SOUTHERN OHIO MAGIC, AAU BASKETBALL PROGRAM, P.O. BOX 487, PORTSMOUTH, OHIO 45662
Carl Daehler President 740-352-9460
Scott Davis Vice President 740-352-7911
Barbara Schmidt Treasurer 740-352-8348
Mark Wynn Tournament Director 740-357-1813
Jill Milligan Advisor and Coach 740-961-1748
CHESAPEAKE -- All it took was one visit to Fairmont for Amanda Ruffner to narrow a list that included dozens of colleges down to just one school.
On Thursday, Ruffner made it official as she signed to play collegiate basketball at Fairmont State University.
"It's a beautiful campus and I instantly fell in love with it," Ruffner said. "I could see myself walking around campus and hanging out with friends there. And the coaching staff definitely won me over. I could definitely picture myself there."
Now, Ruffner is going to be a Falcon -- a fit that Chesapeake coach Chris Ball said is a match made in Almost Heaven.
"They have a pretty good team up there," Ball said. "They win 20 games nearly every year up there. She is going into a good situation, and I'm happy for that."
Fairmont State coach Steve McDonald expects championships from his team, which competes in the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference as an NCAA Division II member.
Ruffner said that tenacity to excel fits her style perfectly.
"I want to go somewhere that we will win a championship. That's just my competitive nature," Ruffner said. "I wanted a school with a great program and where I would excel. Hopefully, I can fit in to what they have going on right now."
Ruffner averaged 18 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks as a junior and is currently just 112 points away from joining the 1,000-point club at Chesapeake.
Ball said that she can do a little bit of everything no matter what the need is in a situation. Her versatility has made her one of the top players in the area and Ball is happy to see her
"This has been a dream for her since long ago," Ball said. "Her Dad was a big influence while he was alive and her Mom has continued to push her as well. It's been pleasing for me as a coach and as a person to watch her dream come true."
Given Ruffner's competitive nature, she already inflicts plenty of pressure on herself to perform at a high level each night.
That's why she was especially pleased to have the decision out of the way, so she can focus on basketball without the added stress of making a decision for college.
"It definitely put my nerves to ease and was exciting," Ruffner said. "It's something I had been waiting for and I'm glad that I accomplished that dream. Now, I can go out, do my best and have a good time."
As Ruffner prepares for her senior year, which opens next week, she wanted to thank those coaches -- both former, current and future -- who helped to make Thursday's special moment possible.
"I want to thank my AAU coach Kenny Justice and David Curry for all they did for me, and Chris Ball for what he's done," Ruffner said. "Also, I greatly appreciate Fairmont for allowing me to have this opportunity. It's a dream come true."
Chad Lands has been a big part of Eastern’s basketball success for the past four years.
Now Lands is set to begin a new chapter in his basketball career as he prepares to join the Otterbein University Cardinals.
“It was a tough decision. I had it down to Otterbein or Ohio Northern,” said Lands when asked about his college decision. “Those were my two main choices. I took a lot of time to decide between the two. I just felt Otterbein was the best fit academically and athletically.”
Otterbein is located in Westerville, which will allow Lands a shorter trip home than it would have at Ohio Northern in Ada.
“I like the environment, campus and town. I think I should be able to play right away because they are going to have both a junior varsity and varsity team. So, I will have the opportunity to play, especially since the coach is looking for me to compete for a starting guard position for the varsity team,” said Lands.
“This has been a dream of mine since I started playing basketball and I am just happy that it is all coming true, and being able to live out everything I want to do basketball-wise.”
Lands, who scored his 1,000th point near the midpoint of his senior season, averaged 21.2 points, 3.5 assists, 3 rebounds and 2 steals per game this past year. He shot 45-percent for two-point field goals and 39 percent for three-point field goals. He also shot 76 percent from the foul line.
Lands collected many awards throughout his high school career, capping his senior season with the best accolades of his career.
“I want to thank all of my coaches, my parents, my family and everyone who has been a part of my basketball career. It would have been impossible,” said Lands. “Without all of them, I wouldn’t have had this opportunity. I also want to thank Coach Fitch for everything he has done for me. I will miss all of the coaches, the school and being able to play here.”