Off-Season Dedication Yields Dividends Year after Year

The long tradition of girls’ basketball at The Summit Country Day reached a new level of excellence in 2015 and 2017 with dual trips to the Division III regional championship.

The Summit spent part of the 2016-17 season ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press Ohio Division III girls’ basketball poll. Like the 2014-15 team, the Lady Knights posted an undefeated record before falling in the regional championship. 

The evolution of the program started in 2001 when Beth Simmons took over as head coach. Although the Lady Knights won just 10 games combined in her first four seasons, Coach Simmons – a former college basketball player at the University of Akron and a one-year assistant coach at Wright State University – went to work changing the culture.

“When I first started here there really wasn’t a weight-lifting program and we didn’t do summer camps,” Coach Simmons said. “A lot of the girls I have right now play AAU and put the time into summer ball. That’s all very important in building a program. It’s not just when basketball season starts and when basketball season ends. There’s a lot of out-of-season work we do to get better in-season.” 

Team concepts are another driving force behind The Summit’s success. While some programs run their offense through one standout player, the Lady Knights evenly distribute the ball.

It’s led to many skilled players joining the collegiate ranks. Niah Woods ’18 (Howard University), Alea Harris '18 (Wofford College), Kiana Allen '18 (Bethel College), Meghan O'Brien '17 (U.S. Coast Guard Academy), Kiley Barnard '15 (Berea College) and Malauna Campbell '15 (University of Charleston) are among The Summit alumna playing at the next level.

During a typical offseason, the Lady Knights focus on open gyms, team camp and individual training to improve their shooting, post moves and ball-handling. The dedication has paid dividends for a program that has won five Miami Valley Conference Scarlet Division titles since 2012-13.

Coach Simmons has a long history of achievements, most notably a Cincinnati Basketball Hall of Fame Coach of the Year award in 2015. In addition to multiple nods as the Southwest Ohio District 16 and Miami Valley Conference Scarlet Division coach of the year, she was tabbed as an Associated Press Division III Ohio Coach of the Year in 2015 and The Cincinnati Enquirer’s Division III coach of the year in 2017. Coach Simmons was the Division III-IV South Coach in the prestigious North-South Girls’ All-Star Game at Denison University in 2016.