Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
KINNIKINNICK — Tayvion Galloway used the perfect word to describe his team’s mindset on Saturday.
In his first matchup with rival Zane Trace, Galloway, a freshman, came out hot and Unioto rode him to an early burst of confidence. It set the tone throughout the rest of the night, one where the Tanks claimed a 50-40 win to stay undefeated in the Scioto Valley Conference.
“It’s rare. You don’t usually see that from a freshman,” Unioto coach Matt Hoops said. “Tayvion is a really good athlete and his upside is tremendous. He brings a different level of intensity to our team. Our guys feed off that. I’m really happy with the way he’s playing right now.”
As good as Galloway was in the early goings, senior Isaac Little was just as good at crunch time.
Little, who by all accounts is a Player of the Year candidate, put his team on his back in the second half before ending the night with a game-high 22 points — shooting 8-of-15 from the field and 6-of-10 from the charity stripe.
“We have a lot of confidence in Isaac,” Hoops said. “He’s been around the game for a long time and he’s a proven winner. No matter what happens throughout the game, we know the ball is going to be in his hands late. His teammates trust him. He does a great job for us.”
Right out of the gates, behind two rim-rockers from Galloway, Unioto (5-2, 4-0 SVC) seized momentum and a 12-3 lead. But on cue, Zane Trace (4-3, 3-1 SVC) countered with a 10-0 run, taking a 13-12 lead. But the Tanks regrouped and owned a 16-15 lead at the end of the first.
As good as both teams were offensively in the first, the script flipped in the second. Unioto, after surrendering 15 in the first, gave up four points in the second, taking a 25-19 at halftime.
“I think we started out playing the right way defensively. But then we started to feel good about ourselves,” Hoops said. “We relaxed for a minute. That allowed Zane Trace to gain some confidence. I like the way we started out but I don’t like how we let off the gas a little bit.”
The third quarter was similar to the first. But at a run-and-gun pace, the Shermans didn’t lose any ground before Little beat the buzzer to give them a 39-32 edge heading to the fourth.
In the final eight minutes, the Pioneers cut the lead to four at 42-38. But every time ZT would go on a small run, Unioto answered on the other end.
The Shermans ended the night on an 8-2 run, keyed by a steal and coast-to-coast score from Cameron DeBord, to seal a 10-point win.
Little added three assists and two steals to his 22 points while Galloway finished with 13 points and six rebounds. DeBord also helped out, tallying six points and six boards.
For the Pioneers, Nalin Robinson led the way with 14 points and six rebounds while Trey Miller added eight points to the mix.
Unioto is back in action on Tuesday at Jackson while the Pioneers travel to Eastern Brown that same evening.
“There’s a lot of things we have to fix from tonight for sure,” Hoops said. “We’ll work on that and make sure we’re where we need to be. Jackson is a good team and it’s on the road. That’ll present a challenge for us. So hopefully, we’ll go in there ready to play.”