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Published: Thursday, 3/10/2005

All-Blade Basketball Team

Northview's Niki McCoy and St. John's' B.J. Raymond Northview's Niki McCoy and St. John's' B.J. Raymond

Regardless of when Niki McCoy s high school basketball career ends in tomorrow s Division I girls state semifinals against Dayton Chaminade-Julienne, or perhaps in Saturday s state fi nal she will conclude her career with one telling and very impressive statistic.

The Northview teams on which McCoy has played over the past four years will have won at least 95 percent of their games.

McCoy was a freshman player on a 20-0 junior varsity squad in 2001-02, then started on varsity teams which have posted successive marks of 24-2, 26-1 and so far this year 25-1.

That all adds up to 95-4, a record that includes a perfect 56-0 slate

in Northern Lakes League contests.

In short, the 5-11 senior guardforward is a winner, and for her work in leading the 13th-ranked Wildcats to an unexpected second

straight trip to the state semifi nals, McCoy is the 2005

Blade girls player of the year.

Last year s team was outstanding and that was the most amazing season in my life, said McCoy, who has committed to play at the University of Akron.

Coming into this year, I didn t really know exactly how things were going to turn out because we had like a whole new team.

In the beginning, we weren t really bonding well. But, throughout the season, we ve come together.

For the season, McCoy also put up some respectable individual

numbers, especially considering she was suddenly the primary target of defenses, and that her basketball comfort zone was altered dramatically this season by the strategic needs of Northview coach Jerry Sigler.

With four starters lost to graduation from last year s 26-1 team, Sigler did have two very able junior frontcourt replacements in 6-3 Riana Miller and 6-0 Lisa Johnson.

What the team needed was a ball-handling guard, who could also carry the scoring load inside. McCoy became that player.

Niki can do so many things with the basketball, Sigler said.

She learned a lot about the game from some very good players

the past two years. Things like cohesiveness and competitiveness

and the hard work it takes to be successful.

She has taken that and passed it on to the girls this year. That s what s going on with this team.

McCoy, who had always been a back-to-the-basket post player,

made the diffi cult transition with remarkable ease, averaging

16.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 4.2 steals per game, shooting 50 percent from the fi eld and 72 percent from the line.

All my life I had been a post player, McCoy said. Changing to

a guard was really different for me.

I bring the ball up the court now and I pretty much never dribbled

before. So, that s been a lot different.

I knew coming into the year it was going to be a totally different

year and a totally different team.

I don t know if I so much put my touch on this team as this

team has had a touch on me. I tried to conform to how they played.

Northview had just one regular-season loss to Central

Catholic, a setback the Wildcats avenged in the D-I district fi nal.

The thing that really stands out about Niki is the 95-4, Sigler said. That [winning] is the bottom line, obviously, and she s been a huge part of that.

B.J. Raymond may not be a history buff in the traditional sense, but he is very aware of some of the great names in the history of City League basketball Jim Jackson, Dennis Hopson, Todd Mitchell ...

And, for the past four years at St. John s Jesuit, the 6-6 senior forward has been busy etching out a spot for himself alongside the all-time best of the CL s best.

Every time I step on the court, I want to be the best player and leave no doubt in your mind, Raymond said. I ve got to stay hungry. The biggest thing I have over people is that I m always hungry and I always have something to prove.

Now that his high school career is complete, ended abruptly Sunday in a 64-62 upset loss to Scott, the debate begins as to just where Raymond rates on that list.

There has been little question where he has ranked the past two years in northwest Ohio and, for his superb play over that span, Raymond has become the first two-time winner of The Blade s boys basketball player of the year in the 10-year history of our all-area squad.

Raymond capped his career by averaging 20.8 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.0 assists during the regular season, helping the Titans to their fourth straight City League playoff title.

B.J. is definitely one of the better players ever to play in Toledo, St. John s coach Heintschel said. For one thing, he has continued to improve throughout his career, and his teams have always won. He didn t hit a plateau and stay there. He tailored his game to the team concept we preach, and he has excelled.

Raymond was a freshman sub on the varsity for the first of those City titles, and has been the unofficial MVP of the last three, scoring 21, 26 and 30 points in St. John s title-game wins over Libbey.

B.J. is obviously a great scorer who plays extremely well in big games, Heintschel said. He loves to be on the stage and in the limelight, which allows him to play well in the big games.

Northview s Niki McCoy and St. John s B.J. Raymond,
middle front, head the 2005 All-Blade basketball teams.
Also named were, from left, Bowsher s Stephany Johnson, Bowling Green s Ryan Hoehner, Central Catholic s Jessica Minnfield, St. John s Zach Hillesland,
Waite s Shareese Ulis, Libbey s Nate Miles, St. Francis 
Darryl Roberts and Findlay s Carlee Roethlisberger.
Northview s Niki McCoy and St. John s B.J. Raymond, middle front, head the 2005 All-Blade basketball teams. Also named were, from left, Bowsher s Stephany Johnson, Bowling Green s Ryan Hoehner, Central Catholic s Jessica Minnfield, St. John s Zach Hillesland, Waite s Shareese Ulis, Libbey s Nate Miles, St. Francis Darryl Roberts and Findlay s Carlee Roethlisberger.

Raymond s play was crucial in getting the Titans to the Division I state semifinals in 2003 and to the state final last year.

Raymond is arguably the league s top player since Jackson starred for four seasons at Macomber (1985-89), leading the Macmen to a state title. Jackson was an All-American at Ohio State, and is currently in his 13th NBA season.

But the list of CL greats is a long one from Bunk Adams in the 1950s, Butch Komives in the 60s, Kelvin Ransey in the 70s and on and on.

I want to leave something behind when I leave high school, Raymond said. A lot of players just play four years and then they re done, and hopefully somebody brings them up in a conversation. I want to, hopefully, be one of the best names ever to play in Toledo.

A big part of Raymond s success, according to Heintschel, is that he s always trying to improve.

Raymond looks forward to his next challenge, playing at Xavier.

Ever since I was a little kid I was never given anything, Raymond. I was the fourth or fifth-best player on the team when I was younger, and I always had to work for it. I just got in a habit of trying to outwork and outhustle people, doing things that other people don t think to do.

Contact Steve Junga at:sjunga@theblade.comor 419-724-6461.

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