Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
After another full week of high school basketball season, here’s this week’s Shootaround:
A. I’ll be transparent here. At the beginning of the season, and in the latest episode of Overtime, SOSA’s podcast, I picked Unioto’s boys to win the Scioto Valley Conference. I’m changing my tune. After watching Adena battle with Worthington Christian this weekend, I’m picking the Warriors. Why? Logan Bennett. That’s why. Bennett has his way with WC’s defense all night long, albeit in a 47-41 loss. The senior scored 16 points and was 4-of-7 from behind the 3-point arc. That followed a season-opening performance where he scored 14 points and 13 rebounds. Bennett is joined by a strong supporting cast in Preston Sykes, Nate Throckmorton, Dillon McDonald and Jarrett Garrison. That group is as strong as you’ll find in Southern Ohio.
B. If Waverly’s girls play to their potential, they could absolutely compete for a Southern Ohio Conference title. I said what I said. With point guard Zoiee Smith, a Rio Grande commit, leading the way, and senior Carli Knight pacing a strong defensive pace, the Tigers have all the weapons they need. While it starts with those two, you also have to contain Paige Carter, Sarah Thompson and Kelli Stewart in the post, and Michaela Rhoads and Delaney Tackett on the perimeter. When they’re clicking on all cylinders, they can beat anybody on any night.
C. Eastern Brown’s girls continue to run through opponents. Led by sophomore Rylee Leonard, the Warriors took care of business against both Ripley and Georgetown this week, picking up 61-31 and 76-29 victories. Leonard is getting hers, scoring 13 and 26 in those contests, but so is Bailey Dotson, Mackenzie Gloff, Emma Brown, Caitlyn Wills and Izzy Barber, among others. Many teams have rosters that warrants a different leading scorer every night. But not one has a roster like Eastern Brown’s. After winning a district title last season, with the way they’ve started this winter, the Warriors have to be looked at as a favorite to repeat.
Southeastern girls coach Doug Hice on playing in the Scioto Valley Conference each night:
“I really think our league is going to be really balanced. You think about us and Piketon, Adena is going to be right there, Unioto is still the champion in my book and then you have the best player in the league out to Huntington. And Westfall, Paint Valley and Zane Trace are going to be handfuls. So our league … you better be ready to play every night.”
Fairfield coach Chad Hamilton on junior guard Emma Fouch’s role after win over Lynchburg:
“It certainly wasn’t pretty tonight but we’ll take it. We’re settling into our roles. Emma didn’t shoot well tonight but when you put up 20 points, there’s not a whole lot you can say. We’ve got four or five girls who could score 20 on any given night. We’re trying to manage that a little more, as far as percentages and who’s shooting what, when and where. But you have to feed the hot hand. Emma is our best shooter by far and she’s, maybe, the best shooter in the league. She’s going to get a lot of touches but she’s also going to get the team’s best defenders on her.”
Piketon boys coach Kyle Miller on trio of Tra Swayne, Chris Chandler and Levi Gullion after win over Valley:
“We’re a five-out team that likes to dribble drive, but our kids have the freedom to dump it in anytime they want into the post. We were lucky enough to find those guys inside like Tra, Chris and Levi, who are strong, physical players that can finish around the rim.”
WORTH THE PRICE OF ADMISSION
If you haven’t seen Hillsboro’s Gracie Dean play yet, make sure and do so. In the Indians’ first win this season, a 44-39 victory over Washington on Wednesday, the junior scored 21 points and brought down nine rebounds. I don’t think she left the court. She controlled the game’s pace, took high-quality shots and assumed the leadership role she’s expected to take.
I was thoroughly impressed with Southeastern freshman Gabby Pernell on Thursday. After Piketon went on a 10-0 run to tie the game 39-39, Pernell scored three consecutive points to help the Panthers pull out a 43-39 win. And defensively, that’s where she shined. She’s relentless with a ball-handler in front of her … one of those players you love to have on your team but hate to play against. She’s one to watch for moving forward.
In case you missed it, Ripley’s Azyiah Williams absolutely torched North Adams’ defense … a team that returns four of five starters from a regional final team a year ago. The senior point guard dropped 27 points in a 55-53 win over the Devils on Thursday. That may be the biggest win Ripley has had with Williams on its roster. She’s a mix of skill and speed and any SHAC coach will tell you how hard she is to keep under wraps.
SHOT OF THE WEEK
Piketon’s girls have been known for playing gritty defense for quite some time now. Here, you can see why as sophomore Addison Johnson gets set to take on her assignment.
VIDEO OF THE WEEK
Fairfield’s Emma Fouch and Peyton Magee helped the Lions get a season-opening win over Lynchburg-Clay this past Monday. Fouch had 22 points while Magee added seven points, seven rebounds and two assists.
While Paint Valley’s Olivia Smith has been an absolute monster on the boards, teammate Averi McFadden has provided needed production, alongside Smith, for the undefeated Bearcats. The sophomore point guard scored 16 points and brought down 11 rebounds in a 59-44 win over Zane Trace on Thursday before helping the team beat Belpre by a 48-45 final on Saturday. Don’t look now, but PV looks like a dark horse favorite to compete for an SVC title.
Huntington’s boys aren’t expected to win many games this season. That’s just the facts. But that doesn’t mean Dalton Haubeil won’t try to change that narrative. Haubeil plays hard, is constantly in passing lanes and is an underrated shooter. The Huntsmen are 0-2 but Haubeil has shown the ability to get to the rim and fill the stat sheet each night. Give credit where it’s due. Haubeil has earned it.
WHAT’S ON TAP
As usual, our team will be out and about this week with many interesting games on the schedule. Here’s where you can for sure find us this week.
Monday, it’s West at Northwest’s girls while Peebles is Tuesday’s site as the Indians’ boys host North Adams. Wednesday and Thursday, we’ll have updates from Goshen and Wheelersburg as Eastern Brown’s girls travel to face the Redhawks while the Pirates’ girls welcome Northwest in SOC II action.
We’ll kick off the weekend with coverage from Minford as the Falcons host South Webster in a conference bout and, on Saturday, we’re bringing a double scoop of coverage starting with Peebles at Southeastern’s girls and ending with Piketon at Unioto’s boys.
Southeastern squeezes past Piketon in SVC opener … Dean, Edenfield lead Hillsboro to victory … Miller’s last second shot lifts Unioto to win over Jackson … Stingy defense leads Waverly to win over Jackson