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Super sophomore, sharp-shooting senior combine to give Loudonville's opponents fits

Corri Vermilya and Shalen Guilliams lead Loudonville to another playoff win, as they've been doing throughout the regular season.

By Ryan Isley | Photos by Jeff Harwell

CRESTON, Ohio — When it comes to a one-two punch, they don’t get much more power-packed than the guard duo of Loudonville’s Corri Vermilya and Shalen Guilliams.

The two combined to average just a tick under 45 points per game this season for the Redbirds, who went 18-4 and advanced to the OHSAA Division IV district final with a 50-28 win over Columbia on Wednesday night at Norwayne High School.

Vermilya, a 5-foot-9 sophomore, became the first player in the class of 2024 to hit the 1,000-point plateau when she dropped 40 points on Columbia in the next-to-last game of the regular season. 

She averaged 27.5 points per game this season, improving on an impressive freshman season that saw her average 15.6 points per game in being named special mention All-Ohio.

She scored at least 20 points in every game during the regular season, missing that mark only in Loudonville’s first-round sectional win over Kidron Central Christian when she played only 10 minutes in the 70-3 contest. 

She scored at least 30 points in seven games and hit the 40-point mark twice — against Johnstown and Columbia (in the regular-season meeting).

“I had to step up this season from my freshman year,” Vermilya said. “I had to step up in a leadership role and on the court. I think that has pushed me, knowing I had to step up in that way.”

Jeff Harwell_Corri Vermilya

What makes Vermilya so difficult to defend is that she can score in so many ways — shooting from the outside, mid-range and driving to the basket from either side. 

She can also turn on the afterburners and get up the court ahead of everyone off a rebound or steal.

Not only can Vermilya score the basketball, but she can rebound and take it away as well. She finished the regular season in the top five in Division IV in the state by grabbing 12.6 rebounds and making 5.5 steals per game.

She did it all Wednesday against Columbia, as she led all scorers with 23 points and grabbed seven rebounds and six steals.

Her all-around game led to 19 double-doubles in 22 games during the season and two triple-doubles. 

She had 32 points, 13 rebounds and 10 steals in a win over Ashland at the start of the season and then 20 points, 10 rebounds and 10 steals in less than three quarters of action in a win over Kidron Central Christian.

“Anybody that watches her play even one time, you can see instantly that everyone gravitates toward her,” Loudonville coach Tyler Bates said. “She has that personality and go-get-them mentality that makes everyone want to get on her shoulders and go. She is the kind of kid we can root for in the state of Ohio.”

As Vermilya is coming into her own at Loudonville, she does so after playing last season with her sister Grace, who was second-team All-Ohio at 20.1 points per game and now plays at Mount Vernon Nazarene University. 

As Corri climbs the scoring charts, Grace holds the single-game school record with 53 points, a feat she accomplished last season in a tournament win over Dalton, the same opponent Corri and her teammates will face Saturday for the district title.

“I will probably tease her about it a little,” Grace Vermilya said. “I will tell her she has to get 54 to go down in the all-time records.”

Even if she takes a little ribbing from her older sister, Corri will still lean on Grace for advice.

“We talk every single day,” Corri Vermilya said. “She helps me in my leadership role and also with things on the court.”

While the spotlight is often focused on Vermilya, Guilliams is having an all-state kind of season herself as a senior. Building off her honorable mention All-Ohio nod last season, the 5-foot-8 point guard continues to be one of the best shooters in the state and is also a 1,000-point scorer. 

Jeff Harwell_Guilliams

She hit 82 3-pointers this season after knocking down 92 last season. Not only is she making a lot of them, but she is doing it efficiently, knocking down nearly 40% of her shots from behind the arc. 

Her ability to hit 3-pointers in bulk comes in a different role this season. After being a spot-up shooter on last year’s district championship team, Guilliams has had to take over the ball-handling duties for Loudonville this season.

“People don’t understand how hard it is to go from playing primarily off the ball like she did last year to doing a lot of our ball handling this year,” Bates said. “She has done an outstanding job, and we trust her with the ball in her hands.

While it was a new responsibility, it was one that the Huntington University commit has grown into quickly. On Wednesday night, her new role as the floor general helped the team in the first half while she went scoreless.

“I do what the team needs from me in those situations,” Guilliams said. “I pick it up in other aspects of the game when I’m not scoring.”

But one of the best shooters in the state isn’t going to be quiet all night, as Guilliams hit three deep 3-pointers in the third quarter and finished with nine points.

“When I say she is the best shooter I have coached at the high school level, I really mean it,” Bates said. “She can hit from deep, and it doesn’t take much space. It’s just a flick of the wrist.”

With two players who are capable of scoring at will, teams have had to change up their defenses, sometimes from possession to possession. The duo has learned how to play against any defense thrown in front of them.

“At this point, we have pretty much seen it all,” Vermilya said. “We just have to adjust and react to it.”

And while the dynamic duo is busy terrorizing opponents, they are just as busy enjoying playing together and growing their sister-like relationship.

“It’s a special feeling playing with Corri,” Guilliams said. “She’s like a sister to me, so I love that.”

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