Brock Netter, Staff Writer
We can finally turn the page on the wildest and craziest year in modern history. But although we’re leaving a lot of things in 2020, there’s one thing we’re taking with us into 2021 …
And what a perfect time to bring it back as it’s been a wild two weeks of basketball across the Southern Ohio landscape. Upsets have happened and conference races are beginning to heat up.
Once again, please be sure to thank your athletic directors. Like an usher at church, they are doing the Lord’s work.
Also, Go Bucks!
Let’s dive right in. Here are the first SOSA Power Rankings of 2021.
1. Wheelersburg (7-0)
Previous ranking: 2 … +1
Balance and unpredictability. That best describes how Wheelersburg operates, and why it wins most of the big games it finds itself in. Look no further than Tuesday’s victory over Waverly as the Pirates finished with four players in double-digit scoring figures, including a 25-point fourth quarter. The Pirates don’t panic at all. They just stick to the game plan and trust each other in critical spots.
2. Unioto (7-2)
Previous ranking: 5 … +3
Perhaps no team earned a bigger win over the holiday break than the Shermans did by beating Adena, although I’m sure they might disagree with me since they are the reigning co-SVC champions. I picked Unioto to win the SVC because of experience and coaching, and that game is a perfect example for that. No team adjusts like Unioto does and it knows how to win. Reread that last part, it knows how to win.
3. Eastern Brown (10-0)
Previous ranking: 4 … -+1
The Warriors took home the Brown County Holiday Tournament title, and then rebounded to earn a tough, low-scoring victory over an underrated Hillsboro team. In other words, nothing has changed from 2020 to 2021 for Eastern Brown. The Warriors are still winning, and in rather dominant fashion. I’d love to see the Warriors and Wheelersburg square off come tournament time. Talk about a must-see.
4. New Boston (9-1)
Previous ranking: 1 … -3
Part of the reason why the Tigers dropped three spots is that every team above them is playing better. The other part is their 21-point loss to South Point, who also lost to Portsmouth by 18. Nothing makes sense. Maybe it was just a bad night, but it also gives the Tigers a slight clue about how they matchup against a solid competitor with equal talent. Learning experience.
5. Adena (9-2)
Previous ranking: 3 … -2
Remember what I said about Unioto knowing how to win? Adena is learning how to win in these big spots, and the Warriors were taught a tough lesson against the Shermans. Rematch on Jan. 30. Still, this team remains one of the best in Division III and losses to Unioto and Worthington Christian aren’t anything to be upset about.
ON THE RISE: Jackson (5-0), Waverly (4-1), Hillsboro (5-2)
1. Eastern Brown (11-0)
Previous ranking: 1 … —
I don’t know if this team is going to lose this season, but whoever beats them will most definitely earn it. Western Brown gave them a scare in the Brown County Holiday Tournament title game in overtime. But a win is a win. Too deep, too defensively tough, incredibly well-coached … this team has all the elements you want out of a championship team at every level.
2. Wheelersburg (5-1)
Previous ranking: 2 … —
I can’t fault the Pirates for losing to Vinton County. If you’ve seen the Vikings this year like I have, you’d understand. But the Pirates did rebound nicely with a blowout victory over a talented South Webster team to remain perfect in SOC II action. Once the Pirates finally get some more games under their belts and develop that chemistry, watch out.
3. Notre Dame (8-1)
Previous ranking: 3 … —
Let me start with this: I hope the Titans get another crack at Berne Union because that rematch would be incredible. Now, if that happens, which would probably be in a regional semifinal or a regional final, I also hope the Titans will have solved some of their offensive issues. They have to find a second consistent scoring option. Once that happens, it’s a wrap.
4. Fairfield (8-2)
Previous ranking: None … N/A
Welcome to the show, Fairfield. If you haven’t been able to see this team play live or even watch a stream of a game, you need to do so. This team can shoot, and when it gets hot, there’s not a lot of teams who can hang with its uptempo style of play. If it wasn’t for how dominant Eastern Brown and Peebles have shown themselves to be, the SHAC would run through Leesburg.
5. Peebles (6-0)
Previous ranking: None … N/A
Speaking of Peebles, ever since the Indians have taken the court, they’ve left a trail of destruction nearly unmatched by any team in the area, aside from Eastern Brown. Speaking of which, those two teams play on Saturday night, you won’t want to miss it. Is it possible they’re just as good as last year, despite losing some key pieces? Maybe that’s what SHAC teams do, lose a great class but usher in a new one and keep the ball rolling.