Olmsted Falls High School, champions of Best of Maryland 2022. (Credit: Bob Corwin)
The 24th annual Best of Maryland Basketball Tournament was won by Olmsted Falls (Ohio) High School defeating Hamilton Southeastern High School (Fishers, Indiana) 63-47. Unlike previous years, the event was held in the late June (24-26) NCAA Division 1 “dead period” rather than at the end of the late July “live viewing period”. This was done in preparation to move to the new June “live viewing period” for high school team events next year. As last year, the event was held at Hood College and Frederick Community College in Frederick, Maryland (about an hour’s drive west of Baltimore). Although NCAA Division 1 schools could only watch online (over 20 did), about 15 schools of NCAA Division 2 and Division 3, NAIA and junior college levels attended (including a few scouting services as well) in person.
For over two decades Best of Maryland has been the premier summer high school team (not club) event in the USA being run at a time when almost all other activity was in the form of club basketball. The goal of the event is to give elite high school teams the opportunity to compete against each other in a five-game guarantee (finalists played seven) setting. Twenty-two teams from nine states took up the challenge and as you will see below even teams that did not fare so well had Division 1 talent.
Looking to next year...
Starting in 2023, the NCAA will hold a June weekend viewing for NCAA Division 1 colleges. All these events will be run under sanction of the individual State Members of the National Federation of High Schools (NFHS) in order for Division 1 coaches to attend. While most high school teams will likely attend an in-state event, those up for the challenge of elite high school competition for this June weekend will not go wrong attending Best of Maryland instead!
A bit about the format at Best of Maryland...
Teams played two pool games on Friday and again on Saturday. The top two teams in each of the four pools went on to the quarterfinals while the remaining teams each played a fifth game on Sunday. Thus, the finalists played seven games total.
How the championship was decided...
Final: Olmsted Falls (OH) 63-47 Hamilton Southeastern (IN)
In the semis, both teams won by double digit margins (Olmsted Falls 62-44 Morris Catholic [NJ] and Hamilton Southeastern 60-47 Benson Tech [OR]). The tone of the first half was set by outstanding three-point shooting by Olmsted Falls (seven threes to two triples for Hamilton Southeastern) netting a 33-28 lead at half. The second half saw the Olmsted Falls lead grow as its man-to-man defense held the opponent to just 19 points in the stanza. The winners were led by Danielle Cameron (see below) with 23 points while Hamilton Southeast was led by Riley Makalusky (see below) with 19 points.
Coming in, Olmsted Falls was not as well hyped as several of the other teams. While they have multiple Division 1 prospects, the team does not have Power 5 prospects that were on other rosters. What they did have was great team chemistry with veteran players, solid defense and for personnel had a quality point guard, wing shooter and rebounder (all discussed below). In the end this team finished a perfect 7-0 leaving no doubt, it was the best at this event.
Looking at some of the individual talent in alphabetical order with listed height, position and school within graduation year. Home state of school is in parenthesis. All players discussed below should be considered as prospects of some level of NCAA Division 1.
Laila Hull, 6-1, forward, Zionsville High School (Indiana)
Hull is one of the top forwards in the USA, having multiple Power 5 offers. She is light on her feet and can hit the three off the catch and the mid-range pull-up jumper. While more perimeter oriented, she will go into the key to score as well.
Mia Kalich, 5-10, forward, Olmsted Falls High School (Ohio)
Kalich did a lot of the dirty work (defending and fighting for rebounds) in the key to help her team to the title.
Paige Kohler, 5-8, point guard, Olmsted Falls High School (Ohio)
A Buffalo commit, Kohler is her team’s primary ball handler, initiating the offense but also capable of hitting the three, contributing 12 points in the final.
Kylie Liebacher, 5-10, guard, Margaretta High School (Ohio)
Liebacher showed the ability to hit the three of the catch and displayed good decision making under pressure. This team is well regarded in one of Ohio’s smaller classes but does not get much out of state recognition.
Riley Makalusky. 6-2, guard/forward, Hamilton Southeastern High School (Indiana)
Committed to Butler, Riley showed versatile scoring hitting the three and attacking the basket.
Dally Moreno, 6-0, forward, Baldwin High School (New York)
A quality athlete, Moreno can attack the basket finishing left or right. She also showed shot blocking ability with good “ups.” Her team only triumphed in one game at the event more due to the quality of opposition than being a poor team. Look for this team to be one of the best in New York next year.
Leena Patibandla, 6-2, guard/forward. Massillon Jackson High School (Ohio)
Patibandla is one of the rare players who can play positions one through four at the next level due to a combination of height and varied skills. Word in the gym has her as a wing at Wisconsin where she has committed.
Danielle Cameron, 5-8, guard/forward, Olmsted Falls High School (Ohio)
Cameron is a lefty but almost ambidextrous (shooting foul shots almost two-handed) driving right or left with success. She knocked down five threes in the final.
Mahogany Chandler-Roberts, 6-2, power forward, Benson Tech (Oregon)
A Power 5 level prospect, Chandler-Roberts can power to the rim, rebounds well and is above average at passing out of the post. Adding some more consistency as to range would be a plus.
Jasmine Harris, 5-7, point guard, Northern Guilford High School (North Carolina)
Harris is a high energy player who finishes well in the open court and looks to drive to score in the quarter court setting. Building more consistency as to range would increase her recruiting stock.
Alicia Newell, 5-9, point guard, Elizabeth Seton High School (Maryland)
Newell is one point guard who never rests on defense wanting to guard the primary ball handler. Offensively, she appeared to be more mid-range than three-point shooter.
Berry Wallace, 6-1, small forward, Pickerington Central High School (Ohio)
The coach’s daughter, Berry is a versatile scorer looking more to attack the basket or post up but can hit the three. Already possessing Power 5 offers, she is very physical at attacking the glass at either end.
Mia Woolfolk, 6-2, center/power forward, Manchester High School (Virginia)
An above average Power 5 level athlete, Wolfolk moves well, able to step out for the three (maybe settles too much) and will hit the glass.
Paige Kohler, Mia Kalich and Danielle Cameron (L-R) of Olmsted Falls High School. (Credit: Bob Corwin)
Riley (left) and Maya Makalusky of Hamilton Southeastern High School. (Credit: Bob Corwin)
Laila Abdurraqib, 5-6, point guard, Lawrence Central High School (Indiana)
Already with Power 5 offers, this crafty point guard has good handles, makes good decisions, can shoot the three and get to the rim.
Alexandra Brown, 6-1, power forward, Osbourn Park High School (Virginia)
Above average athletically, Brown showed the ability to post up down low or step out for the perimeter shot.
Adelaide Jernigan, 5-10, point guard, Bishop McGuinness High School (North Carolina)
Already possessing Power 5 offers, this lefty handles well going left or right, can hit the three off the catch (quick release) and is well above average as a passer. Improving her ability to penetrate versus hard on ball defense might be one area for this young, talented guard to work on. Jernigan is one of four lefties that starts for this above average high school team. Rarer than rare!!
Rylee Kalocay, 5-9, shooting guard, Upper St. Clair High School (Pennsylvania)
Perhaps, Kalocay’s best attribute is a willingness to step up in crunch time not fearing the moment, attacking or shooting the perimeter shot.
Jaylah Lampley, 6-1, guard, Lawrence Central High School (Indiana)
A high-level Power 5 prospect, Jaylah (coach’s daughter) can hit the three (perhaps first option) or attack the basket. She showed a willingness to play physical on ball defense.
Maya Makalusky, 6-3, guard/forward, Hamilton Southeastern High School (Indiana)
Maya’s game is somewhat similar to older sister (see above) but is a bit taller and lighter on her feet. She has a Power 5 upside.
Mia Pauldo, 5-7, guard, Morris Catholic High School (New Jersey) [Note: Due to New Jersey State Federation rules the team had to compete by another name here “Crusaders”]
Mia can play point or shooting guard able to get to rim or hit the three.
Mya Pauldo, 5-7, point guard, Morris Catholic High School (New Jersey)
Mya is more of a point guard than twin Mia. Mya handles well and can get to the rim. Collectively, these very quick twins have Power 5 offers.
Kate Sears, 5-9, guard, Watauga High School (North Carolina)
This lefty combo guard does a lot for her high school team making good decisions in traffic as to shoot or pass but can also hit the three off the catch.
Arianna Harris-Mott, 6-3, center, St. Vincent Pallotti High School (Maryland)
This long athlete is still a work in progress learning low post move but a Power 5 upside is already showing itself.
Lola Lampley, 6-2, guard, Lawrence Central High School (Indiana)
Lola (Jaylah’s sister) is already considered one of the top prospects in her class nationally. A high-quality athlete, she can go hard to the rim and finish with great body control. Her perimeter stroke is present but still needs refinement as to consistency of release.
AnnaBeth Tsai-Turton, 6-2, center/power forward, Elizabeth Seton High School (Maryland)
An agile athlete with a Power 5 upside, Tsai-Turton showed the ability to step out and score at mid-range. As might be expected, she still needs to fill out.
Mia and Mya Pauldo of Morris Catholic High School. (Credit: Bob Corwin)
Lola Lampley, Laila Abdurraqib and Jaylah Lampley (L-R) of Lawrence Central High School. (Credit: Bob Corwin)