Edison State women finish perfect regular season — open tournament play Thursday


PIQUA — Before this winter, it was something that was not given much thought too.

Because, an undefeated regular season seemed like an impossible task.

But, the Edison State women’s basketball team has already had a historic season — with more to come.

The Chargers, who open NJCAA D-II Region 12 tournament play Thursday at 6:30 p.m. against Terra State, completed the first undefeated season in school history, going 27-0 overall and 12-0 in the OCCAC.

“Of course, you never think about and undefeated season,” Tim McMahon said whose team went 28-2 two years ago and advanced to the national tournament before it was postponed. Now, the Chargers are 27-0 and two wins from another national tournament appearance.

“You don’t think about undefeated because there are so many things that can happen,” McMahon said. “Players can get hurt or miss games (with illness), you can have a bad game.”

So. McMahon hasn’t even given a thought to Saturday’s regional championship game.

“Somebody asked me about Saturday,” McMahon said. “I said we have a game Thursday. We have to win that game first.”

The groundwork for success was laid before the season.

Leading scorer Kailah Johnson (Notre Dame Academy) is a 5-foot-7 sophomore guard who came here a year ago, but the season was cancelled for Covid reasons.

“That was tough,” Johnson, who averages 21.4 points and 6.0 rebounds, said. “Especially with Covid and everything. But, this season was amazing.”

And when Columbus State decided not to resume its program, Edison reaped some big benefits when 5-foot-10 sophomore post Whitney Staggs and 5-8 sophomore post Nia Johnson elected to come to Edison State.

Staggs, a standout at Columbus State, is the Chargers second leading scorer and rebounder with 18.3 points and 7.0 rebounds and Johnson has been a key player off the bench.

“I knew about Edison State (having played against them),” Staggs said. “Nia (Johnson) came here too. She lives in Toledo and I live in Columbus. It was a good decision.”

Staggs recognized the team’s potential right away.

“I could see it when we played in the summer,” Staggs said. “I really thought we could go undefeated and that is what we worked for.”

They are joined in the starting lineup by three players who will go down as the most successful at Edison State in the win-loss column.

Maddy Bakosh (Springboro), Audra Schaub (Wapakoneta) and Allison Siefring (St. Henry) have a combined record of 55-3 in their two seasons.

“We had the three girls coming back,” McMahon said. “You think about that. They have 55 wins and only three losses in their two seasons. Two league titles, one trip to nationals and hopefully another one.”

Bakosh, a 5-8 sophomore who averages 8.8 points and leads the team with 4.5 assists and 2.3 steals is very appreciative of the opportunity she has had.

“No, I didn’t expect anything like that,” she said. “It has been amazing. Of course, you never expect and undefeated season. We definitely had high expectations. Right now, we have to focus on one game at a time.”

Schaub, a 5-4 sophomore guard who averages 5.0 points per game, wouldn’t change a thing.

“It has been so much fun,” she said. “Last year was tough. But, to get to spend my final year playing basketball with my best friends, I couldn’t ask for anything more than that.”

Siefring, 5-6 sophomore, contributes in every way, averaging 14.6 points, 9.0 rebounds and 3.6 assists.

“That was tough (getting to nationals and not getting to play),” she said. “Definitely, I think that has been motivation this year.”

And no season as special as this one comes easy.

Although the Chargers had made it look easy all season while averaging 96.1 points per game and allowing just 58.9 points per game.

But, last weekend, Edison State responded when challenged.

On Saturday against Bryant & Stratton, Edison led by four with four minutes remaining before putting the game away down the stretch.

On Sunday, making the long bus ride to Lakeland without Kailah Johnson, who was injured late in Saturday’s game, The Chargers trailed by seven with five minutes to go in the game before winning by eight.

“Of course, we were playing without Kailah (Johnson),” Staggs said. “So, other players stepped up.”

Kailah Johnson agreed.

“It is always good to be challenged like that and respond,” she said. “I think going into the tournament like that gives us momentum>”

Kierra Wendel (5-4 freshman, Fort Recovery), who started Sunday, Nia Johnson and Victoria Newland (5-10 sophomore Allen East) have played key roles throughout the season, along with 5-7 freshman Haleigh Behnken (Greenville), 5-7 freshman Trisa Porter (Tri-Village) and 5-5 sophomore Rylie McIver (Lehman Catholic).

Chloe Butler, a 5-8 freshman, is out this season with an injury.

McIver watched her sister Brogan cut down the net two years ago and hopes to do the same.

“We had a number of players step up,” McMahan said. “We win as a team.”

And the Chargers will continue the same strategy in the postseason.

“When we come in on Monday, we say we won last week — now let’s win this week,” McMahon said.

A strategy that has worked to perfection so far.

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