.
“I am a Marietta College graduate and I like to take my team down to play in the River City Classic around New Year’s and we were originally supposed to play Frontier in that event, but the event got canceled, but Frontier asked us if we wanted to still come down and play at their place. We’re willing to drive all over the state and it’s neat to play in places we’ve never played before.”
On the court, oth clubs have a dynamic duo in which they rely upon.
Shadyside is led by Tory Hendershot and Baylee Wach, while Loudonville features the Sisters Vermilya — senior Grace and freshman Corri.
Grace Vermilya, who will play college basketball at Mount Vernon Nazarene, fueled the aforementioned win over Dalton by scoring 53 points. She also pulled down some 20 rebounds. For the season, she’s averaging better than 20 points a game and has scored more than 1,400 in her career.
“From what I have seen, (Vermilya) is very skilled, can score with either hand and plays well with her back to the basket,” Gentile said.
Corri Vermilya is an impressive guard, who is pouring in 17.5 points a game.
Along with those two, the Redbirds feature junior Shaylyn Guilliams, who scores almost 16 points a game. Senior Paige Race, who will play volleyball at the College of Wooster, nets 10.5 a night and senior Sydney Sndyer, who is bound to play for Washington & Jefferson, rounds out the lineup.
“We have to be sound defensively all the way around because they’ve got shooters who complement (Grace Vermilya),” Gentile said. “We can’t just caught up focusing on her too much.”
On the other side, Bates raved about the Tigers senior leaders.
Hendershot has really come on in the last month or so, including a 41-point outburst in the loss at Shenandoah. For the season, she’s averaging 14.6 points a game to go along with six rebounds, six assists and five steals. For her career, she’s tallied 1,368 points.
Wach, meanwhile, the team’s leading scorer in the early portion of the season, but a late-season ankle injury caused her to miss the Shenandoah game and play sparingly in another. She’s still put together a brilliant final prep campaign at 14 points a night. She’s tallied 1,440 points and connected on an impressive 219 career 3-pointers.
“Hands down, I don’t care what anyone says, we’ve got the best two players in the Eastern District,” Gentile said. “If you line up all of the players, (Hendershot and Wach) are my top two picks. If I were to build a point guard, Tory is how I would build it because she’s the prototype. Baylee is the same way as a shooting guard. She can shoot it from anywhere, tough defensively and is always in the right spot. Those two complement each other so well.”
Senior Kamdyn Elerick checks in at almost nine points a game and has had a strong postseason thus far. Junior Paige Gorby has developed into the third scoring option behind Hendershot and Wach. She’s averaging just over 10 points. Rounding out the starting lineup is athletic and hard-working junior Gentry Brown, who is leads Shadyside on the glass and has shown flashes of being a potent scorer at just over nine points a game.
Sophomore Maci Hendershot is the Tigers’ sixth person.