Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
After another full week of high school basketball season, here’s this week’s Shootaround:
A. First and foremost, the Chillicothe Cavaliers are the best team in Southern Ohio. I won’t shy away from that opinion and, if you saw the team compete with Cincinnati Moeller this pat Friday, I’m sure you agree. Moeller, the back-to-back Division I state champion, led Chillicothe 38-35 at halftime before pulling away in the third quarter. But the first half performance from the Cavaliers, against a team like no other they’ll see during the regular season, was telling. Tre Beard can flat-out shoot the rock, Jayvon Maughmer is as smooth as silk and defensively, Vinny Roper can check anyone. That’s not counting 6-foot-9 Brandon Noel who can be a dominant force when he’s playing aggressively. The Cavaliers have a top-notch coaching staff and with a bundle of role players, they look like they have a real shot at winning a district title against Division I competition.
B. If you missed Zane Trace and Unioto’s matchup on Saturday, you missed an instant classic. The Pioneers traveled to Union Township and returned to Kinnikinnick with a 38-36 loss, something not many thought could happen. Unioto coach Matt Hoops said he had never been more proud of a team, big man Reece Wheeler said the only people who thought the Shermans could win was the team’s players and coaches, and Cameron DeBord said his team’s defense was the key to it all. DeBord hit the nail on the head. The Shermans held a team that came in averaging 63.1 points per game to 36. The most points the Pioneers scored in any quarter was 12. That’s absolutely something to hang your hat on. But the Shermans have been doing it all year. Hoops’ team is surrendering just 40 points per game through its first six. That defense, combined with a grind-the-clock offense is the recipe for success at Unioto this year. What a win for the Shermans.
C. Wheelersburg’s girls have separated themselves from the rest of the SOC II, and it’s still only December. The Pirates have looked like the conference’s cream of the crop, darting out to a 6-0 start in league play. This past week, they took down Minford and Waverly while Kaylee Darnell, Ellie Kallner and Alaina Keeney … the usual suspects … led the charge. While Wheelersburg can certainly put the ball in the bucket, what may set the team apart is its defense. They’re relentless in passing lanes, they can turn defense into offense, and even with a smaller-sized lineup, they box out fundamentally. Coach Dusty Spradlin has his team in the driver’s seat for yet another league title.
Zane Trace girls coach Todd O’Dell after his Pioneers beat Piketon, snapping a 35-game losing streak in SVC play:
“I’ve told them several times throughout the summer, fall and winter that they came in every year over the last two years, knowing they’d get beat by 60 or 70 points. We had a game where we came in and I was feeling that way before. It was Berne Union. And it was like, ‘Man, these girls did this for 40-some games over the past two years.’ I have a tremendous amount of respect for them. But hopefully this win gets us going.”
Notre Dame’s Ava Hassel after Thursday’s win over New Boston:
“We keep talking about. We think we can be better than we ever have before. We just have to keep working every day in practice and keep getting better every day. It’s a different game than, really, any of us have ever played before [without Katie Dettwiller in the post] in our high school careers. We just have to buy into it. The sky’s the limit.”
WORTH THE PRICE OF ADMISSION
I’ve said it time and time again, and those who know me know that’s true. Unioto’s Isaac Little is the most dangerous player in our area. Why? It’s simple. When the game is on the line, he’s absolutely cold-blooded. He’s never went into a game thinking his team is going to lose and I don’t care who his opponent is. If you haven’t seen him play, he’s one of the toughest players, pound-for-pound, you’ll see all year.
As if we’re all surprised, Wheelersburg’s Kaylee Darnell continued her assault on nylon this past week. She scored 23 points in a big win over Waverly on Thursday, 17 of which came in the first half, and had 21 in a hard-fought 44-37 win over Minford on Monday. She’s got a killer instinct like no other player and when she gets hot, there’s no stopping her.
Adena’s Logan Bennett has also played well over the Warriors’ first seven games. Much of the media’s attention has been focused on Unioto and Zane Trace, but Adena has quietly started 5-2 with a 4-0 mark in the SVC. Bennett is a key reason why. This past week, in two wins over Westfall and Piketon, Bennett 36 points, 13 rebounds and two blocks. He’s the real deal.
SHOT OF THE WEEK
VIDEO OF THE WEEK
When you win your first conference game in your last 36 tries, these are the smiles that your sport. Emily Allen, Lauren Lane and the Pioneers are finally out of the SVC’s cellar.
New Boston’s Sammy Oilerand Lexus Oiler are as good as they’re said to be. I had a chance to watch them against New Boston this past week as the duo combined for 31 points and 10 assists … Sammy had 13 and five while Lexus posted a team-high 18 and five. They’ve led a much-improved team through the first third of the season to an 8-3 mark.
Southeastern’s Skylar Hice and Macie Graves continue to get the job done, and they’re doing so under the radar. Hice and Graves have spearheaded the Panthers’ 8-2 start alongside a 5-0 mark in the SVC. Most recently, the two combined for 36 points, 16 rebounds and seven steals in a 64-49 win over Westfall, a game where they trailed 26-14 at halftime.
WHAT’S ON TAP
As usual, our team will be out and about this week, even with a holiday scheduled. Here’s where you can for sure find us this week.
Monday, it’s Vinton County at Unioto’s girls while Unioto and Chillicothe are Friday’s sites as the Shermans and Cavaliers’ boys host Jackson and Zane Trace. Then, Saturday, we’ll be in Frankfort and Jackson as Adena’s girls host McClain while the Ironmen host Wheelersburg in non-league action.
AREA TOP TEN
1. Chillicothe (8-1) … 2. Jackson (7-1) … 3. Unioto (6-0) … 4. Zane Trace (7-1) … 5. Wheelersburg (5-0) … 6. New Boston (7-0) … 7. Oak Hill (7-1) … 8. Adena (5-2) … 9. St. Joseph Central (5-0) … 10. Waverly (4-2)
1. Wheelersburg (8-0) … 2. Unioto (7-0) … 3. Notre Dame (9-0) … 4. Northwest (7-1) … 5. Southeastern (8-2) … 6. New Boston (8-3) … 7. McClain (6-3) … 8. Oak Hill (4-4) … 9. Adena (7-2) … 10. Green (6-2)