Owens’ St. John, Wiseman-Esparza going dancing

ROSSFORD — The Owens Community College women’s basketball team has done it again — they’ve taken home the Great Lakes District championship and earned their place in the NJCAA DIII National Championship Tournament to defended their 2022 title.

On March 4, the Express (19-5) blew past DuPage College in the Great Lakes district championship game, 76-47.

Lake graduate Hayley St. John, a 5-foot-11 sophomore forward, and Bowling Green’s Trena Wiseman-Esparza, a 5-7 sophomore guard, have played major roles leading the Express this season. Both were part of the 2022 national championship team, too.

Trena Wiseman-Esparza.

St. John is a starter who has played in all 24 games, averaging 13 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.2 assists, is shooting 41% from the field and 31% from the arc. Wiseman-Esparza has played in 18 games, averaging 1.6 points and shooting 86% from the free throw line.

The national championship tournament will be held in Rochester, Minnesota, on March 15-18.

The Express won the Ohio Community College Athletic Conference title with a 62-53 victory over rival Lakeland Community College.

The Express finished 9-1 in the conference. Their statistics, such as averaging 66 points per game and 40 rebounds per game, are a reflection of their strong offense and defense.

This marks the second time ever that a D-III team has won the conference championship in basketball, the first being the Owens team in 2019. D-II teams also play in the OCCAC, which means they are allowed more scholarship players.

The coaching staff, led by Stephen Perry and Tre’Von Beverly, have done an outstanding job building perseverance this season.

Perry’s experience and expertise have been instrumental in the team’s success with a 330-89 (.788) record overall and a 35-23 (.603) performance as head coach.

Beverly’s contributions have also been significant, with a focus on player development, recruiting, and strength and conditioning.

“Very proud of this group, even though we have six returners from last year’s national championship team, we are a different team with a different identity,” Perry said. “We wanted to challenge them with our schedule and we definitely did that. We played four games versus ranked D-II teams and only had one D-III team on our schedule.

”Our conference is very solid top to bottom, every game posed a different challenge. We have a saying that we need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. This group has definitely done that and has risen to every occasion that has been in front of them.”

St. John, a 2021 Lake grad, was honorable mention All-Ohio, a two-time first team all-district selection, and a first team All-Northern Buckeye Conference selection as senior.

She was second team All-NBC as a junior, honorable mention All-NBC as a sophomore, and a 1,000-point career scorer at Lake. She also played AAU basketball for Toledo Elite.

St. John, a four-year honor roll student at Lake, is the daughter of Victor and Heather Rettig. A criminal justice major, she has three siblings, Jocelynne, Jared and Jacob.

Wiseman-Esparza, a 2021 BGHS graduate, was a multi-sport athlete in basketball, soccer and track, playing basketball for coach Alexis Rogers.

An honor roll student, she is the daughter of Jayson and Trena Wiseman-Esparza and has eight siblings, Carrina, Evangelina, Alexander, Ashton, Amelia, Jasmina, Anderson and Rosalina.