Now that the final buzzer has sounded, the day to day routines have ended, the girls have turned in their uniforms and cleaned out their lockers, it’s time to have a look back and reflect on the 2021-’22 Tinora Lady Rams basketball season.
Tinora entered this season with a few unknowns. Would the girls improve enough to take that next step? Would all the off season work in the weight room, open gyms, shots in the driveway, finally pay off?
The Lady Rams staff welcomed a new coach on board, replacing longtime assistant Michael Walker was Brooklyn Barcewicz, coach Barcewicz would take over the JV program.
Also, at hand for the Lady Rams was replacing the senior leaders who graduated from last season, Tristen Norden, Madeline Zachrich, Kylee Okuley, & Lexi Watchman.
With just one senior this season, the Lady Rams were led by Amanda Meyer heading into the new campaign.
The Lady Rams were also looking to finish above .500 for the first time since the 2016-‘17 season, also in the eyesight was the team’s first GMC title since 2010.
The season started on the right foot with a convincing win over a very good Miller City ball club, 55-48. The Rams controlled the game from the tip, the Lady Rams would see the future 1st team PCL Player of the Year Abi Lammers put up 22 points & 16 rebounds, but Tinora would jump out to a 1-0 start to the season.
After a loss to eventual NWOAL Champion Bryan, the Lady Rams would go on to win their next five straight games, building confidence along the way. A huge boost came at the Defiance Physical Therapy Classic as the Lady Rams would defeat Defiance and then Archbold to win the DPT Classic Championship, their first since the 2011-’12 season. (Clinic Classic)
In the victory, Tinora freshman Nova Okuley would grab the MVP, finishing with a season and career-high of 26 points with a record-tying seven three-pointers made.
Nova Okuley, Karli Okuley, and Liv Mueller were named to the All-Tournament team.
In capturing the title, the Lady Rams would move to 6-1.
Just as the Lady Rams were humming along, then came a Saturday evening trip over to Liberty Center. In a game that was dominated by the Lady Tigers, Tinora dropped to 6-2.
Following a win over Patrick Henry, the Lady Rams brought a 7-2 record into the start of the GMC schedule. This young Tinora basketball team had seen growth also seen their confidence build as the weeks preceding progressed.
A packed home crowd saw the Lady Rams host the cross-county rival Lady Apaches. The Apaches would jump out to a 31-19 lead at the half. In one of the great moments of the season, the Tinora basketball program’s lone senior, Amanda Meyer exploded for 20 points in the second half, propelling the Tinora basketball team to one of their biggest wins in years, a come from behind 61-57 win over Fairview.
With the win, the Lady Rams would move to 7-2 on the season.
In a game right before Christmas break, in what seemed to be a game that one could say change the fortunes of the then 8-2 Lady Rams season, Tinora hosted NWOAL power Wauseon (6-0) and the future conference Player of the year, Marissa Siler. Tinora controlled most of the first half, leading by as many as nine. Siler and the Lady Indians would outscore Tinora 38-13 the rest of the contest, defeating the Lady Rams, 54-38.
Tinora would flip the 2021 calendar at 8-3, however as the schedule would fall, the Lady Rams would not play another game for close to 2 weeks.
As the Lady Rams headed into the New Year, several tough games would be upcoming. After defeating the Lady Raiders of Wayne Trace on the road to move to 9-3 & 2-0 in conference play, the Lady Rams would welcome in state-ranked Elmwood and all-state player Brooklyn Trash.
In one of the more physical games the Lady Rams have seen in years, the Elmwood Royals would exit with a 48-38 win.
The loss didn’t seem to dent the confidence of the Lady Rams as two days later they would see River Rival Ayersville come to town.
In a game that saw an electric atmosphere and a closing only a great scriptwriter could come up with, the Lady Rams and Lady Pilots ended up with a great ending.
With under 30 seconds remaining, Lady Ram Karli Okuley stepped to the line, shooting 33% on the season at the time. The crowd was in a frenzy as Okuley toed the line with the Rams leading by one, 52-51.
In a moment the Lady Rams will remember for a long time, a little guy came running on the court from the stands to get the basketball from Karli. As everyone went from cutting the tension with a knife to bursting out laughing, the 10 seconds of laughter seemed to calm the Tinora sophomore as she stepped back to the line, nailing both free throws, giving the Lady Rams a 54-51 lead.
The Tinora defense stepped up in the last 20 seconds, denying the Pilots. Lady Rams Emily Harr hit one of two free throws with 14 seconds left, giving the Lady Rams a hard-fought, exhausting 55-51 win in the River Rivalry. Tinora would improve to 10-4 and remain undefeated and sitting atop the GMC at 3-0.
Over the next six weeks of the season, the Lady Rams saw the growing pains of what it takes to be a good team, and what it takes to be a great team. Tinora would see GMC losses to Hicksville & Paulding, both games saw the Lady Rams lead but fall at the end.
Non-conference losses to Montpelier and Kalida also were deflating to the Lady Rams. During this time, the Lady Rams would lose three straight contests, followed by a season-ending three-game winning streak.
Tinora would finish the 2022 part of the schedule at 6-5, ending with a 14-8 record, a 5-2 mark in the GMC.
A rematch with Fairview would await Tinora as the OHSAA Sectional play started. In a back and forth contest, the Lady Rams, unfortunately, saw their season come to an end after a 50-46 loss to the Lady Apaches.
It’s all in the numbers:
Final record 14-9 – 5-2 in the GMC
Leading Scorer: Nova Okuley 10.9 ppg
Leader in assist: Karli Okuley 5.08 apg
Leading rebounder: Amanda Meyer 4.5 rpg
High point game: 77 vs Hilltop
The Lady Rams were led by senior Amanda Meyer, the lone senior on this year’s team. Amanda led an example, she was the team’s quiet leader, the underclassman all looked up to her. Amanda set a career-high vs Fairview in the regular-season game, scoring all 20 points in the 2nd half of the Tinora win. Even though the Lady Rams will lose just Amanda, her shoes will be a huge void.
Returning next year for their senior season will be a gaggle of talent. Anna Frazier, Emily Harr, Maggie Nagle, Liv Mueller, Sierra Brown, Paige Carpenter, and Dakota Schafner.
The incoming juniors will also provide leadership as well, point guard Karli Okuley, as well as Anna Gray, will provide a scoring boost.
Addison Lee who improved greatly over the final few months will also be looked upon for rebounding and scoring to fill the void left by Meyer’s incoming graduation. Karli was one of the area’s best point guards, while Gray had a career-high 16 vs Delta and was a force both inside and out all season.
Varsity sophomores returning next season will be leading scorer Nova Okuley and Julia Durfey. Okuley came off the bench for head coach Kyle Teitjie’s squad, providing a deep threat the Lady Rams needed. Durfery, like Lee, improved as the season progressed, saw her varsity minutes increase late in the season.
The rest of the underclassmen who played JV under coach Barcewicz will look to break into the varsity roster in the 2022-’23 season. This season the JV team ended with a fantastic 20-2 record, losing to only Liberty Center and Kalida.
Sierra Brown, Dakota Schaffner, and Paige Carpenter paced the Lady Rams JV squad that was at times dominant over their opponents.
Many memories were made by this year’s version of the Lady Rams, the exciting team play, the fast-paced play, the long three’s, all those and more led to great crowds the community hasn’t seen for years.
Tinora Rams Live Player of the Game awards went to the below Lady Rams this season:
*11/19/2021 vs Miller City Girls basketball – Amanda Meyer 12 points – 7 rebounds.
*11/29 vs Hilltop girls basketball – Liv Mueller 22 points, five 3’s, 4 rebounds.
*12/2 vs Continental girls basketball – Liv Mueller 19 points, three 3’s, 4 rebounds.
*12/6 vs Defiance – girls basketball – Anna Gray 13 points, two 3’s, 4 rebounds
*12/7 vs Archbold – girls basketball – Nova Okuley 26 points, seven 3’s
*12/14 vs Patrick Henry – Girls basketball – Liv Mueller 13 points (3 3 pointers) 4 rebounds
*12/16 vs Fairview – girls basketball Amanda Meyer 20 points (2 3 pointers) 6 rebounds
*1/13/2022 vs Ayersville – girls basketball – Shared award – Nova Okuley 16 points (2 3 pointers) & Karli Okuley 8 points (1 3 pointer) 4 rebounds
*1/22/2022 vs Holgate – girls basketball – Co-players – Liv Mueller 11 points (2 3 pointers) & Amanda Meyer 4 points 4 rebounds & Senior Honors
*2/9/2022 vs Antwerp – girls basketball – Liv Mueller 19 points (3 3 pointers) *2/10/2022 vs Egerton- girls basketball – Shared award – Anna Frazer 14 points (1 3 pointer) 4 rebounds & Addison Lee 10 points 4 rebounds
Thanks to everyone who watched, listed, or attended, and supported the Lady Rams this season.
A huge thanks to our sponsors:
All pictures courtesy Sarah Harris: