Five of Norton’s top 11 girls basketball players are injured, but coach Brian Miller and the rest of the Panthers still have found a way to find success.

“Many people are wondering how we are maintaining a high level of success, and I tell them because it’s the program and their desire to battle through all the adversity,” said Miller, whose team is 9-4.

“This is a special group of kids who are expecting to retain their district title, and that is their No. 2 goal behind being the best academically they can.”

Senior Alyssa Kraus and juniors Cara Cook and Jaclyn Fortner have remained healthy and have led Norton.

Seniors Ashton Weber and Erica Paridon are also key contributors, along with junior Carolyn Ivy and sophomore Sadie Blackert.

“Cara, Jaclyn and Alyssa are our three go-to players that have increased production in points, rebounds and assists,” Miller said. “Not to mention all three work four different positions on the floor.

“Ashton and Erica have stabilized our starting lineup with hustle and point production. It takes a team to win games and I have always preached teamwork and expectation of success to all the players. They all believe they will win and expect nothing less. They all are great students and great people.”

Miller said sophomore starting point guard Brooke Robinson is out with surgery on a shin, and senior starting post Breanna Hlas is out indefinitely due to severe pain in her hip. Junior Rachel DeStefano, the team’s top defensive player, has missed all season with a torn ACL in a knee. Freshman post Nina Dzombic and sophomore guard Dayna Rabatin were expected to log varsity minutes but torn ACLs also put them out for the season.

“We have two other girls gone for the season, JV starting point Alexis Littlejohn with major shin issues and freshman post Emily Cook, who has a fracture in her lower back,” Miller said. “All these injuries have dropped us from 21 players to 14.”

Even with the high injury count, Norton has competed with some of the best in the state. The Panthers lost to state-ranked teams Manchester, Ravenna and Rocky River Magnificat.

“Manchester and Ravenna are undefeated,” Miller said. “We lost to Ravenna in OT by one a week ago and we lost to Mags by six with girls injured. We look at the cup half full not empty.

“I give great credit to the injured girls as they never miss practice and that’s tough knowing you’re out for the season, yet they rehab together and they cheer for the ones playing everyday. Tells you the family atmosphere we promote in this program.”

Record performances

The Hudson swimming/diving team enjoyed a memorable Senior Night this past Saturday against Solon with each gender securing a win.

Hudson swim coach Matt Davis said the girls senior class finished an undefeated dual meet career at home.

The Explorers also set four records, Davis said.

Sophomore Paige Kelly broke her own 400-meter freestyle pool record with a time of 4 minutes, 35.07 seconds. Her previous mark, 4:26.69, was set earlier in the season.

Sophomore diver Alex Obendorf set a school record for six dives with 318.15 points, surpassing the previous mark of 311.0 points by Ben Bollin in 1997.

The Hudson boys then set pool standards in two relays. Freshman Ross Palazzo, senior Adam Motter, junior Ryan Hutcheson and senior Jimmy Dagley combined to post a 1:38.35 in the 200 freestyle relay, better than the previous mark of 1:38.76 in 2002. Palazzo, Hutcheson and senior Cooper Goeke joined Dagley to win the 400 freestyle relay in 3:38.05. The previous mark was 3:40.12 in 1991.

Semple to Wright State

GlenOak senior goalkeeper Spencer Semple made an oral commitment to continue his academic and soccer careers at Wright State University.

Semple was named the Federal League Player of the Year and is a two-time, first-team All-Ohio selection and NSCAA All-Region 4 choice.

Semple, 6-foot and 175 pounds, was a four-year starter at goalkeeper for the Golden Eagles and was also a varisty placekicker in football as a senior.

He posted 40 shutouts in 73 career high school games and made 364 saves (87.1 save percentage) while allowing 54 goals.

Semple state a Division I state record for most shutouts by a freshman with 12 in 2008.

Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or Read the high school blog at Also follow him on Twitter at Follow ABJ sports on Facebook at