News

MCS striving to raise bar in girls basketball program photo

Aubriana Bellard

MCS striving to raise bar in girls basketball program photo

Makenzie Tolson

The goal was to make this a memorable season for Middletown Christian School’s girls basketball team.

So far, it’s working.

The Eagles are 9-3, the best start in program history, with a blend of veterans and newcomers under fourth-year coach Brent Tolson.

“They’re great girls,” he said. “God’s been good these four years. He’s blessed all of us, and hopefully that will continue.”

Sophomore Aubriana Bellard is the only double-double player in the Metro Buckeye Conference. The 5-foot-10 forward is averaging 13.4 points and 11.2 rebounds per game.

“We’re kind of like a rag-tag team that’s doing well,” Bellard said. “It’s because we all work hard and want to win and have unity. On a lot of teams, there’s a lot of drama. Here, we just kind of tell each other how we feel, and we’re all friends. When you work together and give a lot of effort, teams really work out.”

She’s one of five returnees who played major roles for MCS last season. Senior guard Makenzie Tolson, senior forward Brooke Richardson, junior center Jada Long and junior point guard Hannah Spahr are the others, with Tolson on the stretch drive of a record-setting career at the Division IV school.

“We’ve done better than we expected,” said Tolson, the No. 1 female scorer in school history with 1,246 points. “I’m having a blast. We take it seriously, but we’re always making jokes and having fun and messing with my dad.”

Tolson, a 5-7 shooting guard, is averaging 19.3 points, 9.3 boards, 6.0 steals and 5.3 assists per game, leading the MBC in the latter two categories.

Tolson and Bellard produce the bulk of the Eagles’ points. What Brent Tolson likes is the fact that his team has four of the conference’s top 10 rebounders in Bellard, Tolson, Long (8.6) and Richardson (5.4).

“Our rebounding is the key,” Brent Tolson said. “I would describe us as a defensive-minded team, very scrappy with plenty of leadership. I’ve got girls that I can count on.”

Bellard is the leader of the board crew. She’s grabbed at least a dozen rebounds seven times this season.

“I knew I was going to have to step up this year,” Bellard said. “In basketball, there’s always a lot of people diving on the floor and hustling all over the place. I don’t mind getting on the ground. I don’t mind getting in a little tussle for the ball.”

Spahr is recovering from a broken thumb and may return to action Thursday night at Yellow Springs. Middletown Christian is allowing 33.4 points per game.

“Defense — that’s our game,” said Makenzie Tolson, who’s played much of the season with a broken pinky on her right (shooting) hand. “Offense comes and goes, but we always hustle and play good D.”

She holds nine program records and is the career leader in steals (282), assists (296) and 3-pointers (87).

Tolson has nearly doubled the next-highest point total (663) and has set her sights on becoming the school’s all-time leading scorer. Tim Parks is No. 1 on the boys list with 1,401 points.

“He’s good with it,” Makenzie said of Parks, a 1981 graduate who still lives in the area and is a family friend. “I did not expect to have a chance to do this. It was my goal, but I never thought I’d go over a thousand.”

Brent Tolson said his daughter’s all-around game has continued to improve.

“Every year she’s seen, ‘The more I pass, the more points I end up with,’ ” he said. “She’s not as worried about making points now. If she plays the whole game, whether it’s assists or steals or handling the ball, everything else will fall into place.”

Makenzie has verbally committed to play NAIA ball at Cincinnati Christian University, where she plans to major in early childhood education. Earlham, Capital and Milligan (Tenn.) were among the schools she considered.

“I’m so excited to go to Cincinnati Christian,” Makenzie said. “I just loved all the players and the coach the best there. It was close to home, but still far enough way. It was the perfect fit for me.”

Her dad plans to be right there watching her. Brent Tolson has already told the MCS administration this is his last season.

“God and family are first, so I want to watch her play,” Brent said. “There’s no way I could do that and be the full-time varsity coach, in my opinion. But I’ll miss these girls.”

There’s still a lot of season left for MCS, which is 2-3 in conference play. The Eagles had never won an OHSAA tournament game before Tolson became head coach, but they’ve won four in the last three seasons and reached two D-IV sectional finals.

The team will prepare for the tournament with a weekend trip to Gatlinburg, Tenn., after the last regular-season game. It’s become an annual event under Tolson, and basketball isn’t on the agenda.

“We don’t even really talk about basketball,” Makenzie said. “It’s just team bonding. My favorite memories have come from that trip. We get to know each other that much more.”

“You would think taking nine girls to Tennessee would be chaos, but it’s a great time,” the MCS coach said. “We have a cabin in the mountains that sleeps like 18. We do the aquarium, go-karts, WonderWorks, restaurants, shopping … we’ll take it easy and come back and get started for the sectional.”

Dayton, OH: On Wednesday, November 18, two MVS athletes signed letters of intent to play college athletics. Taylor Middleton, a state champion and record holder, has received a scholarship to run track at the University of Pittsburgh. Joey Brinegar, named first team all-league and all-area selection as a junior, will join the University of Northwestern Ohio softball program.
Middleton won three state titles for girls’ long jump, girls’ 100 meter dash, and girls’ 200 meter dash in the spring of 2015. Middleton also holds the state record in long jump with a distance of 19 feet 1.5 inches. Middleton, of Dayton and the daughter of Whitney Briggs and Mike Middleton, plans to major in Business and Marketing.
Brinegar, an outfielder and utility player, hails from one of the best travel ball programs in the Midwest, the Lady Lasers. As a junior she hit .522 with 45 RBIs. Brinegar, of Middletown, is the daughter of Belva and Lora Brinegar and plans to major in Business Management and Marketing.
Along with the majority of the upper school student body, Middleton’s and Brinegar’s families and friends joined them to witness the signing. Athletic Director Justin Slauterbeck presented both students with a t-shirt to the school where they will matriculate.
“Taylor and Joey are everything we look for in a student athlete,” says Slauterbeck. “They are both very talented athletes and even better students.”
About The Miami Valley School: The Miami Valley School is Dayton’s only independent school, serving children in grades Pre-K through 12. At The Miami Valley School, we’re independent in our teaching and learning, and in our thinking and doing. For over 50 years, our students have enjoyed the freedom to explore their world, in a community that encourages them to discover how to express themselves in it. Although we adhere to a demanding scholarship built on a foundation of integrity and grit, teachers here do more than prepare students to score well on a standardized test someday. They empower students to live life to the fullest every day, to discover their true passion and purpose, and then to responsibly pursue it with emotional and intellectual rigor. FACTS: We have the highest SAT and ACT test scores in the Dayton area and are the only school to have an independent college counseling program. Visit mvschool.com for more information.

XC girls finished 7th! Russia in 6th right in front of us. We beat Covington. Rachel placed 21st with a life time PR 19:19. Grace placed 26th with a life time PR of 19:23! Awesome end to the season!

Isaac Erlandson takes 12th in regional to qualify for the state meet next Saturday!