Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
CHILLICOTHE — The road to the Scioto Valley Conference title still runs directly through Frenchtown.
Coming into Thursday’s matchup with Southeastern, Unioto owned a 33-game winning streak in the conference and two consecutive league championship banners.
After a 47-37 win over the Panthers, those streaks have officially grown to 34 and three.
“It means a lot to have that third straight title and the possibility to win a second straight Gold Ball,” Unioto senior Cree Stulley said. “I really think we can do it, and I think our team next year can keep this going.”
Stulley, who was a huge factor throughout the night, gave the Shermans (17-2, 13-0 SVC) a 2-0 lead with 6:58 remaining in the first quarter. Amber Cottrill then pushed the lead to 4-0 with 6:26 to go.
The Panthers (16-4, 10-2 SVC) got their first two points from Skylar Hice, who knocked down two free throws with 6:05 remaining. After buckets from Unioto’s Jerzi Paul and SE’s Macie Graves, the Shermans had a 6-4 lead … and that’s when they went on a game-changing run.
With Stulley and Amber Cottrill leading the way, Unioto went on a 20-6 run to take control and a 26-10 lead with 2:08 left in the second quarter. That sequence included 3’s from both Stulley and Cottrill, as well as two scores from Avery Miller.
Using momentum, the Shermans took a 29-12 lead into halftime.
After the break, the Panthers made a run of their own. While making a living at the free throw line, Southeastern cut the deficit to 36-26 — thanks to a 3 from Sierra Mitten — early in the fourth quarter.
But the Shermans absorbed the blow, and answered by taking a 44-30 lead with 4:01 remaining on the game clock … a sequence that was keyed by Cottrill on the offensive end.
After Southeastern signaled for a timeout with 2:57 left to try and regroup, Emily Coleman immediately provided the dagger with a 3 at the 2:46 mark, making it 47-32, en route to the 10-point victory.
“We came in tonight after taking [the outright title] away from [Southeastern] two years ago. So we knew we had to fight extra hard tonight because they wanted to get us back,” Cottrill said. “This feels great, though. Hopefully the girls coming up can keep this going.”
Stulley led the Shermans with 12 points while Coleman posted 12 points and four assists. Cottrill ended the night with nine points, nine rebounds and seven assists, and Miller had seven points and six boards.
For Southeastern, Hice led the way with 10 points and four rebounds while Cidney Huff tallied nine points. Macie Graves also helped out, scoring nine points and grabbing six boards.
As Stulley mentioned earlier, the win gives Unioto an opportunity to win its second consecutive Gold Ball. The Shermans will have that chance on Thursday, traveling to Paint Valley.
“We’re going to have to play like we did tonight,” Cottrill said. “It’s our last SVC game we’re going to play together. That’s just as important.”
Southeastern: 8-4-12-13 — 37
Unioto: 12-17-7-11 — 47
Southeastern: 11-36 FG, 14-19 FT, 1-6 3 pt., 22 rebounds (Graves 6), 16 turnovers, 4 assists (Hice 2). Scoring: Hice 10, Huff 9, Graves 9, Mitten 4, McCown 3, Pfeifer 2, Skeens 1, Wireman 1.
Unioto: 18-41 FG, 6-7 FT, 5-14 3 pt., 22 rebounds (Cottrill 9), 12 turnovers, 13 assists (Cottrill 7). Scoring: Stulley 12, Coleman 12, Cottrill 9, Miller 7, Paul 5, Pinkerton 2.