By Rob Kiser
Piqua Daily Call
and Josh Brown
Troy Daily News
MIAMI COUNTY — Two of the best girls basketball players in Miami County history capped off their stellar careers with big honors.
Covington’s Sammi Whiteman, who finished her career No. 2 on the county’s all-time scoring list, was named the Division IV All-Ohio Player of the Year, while Miami East’s Morgan Haney was named to the Division III All-Ohio first team, leading the way for the area’s players when the All-Ohio teams were announced for D-III and IV on Tuesday.
• Division IV
“Wow,” Whiteman said when learning of the honor, being named the All-Ohio Player of the Year in Division IV. “That is a tremendous honor. It is just nice to see all the hard work rewarded. I have always believed if you work hard, you can accomplish anything. I just hope all the young girls in Covington who play basketball see this and understand you can accomplish anything with hard work.”
And as every time she steps on the floor in that No. 11 uniform (which Whiteman plans to wear for Trevecca Nazarene University next year), Whiteman was thinking about her late grandfather Joe Paxson when she received the news. Joe was the uncle of former NBA players Jim and John Paxson.
“He is the one who really introduced me to the game,” Whiteman said. “We would play all the time. He died a few years ago, so I play for him. He is one of the things I am thinking about every time I play.”
Whiteman finished her career 1,893 points.
The 5-foot-7 guard averaged 24.5 points, 6.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 3.3 steals a game this season, while averaging just 2.6 turnovers despite being the Buccs primary ballhandler.
She shot 55 percent on two-point shots, 36 percent on 3-point shots and 81 percent from the line.
Covington coach Jim Meyer was also excited about the news.
“When, you think of all the Division IV players in Ohio, to be able to say I coached the best Division IV player in Ohio, it is quite an honor,” Meyer said. “I am just so proud of Sammi (Whiteman). I have always said the thing about Sammi is how hard she works. She is a girl that deserves everything she has gotten.
“She is a great example for all the young girls in Covington of what you can accomplish if you work at it and do all the right things.”
Meyer said it also spoke volumes about the Cross County Conference, with Haney being named first team in D-III.
“I thought our conference was very competitive this year,” he said. “There were a lot of really good teams.”
And Whiteman was at the top of the list.
“It is an incredible honor,” she said. “To be chosen as the best player in Division IV in Ohio, it is amazing. It is great to be recognized for all the hard work I put in and just shows it was worth it.”
Also in Division IV, Bradford’s Austy Miller earned All-Ohio honorable mention.
Russia’s Laurissa Poling earned All-Ohio honorable mention.
• Division III
Miami East’s Morgan Haney may have signed a Division I college commitment before her senior season even began, but there was still unfinished business to take care of.
And Haney did just that, earning a spot on the All-Ohio first team in Division III.
“Definitely for her, this was a big goal,” Miami East coach Bruce Vanover said. “I think she’s been honorable mention two times, and she’s the kind of kid that works hard. Some kids are naturally talented. Morgan is very talented, and on top of that she has a work ethic that you just don’t see a lot. She’s in the gym all the time, in the weight room all the time, she’s one of those kids that had goals and aspirations and has worked for them — and continued to work for them every year, never settling. I think that’s one of the reasons she’s reached the levels she has.”
Haney, a 5-foot-8 point guard for the Vikings who has committed to play D-I college basketball for Albany, averaged 23.3 points per game this season, setting Miami East’s single-game scoring record on Jan. 7 with a 36-point night against Urbana and then topping that a few nights later on Jan. 18 with a 41-point effort against Ansonia. On Dec. 15, 2018, Haney joined seven other Viking players since 1976 to reach the 1,000-point mark in a career.
And she did all of it while playing only three seasons — Haney missed her entire sophomore year with an injury.
“Honestly, I think that injury drove her probably even harder than she was already driven,” Vanover said. “While she was rehabbing, she was worried about what this would mean for her game — and I think we all know it didn’t slow her down one single bit.
“I think that’s what’s impressive. She took that injury, it was a tough year for her to sit on the bench and watch her teammates struggle — we were 13-12 that year, and she had that mindset of ‘I can’t help them.’ I think that really bothered her. To the very end, she just wanted to play with her team. She’s a team player, and she’s going to have a nice career beyond high school.”
Also in Division III, Versailles’ Lindsey Winner earned All-Ohio special mention and Caitlin McEldowney earned honorable mention.
Milton-Union’s Kristen Dickison earned All-Ohio honorable mention.
The Division I and II All-Ohio lists will be announced Wednesday afternoon, and Ms. Basketball Ohio will be announced on Thursday.
Contact Piqua Daily Call Sports Editor Rob Kiser at email@example.com. Contact Troy Daily News Sports Editor Josh Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.