By Scott Halasz
XENIA — Emma Hess is about as modest as they come when talking about herself.
The Legacy Christian Academy senior basketball star would rather focus on her team, which is prepping for a Division-IV district championship game against Bradford Saturday. But Hess let loose a little bit on Wednesday and for a good reason.
She was named the Division-IV Southwest District Player of the Year, sharing the honor with Tri-Village’s Morgan Hunt. A panel of district sports writers chose the players of the year along with the first, second, and third teams.
“I was pretty excited,” Hess said. “It’s definitely an honor to get that award. Our team has been doing good, so I’ve been doing alright as well.”
“Alright” may be a bit of an understatement.
Heading into Saturday’s game, Hess is averaging 18.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 2.2 steals per game while making 45.8 percent of her shots. She often faces double and triple teams but scored double figures in every game she played but one — an early season game against Dayton Christian that she left early due to an injury.
Around 6 feet tall, Hess can play inside, outside, handle the ball, and find the open teammate.
“If you’re a coach and you had to pick a best player and had to pick the attributes of that best player, man, she would check the boxes,” Coach Mark Combs said. “I think she’s getting the recognition she deserves. Without sounding too repetitive … it’s been a four-year journey of what she’s added to our program.”
A Liberty University (D-I) signee, Hess wasn’t even thinking about playing collegiately when that journey started.
“I never thought I was that good,” she said. “I didn’t really start wanting to play in college until colleges started looking at me my freshman year.”
And now as co-player of the year, Hess will likely be a D-IV first-team All-Ohio selection and will be remembered along with some of the other 2020-21 greats from the Dayton area.
“It’s kind of cool,” she said. “I get thrown in the conversation with girls like Bree Hall from Wayne and Cotie McMahon from Centerville, who are going to the Big Ten (McMahon verbally committed to Ohio State) and South Carolina (Hall). Even being in the conversation with them has been kind of cool to see.”
Like those two big-school stars, Hess is one of those generational talents that every program would love to have. Combs agreed, but managed to get a little greedy at the same time.
“I want to say yes, but I sure hope not. She makes me a much better coach,” he said. “Let’s say that she’s a generational talent and hope that someone’s coming behind her.”
Hess actually has plenty of talent around her right now. Teammate Kathleen Ahner was a second-team All-SW District selection and Katie Leach was honorable mention. Hess said if Margaret Kensinger had been able to play the whole season “she could have been on that list as well.”
“They deserve that recognition,” Hess said. “It just shows that I’m not the whole team. We have other players around me that do their jobs.”
Speaking of doing a job, Hess said there will not be much time for celebrating her latest honor.
“I’m just focused on Saturday,” she said.