PIONEER — North Central has a new coach for the 2021-22 season, and she is ready to get started.
Kim Hutchison, who was an assistant under former coach Greg Waidelich last year and a former University of Toledo women’s basketball player (1988-93), will front a program which has won two Division IV sectional titles in the last three seasons, including last year when the Eagles went 12-11 (6-6 Buckeye Border Conference).
“I’m very excited. I hope that we can take some more steps forward,” Hutchison said. “Last year we had the first winning season in a long time, and I’m hoping we can continue with that process and continue to get better and grow as a program.”
North Central will be led by three-year letterwinning senior Madison Brown, who became the first girls basketball player in school history to earn all-Ohio honors (honorable mention) last year. The 5-foot-5 guard dropped 14.2 points per game, grabbed 5.6 rebounds and dished out 1.5 assists.
Brown is also 107 points away from scoring 1,000 career points, and would be at least the 15th player between both programs to reach that mark in school history with boys basketball senior Zack Hayes 34 points away.
She also earned second-team honors in the Division IV Northwest District by the Ohio Prep Sportswriter Association and all-BBC first-team remarks for the second straight year.
“She’s a great leader, and it’s really awesome to build a program around someone like that,” Hutchison said of Brown, who has verbally committed to play at Bluffton University. “(She) not only finds scoring opportunities for herself, but also for others, and it makes things a lot easier on you when you’re coming into a new position.”
Brown isn’t the the only returning starter. Seniors Lauren Balser (two-year letterwinner, guard), Kendal Bonney (two-year, forward) and junior Isabelle Burnett (one-year, guard) all bring back knowledge.
Balser (5-5) averaged 6.5 points per game, 2.6 rebounds and 1.8 assists; Bonney (6-foot) 6.4, 6.5 and 0.9 and Burnett 3.0, 2.7 and 1.1.
“It’s awesome because you have not only your senior leadership, but you also have the one junior that also has experience in Isabelle,” Hutchison said, “and they have stepped up and really help the younger ones even in just the short time we’ve been in practice thus far and really put them under their wing to help them to pick up everything that we’re trying to teach them. It’s really nice to see.”
Hutchison said senior Riley Brown (5-2 guard), junior Makinzy King (5-11 forward), sophomores Darbi Stewart (5-9 guard), Grecia Dominguez (5-5 forward/guard) and Mireya Cruz (5-1 guard) and freshmen Amara Wright (5-4 guard) and Maddie Zimmerman (5-4 guard) are promising newcomers, and “will be depended upon to contribute at the varsity level.”