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Kortokrax, Brandewie reflect on win, look forward to Badin

On Saturday, the Bishop Hartley Lady Hawks were one of only 16 teams in the state of Ohio Division II playoff that was able to do something that many players and teams dream of: win a district championship. The No. 2 seeded Lady Hawks were able to knock off the No. 5 seed Heath Bulldogs, 69-49, and cut down the nets on their own court at Dick Geyer Gymnasium to secure their first district championship since 2015.

The Lady Hawks only had a six-point lead heading into the half. Score On Air talked to forward Kami Kortokrax after the game about her performance and what the coaches said to them at halftime.

“Our coaches focused on what we needed to do in the second half to really take over the game. We were up by six at half and our coaches told us how important it would be to come out right away and go on a run. Our coaches believe in us and know what we are capable of, so they just told us that if we were going to win, we had to play together for each other. So that is just what happened. We came out knowing we had to take over together.”

Sophomore center Ella Brandewie talked about the adjustments that were made coming out of the half.

“I think there was a lot of frustration in the first half because we knew we were not playing to the best of our abilities. At half, we knew we had to come together as a team and perform with the great chemistry that we always have. We came out quick and with lots of energy. This meant sharing the ball and pushing the ball up the court that would eventually give us a comfortable lead.”

And pushing the ball up the floor is what they did, as part way through the fourth quarter, they were able to extend their lead to 35 points, which in the Ohio High School Athletic Association is the ruling for a running clock.

For Bishop Hartley, a lot of their scoring starts on the defensive side of the ball. The level that Lexi Cashwell and Milayna Williams play defense at is absolutely incredible. These two ladies play like it’s their last game of the season throughout the entire game.

Brandewie praised them and said their work ethic and leadership have been just a couple of reasons for the team’s success.

“Lexi and Milayna are the leaders of our defense. They are always given the hardest defensive assignments, and execute them well every time. Lexi has to be one of the hardest working players I have ever played with. She never takes plays off in practice and goes 100 percent all the time. Milayna is the same way. I almost see Milayna as a coach because she is always giving her teammates advice. She is a great leader as the senior she is and always holds us accountable if we are messing around.”

But for every good defense, there is a good offense. And for the Hawks, that’s Kiki Mcelrath and Bella Parker.

“Bella and Kiki are two of the hardest working guards I’ve played with. Kiki has grown so much this year and really started to take control of setting up our offense. She works hard and always seems happy to do so and I can’t wait to watch Kiki grow even more in the years to come. Bella is a stud shooter. When we need her to hit it, that’s just what she does. Her offense has always helped us out and this year, it’s very clear how dominant on defense she has become. Bella and Kiki are fun to watch. They are great basketball players with high basketball I.Q.’s,” Kortokrax said.

And of course, with the two post girls playing side-by-side, Score On Air asked what it’s like to play with one another.

“I love Ella Brandewie. Not only is she a show-out player but she’s a great teammate. She stays with me after practices to work on our post game almost every night. She’s a competitive athlete and wants to win as a team. I couldn’t ask for anyone better to be down low with me,” Kortokrax said.

Brandewie echoed her low-post teammate’s sentiments.

“Kami has to be one of the best teammates I have ever played with. She is a great role model for me and the entire team as a whole. She’s a leader that can lead both vocally and by example. She always has a smile on her face no matter the circumstance. Her presence can change the team’s energy as a whole. Since we both play the same position, we push each other every day in practice, and always hold each other accountable.”

And with every great team, there is a great coach.

“Our coaching staff is one of the best parts of this program. (Head) coach (Donald) Dennis leads the pack,” Brandewie said. “He’s a coach that will create a great relationship with his players. I know from personal experience that I trust Coach Dennis a lot. He does an abundance of things for his teammates and puts so much time into this program. He pushes us every day in practice and sets his expectations high. This goes the same for every single coach in this program. (We) couldn’t be the team we are without them.”

This is a team that really buys into each other, trusts each other, and just loves to play alongside one another. On Tuesday, Bishop Hartley will take on the No. 4 seeded Hamilton Badin Rams in a regional semifinal. Score On Air asked Kortokrax what some of the key points will be for the Lady Hawks heading into the game.

“Play together, run our offense, box out, get the ball inside then look out, push the ball in transition, and match up. Badin is a team of shooters so our defense has to be top notch from every single person. We have a size advantage inside so we got to find a way to get it in and we have really smart guards that will get it in. (We) just have to come out from the start and play like we are supposed to.”

Tuesday’s game tips off at 5:30 p.m. at Springfield High School.

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