BEAVERCREEK — Emma Hess was pretty shocked when she was told of her latest basketball honor — Division IV All-Ohio first team.
“Wow,” the Legacy Christian Academy senior said. “If you would have told me four years ago that I would have been first team All-Ohio I would be like ‘No way.’ I just never really saw myself improving that much from freshman to senior year.”
So imagine the look on her face when Hess — second team All-Ohio last season — found out the bigger news. She was voted D-IV player of the year by the Ohio Prep Sports Writers Association, the same group that put Hess on the first team.
“Really? In Ohio? Wow,” Hess said. “Oh man, that’s crazy. I know a lot of people had like (Toledo Christian senior) Madison Royal-Davis, she was always usually listed above me or (Minster senior) Ivy Wolf. So to be on top, that’s insane. That’s just really crazy to me to see that people think that I’m that good.”
Hess was first team on nine of 10 ballots and received four POY votes — nearly half — while last season’s player of the year, Royal-Davis, and Molly Howard from McDonald each received two votes. Wolf received one vote.
“I don’t even know what to say,” Hess said.
The Beavercreek resident let her game do the talking this season. The Liberty University (Division-I) signee averaged 18.6 points, and 7.2 rebounds per game, while shooting 45.6 percent from the field and 37.9 percent from 3-point range.
Hess also made 83.8 percent of her free throws and chipped in 2.1 steals, 1.9 assists, and 1.7 blocks per game for the 21-4 Knights, who were Metro Buckeye Conference champs for the fourth straight season while also winning a district title.
Hess put up all those numbers despite being the defensive focal point of the opponent in every game, seeing double and triple teams, along with other gadget defenses aimed at slowing her down.
It didn’t really work.
Hess scored double digits in every game she played but one — an early season game against Dayton Christian she left due to a minor facial injury. Hess had 12 games of at least 20 points and had at least 15 points in 20 of 25 games with a season high of 31 against Troy Christian in December.
Complicating matters for the opponent was Hess’ ability to play all five positions, bring the ball up the court, find the open teammate, or pull up for a 3-pointer or for what is likely the best mid-range jumper in the state. That 10-12 foot shot was practically unstoppable.
“I think its because I’m pretty tall and I have a high release point on my shot,” Hess said. “When I jump up, I can jump and get higher than the other person and just shoot right over them.”
Looking back on her four years at Legacy, Hess immediately mentioned her teammates and their four league titles as the biggest highlight.
“That’s pretty impressive,” she said. “It’s a team thing. We always start out at the beginning of the year, our goal is to win conference.”
Hess was also excited to find out teammate Kathleen Ahner was honorable mention All-Ohio.
“I don’t think Kathleen gets nearly the recognition that she should for everything she does for the team,” Hess said. “The assists, the rebounds, the steals, she does all the little things very well. Basketball is a team game. You need more than one player to do it.”
But having the player of the year sure helps.