Friday, February 02, 2001

Oak Hills finding success in GMC

Boys, girls teams in line to win conference titles

By Dave Schutte
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        When Oak Hills was accepted into the Greater Miami Conference this school year, there were questions as to how successful its sports programs would be.

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Danielle Dietrich, Vanessa Laug, Tim Oliverio and Mike Lee have contributed to Oak Hills' success in its first year in the GMC.
(Craig Ruttle photo)
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        However, the girls volleyball team captured the GMC title while the boys and girls soccer teams and the boys golf team all challenged for league titles.

        Still, the Highlanders weren't competitive in football, and some doubted they would compete in girls and boys basketball.

        Doubters couldn't be more wrong.

        With less than two weeks remaining, the girls basketball team is tied with Colerain and Lakota West for first place in the GMC, while the boys team holds a one-game lead over Hamilton.

        The season didn't start off in grand fashion for Mike Price's boys team that went 9-12 last season, losing to Aiken in a first-round sectional tournament game.

        “We played an independent schedule last year, which was tough,” senior Mike Oliverio said. “There was no league championship to shoot for or individual awards to go after.”

        Several days after the final game last season, Price held what was scheduled to be a 15-minute meeting with the players to spell out suggested off-season activities.

        “The meeting turned out to be an hour and a half,” Price said. “They listened and I listened to them. I told them what I expected, and they made suggestions to me.”

        After a 3-3 start this season, another late December team meeting was held. This time, it was Price who did all the talking.

        Since that meeting, Oak Hills has run off 10 straight victories.

        The Highlanders have parlayed a tough man-to-man defense with a balanced scoring attack led by Oliverio (13.9 ppg, 6 rpg) and Mike Lee (14 ppg, 2.9 apg).

        “We're extremely balanced,” Price said. “We run and shoot or play a half-court offense. On defense, we can press or run a half-court trap.”

        Other players who have played prominent roles are Ross Wiant, Tom Price, Chris Lipps, Kelen Weathers and Clint Richmond.

        Also coming off a mediocre season (10-12), the girls team has been greatly improved. Oak Hills has opened 16-2, 12-2 in the GMC.

        “We also played an independent schedule last season which was the toughest in the history of the school,” girls coach Jan Wilking said. “I was a new coach and the kids and I needed time to adjust.”

        Wilking took an unusual approach, looking at the future in a different way.

        “Last year we talked about this being a 40-game season, 20 the first year and 20 more the second,” Wilking said. “All the factors were right. We had no seniors, and we wanted to rebuild last year and come back strong this season.”

        Unlike the boys, Wilking's team got off to a fast start with seniors Jackie Cornelius, Lauren Gross and Michelle Dietrich providing leadership.

        Michelle Holmes, a 6-foot-2 junior center who transfered from Seton, also has helped the cause along with leading scorer Vanessa Lung, a 6-2 junior forward who averages nine points a game.

        “We have six girls who average eight or more points,” Wilking said. “We play a lot of kids and guard teams full court every possession. If we're going to do that, you must have a bench.”

        The three girls GMC title chasers have two league games remaining.

        The Highlanders must defeat Milford and Princeton to win outright or share the title.

        Colerain plays Middletown and Fairfield, while Lakota West plays Hamilton and Milford.

        If both the boys and girls teams claim or share the GMC title, it will put Oak Hills in good position to claim the All-Sports trophy.

Boys basketball coverage
Girls basketball coverage

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