Talented girls basketball player Woods to suit up for Hopewell-Loudon

The girls basketball landscape in the area will have a bit of a different look next season.

Kaia Woods, who will be a junior next season, has decided to transfer to nearby Hopewell-Loudon.

The decision will pair her with first-team all-Ohio post Makayla Elmore.

“MaKayla and Kaia have been friends since fourth grade,” said Dandre Woods, Kaia’s father. “They played pee-wee together and were together in AAU with the Ohio Energy. Kaia went there to play with her, and it’s easy for them from that stand point.”

Woods, who previously attended Tiffin Columbian, joins an already deep Hopewell-Loudon squad. The Chieftains graduated just one senior from last year’s team that went 21-6. H-L won the Fostoria district over Arcadia before losing in the regional semifinals to Ottoville, the state runner-up.

“We wanted to transfer Kaia to either Toledo Notre Dame or Hopewell-Loudon,” Woods said. “Her mom was able to find a house in the Hopewell school district.”

The Chieftains return five seniors, four juniors, and two sophomores in addition to Woods. Elmore averaged 21.3 points, 12.0 rebounds, 3.7 steals, and 2.1 blocks per game as a sophomore last season.

“Kaia is leaving as far as I know,” Amy Cooper, new Columbian girls basketball coach, said. “She has not been at any summer league workouts or competitions with us.”

Cooper takes over for the departed Erin Reed, who helped lead the Tornadoes to a sectional title and 15-9 overall record.

“Coach Reed was awesome,” Dandre Woods said. “She loved Kaia and she was more than a coach. She was a mentor. She pushed Kaia and did not criticize her. We know it is a good situation we are going too.”

Woods was named Honorable Mention All-Ohio last season. In 20 regular season games, she put up 17.0 points, 5.3 steals, and 4.9 rebounds a contest. 

“She has been able to show her worth already with Hopewell,” Woods said. “She is in the gym constantly. She is a gym rat. She would rather be in the gym than out partying with friends. She is that type of athlete.”

Olivia Zender is another top returner for Hopewell-Loudon next season. She averaged 12.4 points, 2.7 steals, and 2.4 assists per outing.

“Coming into my first year, I guess it is better to have the change now,” Cooper said. “The kids are used to me since I coached most of them in fifth or sixth grade. I only coached Kaia in seventh grade. I think we can build something with or without her.”

Woods will help the Chieftains transition into the Sandusky Bay Conference River division next season against the likes of New Riegel, Calvert, and Lakota.

“We love Tiffin Columbian and everything they have done for Kaia,” Woods said. “With the coaching situation changing, we felt it was best to move.”

Hopewell-Loudon will also make a return trip to the Classic in the Country at Berlin Hiland High School in 2020. The Chieftains are scheduled to face New Philadelphia on Monday, Jan. 20 at 9 a.m.