Hilltoppers cruise in postseason preview

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Paige Steffen

CHARDON—Chardon’s girls’ basketball team celebrated its four seniors and closed out the regular season with a dominating 48-18 win over visiting Madison on Saturday.

The two teams will meet again on the same court next Saturday in a Division I sectional semifinal.

“Obviously, when you give up five points at halftime and 18 in a game you have to be very pleased with the defensive effort,” said Chardon coach Cullen Harris. “Our focus was on stopping Shyenne Ledford and the kids did a good job of executing the game plan to take away their top scorer.”

The Hilltoppers, who improved to 12-10 overall and 8-6 in the Western Reserve Conference, enter the postseason having won two straight games.

They’re also shooting the ball with much more confidence than they did earlier in the season.

“A lot of the stuff we do is predicated on us sharing the ball and working together and passing up good shots for great shots,” Harris said. “Today was a balanced effort. The kids moved the ball and everybody had the opportunity to score and attacked the hoop with a purpose. I’m happy with how we performed.”

Chardon’s four seniors were honored prior to the game then went out and contributed to the win.

“Our four seniors have been playing together since fourth grade,” Harris said. “They’re my first group of freshmen; I came in when they were in ninth grade. I’m very proud of how much they’ve grown as young ladies and as basketball players and I’m happy to have been a small part of their lives.”

Grace Bradley led the Hilltoppers with nine points.

“Playing on Senior Night was definitely emotional, knowing my season is coming to end,” Bradley said. “The past four years have been an incredible experience and I’m sad to see them closing down, but I know we still have a run in the tournament so I’m excited for that. I’ve had the greatest team to have my final year with, so it’s definitely going to be hard to leave them. It’s been nothing but good memories.”

Faith DiLillo contributed with four points.

“To me, it’s very surreal that the basketball season is winding down,” DiLillo said. “I still cannot believe that I am a senior. This season has flown by because of all the fun we experienced as a team. This season was the best season I had by far due to the close relationships I have formed with all the girls on the team.”

Clara Lundblad pitched in with three points.

“Playing on Senior Night was a blessing,” Lundblad said. “I was happy to start with the girls I have played with since fourth grade. We were the last four girls from our fourth grade team and it is crazy to see how we’ve all changed. It was also very emotional because my final basketball season is coming to an end and I realized I’m never going to play with these other three girls who have been by my side for a long time. I hope to go far in playoffs because I want more time with all my teammates.”

Paige Steffen also started and finished with two points.

“Playing basketball during our Senior Night tonight was such a special moment for me as our season winds down,” Steffen said. “I’ve been playing with the other seniors since fourth grade, so it was rather bittersweet knowing that we only get to play a few more games together. I’m so proud of all our hard work and where it’s taken us. I’m very excited to see where my future takes me but there will always be a special place in my heart for Chardon girls’ basketball.”

Chardon 48, Madison 18

Madison (6-14, 3-11 WRC): Ledford 6, Cramb 5, Guyer 3, Hathaway 2, Wakim 2

Chardon (12-10, 8-6 WRC): Bradley 9, Feller 8, McCartney 6, Landies 6, DiLillo 4, Nichols 4, Lundblad 3, Pastor 2, Hoenigman 2, Steffen 2, Foster 2

Madison 3 2 9 4 — 18
Chardon 11 11 17 9 — 48

Field Goals: Chardon 18 of 64, Madison 8 of 35; Free Throws: Chardon 9 of 15, Madison 1 of 9; 3-pointers: Chardon 2 (Feller, Bradley), Madison 1 (Cramb); Rebounds: Chardon 41, Madison 29

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The creator and publisher of OhioVarsity.com, Hare has covered high school sports in Northeast Ohio since 1997. He began as a correspondent for the Lake County News Herald, where he contributed until 2011, primarily covering high school football and wrestling. In 1999, Hare began writing for IrishIllustrated.com, a member of the Scout.com network of high school and college sports web sites. He focuses on covering Notre Dame football recruiting. OhioVarsity.com was created in 2004 and was a member of the Rivals.com network until 2012. The site's original purpose was to cover Ohio high school football and recruiting news but since has grown to cover all sports and to provide sports information services to high school athletic programs and individual teams. Hare attended Willoughby South High School through the middle of his senior year, then graduated from Berkshire High School in Burton in 1986. He played football, wrestled and was an all-Geauga county baseball player (1986). He lives in Chardon with his wife Paulette and their children.