Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Bittersweet ending coming for Neibecker

For Claire Neibecker, sports weren’t considered an extra-curricular activity. She grew up with three brothers who were very involved in athletics and she wanted to grow up to be just like them.

She plays multiple sports at Kirtland High School and excels at all of them.

In fact, she’ll close out her high school basketball career on Sunday, April 3 in the 2016 Ohio Varsity Senior Shootout presented by

“My family got me involved in basketball since we're always playing sports,” said Neibecker, a 5-foot-8 power forward who will represent the Navy All-Stars. “All my brothers played and I wanted to play with them. The fact that my friends started to play through the school was a bonus, and the love of competition and being with my friends kept me in the sport.”

Neibecker averaged 5.3 points per game for the Hornets, who finished 18-6 in 2016. She was a force on defense and especially in the paint, where she was one of the team’s top rebounders. In 2015, she earned the Hornets’ Most Valuable Defensive Player award.

She’s excited about the opportunity to play in the Senior Shootout, an official fundraiser for The Wounded Warrior Project, but at the same time she knows it will put an end to her high school basketball career.

“It means a lot to be a part of something that helps a greater cause and it makes it that much better to be able to help by doing something I love,” she said. “It's bittersweet because it'll mark the official end of high school ball, but we're all about to start a new part of lives beyond high school, which is exciting.”

For Neibecker, the all-star game also is an opportunity to play with some of the players she competed against in high school.

“I'm looking forward to playing on the same team as some of these girls with whom I've only ever been an opponent,” she said. “It'll be cool to see how we all play together. I just want to have fun since it'll be one of my last organized games with girls I've known for four years.”

Neibecker, who carries a 4.2 grade point average and has won a host of academic awards, plans to continue her education at Ohio State where she will study Data Analytics.

She also played for Kirtland’s soccer team, which won the regional championship in 2015, and was a first-team all-Chagrin Valley Conference selection in track.

The Senior Shootout begins at 5:00 p.m. with the boys’ all-star game. The girls will follow at 7:00 p.m. Click here to purchase presale tickets, which provide admission to both games.

Steve Hare
Steve Hare is the Chagrin Valley Conference's Sports Information Director. He also created and publishes, an online publication dedicated to providing hyperlocal coverage to area high school athletic programs. Hare began covering high school sports for the Lake County News Herald in 1997. Hare attended Willoughby South High School through the middle of his senior year, then graduated from Berkshire High School in Burton in 1986. He played football, wrestled and was an all-Geauga county baseball player (1986). He lives in Chardon with his wife Paulette and their children.

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