The 2021-22 Mississinawa Valley Girls Varsity Basketball Team. (Dale Barger Photo)

Mississinawa Valley Girls Basketball Preview

UNION CITY – The 2021-22 Mississinawa Valley Girls Basketball team welcomes back Michael Paige as the head varsity coach.  After a 3-year absence he returns to guide the Blackhawks who will be looking to make some noise this year in the new Western Ohio Athletic Conference.

“This season I look for our team to be fast and athletic. Our keys to success will be on the defensive end of the court. If we can really get after it on defense, we will surprise a lot of people. I think we are going to make a bigger impact than people are expecting this season and the next few seasons to come,” coach Paige stated.

The Blackhawks will return one of the top scorers in the Cross County Conference last season senior Mattie Hiestand a 4-year starter.  She averaged 12.8 points a game including a 35-point game against Covington 1 point off the school record for a single game.

Joining Hiestand are seniors Alison Byram, Kennedy Stachler and Maddie Townsend.  Other key players looking to contribute are 2 juniors Jocelyn Hoggatt and Xochitl Lozano-Licona, sophomore Brenna Price and freshman Taylee Woodbury coming of State qualifying cross country performance this fall.

Coach Paige sees a few teams challenging for the Western Ohio Athletic Conference title.

“On paper, it looks like the top teams in the conference will be Tri-village and Arcanum. I look for Preble Shawnee to be in the mix as well,” coach Paige mentioned.

But he is also optimistic that his team will surprise people having a good mix of seniors with some young talent mixed in as well.

“I honestly think we will be the sleeper pick in the conference this season. No one is looking for us to make an impact given our history. However, we may have something to say about that by the end of the season!

The Blackhawks got off to a good start winning their first game of the season 55-32 over Lehman Catholic. Mattie Hiestand led the way with 15 points and Jocelyn Hoggatt and Brenna Price each scored 10 points in the win.

The Hawks then fell to Tri-Village in league play in their second game and stand 1-1 on the year and 0-1 in the Western Ohio Athletic Conference.

Mississinawa Valley returns 4 seniors to their basketball team; Alison Byram, Mattie Hiestand, Kennedy Stachler and Maddie Townsend. (Dale Barger Photo)
Senior Mattie Hiestand is a 4-year starter and was the leading scorer last year with 13 points per game. (Dale Barger Photo)
Coach Michael Paige returns as the Blackhawks varsity girls basketball coach after a 3-year absence. (Dale Barger Photo)

Dale Barger / Sports Editor

Dale Barger is a lifelong sports enthusiast and has covered high school athletics for nearly 20 years in Southwest Ohio and now becomes sports editor for Darke County now. For 18 years Dale has been a sportswriter for The Daily Advocate and has been published in online sorts magazines and conference websites. Dale is also an accomplished photographer who has captured thousands of athletes in action over the years. Dale is a member of The Ohio Prep Sportswriters Association and was a 2019 recipient of the Ohio High School Athletic Association Southwest District Media Service Award. Dale lives on a 72-acre farm outside of New Madison, Ohio and is married to Rita Ann (Fourman) Barger and together they have two sons and three grandkids. If you don’t see Dale at a sporting event you might catch him following his other passion – photographing nature and wildlife. Contact Darke County Now Editor Media Sports Editor Dale Barger at

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