Stanford’s win over North Carolina in the second regional final game played Tuesday night means a fourth Final Four in five years for Beavercreek’s Mikaela Ruef, who redshirted because of a foot injury early in her career.
Ruef joins Malina Howard (Twinsburg) and Chloe Pavlich (Cincinnati Sycamore) of Maryland as the three players from Ohio to earn a trip to Nashville.
Meanwhile, Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer is headed to her 11th Final Four with the Cardinal since leaving Ohio State after the 1985 season, when she led the Buckeyes to the Elite 8.
VanDerveer coached Ohio State as women’s basketball became an officially sponsored Big Ten sport and led the Buckeyes to the first conference title.
Her top assistant at Stanford is Amy Tucker, the captain of the 1982 Ohio State squad that played in the first NCAA women’s basketball tournament.
Ohio State came in second for Ruef, who has family on the West Coast and was also swayed by the opportunity to get a Stanford education. Interestingly, back then Ruef’s father told me VanDerveer talked to them about what great memories she had of her time at Ohio State.
The Buckeyes also went hard after Howard, who was ESPN’s No. 1 center prospect in her class two years ago, but she did not have Ohio State among her finalists when she chose the Terrapins.