|THE DERRICK WEBB PAGE
Derrick Webb began his writing career at the Chillicothe Gazette
as a stringer in 2012. He then covered the SVC as a full-time staff
writer until 2018. After moving to Illinois, Derrick accepted a job in
Columbus where he’s now the Ohio State men’s basketball writer
for Eleven Warriors. He also has a hand in Buckeyes football
When asked why he made the decision to move back to Ohio and
continue to have a hand in local sports coverage, his answer was
“The athletes in this area have always held a special place in my
heart, and still continue to do so. I have always enjoyed getting to
know them, as well as their families, and can’t wait to cover their
future successes in any way I possibly can. The more coverage
they get, the better.”
Derrick’s page will be updated frequently. It will include game
coverage, highlights, feature stories and more.
|Follow on Twitter @dw1509
|TANKS OPEN SEASON WITH CLEAN SWEEP OF LOGAN ELM
Trio of Fisher, McGlone, Cottrill key in victory
CHILLICOTHE — When Unioto's in the correct rotation, good luck putting a halt to the Tanks’ offense.
Behind a series of scoring runs throughout Tuesday’s match, the Shermans (1-0) started their season on a high
note with a clean sweep of Logan Elm by 25-16, 25-16 and 25-17 finals.
The victory not only gave Unioto a platform to showcase its strengths, but also a shot at redemption after falling to
the Braves in last year’s Division II district final.
“We know where we need to get the majority of our points and (opponents) know that, too,” Unioto coach Natalie
Stulley said. “With some new kids coming in, trying to get touches and stuff … I’ve been very honest with them. We’
ve just got to be able to mix it up a bit. I thought the girls did a really good job tonight, staying positive and letting
From what was shown in Tuesday’s match, Unioto is undoubtedly at its best when they have Jocie Fisher, Amanda
McGlone and Amber Cottrill along their front line.
The veteran trio peppered Logan Elm’s defense all night long, leading their team on lengthy scoring bursts. In fact,
the Shermans ended the second and third sets on 13-1 and 10-2 runs, respectively.
Where did each of those scoring runs find their origin? With Fisher, McGlone and Cottrill at the net.
“Amber is smart at the net and she’s a great athlete, and we’re going to get our power from Amanda in the middle
and Jocie on the outside,” Stulley said. “I was a little bit nervous coming into tonight, especially after last night’s
practice because it was rough. But I was really pleased with how things went.”
Replacing a Legend
When speaking of replacing former Unioto setter Madi Eberst, the Scioto Valley Conference’s all-time assists
leader, the idiom “big shoes to fill” doesn’t do the task justice.
Nevertheless, it’s a task that junior Emily Coleman and freshman Ava Eldridge have been assigned.
Behind Coleman and Eldridge, the Tanks ran a 6-2 rotation, different from last year’s 5-1 with Eberst at the
forefront. And while glimpses of inexperience and youth were present, according to Stulley, her two newest floor
generals showed promise.
“Honestly, I feel like both of them have huge roles,” Stulley said. “Em has been passing for the varsity team for a
couple of years and Ava has moved in as a freshman and has a beautiful set of hands. Ava has a really beautiful
jump set, which I feel like lets us play a little bit of a faster game down the road. But we’re pretty small in the setting
department. So for us, it’s just getting used to each other and controlling what we can control.”
Tale of the Tape
Like the final score suggests, the Shermans started the night fast and didn’t look back.
Stulley’s squad seized a 10-6 advantage in the first set and never relinquished the lead. Later ahead 16-13, Fisher
and Cottrill spearheaded a 5-0 run, providing breathing room before Unioto sealed its first nine-point win.
In the second, Logan Elm (0-1) threw a counter-punch by taking leads of 10-9 and 13-12. But the Shermans’
offense stayed above water until their power trio could rotate into the front. Tied 15-15 and with Fisher, McGlone
and Cottrill at the net, Unioto ended the set with a 13-1 run.
The Braves took a 10-6 lead in the third but Cree Stulley, Emily Coleman and Kacey Pierce led the Shermans on a
6-0 run to take a 12-10 edge. Logan Elm fought back to regain the lead at 13-12 but to no avail as Unioto, once
again, pieced together a run before winning 25-17.
With one win under their belts, the Shermans travel to Waverly Thursday night in a non-conference matchup.
|TANKS PLAY TO TIE WITH D1 GAHANNA LINCOLN
Campbell scores 93rd career goal, three away from county record
|Unioto's Jayla Campbell now has 93 career goals after Saturday's 1-1 tie with Gahanna Lincoln. The senior needs
three to tie the Ross County scoring record, set by Chillicothe's Payten Davis in 2016. PHOTO CREDIT: Corby Free
CHILLICOTHE — After finishing last season at 16-4 and reaching a regional semifinal, Unioto’s girls soccer program
beefed up its schedule with opponents like Marietta, New Albany, Lancaster and Buckeye Valley -- to name a few.
But their first big early test came Saturday, hosting Division I Gahanna Lincoln.
The Lions finished as the 11th ranked team in the state in the final 2017 OSSCA poll before reaching a Division I
district final as a No. 3 seed in the Central District.
However, Unioto didn’t seem to care.
Trading blow for blow in a physical affair, the two teams ultimately played to a 1-1 tie. But according to Unioto coaches
Cara Rathkamp and Kendra Dalton, the deadlock represented much more than just a score. It showed just how good
their girls can be.
“I think this is a win for us,” Dalton said. “Our girls came out and they were tenacious. I compare this team to a Big
Walnut (who Unioto lost to in last year’s regional semifinal) but better. We played with them, and at times, we were
better than them. We just want to build off of this and continue to develop into a championship team.”
For the first 15 minutes, the Shermans (2-0-1) were unquestionably the better team.
Using its backs, the Shermans moved the ball well, kept possession and challenged Gahanna Lincoln goalie JJ
Lampert on multiple occasions.
That paid off in the 30th minute when senior Jayla Campbell scored on a free kick from about 30 yards out, giving
Unioto an early 1-0 edge.
The score marked the University of Findlay commit’s eighth this season and 93rd of her career. She now need just
three goals to tie the Ross County scoring record, set by Chillicothe’s Payten Davis in 2016.
“She’s such a special player,” Rathkamp said of Campbell. “I’ve been blessed to coach her for 10 years in club and in
high school and she’s just … to go and do the things that she’s done, she’s just special. She’s phenomenal.”
Campbell’s goal stood as the lone score until the 24:43 mark in the second half when Katie Stafford put Gahanna
Lincoln (1-1-1) on the board.
“(Gahanna Lincoln) is a great team,” Rathkamp said. “They did a really nice job of setting the tempo, especially in the
second half. They settled in and did a great job of keeping possession of the ball. We weren’t able to do that in the
Late in the game, the Shermans had multiple chances to retake the lead but couldn’t find the back of the net. The
same could be said of the Lions, who were continually denied by Unioto goalkeeeper Sydney Free.
Still, Saturday’s final result was a glimpse of hope into the future.
“We want our girls to win the ball out of the air and we want them to be competitive,” Dalton said. “We want them to be
touch-tight and that’s a coaching point we make a lot. But if you look at where we are now and where we ended last
year … we’re really excited about this team.”
The Shermans will be back in action at 5:30 p.m. on Sept. 4, hosting Westfall.
Southeastern stays perfect with sweep of Westfall
CHILLICOTHE — You may have thought after losing seniors Ella Skeens and Rachel Collins to graduation,
Southeastern’s volleyball program could be down this year.
And if that’s truly the case, put simply, you thought wrong.
Instead of rebuilding, the Panthers have reloaded and with a cast of veteran returners like Lauren Goebel, Jessica
Bolte and Skylar Hice, it shouldn’t come as any surprise.
That trio was instrumental in Southeastern’s latest win, a 25-12, 25-11, 25-21 sweep of Westfall, Thursday evening in
Scioto Valley Conference play.
Still, as always, there’s work to be done.
“We’ve been teaching these girls to go to their spots and play defense,” Southeastern coach Jimmy Hutton said. “I tell
them that all the time. In the first two sets tonight, they played their positions and we attacked the ball. Our serving
was aggressive as well. In the third set … we have to stop playing not to lose. That’s what happened.”
As Hutton alluded to, the Panthers (5-0, 2-0 SVC) were on cruise control through the first two sets. Much of that was
due to Hice, who routinely found holes in Westfall’s defense.
“This year, I’ve tried to work on my game, being more aggressive serving and hitting,” Hice said. “I think as a full
team, offensively, we’re stronger with serving, hitting and with passing (than they were last season). We’re just better
In the first set, Hice logged three kills in Southeastern’s first four points. With the Panthers leading 11-5, freshman
Hannah Lougheed stepped to the service line and ripped off a 9-0 run to bust the game wide open.
Lougheed is one of three freshmen, alongside Lexie Lockwood and Carissa Wheeler, who have seen significant
playing time this season.
“We have three young kids who have really stepped up,” Hice said. “They’re still a little uncomfortable and I think you
can see that at times. But the more they get used to our offense and how we play, they’re going to be just fine.”
After winning the first, Bolte led the Panthers to an early 9-1 lead in the second, an edge they’d never relinquish in a
14-point win to take a 2-0 lead in the match.
However, in the third, the Mustangs (0-3, 0-2 SVC) decided to wake up. The two teams traded blows early before
Southeastern took a timeout, trailing 14-13. After the break in the action, Hice and Bolte spearheaded a 4-1 run,
giving the Panthers a 17-15 edge.
From there, Southeastern fought its way tooth and nail to a gritty, match-clinching win.
“Our defense, we’re solid,” Hutton said. “I think we may be better than we were last year. It’s nice to have hitters like
(Hice) and (Bolte).”
The Mustangs will have five days off before hosting Paint Valley on Sept. 4. Southeastern will play the same night,
trying to keep its perfect start intact while traveling to Zane Trace.
“We’re going to work on serving aggressively and hitting our zones,” Hutton said. “And we’re going to work on our
defense. (Zane Trace) has a young team, too. It’ll be a challenge.”
|PICTURE CREDIT TO SOUTHEASTERN ATHLETIC PICS
Former Warriors weigh in on Laura
Smith's latest milestone win
FRANKFORT — Ronald Reagan was the President of the United States, moviegoers were enjoying “Back to the
Future” for the first time, Foreigner had just released “I Want To Know What Love Is” and Laura Smith had just
taken over Adena High School’s volleyball program.
1985. Ah, simpler times.
Fast forward 33 years and Donald Trump is the U.S. President, moviegoers can now stream films on their smart
devices, a rapper named Drake owns the chart’s top audio hit and Laura Smith … well, she’s still winning games at
Adena High School.
Thursday night, Smith’s Warriors swept Paint Valley by finals of 25-15, 25-23 and 25-12. But it wasn’t just another
night in Scioto Valley Conference play. Instead, it marked a milestone only two other coaches in state history can
boast of — Smith’s 700th career coaching win.
Smith joins Kris Kern and Dan McKinstry as the only coaches in Ohio to have ever reached the milestone. But she’s
the only coach to ever win 700 games at one school — Kern coached at eight different programs while McKinstry
was at Wellsville and East Palestine.
During her coaching tenure, Smith has led the Warriors to 23 conference titles including 14 straight ranging from
1990-2003 and seven consecutive crowns from 2005-2011.
If you’re doing the math at home, that’s 21 SVC championships in a 22-year span. The Warriors also won back-to-
back crowns in 2015 and 2016.
Smith has also coached the SVC Player of the Year 11 times, including three two-time winners in Emily Hammond,
Kari Ross and Cadie Cory, and has been named the conference’s Coach of the Year on 19 occasions.
Oh yeah … under Smith, Adena has claimed six regional championships and state runner-up finishes in 1993 and
The SVC’s Player of the Year in 2016, Devon Putnam, played for Smith and is now playing at West Virginia State.
She’ll never forget the values in which the heralded head coach instilled in her at a young age.
“From the time I managed the volleyball team in elementary school up until I graduated, she had always looked after
us and her team’s well being,” Putnam said of Smith. “She incorporates life lessons into all things we do for Adena
volleyball. She taught how to be responsible, how to lead, and how to hold yourself and your team accountable. I
think what makes her great is that she gives so much into her program to see us succeed inside and outside of
volleyball. I wouldn’t be at WVSU without her pushing me.”
Putnam’s high school and college teammate Kelsie Bossert echoed those sentiments.
“She cares about the volleyball program and she puts everything she has into it,” Bossert said. “She teaches more
than volleyball to her players. One lesson I remember more than anything is responsibility. As a player, I learned
many life lessons that I am very thankful for.”
Cadie Roll, who played at Adena from 2007-2011, said Smith’s “dedication to her job, constant strive for greatness
and discipline” makes her such a great coach.
You get the point.
With No. 700 under her belt and no sign of slowing down, No. 800 is absolutely reachable within the next 3-5 years.
And if she continues to impact players’ lives like she did Carly Carroll’s, Smith’s next coaching milestone may come
sooner than later.
“It seems just like yesterday, she won her 600th game,” Carroll said, who served as Smith’s libero from 2013-2016.
“I will never forget what she instilled in me over the years. She preached responsibility, commitment and effort, not
only in the game of volleyball, but life. The things she taught us will never go away. I will always remember her as a
someone who shaped me into the person I am today.”
|Coach Laura Smith's Lady Warriors won an
SVC all-time best 98-straight SVC matches
while winning 142 straight overall home matches
before losing to WF to start the 2012 season.
|SOMETHING TO PROVE
Huntsmen embracing underdog
roles, aiming to hush doubters
CHILLICOTHE — If you weren’t on Huntington’s volleyball bandwagon at the beginning of the season, don’t jump ship now.
At 7-1 overall and 4-0 in the Scioto Valley Conference, the Huntsmen have more than proven themselves as a handful to deal with.
But not everyone expected that. In fact, very few expected it.
Knowing they were looked as underdogs to win the conference title, the Huntsmen haven’t only habitually beaten teams, they’ve made it
a goal to prove their doubters wrong
“By knowing that, we are definitely motivated to prove everyone wrong,” senior Braiden Collins said. “I think I can speak for the rest of the
seniors on the team … we want to fight ot make this ‘our’ year and be as successful as we possibly can. It’s always a nice challenge
going in as ‘underdogs’ and when we can draw attention and show what we are made of, it’s always a nice feeling.”
Last Tuesday, Collins and her teammates raised eyebrows with a five-set win over reigning conference champ Unioto … a team who
was widely looked at as one of the favorites to win the SVC title.
In that win, senior Riley Black logged 14 kills, 19 digs and 33 assists.
“It feels great beating last year’s SVC champs,” Black said. “I’ve never seen my team so pumped about a win before. After we beat them
one set, I saw it in everyone’s faces. We knew we could do it but we also knew it would be a challenge.”
Black gave credit to Huntington coach Tina Magill for her preparation heading into the contest as well as the relationships her team has
built with one another.
“She has been working our butts off since summer,” she said. “We are more than just teammates. We are all so close and that really
helps on and off the court. We knew coming into that game, it wouldn’t be easy. But we played hard and it paid off.”
The team’s camaraderie is also something Collins made note of.
After all, performing well on the volleyball court means a high level of communication and that requires a bond that has to be formed.
“Our team is the closest that is has ever been,” Collins said. “We have five seniors this year and we are all best friends. But even the
underclassmen and up-and-coming freshmen fit in so well. We are like a family. We can read each other well and that really carries
over into our games.”
There’s still work to be done.
Tuesday, the Huntsmen may face their biggest test yet when they host Southeastern, the second team many prognosticators picked to
win the conference.
But Huntington has a gameplan in place.
“It will be a tough game but I believe if we come out and play our ‘A’ game, we (win) it without a doubt,” Black said. “(Southeastern) has
a pretty solid team but with our defense, I think we can make it happen. I have faith in my team and my coaching staff.”
Isn’t that the first step in winning a game? Belief you can get the job done?
“With our team’s potential, it’s hard to say how far we can go,” Collins said. “I’ve never had more confidence in a team than I do this
year. We want to keep proving people wrong and finish first in the SVC. All the hard work and dedication will pay off.”
|Photo Credit: Kendra Dalton
|HISTORY’S NEWEST AUTHOR
Campbell etches her name into county record books with 97th career goal
CHILLICOTHE — Electrifying, next-level talented, dangerous with the ball at her feet.
All could describe Unioto senior forward Jayla Campbell.
But in a 5-1 win over Zane Trace Tuesday night, just the latest victory for the state-ranked Shermans, Campbell’s
earned another descriptive title: the best scorer in Ross County history.
With 29:32 remaining in Tuesday’s contest, from about 18 yards out, Campbell rewrote history with one swing of the
foot as she sent a roller past Zane Trace goalie Lily Clark, netting her second goal on the night, the 12th this year
and the 97th of her career.
The goal catapulted her over Chillicothe’s Payten Davis, who’s currently playing collegiately at the University of Rio
Grande. Davis set the record in 2016.
“I love Payten as a player,” Campbell said. “She’s phenomenal. She was two years above me and I had been chasing
her my freshman and sophomore year. I was just trying to catch her and surpass her record so I could have
something to leave behind in Chillicothe as to what I am and what I accomplished.”
Davis was also complimentary of Campbell.
“She’s a great player. I’ve player with her and against her many times and I think we have both made each other
better,” Davis said. “Records are meant to be broken.”
When you think about it, Campbell has a real shot at furthering the record number of goals in a career to something
that may not be attainable.
Already at 97, she still has two-thirds of her senior season left, plus any tournament games that the Shermans play
in. If last season’s Division II regional semifinal run is any indication of how far this team can go, there’s no telling how
many times Campbell will end up beating opposing goalkeepers.
“Last year’s team, I feel like we were more defensively minded,” Campbell said. “Our games were always closer. I feel
that we’re an attacking team now. We can blow it out of the water first before having to wait around and not letting
(the opponent) score.”
Unioto’s eventual tournament finish, of course, has yet to be determined. But with No. 97 behind her, Campbell can
focus on what’s next with no pressure whatsoever bearing down on her shoulders.
“It just feels so great to have my team behind me, helping me beat this record … all the girls I’ve played with and
against that have allowed me to be the player I am. It’s all or nothing, though. Breaking this record was a big goal of
mine. But the fact that I’ve helped everybody and the bonds I’ve made with my teammates and players I’ve played
against, that’s what I’ll look back on when it’s all said and done.”
Campbell’s Shermans will be back in action at 2:45 p.m. this Saturday, hosting Marietta. She’ll most definitely be on
the hunt for No. 100.
“She’s such a special player,” Unioto coach Cara Rathkamp said of Campbell. “I’ve been blessed to coach her for 10
years in club and in high school and she’s just … to go and do the things that she’s done, she’s just special. She’s
PV’s McFadden, ZT’s Bennett, Huntington’s Black, Unioto’s Pinkerton all hit milestones
CHILLICOTHE — The 1,000 club is an exclusive entity; a type of sorority that only the elite have been granted
access to. But with their proven track records of success, a local volleyball quartet has been recently granted
membership into the illustrious group.
Over the past two weeks, Paint Valley’s Lea McFadden, Zane Trace’s Evie Bennett, Huntington’s Riley Black and
Unioto’s Hallie Pinkerton have all reached career milestones — McFadden, Bennett and Pinkerton have all hit 1,000
career digs while Black recorded her 1,000th career assist.
We spoke with each about their accomplishments and what it meant to them.
Lea McFadden, Paint Valley
McFadden hit her milestone first, recording No. 1,000 on Aug. 30 in a game at Adena. But she didn’t even know she
had done so until the following week.
“To be honest, I had no idea nor did anyone else that I had reached my 1,000th dig,” McFadden said. “I knew at the
beginning of the season that I was getting close but I had no idea how close. It’s always been a goal of mine since
freshman year. Not very many people get to achieve this so I am beyond thankful I got the chance.”
The senior is listed on the Bearcats’ roster as an outside hitter and a setter. But she’s proven time and time again
she can play just about anywhere. And when she’s playing defense … well, that’s where she blossoms.
McFadden not only said she’s comfortable playing defense but she also said that part of the game is what she’s
“I take a lot of pride in playing good defense,” McFadden said. “I’ve always been the ‘go-getter’ type. I’m actually the
libero for my club team so the level of play is competitive and much faster. My club coach (Paul Tanedo) always
drilled into our heads to make an effort to get a hand on every ball. So I’ve always played by that.”
Evie Bennett, Zane Trace
A little more than a week after McFadden joined the 1,000 club, Bennett punched her membership ticket in a
straight-set win over Vinton County on Sep. 8.
Before that contest started, she knew exactly where she stood.
“Until my sophomore year, I had always been a defensive player,” Bennett said. “At Vinton County, I only needed two
more digs when I stepped on the court. I got that second dig, we won the rally and I looked into the stands with
everyone cheering and shaking signs in the air. It was the best moment of my high school volleyball career.”
And that’s saying something because Bennett has had quite the career.
In 242 sets, Bennett has recorded 487 kills, 141 aces and, now, 1,030 digs.
“I take a lot of pride in the way I play defense,” she said. “I’ve never been the tallest girl or the girl with the most
power but I try to hustle as best I can and I give it 100 percent. I may leave the game with floor burns and bruises
everywhere, but it pays off in the end.”
Riley Black, Huntington
Black has long been a do-it-all player for Huntington. As a sophomore, she broke onto the scene with 156 kills,
helping the Huntsmen win a Division III district title.
With Black on its roster, Huntington has an overall record of 58-29 and can claim three consecutive trips to a district
Black passed out her 1,000th career assist on Sep. 13 in a five-set thriller with Westfall.
“I never played much varsity as a freshman so I never really imagined me getting (the 1,000th) until the end of my
junior year,” Black said. “Since this past summer, it’s been one of my goals. I couldn’t have done it without my team
Black said she knew she was 35 away heading into the game.
“My highest this year had only been 33 assists,” she said. “So I wasn’t for sure if I was going to get it or not. But by
the end of the third set, my teammates were making sure I was getting it. They made it happen for me.”
Black’s career statistics currently sit at 509 kills, 541 digs, 120 aces and 1,000 assists.
Hallie Pinkerton, Unioto
Since starting as a freshman, Pinkerton’s name has been synonymous with defense at Unioto. This past Saturday,
the reigning SVC Defensive Player of the Year notched her 1,000th career dig in a sweep of Miami Trace.
Pinkerton, now a junior, was instrumental in Unioto’s gold ball finish last season and has been just as important in
the Shermans’ 12-1 start this fall.
“I take a lot of pride in the way I play defense,” Pinkerton said. “I see it as a challenge to keep every ball that comes
over the net alive so our setters can give our hitters the best opportunity they can to get a kill. Some people don’t
realize how important it is to have a solid defense because passing is what starts every play.”
Pinkerton’s libero role requires leadership; a trait she has plenty of.
“Always being the back and being able to see the floor requires me to be constantly communicating to my
teammates, telling them where to hit the ball and where the ball is coming from.”
In the past three seasons, with Pinkerton on the floor, the Shermans are 57-9 overall and 31-3 in SVC play. Unioto
has fallen at the district level in both of the past two years.
But if Pinkerton has any say in this season’s end, that streak is nearing its end.
“We have a pretty solid team. Most of us have had at least one to two years of varsity experience so that helps,”
Pinkerton said. “This year, my goal for our team is to get out of districts and into the regionals. We are making
improvements and trying to make the necessary adjustments so we have the best players on the floor all the time."
|Thanks to Lea, Coach Davis, and
Coach Stulley for the pictures for this article.
|MOVING UP THE LADDER
Conley becomes first Redstreak to reach 2,000 career assists
PIKETON — Maci Conley doesn’t like to talk about Maci Conley.
But when you accomplish something as impressive as Piketon’s senior setter did Monday, the questions about your
personal achievements are inevitably going to come.
In a 25-17, 25-17, 25-15 sweep of Whiteoak, Conley became the first player in school history to reach 2,000 career
assists and, according to the OHSAA’s record books, just the sixth player in Scioto Valley Conference history to
reach that number — joining Adena’s Haley Halcomb, Kirsten Dawson and Cadie Cory, Unioto’s Madi Eberst and
Southeastern’s Lauren Goebel.
No. 2,000 comes just 398 days after she recorded her 1,000th — Conley hit that number on Aug. 22, 2017 in a
sweep of Valley.
“After my 1,000th, I wasn’t really focused on setting another record,” Conley said. “I was focused on playing and
winning. My number of assists began to add up really quickly without me ever realizing it. This one differs from the
first one because achieving this is really the cap of a great career. This milestone is the mark I’ll leave on Piketon
volleyball and, hopefully, SVC volleyball.”
Conley came into Monday’s game needed just five assists to reach 2,000. As a junior, Conley posted a total of 879
assists. That came after sophomore and freshman campaigns where she logged 413 and 543.
“This year, (getting her 2,000th) was a big goal of Maci’s,” Piketon coach Allison Robbins said. “Right now, we’re just
pushing, how many can we get? She’s moving up in the SVC’s ranks as well. That’s a huge thing when you think
about our league.”
Robbins isn’t wrong. The SVC has long been considered one of the best volleyball conferences in southeastern
Ohio. To be near the top of any career statistical leaderboard is certainly an honor; one that Conley doesn’t take
“The first thing that comes to my mind when I think about myself being up there with the SVC’s all-time assists
leaders is that it’s an amazing honor,” Conley said. “I have so much respect for SVC volleyball because we are such
a tough league and it’s crazy to think my accomplishment is even comparable to those extraordinary players.”
Conley also gave credit to the hitters she’s played with throughout her decorated four-year career. Alongside those
players, the Redstreaks have made two consecutive trips to the district championship game while earning three
straight sectional titles.
“I give those great hitters credit because without them, I would’ve never been able to achieve this,” Conley said.
“Volleyball has been my life since I was 10 years old and started playing club. My mom always reminded me that
everything I put into (club) volleyball was to get better for my school team. That’s why I played so many hours and
dedicated so much of my life to the game I love.”
Conley’s mom is just one of her biggest supporters. She had her entire clan sitting courtside Monday to watch her
pass out No. 2,000.
“My parents have spent a lot of time and money supporting me, my younger sister has sat through hundreds of
practices and tournaments, and my older sister shared my love for the game. (Sisters) Madison and Malyn are my
biggest fans aside from my parents. I’m thankful for everyone who has ever supported me playing volleyball
including my grandparents, my friends, my coaches and Redstreak fans.”
Despite mistakes, Southeastern bests Zane Trace in four sets
CHILLICOTHE — There never has been, and probably never will be, any ‘gimmes’ in Scioto Valley Conference
volleyball play. So when you win ugly, you take the win.
Southeastern (14-2, 9-1 SVC) didn’t play to the best of its ability Thursday night against Zane Trace. But despite
their mistakes, the Panthers ousted the Pioneers in four sets; 25-17, 21-25, 25-18 and 25-17.
“I had to get on them tonight and just ask, ‘How can you guys play really good and then play really bad?’ I don’t
understand it,” Southeastern coach Jimmy Hutton said. “How can you come out and beat a team 25-17 and then
come back and lose the next set? It’s unexplainable. They lose focus and they’re running out of gas. This is the
way it’s been all year. We’ve got some things to work on.”
Tuesday night, the Pioneers (13-4, 6-4 SVC) earned their biggest win of the season in a five-set thriller over
Unioto. Still riding an emotional high from that victory, Zane Trace coach Cyndi Davis said her players may have
walked into Thursday’s match with a sense of overconfidence.
“I think we’re tired and we’re sore. We have a couple of injuries,” Davis said. “But I think they came in, in their
heads, thinking we beat Unioto on Tuesday and Unioto beat Southeastern so this was going to be a ‘gimme.’ You
can’t do that in this league, on any night. You’ve got to fight for every single point you get.”
Strong play from seniors Jessica Bolte and Lauren Goebel, as well as freshman Carissa Wheeler at the service
line, led the Panthers to an eight-point win in the first set.
However, the second was a different story.
Behind seniors Evie Bennett and Hannah Unger, Zane Trace threw a counter-punch and evened the match at
one set apiece.
“(Zane Trace’s) defense is scrappy. We’d hit hard balls at them and they’d dig them up,” Hutton said. “They’d hit
hard balls at us and we’re out of position, we can’t get to it. They sent us numerous free balls and we ended up
sending them free balls back because our pass isn’t going to the target. We’re going back to basics with passing.”
But Hutton’s Panthers bounced back in the third by a seven-point margin as they limited errors and continually
pelted Zane Trace’s defense with dinks and dunks. They then captured the match win with an eight-point victory
in the fourth.
Statistically, Unger led Zane Trace with 16 kills and 14 digs while Bennett added nine kills and a team-high 33
digs. Maddie Rann recorded 29 assists and 20 digs, Hannah Hale had three kills and three blocks, and Allie
Bennett registered six kills and 10 digs.
For the Panthers, Bolte posted a team-high 16 kills alongside three blocks while Skylar Hice added 16 kills, four
aces and 33 digs. Lauren Goebel had 40 assists and 25 digs, Lexi Lockwood had 21 digs and Sierra DeLong
ended with six kills and 16 digs.
Southeastern is back in action Saturday, hosting North Adams, while the Pioneers attempt to bounce back
Tuesday, hosting Huntington.
“It’s good that we’re still winning with the way we’re playing,” Hutton said. “I think if we could ever put it altogether
… we’ve talked about that, too.”
|Thank you Southeastern Athletic Pictures for photo
Southeastern’s Lauren Goebel stands at the top of the SVC’s record books
CHILLICOTHE — During every practice Southeastern’s volleyball program has, senior setter Lauren Goebel wears a
six-pound weight vest.
With that add-on comes sweat, pain, fatigue and, quite possibly for normal people, agony. But Goebel is no normal
person, or setter for that matter. As a matter of fact, there’s never been another setter like her in the history of the
Scioto Valley Conference.
In Tuesday’s win over Adena, Goebel was two assists away from breaking the conference’s career assists record of
2,570. She passed out 33 in the victory, leapfrogging Unioto graduate Madi Eberst to claim the top spot at 2,601.
“Madi was a great setter, she ran the floor well,” Goebel said. “I watched how she would mix it up, completely throw all
of our blockers off. She switched it up almost every set, no matter where the pass was, which is really impressive. I
really looked up to her.”
Now, younger players have a new model of greatness to look up to and it’s Goebel.
After playing well enough to make Southeastern’s varsity team as a freshman, Goebel’s initial goal was to help her
team in any way she could. While that’s still a task she certainly hopes to tackle, when the record came into her
scope, she aimed to shoot it down.
“It’s such a relief,” Goebel said. “It’s not that there was pressure because I know my team can put the ball away. But
sometimes we lack some things, we may have an off game, I may not have as many assists. But I’m just really happy
to have this for (Southeastern) assistant coach Paul (Tanedo). He came (to Southeastern) for me. It’s nice to show
him all the work we’ve put in is worth it.”
Tanedo joined head coach Jimmy Hutton three years ago. The two have since led the Panthers to two district
championships, an Elite Eight appearance and a 57-12 overall record.
But according to Tanedo, without Goebel, that level of success is not attainable.
“She solidifies things out on the court,” Tanedo said of Goebel. “When you have a bad pass, she can erase that bad
pass, get her feet set and put the ball where we can get an attack. Another setter, they may not be able to do that.
Lauren is smart and she does a great job of recognizing stuff. So her work ethic, her ability to think out there and to
remain pretty calm … that’s what she does well.”
Tanedo also coached Eberst in club volleyball. So, in a statistical sense, he’s had a hand in teaching the best two
setters the SVC has ever produced
“I was able to coach Madi for three years in club and when she broke that record, I was so happy for her,” Tanedo
said. “It’s the same thing with Lauren. What an accomplishment. You have to tip your hat to her, her parents, to
(Hutton) … she’s fabulous.”
Goebel was raw when Tanedo first starting working with her and that’s something she admits. Tanedo said she was
passing out “booty sets” as he calls them, not using her legs while thrusting the ball into the air. But multiple hour-
long sessions during the summertime and hard work in the gym catapulted her to the level she’s currently at.
“I listened to what Paul said, I took his advice,” Goebel said. “I practiced on and off the court, just trying to get to (the
record). I honestly think I deserve it.”
And, of course, without her teammates, Goebel says she’d never have been in this position in the first place.
“It’s really just teammates who know how to hit off your sets, no matter if they’re bad or good. You have to have the
hitters to get the assists,” Goebel said. “I know my team pretty well and I’ve learned to pretty much know exactly
where they’re going to pass. That’s the best I thing I do, reading my teammates and being prepared for wherever the
ball’s going to go.”
Goebel now has the chance to pile onto a record that, before being broke last season, stood for 11 years — Adena’s
Haley Halcomb ended her career in 2006 with 2,465 assists.
But that’s not what Goebel is focused on. Her Panthers reached a Division III regional final last fall. If she has
anything to do with it, Southeastern will go even further in 2018.
“Honestly, yeah we lost some key hitters, but we gained three young players who have the potential to go just as far,”
Goebel said. “They’ve got some work to do but to be playing the way they’re playing, I couldn’t be happier. I think we
can go even further this year.”
|CAN YOU DIG IT?
Huntington’s Collins, Zane Trace’s Unger both hit 1,000 career digs
would also like to
congratulate Zane Trace
setter Maddie Rann. The
senior dished out career
assist 1,000 in a five-set
thriller against Huntington.
CHILLICOTHE — Without a good pass, there is no set. Without a good set, there is no kill.
And, of course, without a kill, you’re not going to win a lot of volleyball games.
Huntington’s Braiden Collins and Zane Trace’s Hannah Unger, both seniors, know that all too well. As a matter of fact, they’re usually
the ones jumpstarting that entire process for their respective teams.
So when the Huntsmen and Pioneers faced each other Tuesday night in Scioto Valley Conference action, it was no surprise to see
Collins and Unger reach career defensive milestones on the same night.
At different points in the match, the two veterans recorded their 1,000th career digs — adding yet another accolade to both of their
storied four-year careers.
“When you’re as young as me, you set so many goals for yourself and it finally feels good to accomplish one of those goals,” Unger
said. “Instantly, I can look back at all of the hard work that I’ve put in and finally seeing it pays off. Defense is such a big part of
volleyball, so I take so much pride in defense. It’s something I’ve alway put first.”
Collins entered Tuesday’s match with 978 career digs. When she first realized she recorded her 1,000th, there was one thing on her
“It’s such an incredible feeling,” she said. “What is honestly going through my head is that God is so good. When I step onto the floor, I
give everything I have, one-hundred percent of the time. I try to do everything that coach (Tina Magill) tells me to do and cover as much
area as I possibly can. I’m glad that my effort reflects in my defense, but I couldn’t do it without my team and their encouragement.”
Collins and Unger also have something else in common. Earlier in the season, they both had teammates post career milestones —
Zane Trace’s Evie Bennett reached 1,000 digs while Huntington’s Riley Black recorded her 1,000th assist.
“Honestly, I didn’t even know how close I was at that point,” Collins said. “When Riley got her 1,000th assist, I was just so proud of her
and her accomplishment that I didn’t even think about myself. I was just happy for her.”
Unger, needed 23 digs coming into Tuesday’s match to reach 1,000 and recorded exactly 23, was also happy for Bennett. But when it
came to her own statistics, she tried to push it out of her mind. In doing so, she relieved some would-be added pressure.
“I don’t like knowing when I’m close to a goal because I’ll lose my focus during the game,” Unger said. “So I try to keep myself away
from the stats so I’ll be more focused.”
Unger’s Pioneers are currently 13-5 with a 6-5 mark in the SVC.
“I love my team, seeing what we can do and what we can put forward is just amazing,” Unger said. “Seeing us come together and
proving people wrong is something we love to do. My season has been amazing. It being my senior year, I don’t want it to end.”
As for Collins and the Huntsmen, they sit at 12-7 overall and 7-4 in the SVC.
“We’ve had some highs and lows. What’s most important, though, is that we’ve never fought or let it affect our relationship as a team,”
Collins said. “We win as a team and lose as a team. We look back on each game and see what we can do better and go into the next
game with a goal in mind.”
|SETTING THE SCENE
Zane Trace’s Maddie Rann becomes latest setter to reach 1,000 assists
KINNIKINNICK — At the beginning of the season, Zane Trace coach Cyndi Davis challenged senior setter Maddie
Rann, who transferred to Zane Trace following her sophomore year at Chillicothe, wanted the Pioneers to run a 5-1
rotation, meaning she would be the team’s primary setter.
But to do so, she had to meet Davis’ demands.
“She came to me and asked, ‘Coach, are we going to run a 5-1?’” Davis said. “I told her, ‘Maddie, you’ve got to show
me something. You have to show me you can do it.’”
That’s exactly what Rann did … and, as Davis promised, she got what she wanted.
“I take so much pride in (the setter) role,” Rann said. “My team and I do everything we can to be at the top. We try
our hardest in practice and in games and we always give one-hundred percent and work together on the court.”
This past Tuesday, Rann’s hard work — both on and off the court — paid dividends as she recorded her 1,000th
career assist. She compiled 238 as a sophomore, 243 as a junior and entered Tuesday with 508 as a senior; a total
Needing just 11 to reach the milestone, she quadrupled that number and passed out 44.
“When I hit 1,000, I was just so happy that I finally got it,” Rann said. “I worked so hard for it, even outside of practice,
to make sure my sets were perfect. I waited so long to get it all four years of high school. It feels great to have been
able to hit that number.”
Rann’s season-high assist total came in a five-set win over Unioto back on Sept. 25. She tallied 55 that night, which
also set a new career high. Her previous mark stood at 41, which she’s recorded twice this season in matches
against Southeastern and Logan.
To make a long story short, Rann has collected assists this season like never before.
“It’s exciting. I’ve coached Maddie since she was younger in club. I’m just proud of her. She had to show me she
could do it,” Davis said. “She stepped it up and proved that she could do it. She does a really good job.”
Behind Rann, and fellow seniors Hannah Unger and Evie Bennett who’ve also reached career milestones this
season, the Pioneers have posted 14 wins — heading into Thursday’s match against Paint Valley.
Rann now has 1,062 assists — after posting 29 in Wednesday’s win over Canal Winchester. But you can expect that
number to continue climbing.
“In my opinion, our season has been really good compared to last year,” Rann said. “We’re doing better on the court
together and we’re really working well with each other. We’ve worked really hard to be where we are now and we’re
not finished yet.”
Five different Shermans score in Thursday’s win over Logan
CHILLICOTHE — Less than two weeks ago, Unioto took a 5-0 loss to Division I New Albany on the chin. It was
uncharacteristic, it was unexpected and it was unpredicted.
But it also may have been the shot in the arm the Tanks needed.
“A loss is sometimes good in the middle of the season,” Unioto coach Kendra Dalton said. “Sometimes, you need a
Since that loss, the Shermans have now outscored their opponents 15-3 — including their latest victory, a 5-2
decision over Logan.
It’s safe to say the sleeping giant has awoken.
“I think this team is just getting more dynamic in the style of their play,” Unioto coach Cara Rathkamp said. “They’re
understanding the space on the field. Our on- and off-the-ball movement is just fantastic and we’re dangerous on the
Unioto (10-1-2) peppered Logan’s goal early and often. 13 minutes into the action, Erin Callahan started the night’s
scoring off an assist from Gracie Heath. Less than a minute later, at the 26:34 mark, Jayla Campbell found McKayla
Thompson to make it 2-0.
With 15:05 left in the first half, Brandy Robinson pushed the lead to 3-0 off an assist from Kylee Bethel. Robinson,
who usually comes off the bench, continued her recent upward trend.
“It’s been great to see Brandy Robinson come off the bench and have huge minutes and win balls out of the air,”
Dalton said. “She’s done a tremendous job for us.”
After Robinson’s goal, Campbell got in on the action — which surprises nobody.
Campbell’s goal, from about seven yards out, was the 101st of her storied career and gave the Shermans a 4-0
advantage. After suffering an injury against New Albany, Campbell’s score sent a breath of relaxation across the field,
for players and fans.
But in her absence, and other’s throughout the season, Rathkamp and Dalton said their younger players have
gained valuable experience heading into a tournament run.
“With the injuries, we’ve had players step up. There’s no quit in this team and it’s nice to see that,” Rathkamp said.
“We’ve been taking care of [injured players] because we’re using everybody. We’re utilizing 22 players deep.”
One of those players has been freshman defender Jaidyn McKell.
“Jaidyn McKell, in the back, has stepped up,” Rathkamp said. “She does a great job back there and she vocalizes
really well. She’s a great tackler and a great 1v1 defender.”
Amelia Willis capped off Unioto’s scoring on the night, finding the back of the net with 8:58 left in the first half. At that
point, the Shermans had scored on half of their shot on goal total.
The Chieftains (5-11) scored with 37:32 and 7:52 left in regulation. But it was much too little of an effort and much too
late to make it.
“I think that this team is so deep and it makes this team dangerous,” Unioto coach Cara Rathkamp said. “We have 13
different goal scorers on this team. That’s incredible. We want the same mentality in all 22 players. You never know
what’s going to happen.”
Remaining on Unioto’s regular season schedule are dates at Fairfield Union (Oct. 8) and against Buckeye Valley
(Oct. 13) at Crew Stadium. Both will be huge in a momentum sense, considering the postseason starts directly after.
The Shermans ended last year with a 1-0 loss to Big Walnut in a Division II regional semifinal. They’re hoping this
season ends at different level … a higher one.
“We want to go further than last year and I think we have the team and the capabilities to do that,” Dalton said. “We
want to make a state run.”
Three area teams earn top postseason seeds
CHILLICOTHE – The Southeast Ohio District Athletic Board released sectional and district volleyball and soccer brackets Sunday
afternoon. Here’s a look at where each area program stands in a postseason sense and the path they’ll have to take in order to reach a
As expected, Unioto (10-1-2) was awarded a No. 1 seed in their district and will await the winner of No. 4 Hillsboro (4-7-2) and No. 5
McClain (1-11-1) at 11 a.m. on Oct. 20 in a sectional championship.
The Shermans could play No. 2 Waverly (9-3-1) in a district semifinal and top-seeded Fairfield Union (13-1-1) in a district final. If those
two top seeds are to meet, it would be a rematch of last year’s Division II district semifinal, a game the Shermans won 1-0.
Southeastern (8-5-1) is the highest seeded area team in Division III at No. 4. The Panthers will host No. 5 South Point (7-7) in a
sectional final at 5 p.m. on Oct. 16. If they are to win, they’d then likely face top-seeded Lynchburg-Clay (11-2) in a district semifinal on
Zane Trace (6-5-2) is a No. 5 seed and will travel to No. 4 North Adams (9-4-2) at 5 p.m. on Oct. 16 for a sectional championship. The
Pioneers would likely face top-seeded Alexander (9-3-1) if they beat the Green Devils.
Zane Trace and North Adams have already played this season; a 1-0 Pioneers win on Aug. 18.
At No. 6 stands Westfall (3-7), which will travel to No. 3 Peebles (10-2-2) at 5 p.m. on Oct. 16 with a sectional title on the line. No. 9
Piketon (3-9) travels to No. 8 Northwest (4-9) at 5 p.m. on Oct. 13 in a sectional semifinal matchup. The Redstreaks beat the Mohawks 1-
0 on Aug. 20.
On the boys side, Unioto (6-4-1) is a No. 4 seed in Division II and will host No. 5 Alexander (5-7-2) in a sectional championship at 5 p.m.
on Oct. 18. The Tanks beat the Spartans 2-1 on Sept. 13.
Also in Division II, No. 7 Zane Trace (3-9) hosts No. 10 Sheridan (0-12) in a sectional semifinal at 5 p.m. on Oct. 15. Westfall (0-9-2), a
No. 9 seed travels to No. 8 Washington (0-10-2) at 5 p.m. the same day.
The area’s lone team in Division III, Southeastern (5-7-2), is a No. 7 seed and will host No. 10 Glenwood New Boston (1-9-1) at 11 a.m.
on Oct. 13 in a sectional semifinal. A win would pit the Panthers against No. 2 seeded Rock Hill (11-1-2) on Oct. 15 in a sectional final.
Last fall, Unioto hosted River Valley in a Division II sectional semifinal. This year, the Shermans and Raiders will have a dose of deja vu.
Unioto (18-2), a top seed in Division II, hosts No. 8 River Valley (8-10) in a sectional semifinal at 6 p.m., Oct. 17.
Unioto’s road to a district championship, assuming it plays higher seeds, would go through No. Warren (11-6), No. 2 Fairfield Union
(13-6) and No. 1 Sheridan (16-3).
In the bottom half of the brackets in Division III stands Zane Trace (15-5), peculiarly a top seed over Southeastern. The Pioneers host
the winner of No. 8 Chesapeake (8-8) and No. 9 New Lexington (6-10) in a sectional final at 4 p.m. on Oct. 20.
Possibly more uncanny is the fact that Huntington has earned a No. 2 seed, also over the Panthers. The Huntsmen (12-8) host No. 15
Portsmouth West (1-14) at 6 p.m. on Oct. 16 in a sectional semifinal. Southeastern (17-2) is a No. 3 seed and hosts No. 14 Oak Hill (2-
12) at the same time on the same day, also in a sectional semifinal.
If any of those three teams are to make it to a district final, it would take place on Oct. 27 at Waverly High School. The Huntsmen and
Panthers, however, would have to battle it out in a district semifinal on Oct. 24 to get to that point.
Also in D-III, No. 6 Adena (6-13) hosts No. 11 Northwest (8-9) in a sectional semifinal at 6 p.m., Oct. 16. Westfall (7-11), a No, 8 seed,
hosts No. 9 Peebles (13-5) and No. 10 Piketon (6-14) will travel to No. 7 South Webster (12-7) at the same level, at the same time, the
Paint Valley (7-13), the area’s lone team in Division IV, is a No. 5 seed and travels to No. 4 Western (8-10) for a sectional championship
match at 6 p.m. on Oct. 18. With a win, the Bearcats could potentially face top-seeded Waterford (14-4) for a sectional title.
|GRABBING A SHARE
McGlone, Pinkerton pace Tanks past Panthers to clinch share of SVC title
CHILLICOTHE — Somebody must’ve hurt Amanda McGlone’s feelings, because Thursday night, she hit the volleyball
like a woman scorned.
The senior middle hitter, alongside teammate Hallie Pinkerton in the back row, willed Unioto (20-2, 12-2 SVC) to a four-
set win over Southeastern 25-19, 18-25, 25-21 and 25-21.
The victory forced the Panthers (19-3, 12-2 SVC) to hand over a share of the Scioto Valley Conference title, marking
Unioto’s second consecutive league championship.
“I told the girls that this win is huge,” Unioto coach Natalie Stulley said. “(Southeastern) is a great team to be playing
before we head into tournaments. They’re a great team and they’re well-coached. I was really pleased with the way we
After winning the first set by putting pressure on Southeastern’s passing game, the Panthers returned the favor in the
second behind strong play from Jessica Bolte, Lauren Goebel and Sierra DeLong.
But that’s when McGlone decided to throw a block party … literally.
“I felt, as a senior, that I really needed to go out with a bang,” McGlone said. “I decided that … I don’t know …
something inside of me just said, ‘Amanda, you need to step it up.’ That’s when the momentum hit and I just kept
McGlone single-handedly took over Unioto’s offense. Her setters kept feeding her and she kept scorching balls into
the heart of the Panthers’ defense. It led to a 25-21 win in the third set, giving the Shermans a 2-1 match lead.
“Her strong suit is in the front row,” Stulley said of McGlone. “I’ve been on her a little bit about letting off when we’re
playing teams who maybe have a bigger blocker on the front row. Sometimes she gets real worried about that block
and she tries to hit around it. She’s an emotional kid and it being Senior Night, I worried about that. So it was big for
her to keep it together tonight. She played really well.”
In the fourth, while McGlone continued to angrily pepper the Panthers, Pinkerton continued to quietly make a
difference in the back row. The Tanks’ junior libero chased ball after ball, made tough plays look routine and routinely
sacrificed her body for her team.
“I felt like in the first set, I started out a little bit slower,” Pinkerton said. “But definitely in the second set, I started to
come alive more and so did our team. We started to play together, play our game and we got things done.”
Think it eases Stulley’s mind to have a security blanket such as Pinkerton?
“(It eases your mind) a lot,” Stulley said. “I’m big-time on our blocks, too. We’ve got to help (Pinkerton) out in the back
row because it is not fair to make her cover that entire section. Hallie’s speed, being able to run those balls down that
are maybe out of her zone, it’s kind of her forte. To bring those balls back and make those playable, it’s huge.”
Behind Pinkerton and McGlone, alongside Jocie Fisher and Amber Cottrill, the Shermans sealed the deal with a
second straight 25-21 set win.
“Our big thing was to have a fire about us,” Stulley said. “In that second set, we kind of lost some fire. We let off the
gas a little bit. We weren’t having as much fun and we weren’t getting touches at the net. But we brought it back and
got it taken care of.”
McGlone finished with 14 kills, eight blocks and five digs while Pinkerton ended with 17 digs. Fisher added a team-
high 25 digs and seven kills, Emily Coleman posted 21 assists and 12 digs, Ava Eldrige registered 13 assists and 16
digs, and Cottrill had nine kills and 17 digs.
“Overall, I’m proud of my team. I thought we did amazing tonight,” McGlone said.
For the Panthers, Bolte ended the night with a game-high 19 kills alongside three aces, Skylar Hice added 15 kills and
23 digs, Goebel passed out 49 assists and tallied 22 digs, Lexie Lockwood finished with 20 digs, and Lyndsey Skeens
had nine kills.
Both teams now look towards the postseason as Southeastern opens with Oak Hill on Oct. 16 while Unioto hosts River
Valley on Oct. 17. Both are sectional semifinal contests.
“I would’ve loved to have a gold ball again but our two losses (in conference play), you just have to look past it and
look forward to doing it next year and doing our best.”
|ONE FOR THE ROAD
Bearcats top Panthers at SE, seize sole possession of first place in SVC
CHILLICOTHE — The phrase is written throughout Paint Valley’s locker room … and make no mistake, the Bearcats
don’t take it lightly.
“Every week is championship week.”
“Even on our practice schedule, it says ‘championship week one and two and so on,’” Paint Valley coach Pete Hollon
said. “That’s kind of what we’ve preached to the kids. They’re a pretty well-rounded group. They’re fun. Those guys
have taught the old coach some things.”
Friday night, the ‘old coach’ guided his ‘well-rounded group’ to an eighth straight win.
With sole possession of first place in the Scioto Valley Conference on the line, Hollon’s Bearcats topped Southeastern
— the reigning SVC champion — by a 35-27 final.
“Southeastern is a very good team. That’s their first SVC loss in two years so they’ve become a dominant team in the
SVC,” Paint Valley quarterback Bryce Newland said. “So it really means a lot to be able to get a win.”
Newland is indeed correct. The loss marks Southeastern’s first in the SVC since Oct. 14, 2016 — a 29-21 loss to
The Bearcats (8-0, 5-0 SVC) wasted no time getting on the scoreboard. They opened the game with a 5-play, 69-yard
drive that ended with a 14-yard touchdown run via Lane Mettler, taking a 6-0 lead (missed two-point try).
Mettler was just getting started.
After Southeastern fumbled, which swung the pendulums of momentum into PV’s favor, Mettler scored again at the
6:38 mark in the first, capping off a 6-play, 76-yard drive. The Bearcats again failed to convert the ensuing two-point
try but had a 12-0 lead.
“I thought that us getting up two scores was pretty crucial for us,” Hollon said. “Our crowd was just tremendous. They
were every bit as loud as (Southeastern’s) and our kids kind of fed off that. Whenever you go on the road, you have
to be able to feed off something. I think we did that early.”
Southeastern (6-2, 4-1 SVC) answered with 1:41 left in the first when Dalton Thurston crossed the goal line on a
three-yard burst, cutting the lead to 12-7. But almost immediately, the Bearcats threw a counter punch via Mettler,
who scored for a third time to give Paint Valley a 19-7 lead with 11:04 left in the second.
Mettler finished the night with 12 carries for 64 yards and three touchdowns.
“The line did great tonight. I had the easy part … (Newland) just gives me the ball and I run for my life,” Mettler said. “I
have to give all the credit to the line and the other backs that were blocking for me. They’re doing the dirty work in the
Seconds after Mettler found paydirt, Southeastern’s Zack Proehl provided more fireworks. Proehl took the ensuing
kickoff 73 yards to the house, cutting the lead back to single digits at 19-13.
Newland then led his team on a 9-play, 62-yard drive that ended with a 9-yard touchdown pass to Caden Grubb … a
play that Newland kept alive with his feet. It extended Paint Valley’s lead to 27-13 with 6:45 to play in the first half.
“I thought Bryce tonight, he played as well as he has in a big game situation,” Hollon said. “He kept some plays alive
and he was efficient. Not a lot of balls on the ground.”
Southeastern, of course, had an answer.
The Panthers scored with just 1:05 left before halftime on a 25-yard run from Thurston. That score sent the game into
halftime with Paint Valley leading 27-19.
While no first half scoring drive for either team covered less than 62 yards, the second half told a different story … it
even included defense midway through the third quarter.
Southeastern scored with 7:09 left in the third when quarterback Lane Ruby scampered for 33 yards. The Panthers
then pieced together a successful two-point try, forcing a 27-27 tie.
“Southeastern’s offense is difficult to defend,” Hollon said. “You can cut it, slice it any way you want and it’s really
difficult. I told the assistant coaches when we went out for the second half that we needed two defensive stops. We got
The final score of the night came on the legs of Iann Cockrell, who put the Bearcats on top 35-27 (successful two-
point try) with a 45-yard run at the 6:23 mark in the third.
After Mettler, Newland finished the night 8-of-11 passing with 140 yards and a touchdown. Brayden Ison ended with
70 rushing yards on 16 carries, Cockrell posted a game-high 154 rushing yards on 14 attempts with the score.
For Southeastern, Thurston had 17 carries for 130 yards and two touchdowns. Mikey Nusser ended with 20 attempts
for 150 yards and a score, and Ruby completed 4-of-6 passes for 60 yards alongside 97 rushing yards and a
touchdown on 11 carries.
The Panthers will try and bounce back next week, hosting Adena, while Paint Valley travels to Westfall, attempting to
“Every week is a championship week. Just one week at a time,” Mettler said. “We’ll celebrate the win tonight but as
soon as tomorrow hits, we’re focused on Westfall.”
|Unioto’s Jamarcus Carroll staring adversity in the face … again
|Thank you Miranda Rinehart for the pictures for this article
CHILLICOTHE — A “snap” and a “pop.” When those two sounds vibrated Jamarcus Carroll’s eardrums, the junior
running back immediately knew their impact.
Needing 20-plus yards to get a first down and further preserve Unioto’s lead in the fourth quarter at Paint Valley on
Sept. 28, Carroll scrambled past the first down marker.
The chains had moved, the clock was ticking and all Carroll had to do was fall to the ground. But destiny provided a
“We were running a double-post play and I scrambled out and was running,” Carroll recalled. “A bunch of guys
started jumping on me and I tried to just go down. I went to plant my foot, a guy jumps on my back and my leg snaps
and it pops. I laid there and I tried to get up, but I couldn’t. When I tried to walk, my leg, it wouldn’t budge. So I knew
then I was out. I knew it was bad.”
So did his teammates.
“I don’t know exactly what the players felt but I think, partially, they were in shock,” Unioto assistant coach Bill Adkins
Unioto ended up falling to Paint Valley that night by a 26-21 final. But even more distressing news came after the final
whistle had blown.
Carroll’s injury was season-ending. He had torn both his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and lateral collateral
“Naturally, you feel devastated. That’s your first thing. You feel devastated for him because he’s had so much
success,” Unioto head coach Jeff Metzler said. “He has a gift that he’s able to … it’s instinctive. What he can see on
the field and how he’s able to change gears in certain situations when he’s running, plus he’s strong … it’s a gift. So
not only did I hate to see it happen to him, but naturally, our team. He’s special.”
“Special” is spot on. Heading into that fateful Friday night, Carroll had 1,094 yards rushing on 142 carries alongside
13 touchdowns. Before his injury in the fourth quarter, he had rushed for 235 yards and three more scores on 19
His 1,329 rushing yards still lead the conference — and he hasn’t played in two weeks.
“Knowing that I was having the season I was having made me cry more than the actual injury did,” Carroll said. “I knew
I was having a great season, going down in history when it happened.”
To put Carroll’s numbers into perspective, his rushing efforts through 5 ½ games would’ve led the conference in
three of the past six years. He was on pace to rush for 2,188 yards, which would’ve been the most since Adena
graduate Reid Hutchinson’s 2,340 in 2011.
Now, instead of looking for holes his offensive line has created, he’ll be focusing on a rehab stint. But if it gets him
back to normal, he’s all for it.
“If it gets me back to one-hundred percent, back to where I was, I’ll do anything it takes,” Carroll said. “Whether that’s
physical therapy or whatever, I’m going to make sure I’m back to doing what I was doing before I got hurt.”
It’s a determined mindset but coming from Carroll, not a surprising one. This isn’t the first time he’s dealt with
On Sept. 18, 2017, Carroll lost his father to an illness. Four days later, he played in Unioto’s 34-20 win over Zane
Trace … with wristbands that read “RIP Dad, 9/18/17.”
“I was thinking, ‘I’m going to go out here and do this for my dad.’ I remember they were trying to tell me when it
happened to take as much time off as I needed,” Carroll recalled. “But I knew my dad knew my love for football, so
he'd for sure want me out there. I knew I was dedicating that game to him and I did everything I could to make sure we
won that game.”
Before this fall started, Carroll dedicated his entire junior season to his father. When he suffered the injury, you can
guess the first thing that crossed his mind.
“This whole season, it was my first full football season without my dad,” Carroll said. “I wanted to do a lot for him this
year. So when I got hurt, it broke me. I couldn’t do anything anymore for him, and I know he’s watching over me. I
wanted to show him I could take this team somewhere far.”
He’ll certainly still have his chance.
As he noted, Carroll plans on being back to full health next season. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.
“If he comes back the way he was this year? Shew. Man. Just think … he had 1,300 yards in five games,” Metzler
said. “He was on the path of being the Offensive Player of the Year in multiple areas. League, district, state. He’s
positive, he’s focused. He’s always got a smile on his face and he knows what he has to do.”
For now, Carroll will focus on getting healthy and lifting up his teammates from the sidelines. After all the support
they gave him, in his mind, it’s the only option on the table.
“Those guys respect me a lot and it shows,” Carroll said. “I’ve had a lot of people come up to me, come to the house,
come to the hospital to make sure I was good. I told them, I said, ‘You guys are here for me. I’m definitely going to be
there for you guys.’”
Unioto is 5-3 overall with games against Huntington and Piketon remaining. The Shermans are currently positioned at
No. 6 in the Division IV, Region 15 playoffs.
While that’s a positive sign, it also means there’s zero margin for error without their star running back.
“I’m just letting my teammates know that I’m still here and that we still have a chance to go the playoffs. I can’t carry
the whole team,” Carroll said. “I was telling some of the guys that they have to pick it up because this is their senior
year. They should want it more than I even want it. I’m just a junior.”
If the Shermans are to qualify for the postseason, it’d mark the third straight year in which they’ve done so … it’s also
the third straight year Carroll has been on their roster.
Coincidence? Maybe not.
As Carroll continues his journey back to health, he offered some advice to those who may be going through similar
situations he’s had to deal with in his life.
“Definitely surround yourself with some good-hearted people that will bring you up and don’t get lost in your own
head,” he said. “I was definitely around good people … people who wanted to lift me up and make sure I wasn’t alone
in my head to think about that stuff.”
Even so, his dad’s voice still rings through his head … and Carroll knows what he’d tell him about life’s latest hurdle
he has to clear.
“He’d probably tell me what most people say … not to rush back,” he said with a smile on his face. “But he’d also tell
me to let it loose next year. It’s my senior year, the last year I’ll put on purple and gold. So he’d say let it loose.”
|DIFFERENT TEAM, SAME MINDSET
Tanks rolling into postseason with high hopes
|Thanks to Corby Free for the pictures
CHILLICOTHE — The taste of last year’s 1-0 Division II regional semifinal loss still tingles their taste buds, that feeling
of disappointment hasn’t gone by the wayside and the chance at redemption feels like the elephant in the room.
Needless to say, Unioto’s girls soccer team is ready to make another tournament run — only this time, the Shermans
intend to go deeper into the postseason.
Since that season-ending loss to Big Walnut last fall, coaches Cara Rathkamp and Kendra Dalton, and their 22 roster
members, have done nothing but work tirelessly in an effort to be even better than they were before.
So far, so good.
“Last year’s loss to Big Walnut was devastating but we’ve kept our heads up and worked harder since,” senior
defender Acacia Kauffman said. “This year, we’ve worked even harder and we’re determined to make it far. I believe
it’s all mental. If we believe we can do this, we can.”
The Shermans are certainly off to a good start.
They finished the regular season at 12-1-3, the loss being a 5-0 decision at the hands of New Albany. That loss,
alongside a 1-1 tie with Gahanna Lincoln and a 2-1 win over Fairfield Union, provided the plot of this year’s team story.
“I believe there were three turning points during the regular season,” Dalton said. “The tie against Gahanna Lincoln
left the girls in belief that they can play with the best competition, the New Albany loss humbled the team and the
Fairfield Union win gave the team momentum into the tournament.”
Those three games, however, aren’t the only reason why Unioto seems to be better prepared for a postseason run …
you could honestly look at its entire schedule.
When your non-conference slate features the likes of Marietta, Warren, Lancaster, Alexander, Buckeye Valley, etc.,
you simply have no choice but to get better.
How’s the saying go? You have to beat the best to be the best? Unioto has certainly done so. The Tanks’ non-
conference opponents have a combined record of 93-72-26.
“We have played quality teams who have delivered great competition, learning opportunities and have made us grow
and get better as a team,” Rathkamp said. “This is a group that has grown up playing soccer together. They have an
incredible bond with one another and they want to go to state.”
That all, of course, starts with senior Jayla Campbell … Unioto’s proverbial heart and soul. Campbell owns the Ross
County scoring record — which she’s now stretched to 103 goals — is the SVC Player of the Year, the reigning
District Player of the Year and has 18 goals this season.
Frankly, you can count the number of times on one hand during her career where she’s played in a game against a
player that’s as good as she is.
But don’t expect her to give herself that compliment.
“We all put everything we have into each game, it’s not just us seniors and a couple of other people. It’s all 22 people
and the coaches we have sitting on that bench,” Campbell said. “We are already above the level of play that we were
at this point last year. That’s what’s had me so excited to get here and go further.”
Campbell and Kauffman’s senior class could very well go down as the best in Unioto’s girls soccer history. In their four
years, the program has an overall record of 50-13-8.
And, as Campbell pointed out, Unioto has had 19 different players find the back of the net this season. Overall, the
team is out-scoring its opponents 72-20.
“I think our team has made a big mark for Unioto,” Kauffman said. “But every single girl on this team is a key player.
We’ve had lower classmen stepping up, making a big impact and it’s incredible to see that. We’ve worked hard as a
team and the fact that we’re a family makes it that much better.”
Nevertheless, every run must come to an end .. whether it’s an early loss or a state title.
“I don’t think it has really hit yet,” Campbell said. “I feel like that first game we get to when it’s close is when it’s going to
hit because if we don’t get it done, it’s over. I want to win a state championship and if any team can do that, it’s the
one I’m on now.”
But first things first … Unioto hosts Hillsboro in a Division II sectional final at 11 a.m., this Saturday. A win pits the
Tanks against Waverly or Athens in a district semifinal.
For now, they’re focused on the Indians.
“We focus on the task at hand,” Dalton said. “But we are always working towards the end goal. Coach Cara and I have
trained this team so they will peak at the correct time. The seniors and captains understand what they need to do in
order to stay focused.”
|D-III District Soccer @ Waverly
Wheelersburg 1 Westfall 0
|Pictures by Derrick Webb: Check out the
Circleville Herald for Derrick's article on
|BY THE SKIN OF THEIR PAWS
Southeastern narrowly avoids loss to Huntington, advances to district final
|Southeastern returns to Waverly Saturday to
play Zane Trace for the district championship
WAVERLY — Southeastern senior Jessica Bolte gave her team a challenge midway through Wednesday night’s
Division III district semifinal against Huntington.
Heading into the fifth and final set of the night, Bolte looked at her teammates and asked for a song choice. They, in
turn, responded with Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’.
So, if you thought you heard the Panthers’ rendition of the classic just before a race to 15 points that would decide a
winner, you weren’t hearing things.
And, as it turns out, Bolte was onto something. Her Panthers didn’t stop believing, even after falling behind 10-8 in the
fifth set, and earned a hard-fought 25-22, 23-25, 25-18, 23-25, 15-10 win.
“Every time we get down and we start singing that song, or any song anybody chooses, we’re hyped, we’re ready to
go,” Bolte said. “But when we’re down, sometimes you see that face, that face that shows we’re still focused on the last
play. We can’t do that and we didn’t do that in the fifth set tonight. It was a big win for us.”
The Panthers (22-3) have had a tendency to give head coach Jimmy Hutton mixed emotions all year long. When they
come to play, they’re really good. But when the focus isn’t there … well, if you ask Hutton, he may yet develop heart
problems because of it.
Take Wednesday for instance. After winning the third set 25-18, Southeastern dropped the fourth 25-23 and once
trailed 19-12 in that sequence.
“In the third set, they did their defensive jobs. They weren’t releasing from their base too early,” Hutton said. “But then,
we really don’t know what happened. And, in the fifth, the seniors just decided, ‘You know what, I don’t want this to be
my last game.’ So we took a big early lead and then let (Huntington) back in again.”
But to no avail, thanks to 6-foot-1 junior middle hitter Lyndsey Skeens. In the fifth, she put her team on her back and
willed them to a come-from-behind victory.
“Coming into the fifth set, it was pretty rough,” Skeens said. “We all had down faces. But whenever I started to see the
seniors cry, I told myself, ‘This can’t be the last game. I don’t want it to be.’ So we all went out there, and played as a
team and as a family.”
As did Huntington.
The Huntsmen (16-9) were relentless across the net in an attack led by seniors Riley Black, Braiden Collins and
Miranda McCloskey. That trio was helped tremendously by freshman Allison Bayse and Megan Steele. And, let’s not
forget Mica Cox defensively.
“I’m not going to lie to you, this was an ugly game for us,” Southeastern’s Skylar Hice said. “We didn’t play to the best
of our potential and coach (Tina) Magill had the Huntsmen ready to play tonight.”
Bolte led the Panthers with 19 kills while Hice added 17 kills and 29 digs. Skeens had seven kills, as did Hannah
Lougheed alongside a team-high seven aces. Setter Lauren Goebel tallied 43 assists and 21 digs, Sierra DeLong had
finished with 21 digs and Carissa Wheeler totaled four aces and eight digs.
For Huntington, Black led the way with a game-high 25 kills while McCloskey added 12 kills and 19 digs. Collins
recorded 20 digs while Alyssa Steele finished with 15 digs. Cox and Megan Steele each had 10 digs of their own.
SE advances to play Zane Trace, a straight-set winner over North Adams Wednesday, in a Division III district
championship at 4:30 p.m., Saturday back at Waverly.
The Panthers have beaten the Pioneers twice this season in four sets.
“When we’re on that court, we’re together. We’re a family,” Bolte said. “If we don’t play right, we’re gone. But if we play
together and we play right, we’re golden.”
Zane Trace cruises past North Adams, into district final
WAVERLY — Just after Wednesday night’s first set, Zane Trace coach Cyndi Davis brought her team together for a
chat and, while the Pioneers may not have discussed rainbows and butterflies, Davis’ words certainly resonated.
According to Evie Bennett, that was the turning point in a 25-22, 25-12, 25-16 straight-set sweep over North Adams in
a Division III district semifinal.
“Just coming together … we weren’t together at all during the first set,” Evie Bennett said. “Coach brings us over and
we’ll call it a little ‘pow wow,’ and we started coming together and playing a lot better.”
Hey, whatever it takes.
Trailing 19-15 in the first, the Pioneers (19-5) ripped off a 7-0 run behind Bennett and her sister Alli to take a 22-19
lead. From that point on, they never trailed North Adams (17-8) in the match.
Zane Trace opened the second set on a 19-5 run before opening the third on a 10-4 burst before effectively ending
the Green Devils’ season.
“Pretty much, we just weren’t talking or communicating (at the start),” Alli Bennett said. “(Evie) hypes me up on the
court. She gets me going.”
That could be said about everyone else around her as well. Evie, the SVC’s Defensive Player of the Year, once again
did a little bit of everything Wednesday. The ambidextrous senior finished with 14 kills, five aces, 14 digs and was 15-
of-17 from the service line.
But she had some help along the way.
Fellow senior Hannah Unger tallied eight kills and 11 digs, Alli Bennett finished with 12 kills, three blocks and seven
digs, senior Maddie Rann recorded 23 assists, seven digs and four kills, and Laynee Hill ended the night with two kills
and 15 digs.
“We came into the season last year, thinking that we were going to be kind of bad,” Alli Bennett said. “But we stepped
it up and actually played really well. This year, our freshmen have came up and have stepped up. The seniors girls
have helped all of that happen.”
Zane Trace knows its next task is not a small one. The Pioneers now face Southeastern in a Division III district final at
4:30 p.m., Saturday at Waverly.
Southeastern has beaten Zane Trace twice this season, both wins coming in four sets.
“We always make it to the point where we have to play one of the stronger SVC teams in the tournament and they’ve
handed it to us in the past,” Evie Bennett said.. “But I think this is the best team we’ve had in the last few years. We
just have to play as hard as we can. If we go down, I want to go down fighting."
|Tanks declaw Tigers,
advance to second
straight district final
LOGAN — It’s scary to think that, according to Unioto’s girls, the Shermans could’ve played better Thursday night.
In a Division II district semifinal against Waverly at Logan High School, Unioto possessed the ball for the majority of
80 minutes, continually won 50-50 balls out of the air and played touch-tight soccer.
The result was a 5-0 shutout win over the Tigers, a team that featured the likes of forwards Loren Moran and Zoiee
Smith, two forwards who came into the night with a combined 57 goals.
But even with an impressive win at the district level under their belts, the Shermans were already focused on how
they can get better … which, isn’t that the mark of a great team?
“We had the ball on our half of the field pretty much for the whole game,” senior Elayna Gunnoe said. “Our team’s
been really good this season when connecting multiple passes and going to attack. In the first half, we didn’t do as
well with that. But once we got our heads on straight, we connected passes and made things happen.”
Senior McKayla Thompson, who scored the game’s first goal just one minute and 24 seconds into the action, agreed
“That fast start was important,” Thompson said. “It’s my senior year so I wanted to give it my all. But we’re going to
have to play our game. At the beginning of the night, we weren’t doing that. We had a discussion at halftime and just
talked about calming down and being ready.”
After Thompson’s score, senior Jayla Campbell found Brandy Robinson off a free kick to make it 2-0 Tanks at the
20:03 mark in the first half. The Shermans (14-1-3) kept that lead into halftime before, as Thompson alluded to, they
had a discussion.
And whatever coaches Cara Rathkamp and Kendra Dalton said, it certainly did nothing to hurt their team.
Unioto continued to aggravated Waverly’s offense, limiting the Tigers’ chances to test goalkeeper Sydney Free —
who was, as usual, spectacular.
“Our defense tonight, I think did a pretty good job of shutting Waverly’s forwards down,” defender Sophia Garza said.
“They thought they were going to come in and get all those balls past us but we did a good job.”
While Free, who had five saves in five chances, continued to wag her finger at the Tigers, Unioto’s offense started to
settle in … which is always grim news for an opponent.
With 22:32 left in regulation, Kylee Bethel scored on a ball that ricocheted off the goalie’s hands after a magnificent
cross from Thompson. Bethel cleaned up the mess, lit up the scoreboard, and made it 3-0.
Then, Erin Callahan decided to join the party.
The sophomore striker added goals at the 10:46 and 8:24 marks to round out the final.
“I think after kind of getting used to how they were playing and how their defense was pulling up, we all worked
together and (scored),” Callahan said.
Unioto advances to play Fairfield Union — whom they’ve already beaten once this season by a 2-1 score on Oct. 9
— in a Division II district final at 3 p.m., Saturday at Jackson High School.
“I like that ball over top and I like beating those defenders to it. We need to look for that and if we do that quick
switch, Kylee (Bethel) is open, too. So we just need to work together and look for those things,” Thompson said. “We
just have to play together.”
|Thompson’s late goal sends Shermans into regional semifinals
JACKSON — The smile on McKayla Thompson’s face said all you’d need to know. It took 100 minutes and 21
seconds to put that smile there, but hey … once it happened, it was well worth the wait.
In a rematch against Fairfield Union at Jackson High School in a Division II district final, Thompson’s goal with 9:39 left
in double overtime handed Unioto a second consecutive district title.
And, as you might imagine, Thompson’s ear-to-ear smile spread like wildfire. After ending the Falcons’ season and
being mobbed by her teammates, the senior captain found her dad running towards her on the field.
She jumped into his arms and, you guessed it … nothing but more smiles.
“My dad and I have always done that every year, even during track season,” Thompson said. “He’s always been
there and supported me in everything. He’s my person.”
Saturday, McKayla Thompson was everybody’s favorite person.
Her game-winning score came off an attack near Fairfield Union’s goal where Thompson found the ball about six
yards out. From the right side, she sent a shot that ricocheted off an opposing player and snuck into the bottom left
corner of the net.
“I played with all my heart,” Thompson said. “I got hurt and I wanted to go back in. This is my last year and I wanted to
play with everything I’ve got. So I went back in and I gave it my all.”
A 1-0 win over Fairfield Union (15-3-1) is a familiar feeling. Last season, the Shermans (15-1-3) beat the Falcons to
advance to a district final.
This year, the stakes were significantly higher but nevertheless, ended with the same result.
“It feels amazing to win (a district title) again,” junior captain Kylee Bethel said. “Last year, to get into the district finals,
we had to beat (Fairfield Union) and it was the exact same score. I don’t know, it just feels incredible to be able to
continue. The conditions were hard to play in but we played through it. All of us played really well today.”
Fairfield Union certainly didn’t make it easy. With speed and physicality, the Falcons gave Unioto everything it wanted
“They kept the ball really well and they have really fast forwards up top that move a lot,” senior captain Jayla
Campbell said. “We just had to keep track of them and the girls in the middle so they couldn’t cut back. We just had
to play around them instead of playing with them because we weren’t going to win that way.”
While Fairfield Union continued to harass Unioto’s offense, the Shermans punched back with a defensive trio of their
own in defenders Abbi Seals and XiXi McKell, and of course, goalkeeper Sydney Free.
“Sydney is huge. That girl is first class,” Unioto coach Cara Rathkamp said. “She’s a fantastic leader and has been a
leader since her freshman year. She’s a positive player back there, she gets things organized and she gets the job
done. The defense also did an incredible job today and they feed off of Sydney. I thought our back line stayed very
organized today. They played as an impressive unit.”
The win sends Unioto to a Division II regional semifinal against Big Walnut in a rematch of last year’s contest at the
same level; an eventual 1-0 loss for the Shermans.
However, this year’s different. While it had experienced last year, games against teams like Big Walnut were rather
new. This season, with the schedule it’s played, Unioto knows it can play with anybody in the state.
“We’ve learned a lot since last year. We can play with teams like (Big Walnut),” Campbell said. “We’re right up there
with all of them. We can play with the big schools, too.”
Big Walnut will come into the contest at 12-2-4. The Golden Eagles have losses to New Albany (3-0) and Westerville
Central (1-0). But they’ve beaten programs like Bloom-Carroll, Canal Winchester, Hilliard Darby and Granville.
With confidence, Thompson, still smiling ear-to-ear, gave her keys advancing into a regional final.
“We all just have to play with the heart that we played with today,” she said. “We all have to play our game, play to
feet and play with everything we have.”
|Listen to reactions
from Jayla Campbell,
Kylee Bethel, and
on this week's SVC
|Click here for John Bruce's updates from Saturday
|LADY BEARCATS FALL IN DISTRICT TITLE MATCH
|Lea McFadden (PV): 7 kills, 10 asts, ace, 15 digs
Kelsey Dunn (PV): 6 kills, 3 aces, blk
Savannah Smith (PV): 4 kills, 11 asts, 2 aces, 7 digs
Olivia Smith (PV): 7 kills, 10 digs
Kayla Chapman (PV): kill, ace, dig, 2 blks
Bailey Brumfield (PV): 11 digs, kill
Abbi Stanforth (PV): 11 digs, kill, 2 asts
|In five-set win over Huntington, SE’s Skylar Hice records 1,000th dig
WAVERLY — It’s one thing to record 1,000 digs in a career ... it’s another to hit that milestone in a five-set instant
thriller with your season on the line.
But that’s exactly the route that Southeastern junior Skylar Hice took.
The do-it-all SVC Player of the Year went above 1,000 career digs during the second set of Wednesday’s five-set
win over Huntington in a Division III district semi.
Upon reaching number 1,000, Hice took a volleyball and went into the stands to find her parents Courtney and
Doug, who greeted her with hugs.
“That was such an amazing feeling to go to the people who have supported my dreams, no matter how big or
small,” Hice said. “My mom is my best friend and taught me a lot of what I know in volleyball. My dad has always
been a coach to me and taught me how to be strong, physically and mentally.”
As you might’ve guessed, Hice and defense go together like peanut butter and jelly.
“I’ve always put team goals first but this was one of my biggest goals personally coming into high school,” Hice said.
“I love playing defense. It’s my favorite part of the game.”
It makes sense.
After all, she’s the leader of Southeastern’s defense and has been for quite some time. She’s also a huge factor in
why the Panthers are headed to the regional for the third straight season.
But Hice would never say that about herself. Instead, she deflects that credit towards her teammates.
“My teammates mean everything to me, they are my family,” she said. “We don’t always get along but at the end of
the day, I know they have my back and they know I’ve got theirs. I wouldn’t be where I’m at today if it weren’t for this
So far this season, Hice has tallied 275 kills, 45 aces, 34 blocks and 330 digs ... and has a great shot at continuing
to pile onto those already ridiculous statistical totals.
At the time of the interview, Saturday’s Division III district final between her Panthers and Zane Trace was all that
was on her mind. Everything else took a backseat.
“My first goal at the moment is to win a district championship (a goal Hice and her team accomplished this past
weekend),” Hice said. “From there, I will continue to work as hard as I can day in and day out. I want my senior year
to be special and I want to be, hopefully, one of the best volleyball players to ever come out of Southeastern.”
She’s certainly on the right track.
Big Walnut ends Unioto’s regional soccer run … again
CARROLL — The feeling that enveloped Unioto’s girls Tuesday night felt all too familiar.
Exactly 364 days ago, the Shermans stood on the turf at Bloom Carroll High School thinking about the events that
had just transpired. That night, Halloween to be exact, Unioto saw its season end in a 1-0 loss to Big Walnut in a
Division II regional semifinal.
Tuesday, Unioto faced the same opponent at the same location at the same postseason level … and was handed
another season-ending loss, this time a 2-0 final.
“Big Walnut is a good team. I thought they did an excellent job keeping possession of the ball, their movement off the
ball was fantastic and I think we got a little frantic with the ball this evening,” Unioto coach Cara Rathkamp said. “We
didn’t settle in and keep the ball, keep the ball east and west. Big Walnut is going to do great things.”
The Golden Eagles (13-2-4) scored at the 52 and 21-minute marks, both goals coming off the foot of Kimberly
Serna. Unioto (15-2-3) simply couldn’t get anything going offensively, failing to find an effective rhythm a Big Walnut
The Shermans were also without sophomore Amelia Willis and senior Acacia Kauffman due to injury, who are both
regular starters. While their playing might not have flipped a loss to a win, one must think about how different of a
ballgame it might have been.
“With Amelia, we could’ve won more balls and went on the attack more,” Unioto coach Kendra Dalton said. “She is a
competitor, she is a good player. And we missed Acacia’s composure and distribution in the back.”
While last year’s loss certainly hurt, the sting of this one could possibly linger longer.
The Shermans are forced to say goodbye to a senior class that’s compiled a record of 53-14-9 during the past four
years — Kauffman, Jayla Campbell, McKayla Thompson, Elayna Gunnoe and Morgan Ramsey.
“You have five amazing girls and you can’t say enough about them,” Dalton said. “You have Elayna, a presence in
the back and a leader. You have McKayla, who is so coachable. You have Acacia, who is a leader in the back row.
And you have Morgan Ramsey, who’s always encouraging us. We’re going to miss these girls.”
Campbell possibly leaves the biggest hole to fill.
The heralded midfielder leaves the program as Ross County’s all-time leading scorer at 104 career goals — 33 in
2015, 15 in 2016, 37 in 2017 and 19 this fall. She’s also a three-time all-Ohioan, a likely two-time District Player of
the Year and the first-ever SVC Player of the Year.
Campbell’s 37 goals as a junior is a school record and she’s the only female to ever hit triple-digit scoring. She’ll be
continuing her career at the University of Findlay.
“Jayla Campbell has a great future,” Rathkamp said. “She’s an absolutely incredible player who sees the field so well.
You can play Jayla at any position and her soccer IQ is brilliant. She can finish at the net, she can defend … the
University of Findlay is lucky to have her.”
While Campbell and company leave their legacy, their teammates look towards the future … one that’s bright as long
as they put in the necessary work to get back to where they are.
“The foundation has been built,” Dalton said. “But you look to build upon that. Yes you miss a lot but you look at what
you have and you rearrange. The foundation is there where we can get into tactical play instead of working on
technical play, which is nice.”
OHSAA State Meet
KINNIKINNICK — Hannah Kerr thought her sophomore cross country season at Zane Trace had come to an end.
“My first thoughts were crazy,” Kerr said. “I didn’t think I made it in the top 20.”
Kerr, racing at the Division III regional meet at Pickerington High School needed a top 20 finish to advance to the
OHSAA State Cross Country Championships at National Trail Raceway.
She didn’t know it yet, but she had placed 16th with a finish time of 20:25.8.
“I heard an old teammate that came screaming, ‘You made it.’ My reaction was priceless,” Kerr said. “I was very
excited and I never thought I could accomplish such a big goal. Overall, I’m very excited and happy to see what goes
Kerr ran on the state course last season when Zane Trace’s girls qualified as a team. The Pioneers finished 14th in
the state and Kerr gained valuable experience.
This season, she’ll be the only representative from Kinnikinnick. Her personal best time this season was 20:09.
She’s aiming for bigger things this weekend.
“The course runs very fast and it’s very flat and smooth,” Kerr said. “But it’s been weird and different because I have
been training alone. [Teammate] Kensie Lunsford has been training with me some and I was very bummed that
Abbey Mohan didn’t make it. But I’m hoping to break twenty minutes at state and get on the school record board.
That’s one of my goals.”
While none of her teammates qualified beside Kerr, she says they have been extremely supportive … as well as
Zane Trace cross country coach Jennifer Johnston.
“My teammates are very supportive and congratulate me daily,” Kerr said. “My coach has believed in me the entire
season. She’s amazing and has timed me perfectly for peaking.”
And training with Johnston and her teammates has made Kerr love the sport even more than she did before. With
certainly a bright future ahead of her, the sophomore described what cross country means to her.
“Cross country is such a tough sport to be in because it makes you go to a dark place,” Kerr said. “Nobody is willingly
just going to run if they do not want it. My sport is everyone else’s sports punishment. That’s why this sport is special.
It changes you as a person.”
The OHSAA Cross Country State Championships are scheduled for Saturday morning, beginning at 11 a.m. Kerr’s
Division III girls race is slated to start at 1:30 p.m.
That start time is, of course, a week later than originally scheduled. The OHSAA delayed the event a week because
of course conditions.
But that change is a positive for runners like Kerr.
“At first thought, I was thinking delaying the course a week would hurt me,” Kerr said. “But I then thought some of the
top runners will drop out and run at Nike Nationals. Also, I will have another week of training to be able to be at my full
|Bearcats gearing up for postseason bout with Shadyside
|Click here for some playoff
poetry as Paint Valley looks
for another playoff win
BAINBRIDGE — Make no mistake about it … Paint Valley head football coach Pete Hollon still remembers how his
team’s 2014 season ended.
“It was probably the worst physical beatdown I’ve had any team take in 23 years,” Hollon said. “It was just one of
those nights. They had a future Division I tight end playing quarterback and they were just big, strong and physical.
It’s one of those learning moments you have.”
That night, the Bearcats fell by a 41-15 final to a stout Shadyside team that featured, as Hollon alluded to,
quarterback Austin Dorris who now sees reps as a tight end for the Indiana Hoosiers.
On a frigid night, Dorris ran for 131 yards, passed for 90 more and scored four times.
So why does any of that matter? Well … finally, Paint Valley has its chance at revenge and Hollon is salivating at the
chance to deliver the dish.
“That’s a history-rich program that (Shadyside) has there,” Hollon said. “Same coaches, lot of the names are the
same … it’s kind of like Paint Valley. They’re really well-coached. In the back of your mind, any time you get smacked
in the mouth like that, you don’t forget who does it.”
The top-seeded Bearcats (11-0) will head to Zanesville High School to face this year’s version of the Tigers (9-2) in a
Division VI, Region 23 semifinal. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m., Friday.
Leading Paint Valley into that matchup will undoubtedly be junior quarterback Bryce Newland, who comes into the
contest having completed 73-of-121 pass attempts for 1,113 yards. He’s thrown 12 touchdowns passes, compared to
just two interceptions.
“Bryce understands what we want and when we want it,” Hollon said. “He’s an excellent game manager and he’s
smart. He’s what makes us go.”
Joining Newland in the backfield will be a trio of backs in Lane Mettler, Iann Cockrell and Brayden Ison. Mettler has
rushed for 677 yards and 14 touchdowns, Cockrell has 952 yards and nine scores, and Ison is responsible for 830
yards and 12 trips to the end zone.
“We’ve got a lot of weapons,” Hollon said. “You take a kid like Macky McDonald, who had a predominant rushing role
last year, but we didn’t have any compliments to him. We felt like his role would be better suited at the wing and
catching the ball. Then, you have the emergence of Iann and Brayden (in the backfield) alongside Lane. Iann had a
solid second half of the season last year and Brayden’s kind of been our ace in the hole that people didn’t see.”
As Hollon mentioned, McDonald is one of Newland’s main receiving targets. He’s joined by Cruz McFadden, Caden
Grubb and Malique Davis.
“We’ve got four different receivers who have at least eleven catches and I’ll take that over one guy having forty
catches any day,” Hollon said. “It really allows you to open your playbook and do things you typically can’t do. Our
2003 team, we had quite a few receivers like that but we ran a spread offense. But with the way we run our offense
now, we’ve never had this.”
Paint Valley’s offense is averaging 36.4 points per game while its defense is surrendering just 13 per game. However,
the Bearcats are coming off a 39-36 shootout win over Grandview Heights.
So the key to a win this week? It’s simple: defense.
“I think it does come down to our defense,” Hollon said. “We certainly didn’t like giving up 36 points but that was an
explosive team we played last week. We had told our defensive backs that we feel like they’re our best athletes on
the field but we felt like they were passive last week. So we’ve preached to them to let their athleticism take them
where we want to go.”
Those defensive backs will be keying on quarterback Anthony Coggins, a senior that’s passed for 2,187 yards this
season while completing 137-of-221 attempts. His touchdown-interception ratio is 22-5.
Shadyside’s skill players include running backs Jacob Visnic (329 yards, six touchdowns) and Connor Banco (641
yards, 13 touchdowns), as well as receivers Kelly Hendershot (740 yards, eight touchdowns) and Sam Merryman
(466 yards, five touchdowns).
“Shadyside is kinda like us in a lot of ways,” Hollon said. “They have the ability to line it up and smash it at you but
they’ve also got a quarterback that’s over 2,000 yards passing. That’s the difference between their team now and the
team back in 2014. It’s a true spread. They have multiple receivers that can catch it and a quarterback that can sling
However, getting pressure on the quarterback will be no easy task. Coggins slashed Adena last week, in a 34-6 win,
by picking apart its pass defense and running when he felt the need.
The Bearcats will have to learn from their SVC counterpart’s mistakes and correct them.
“They do a good job sitting in their base stance,” Hollon said. “We’ve lived and died by the front five of our defense.
They’ve got to get pass rush but they’ve got to stay in their lanes. That’s where Adena really struggled last week.
Adena was able to get pressure but their lanes went away. So the kid moved up in the pocket and scrambled. Our
front five will be the difference.”
All-time, Paint Valley is 8-10 in the playoffs. The Bearcats are in the midst of their 11th trip to the postseason.
Meanwhile, Shadyside is 30-19 overall and enjoying its 14th postseason.
“We are 1-4 in these Week 12 games and we certainly want to get over the hump,” Hollon said. “We’ve preached all
week that we want to survive the first quarter. We didn’t do that in 2014. You have to survive that first quarter and
after that, it just kinda becomes a football game.”
|CAMPBELL INKS WITH OILERS
County's all-time leading scorer to play at Findlay
CHILLICOTHE — Jayla Campbell officially became a collegiate soccer player Wednesday afternoon … on paper at
Campbell, a senior at Unioto, signed her National Letter of Intent to continue her academic and athletic careers at the
University of Findlay in front of family, friends, teammates and coaches.
Her signature provided the final stroke from a brush that painted the best four-year soccer career in area history.
She’ll graduate as the county’s all-time leading scorer with 105 career goals, as a two-time Southeast District Player
of the Year and as the only Sherman soccer player — boys or girls — to ever earn all-Ohio honors on three separate
“It’s surreal. It still hasn’t sunk it that I did all of that,” Campbell said of her accomplishments. “It just feels like I was just
out there playing and didn’t really accomplish anything. I was just playing soccer. But then like, you say it all, and it’s
just crazy. There’s some really good players in this area. But I guess I’m up there (with the best).”
The fact that Unioto was ridiculously successful with Campbell at the center of its gameplans is no secret. With No. 18
on the roster, the Shermans have spent the last four years going 53-14-9 and can claim two consecutive Division II
Those two district title games still stick out in her mind.
“This year, it was in double overtime (a 1-0 win over Fairfield Union) and it was just crazy exciting,” she said. “Then
last year, Chillicothe tied it up with like five minutes left and we came back to win it (3-1).”
Her departure will certainly be a blow. But with a cast of elite-level players coming back, the Shermans will certainly
enjoy more success … and Campbell will be rooting from afar.
“They just need to work together and help each other,” Campbell said. “Instead of giving me the ball to get things
done in big games, they need to help each other get it done. I know they can.”
Even though Campbell certainly had offers on the table from several college programs, her decision to become an
Oiler wasn’t a hard one.
“It’s just beautiful up there. I love the campus and the coaches,” she said. “The way (Findlay head coach James
Walker) talked to me and made me feel … I just loved it right on the spot.”
She also won’t arrive on campus without seeing some familiar faces. While playing club soccer, she developed
friendships with Wheelersburg grad Madison Humble, who’s currently on Findlay’s roster, and will join Bishop
Watterson’s Sam Francis in the Oilers’ next freshman class.
Campbell, who’s played both the forward and midfield positions in high school, hopes to be a center or holding
midfielder at Findlay.
But in order to do that immediately, there’s work to be done.
“I have to get in there and be fit. Their fitness tests are brutal,” Campbell said. “I also need to work on my movement. I
don’t move as much when I should and I sometimes catch myself in the wrong positions at the wrong times. I just need
to play my role and not try to worry about anything else. But if I get in there and I’m fit, I feel like I could have a
starting spot if I wanted one. That’s my goal.”
|AMONG THE BEST IN THE STATE
After fall sports season, 32 SVC athletes named on All-Ohio lists
|Thanks to Corby Free and Derrick Webb for the pictures for this article
CHILLICOTHE – As always, the Scioto Valley Conference gave local sports fans something to root for deep into the
fall sports season.
Unioto’s girls soccer program made another run to a regional semifinal before finishing 15-2-3, Southeastern’s
volleyball team finished 24-4 and advanced to a second straight regional title game, and Paint Valley’s football
Bearcats went 11-1, continuing their own culture of success.
Many of those program’s players were recently adorned with postseason honors, being recognized as top athletes
not only in their conference and district, but in the state of Ohio.
Very few teams could claim wins over Southeastern this year. In fact, only two could do so before the Panthers fell in
four-sets to Tuscarawas Valley in a Division III regional final.
But two of the biggest reasons why they advanced as far as they did was setter Lauren Goebel and do-it-all junior
Goebel’s resume speaks for itself. The senior ended her career as the SVC’s all-time assists leader (2,976) and
ended this season with 933 assists – a single-season SVC record – 55 aces and 309 digs. To put that first number
in perspective, the previous SVC record was 2,570 … now 406 less than Goebel.
For those efforts, Goebel earned a third-team All-Ohio nod in Division III.
“It was more than just a label that I received,” Goebel said of the honor. “Many from my school have been honored
with these awards but I was able to actually represent my school and play in the (All-Ohio) games at Wooster High
School. It means a lot to represent a small town school that’s never noticed and I hope every athlete can have that
As for Hice, the SVC’s 2018 Player of the Year … well, there wasn’t much she didn’t do. She finished the year with
314 kills, 413 digs, 48 aces and 39 blocks. Yeah, she was everywhere.
She earned a second-team All-Ohio honor … and she’s not satisfied yet.
“It’s an absolute honor,” Hice said. “There are so many great athletes out there that never receive an award like this.
I’m blessed to have teammates, coaches, friends and family who push me all the time. One of my personal goals is to
be a first-team all-state. With hard work this offseason, hopefully I’ll be in the conversation for for first-team all-state
Hice will enter her junior year with 671 career kills, 1,089 digs, 127 aces, 100 blocks and a chance to defend her
Player of the Year title.
On Oct. 13, Unioto senior Tucker Markko ran away with an individual SVC title, literally and figuratively. Markko’s
finish time of 16:30 was 19 seconds than his closest competitor.
But his reign of dominance didn’t stop there.
He took a second-place finish in the Division II district meet on Oct. 20 at 16:35.80 and followed it up with a third-
place finish in the regional meet on Oct. 27 at 16:25.5.
Those times were good enough to earn himself an invite to the Division II state cross country meet in Hebron, Ohio
on Nov. 10. There, Markko turned in a final time of 16:49.6 and finished 17th in all of Division II, earning himself an
Any time Unioto’s Jayla Campbell is ever mentioned in southern Ohio high school soccer circles, the “greatest of all-
time” discussion has to come into play.
Campbell was the focal point of a team that beat Hillsboro (8-1), Waverly (5-0) and Fairfield Union (1-0, OT) en route
to a second consecutive Division II district championship
The uber-talented senior midfielder was named the SVC’s Player of the Year, won her second straight Southeast
District Player of the Year honor and earned a first-team All-Ohio honor as well.
The honor makes Campbell the first Unioto soccer player – boy or girl – to ever earn three All-Ohio awards. Like we
said … “greatest of all-time” discussions need to be had.
“I’m so thankful to be named All-Ohio for the third year in a row,” Campbell said. “It just makes all the hard work worth
it and now I have something to show for it.”
Campbell’s teammate, sophomore goalkeeper Sydney Free, could certainly become the second player to earn three
All-Ohio awards. She’s already on the right track by earning her first, a second-team All-Ohio nod, for her work
between the pipes this past fall.
In 20 games this season, the Shermans surrendered just 23 goals – nine of which came in two games. When the
time came for Free to step up in big moments, she routinely answered the call. Free’s all-state honor is also historic
as she becomes Unioto’s first goalkeeper to earn it.
Elsewhere, in Division III, Zane Trace goalkeeper Lily Clark also earned a second-team all-state honor as her
Pioneers finished 7-7-2. It’s the sophomore’s first All-Ohio award after a season where she gave up 33 goals against
top-tier competition including Unioto, Wheelersburg, North Adams, Waverly, Lynchburg Clay and Peebles.
Unioto’s Hayden Longcoy was the area’s lone representative on the OSSCA’s boys All-Ohio lists and, like many of
the aforementioned names, he made history in the process.
The senior became only the third defender in Unioto history to earn the the honor, a second-team nod, while his
team depended on him to guide the defense.
“As a I wrapped up my senior year of soccer, I was honored to earn second-team All-Ohio in addition to academic all-
district and two years of first-team all-district recognition,” Longcoy said. “I owe a lot to my coach, Brandon Hanes,
who really supported me and pushed me to work hard in the offseason. As a second-year team captain, my
teammates rallied behind me as well. All-state soccer recognition was my senior-year goal and I’m proud I had the
opportunity to achieve it.”
Four SVC football programs qualified for the OHSAA playoffs this past fall – Adena, Paint Valley, Southeastern and
Unioto. And deservingly so, all four of those schools were well-represented on the Ohio Prep Sportswriters
Association’s Division IV and VI All-Ohio squads.
In Division IV, Unioto’s Jamarcus Carroll was a third-team all-state honoree. Carroll’s season was cut short when he
tore both his ACL and LCL against Paint Valley in Week 6. However, up unto that point, Carroll had led the
Shermans to a 4-1 record while rushing for 1,329 yards and 16 touchdowns … and yes, that’s in 5 ½ games.
“I’m blessed to be able to receive All-Ohio,” Carroll said. “I played half of the season and got all-league, all-district
and all-state. I’m truly blessed.”
Area special mention selections in Division IV included Unioto’s Dalton Ford, Timothy Diamond and Chance Smith,
Westfall’s Zach Gibson and Jayden Hammond, and Zane Trace’s Christian Fetters and Kieran Place.
Like Carroll, Gibson also had injury issues early in the year. But he fought through them throughout his senior
“I’m grateful for the chance to play my senior year after a big shoulder surgery and months of rehab,” Gibson said. “I’
m grateful to play the game I love.”
In Division VI, Paint Valley had three first-team All-Ohio selections, a third-team honoree and two special mention
Brock Hill, Quinton Daniel and Lane Mettler were all first-team All-Ohio players after leading the Bearcats to a
Division VI, Region 23 semifinal after a 39-36 first-round win over Grandview Heights.
Joining them on the honors board was Iann Cockrell, a third-team all-state selection, and teammates Nick Mills,
Bryce Newland and Andrew Walker, who were received special mention.
Southeastern, which finished 7-4, had quarterback Lane Ruby named third-team All-Ohio while Andrew Moore,
Mikey Nusser and John Winfield were special team recipients.
Adena, which finished 7-3, also had four players mentioned on the lists. Quarterback Preston Sykes was a second-
team All-Ohioan while Caleb Foglesong, Garrett Clark and Eric Hurtt all received special mention honors.
Huntington’s quarterback-wide receiver duo of Elijah McCloskey and Seth Beeler were also included as McCloskey
earned third-team honors while Beeler was a special mention.
This award is a great honor,” McCloskey said. “But it could not be possible without my teammates, coaching staff
and my community. I play to represent the township the best way possible. I’m very blessed to be a part of
|EARLY TEST: PASSED
Tanks down Huntington in early-season showdown
CHILLICOTHE — It’s extremely early but Unioto coach Jeff Miller’s basketball-centered mind is already churning out
gameplans to win games … even if his team isn’t in midseason form.
Miller’s Shermans (2-0, 2-0 SVC) faced an early test Thursday against Huntington in conference play. And while they
may not have aced the challenge, they certainly earned a passing grade with a 45-33 win over the Huntsmen (2-1, 1-
1 SVC) at home.
“You try to treat every game one at a time, but you also have to be a realist,” Miller said. “When you look at your
schedule and start scrolling down, you see Huntington in game two and you’re like, ‘Wow, we better be ready to go.’
So we spent some time going over their stuff. Earlier in the season, it’s easier to be prepared defensively for a team
than it is to prepare offensively. I think that’s the one thing tonight we did a really good job of … we slowed them
down a bit.”
That they did and thanks, in part, to guard Hallie Pinkerton. The junior not only hit pivotal 3-point field goals in the
second and third quarters but she also tackled the task of guarding Huntington’s Braiden Collins, a prolific scorer
who opened her season with 31 and 39-point outings.
“Hallie’s a quiet kid and a very good athlete who doesn’t try to do anything she can’t do,” Miller said. “She plays her
role and she knows that we have a system here where if you’ve got your feet set and you’re on the 3-point line, let it
fly. She understands her role. Tonight, we felt like that’s the matchup we wanted. Huntington can give you some
matchup problems. They’re going to win a lot of ball games. But Hallie is a really good defender and she did a nice
Collins still led the Huntsmen with 19 points but only four of those came with Pinkerton across from her. Meanwhile,
while Pinkerton entertained Huntington’s top scorer, Unioto’s go-to player did what she always does: turned in an
extremely efficient performance.
Senior Jocie Fisher didn’t miss a shot Thursday evening, working underneath in the post.
“She’s one of the most efficient players that has come through this league in a long time,” Miller said of Fisher.
“Honestly, it’s to the point where I’m urging her to be a little more selfish. We want her to get 1-on-1 matchups and be
aggressive. I thought she was a little bit more tonight. But ever since Jocie has thrown on a uniform, she’s found ways
to be around the ball.”
Behind Fisher’s efforts, Unioto jumped out to an 8-0 lead in the first quarter while Huntington failed to score its first
bucket until the 1:41 mark. But the Huntsmen hung around, cutting the lead to 10-6 heading into the second quarter
and then two just three, at 21-18, at halftime.
In the end, though, Fisher was too much to handle in the paint while Coleman, Stulley and Pinkerton chipped in
periodically. The Shermans took a 31-18 lead on Pinkerton’s second 3 of the night before beginning the fourth
quarter with a 35-20 advantage.
Fisher finished with a game-high 23 points and was followed by Emily Coleman with eight and both Pinkerton and
Cree Stulley with six apiece.
Following Collins’ 19 points for Huntington was freshman Allison Bayse with seven and Riley Black with five.
Both Huntington and Unioto get back to action Tuesday when the Huntsmen host Adena and the Shermans host
As for things to work on, Miller said his team has plenty.
“There’s a lot of things. The one thing tonight I thought Huntington forced us into was playing a different tempo than
we wanted to play at,” Miller said. “Just the tempo itself … we’ve got to find ways to dictate the tempo the way we want
it. So that’s what we’ll be working on.”
KINNIKINNICK — Like the other side of the pillow. That’s how cool Cam Evans is under pressure.
After a season-opening shellacking suffered at the hands of Hilliard Davidson, Zane Trace’s junior guard knew his
team needed a bounce-back performance in the worst of ways … especially before Friday’s SVC opener at Unioto.
So Evans did what Evans does.
He scored 25 points, including Zane Trace’s first eight, and added six rebounds in a 45-33 win over Chillicothe.
Mission accomplished and much-needed momentum gained.
“Coming into this game, coming off that loss, we knew it was a big game,” Evans said. “We just knew that we had to
play our game. Coach [Gary Kellough] was telling us to be poised. We got sped up last game. So my game, thanks
to my teammates, I got my drives and [shots] fell.”
Kellough says he’s handed the offensive keys to Evans.
“We’ve defined roles on this team. Cam’s role and the best asset he brings to our team right now is being our main
offensive player,” Kellough said. “He’s worked hard for that opportunity. Then, of course, his overall demeanor and
love for the game … that’s what he brings to the table.”
While Evans was dropping buckets, his teammates Colby Swain and Triton Davidson were shutting down the
Swain concentrated on Cavaliers forward Jayvon Maughmer, who scored eight points, while Davidson limited 6-foot-7
post player Brandon Noel to just four after outings of 31 and 15.
“We just said, ‘Triton, take care of [Brandon] Noel and he did,” Kellough said. “That’s a good player and Triton did a
great job. Colby Swain pushes us down the floor and did a good job of guarding Maughmer.”
After the first quarter, the Pioneers (1-1) had a 12-7 edge and had forced Chillicothe guard Tre Beard onto the
bench with three early fouls.
“That was huge. It made it so Cam didn’t have to spend so much energy just chasing Tre around,” Kellough said.
With Beard spectating, it forced the Cavaliers (2-1) to solely rely on Maughmer to put the ball in the bucket. Of
course, with Swain guarding him, he was unable to do that.
In effect, Zane Trace managed to take a 25-17 lead into the break. That edge was extended to nine after three
quarters at 33-24, before Evans got some help from Davidson on the offensive end down the stretch to put the game
“We just have to keep our momentum going, slowing the game down and getting the ball to the blocks when we need
to,” Evans said. “I think the momentum from this game, coming in and getting the ‘W’, really helps us get into the flow
for Friday. We just have to come out and perform.”
Friday, the Pioneers travel to Unioto to face the Shermans … who are five-time defending conference champions
and winners of four consecutive gold balls.
In last year’s first meeting between the two teams, Zane Trace had a shot to knock off Unioto but instead fell in a 47-
46 decision. The Shermans then ripped off 13 more league victories to extend their SVC record winning streak to 69
The difference in last year and this year’s team under Kellough?
“Maturity and knowledge in our program. That’s the difference,” Kellough said. “We’re going to defend Unioto,
number one, and we’re going to execute and score even better than we did tonight.”
Chillicothe: 7-10-7-9 — 33
Zane Trace: 12-13-8-12 — 45
Chillicothe: 15-49 FG, 0-0 FT, 3-14 3pt. (Beard 3), 25 rebounds (Noel 11), 11 turnovers, 7 assists (Postage
3). Scoring: Beard 11, Maughmer 8, Roper 6, Noel 4, Postage 2, Harris 2.
Zane Trace: 19-45 FG, 5-9 FT, 2-5 3pt. (Johnson 1, Evans 1), 26 rebounds (Davidson 8), 6 turnovers, 9
assists (Nesser 3, Swain 3). Scoring: Evans 25, Davidson 10, Johnson 5, Nesser 4, Swain 1.
Evans’ 25 points lifts Pioneers over Chillicothe
|Unioto out to fast start, sitting undefeated in SVC action
CHILLICOTHE — Unioto coach Jeff Miller knew he had something special two years ago.
With a freshman class that included Emily Coleman, Cree Stulley, Amber Cottrill, Alexis Miller, Hallie Pinkerton and
Jerzi Paul, he’d have been blind if he didn’t see the potential.
That year, the Shermans went 17-7 overall — mind you, that’s after a 5-18 campaign a year earlier — and finished
second in the SVC to Southeastern. Last winter, that group took the next step forward, earning a shared conference
title by posting a 19-5 mark.
The progression had been made but, most of all, the future’s foundation had been built.
Those same names, alongside seniors Jocie Fisher and Amanda McGlone, have Unioto out to a fast start this
season with wins over Zane Trace, Huntington, Paint Valley and Adena.
And you can bet your bottom dollar there’s more victories on the horizon. The future is now.
“I think we’ve had a pretty good start,” Fisher said. “It was big for us to beat Huntington right out of the gate in game
two and I think we’ve done a good job of coming out and playing fast, no matter who we’re playing. We’ve also done
a good job at keeping a team approach every game. Playing as a team and everyone doing their part is what’s most
At 4-1 overall, the season is certainly still young. The Shermans’ only loss is to Vinton County, a 43-39 loss that
But that’s something they’re sure to learn from … especially with their competitive nature.
“The best part of this year’s team has to be the chemistry we have together,” Coleman said. “We all get along super
well, both on and off the court. Since we’re so close, it makes everything we do fun and, if you’re having fun,
everyone plays better. I love how we’re all so competitive with each other and how we all have the want to win.”
Fisher and Coleman are two huge reasons why Unioto is where it is. Fisher has been a model of consistency
throughout her career while Coleman keeps the engines running.
So far, Fisher is averaging 19.2 points and 7.5 rebounds per game — a jump from 13.7 and 9.2 a year ago. That
type of production is expected out of the senior and she’s well aware.
She’s also the first to tell you it isn’t just her stat line that makes the Shermans so dangerous.
“I’ve always been really competitive and wanted to win, so going into each game, I just do my best to work hard, do
my job and take it one game at a time,” Fisher said. “Our guard play makes us such a well-rounded team, offensively
and defensively. It makes us harder to defend. The guards do such a good job at driving the lane and drawing
defenders, which opens up holes for me.”
Coleman is at 10.2 points per game, alongside 4.1 rebounds and 3.3 assists. Those numbers are a product of, as
Fisher eluded to, attacking the bucket and looking for open teammates.
But she enjoys making her living off nagging opposing ball-handlers.
“Coach Miller’s message to the team this year has been to play fast, be in attack mode, play together and play within
yourself,” Coleman said. “My favorite part of the game has to be defense. It’s always just been fun for me and I like
how it transitions to the offensive side of the game. Defense sets the tempo.”
Of course, when you pair Fisher and Coleman’s numbers with those of their teammates, you get a well-oiled
offensive, and defensive, machine.
Although early, Unioto is undoubtedly the favorite to win the SVC. But then it’s tournament time, where the program
has been knocked out early in the each of the past three seasons.
According to Coleman, there’s a way to fix that.
“It’s early, but there’s no question that every practice this year is ten times better than the practices we had last
year,” she said. “We’re challenging each other more, which makes everything feel more game-like. I believe that if
we stay together and reach our full potential, we’ll go further than last year.”
It’s as simple as that.
|Catching up with Piketon's Brett Coreno
PIKETON — In terms of basketball alone, Piketon girls coach Brett Coreno has always been one of the best coaches
to grace the court in the Scioto Valley Conference.
But more importantly, he’s also always been known as a coach that cares for his players like their his own daughters.
If you’ve watched Coreno coach, you’ve certainly noticed his fun-to-watch, high-stress antics on the Redstreaks’
bench. And if you talk to him after any game, he’s just as animated, nitpicking each part of the game, breaking down
plays one by one and obsessing over the details.
Why do you think Piketon is habitually a double-digit win team?
Through nine games this season, the Redstreaks are 6-3 overall with a 3-3 mark in the SVC.
While there’s room for improvement, Coreno says his girls have already exceeded expectations.
I had the chance to catch up with Coreno and to ask him about his team’s early success this year, who’s filling the void
left by graduated point guard Avery Reuter, the development of all-conference guard Gracie Lightle and much more.
Question: After losing leadership from last year’s team, how have your girls made adjustments and,
although early, what have your takeaways from this year’s team been?
Brett Coreno: “Winning six of our first seven was a pleasant surprise because my girls play so darn hard. Over the last
two years, we’ve lost Kara (Blanton), who I think was one of the best post players in the league, and (point guard)
Avery Reuter, who ran the show for us. We’ve put Brianna (Odel) at point guard this year and she’s done a great job.
But she’s still not a point guard. So it’s a big adjustment for her to make. Early, we’ve played some tough teams …
Huntington, Unioto … They’ve exploited some of our weaknesses but our kids are working on them. This team never
ceases to amaze me. We practice everyday and see what happens but they bust their butts. Right now, are we
surpassing expectations? Absolutely.”
Q: Ally Crothers if off to a hot start. She’s picked up some of the scoring slack and seems to have really
developed into a go-to player. What’s been the key to that progression?
Coreno: “Number one, it’s her level of confidence. Once she got going, she knew she could do it and she’s doing it.
She can go outside or inside. But in her own head, that’s the thing with her. Luckily for us, in our first game, Ally got off
to a nice start and she’s having a very solid year. She’s averaging around 13 or 14 points per game and that
compliments Gracie (Lightle). She had 24 points against Eastern and she’s really picked it up since. That’s not just on
the offensive end, but defensively as well.”
Q: Speaking of Gracie Lightle, she’s been your go-to scorer for two seasons now. But she’s struggled at
times this year. Is it just a matter of ‘keep shooting and they’ll fall’ for her?
Coreno: “Absolutely it is. To begin with, she’s moved up in the scouting report every night. She’s got the number one
defender on her and the opponent’s game plan is centered around her. Last year, that was Avery. Two years ago,
that was Kara. What you have that, it’s much harder to get your game going, so she’s been in a little bit of a lull lately.
We’ve just told her to let the game come to her, set it up for her teammates and because of that, the game will come
back to her. She’s taking 14 to 19 shots a game, she’s just not used to the having the best defender on her. But she’s
slowly and surely doing it. I have no doubt that she’ll get there.”
Q: We talk about Ally, Gracie and Brianna and we’re talking about three guards. Since Kara graduated,
Piketon hasn’t really had a well-sized ‘big’ in the post. You’ve kind of had to adapt with what you’ve had.
You can’t coach size. So how do you find success without it?
Coreno: “You’ve got to talk to your kids about different roles and a different set of expectations on them. They have to
get used to that and they’ve done that very well. We start a 5-foot-6 center in Camryn Alexander. I’m telling you right
now, if you ask anyone that goes against her, she plays like she’s 6-foot-5. She plays tough, bodies up and runs the
floor for us. If I could pick one girl to start at 5-foot-6, it’s her. She’s setting the screens and setting the pace physically
down low. I’ve told her, I’ve said, ‘Cam, I don’t care if you score. I want you to get the rebound. I don’t want the girl you’
re guarding to get the rebound.’ She does things that people don’t see. We see it. And if we see it, she’s going to play.
To her, that’s what matters most.”
Q: You’ve always been a great ‘coach.’ But you’ve always been a great person as well. You can see that
you care about your kids and that you take an interest in their lives. What’s the key to balancing both of
those roles, coach and role model?
Coreno: “In this profession, you have to have thick skin. At some point in the year, each kid isn’t going to like you. I
always ask my kids, ‘Do you like your mom and dad all the time?’ They always say, ‘No.’ And I’ll say, ‘Then you’re not
going to like me all the time either. I have to tell you the truth and sometimes, that’s something you don’t want to hear.’
But if that’s coming from a good spot in your heart, they’re going to take that and run. They’re going to play for you, as
a coach. I make sure I get to know the kids and they know I love them all. But as a coach, I’ve got to make decisions
based on what’s best for us as a team. At the end of the day, they know I have their backs. We’re not in this gym
together because we have to be, we’re in here, together, because we want to be.”
|FRIDAY NIGHT SVC HOOPS
Defense, balanced scoring help
Redstreaks declaw Bearcats
BAINBRIDGE — When Piketon plays defense, limits turnovers and Alex Blanton hits double-digit scoring figures, the
Redstreaks are pretty darn good.
The Redstreaks (7-7, 4-4 SVC) earned a 59-36 win over Paint Valley Friday evening … one where they held the
Bearcats (6-6, 4-4 SVC) to 16-of-44 shooting, committed just 11 turnovers and Blanton scored 18 points.
In the two teams’ first meeting, Paint Valley beat Piketon 70-60. Don’t think for a second that wasn’t on the Redstreaks’
“I got in foul trouble early and when I came back in, I had to do something to turn on it,” Blanton said. “We knew they
beat us earlier in the season and we had to get revenge. We had to. It’s a big tournament seeding game for us.”
While the Bearcats struggled to find the bottom of the net, Piketon’s offense had no trouble scoring in transition. In
total, eight different Redstreaks scored and five had five points or more.
“It’s taken us a little time to figure out things here offensively. We have such a dynamic player in Alex Blanton, who can
really shake free from just about anybody,” Legg said. “He can probably get a decent look every time he comes down.
So at the beginning of the year, we were playing more wide open and trying to get the floor spaced out for him. But
that doesn’t play to the strength of a lot of our other guys. Now, our offense is giving us different looks. We still have a
lot of work to do, but we’ve got a lot of time to improve as well.”
And it’s always a positive when your offense is complemented by defense. Led by Scott Lightle, who held Paint Valley’s
Bryce Newland to seven points, the Redstreaks forced 20 turnovers.
“All year, I’ve thought our guard play on defense … we’ve had the pressure on the ball that we want. That’s what we’ve
been known for. But everywhere else off the ball, we’ve been bad all year long,” Legg said. “We’re a little bit bigger this
year. But it’s never easy holding a guy like Bryce Newland to seven points. But Scott Lightle tonight … we straight up
told him that he had a tough challenge tonight coming in. Had had to step up and he did tonight for us.”
Tale of the tape
Newland got the scoring started with 7:42 left in the first quarter before Tyree Harris got the Redstreaks on the board,
hitting one of two free throws. Piketon tooks its first lead with 3:46 left before ending the first with a 9-7 lead behind
four points from Blanton.
In the second, Scott Lightle made it 13-9 before Breyton Jones hit back-to-back putbacks, extending the lead to 17-11
at the 3:54 mark. By halftime, Piketon’s lead was five at 21-16.
But after the break, the ‘Streaks created separation with a 7-2 run, seizing a 36-29 lead with 1:34 to go before the start
of the fourth. Piketon then ended the third on a 6-0 run, led by Blanton, taking a 42-29 advantage into the fourth.
From that point, the lead continued to extend as Piketon’s defense continued to stifle any attempt of a comeback.
Blanton led all scorers with 18 points alongside four rebounds and a pair of assists. Harris added 11 points and five
boards while Breyton Jones added six points and three rebounds. Logan Nichols also did his part, scoring eight points
alongside a team-high four assists.
For Paint Valley, Hamlin led the team with 14 points and five rebounds while Newland added seven points, five boards
and three dimes. Cordell Grubb finished with eight points and seven rebounds, and Cruz McFadden added a team-
high five rebounds.
What’s on tap
Piketon will be back in action Jan. 18, traveling to Adena before a home date with Unioto. As for Paint Valley, the
Bearcats will attempt to bounce back Saturday night, hosting Western.
“We’ve got a tough week next week,” Legg said. “Real tough week. Adena and Unioto are both playing well. But every
night is a battle. That’s how it’s been all year for us. But for us to keep tonight’s lead shows me that we’re learning and
we’re growing as a team.”
Piketon: 7-14-21-17 — 59
Paint Valley: 9-7-13-7 — 36
Piketon: 27-56 FG, 4-5 FT, 1-7 3pt. (Blanton 1), 24 rebounds (Harris 5), 11 turnovers, 10 assists (Nichols 4).
Scoring: Blanton 18, Harris 11, Jones 6, Lightle 6, Nichols 6, Leedy 4, Thacker 4, Chandler 4.
Paint Valley: 16-44 FG, 0-0 FT, 4-13 3pt. (Grubb 2), 24 rebounds (Grubb 7), 20 turnovers, 11 assists
(McFadden 5). Scoring: Hamlin 14, Grubb 8, Newland 7, Bevans 4, McFadden 3.
|Beeler, Snyder pick up McCloskey in Huntington's win over Northwest
CHILLICOTHE — When Elijah McCloskey is held to just three points in a ballgame, usually, that spells out trouble for
In fact, if you would’ve told Northwest that McCloskey was going to be held under 10 points in Tuesday’s non-league
battle, the Mohawks would’ve jumped for joy.
Unfortunately for the Mohawks, however, McCloskey’s teammates Seth Beeler and Nate Snyder were present to pick
up his slack, scoring a combined 45 points. That duo’s production was ultimately the source of Northwest’s doom in a
55-40 loss on the road.
“It was good to see,” Huntington coach Eric Snyder said. “We’ve been trying to get other guys to step up. The way
things happened, we had to have different guys do that tonight. Seth had a great game, he took charge, and Nate had
a nice night, too. Those guys lived in the paint a lot during the second half. It was good to have them step up and get
settled back in.”
While Beeler and Snyder took advantage of their scoring opportunities at will, they received them thanks to the
relentless defense of Northwest’s Brayden Campbell.
Campbell, a freshman, was relentless in his hounding of McCloskey. The Mohawks, playing a box-and-one, denied
Huntington’s star guard at all costs and used Campbell to do so.
Last week, Campbell held Wheelersburg’s Tanner Holden to seven points. After McCloskey scored 44 points in a
game last weekend, Campbell didn’t allow him to hit a single field goal.
“The kid did a good job on Elijah. But that’s the thing … teams are going to do all kinds of special things to stop
[McCloskey],” Snyder said. “So moving forward, we’re going to have to have everybody else contributing. That makes
it harder for anybody to focus on just one guy. It’s got to happen.”
Tale of the tape
Beeler hit the game’s first field goal, a 3, to give Huntington (5-12) an early 6-2 lead. Northwest’s Braden Borens
answered with a 3 of his own, cutting the lead to 6-5. The Huntsmen then went on a 6-0 run, led by Snyder, before
taking a 12-7 advantage into the second quarter.
Throughout the rest of the first half, both teams struggled mightily to put the ball in the basket.
Snyder hit another 3 with 2:33 left, making it 19-9, before his Huntsmen took a 21-11 edge into the break after winning
the second quarter by a 9-4 margin.
In the third, Huntington built a 28-13 lead before heading into the final eight minutes up 31-18. The Mohawks (1-14)
then ripped off an 8-1 run, cutting the lead to 32-26, but mental mistakes down the stretch allowed Huntington to
answer with a 7-0 run, ultimately pulling away for good.
McClay led Northwest with 14 points and eight rebounds while Crabtree added 10 points, four boards and three
assists. Borens finished with seven points while Timmy Emmons grabbed seven rebounds.
Beeler paced the Huntsmen with 26 points while Snyder followed with 19 of his own. DJ Kinzer ended the evening with
seven rebounds and a team-high two assists.
What’s on tap
Huntington will attempt to get another win, welcoming Adena to the Township Friday evening.
“In our first game against Adena, it was a really good battle,” Snyder said. “But we have to make sure we’re locked in
because they have five different kids that can score and do a lot of different things. That’s something we’re going to
have to be focused on.”
Northwest: 7-4-7-22 — 40
Huntington: 12-9-10-24 — 55
Northwest: 14-48 FG, 9-13 FT, 3-15 3pt. (McClay 2), 29 rebounds (McClay 8), 16 turnovers, 3 assists
(Crabtree 3). Scoring: McClay 14, Crabtree 10, Borens 7, Campbell 5, Emmons 2, Hall 2.
Huntington: 16-42 FG, 20-26 FT, 3-19 3pt. (Snyder 2), 25 rebounds (Kinzer 7), 9 turnovers, 4 assists (Kinzer
2, Fisher 2). Scoring: Beeler 26, Snyder 19, Haubeil 5, McCloskey 3, Kinzer 2.
|HUNTSMEN BEAT CLAY, WIN FOURTH STRAIGHT GAME
McCloskey posts double-double while getting help from teammates
Making a deep tournament run, in any sport and whether it be as a favorite or an underdog requires peaking at the
right time. Don’t look now but with postseason play less than two weeks away, Huntington has won four straight games.
The Huntsmen (8-12) took Portsmouth Clay to the woodshed Saturday evening, winning a game they never trailed in
by a 59-35 final.
The recipe to success included the same ingredients the Huntsmen have mixed in the last three wins: ball security,
evenly distributed scoring duties and strong defense as a whole.
“First and foremost, it’s unselfishness,” Huntington coach Eric Snyder said. “When you look at the past couple of weeks
where we’ve been on this run, it’s been different people every night. So the spreading of the wealth offensively has
been huge. And, of course, our defense has been pretty, pretty good. You mix those two things together and good
Good things certainly happened Saturday night, starting with the play of senior leader Elijah McCloskey. The
Huntsmen’ do-it-all guard got going early before ending the night with 16 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists … and
he sat out most of the fourth quarter.
But McCloskey’s efforts were aided by teammates Canaan Knoles, Nate Snyder and Jonathan Fisher, among others.
McCloskey receiving help in the scoring column has become a common theme, which is music to Snyder’s ears.
“It’s a gamechanger because, when we’re playing teams that want to focus on stopping Elijah, you might be playing
with fire now,” Snyder said. “It relieves the pressure off Elijah. Tournament basketball is a whole different animal.
Teams are going to find a way to at least contain one scorer. That’s why it’s so important for other guys to step up into
Tale of the tape
Huntington’s DJ Kinzer got the night’s scoring started with 7:18 left in the first quarter. From there, Nate Snyder added
a 3 at the 6:26 mark before McCloskey scored with 5:29 left, giving the Huntsmen a 7-2 lead.
Clay battled back, embarking on a 9-4 run to tie the game at 11-11, but Huntington answered with a 7-4 run as
McCloskey ended the quarter with a triple, putting the Huntsmen up 18-15.
Clay’s Reece Whitley brought the deficit back to one at 18-17 with 6:07 left in the second but the Huntsmen ripped off
a 9-0 run, sparked by two 3’s from Snyder and McCloskey, going up 27-17 before taking a 29-21 lead into halftime.
In the third, the Huntsmen pulled away even further, winning the quarter 11-4 and taking a 40-25 lead into the final
After McCloskey’s 16 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists, Knoles added 10 points and six rebounds. Snyder scored
nine points and tallied three assists, Fisher finished with seven points and three boards, and Beeler ended the night
with five points.
What’s on tap
Next up for the Huntsmen is a makeup date at Adena this coming Tuesday. Huntington then ends its regular season
next Friday with a trip to Paint Valley.
“We’ve got to make sure that their big two, [Zach] Fout and [Caleb] Foglesong in the middle don’t have career nights,”
Snyder said. “You can’t let one of them go off for 25 or whatever. So we’ve got to contain them, make them earn their
points and rebound the basketball.”
Clay: 15-6-4-10 — 35
Huntington: 18-11-11-19 — 59
Clay: 12-39 FG, 8-12 FT, 3-17 3pt. (Hudson 2), 26 rebounds (Whitley 4, Mathias 4), 16 turnovers, 2 assists
(Newton 1, Cottle 1). Scoring: Hudson 8, Mathias 8, Malone 7, Newton 6, Whitley 4, Baegan 1, Moore 1.
Huntington: 22-42 FG, 8-17 FT, 7-20 3pt. (McCloskey 2, Snyder 2), 29 rebounds (McCloskey 9), 9 turnovers,
16 assists (McCloskey 7). Scoring: McCloskey 16, Knoles 10, Snyder 9, Fisher 7, Beeler 5, Kinzer 4, Roop 3,
Cox 2, Haines 2, Haubeil 1.
|REDSTREAKS FALL TO SOUTH WEBSTER IN SECTIONAL SEMIS
Lightle, Odel, Crothers, Alexander end careers as Redstreaks
LUCASVILLE — Brick by brick, Piketon has built the foundation of a winning program.
Each year, the Redstreaks’ seniors continue to carry a torch left by their predecessors … a torch that signifies blood,
sweat and tears put in went nobody else is looking.
This year’s senior class saw their careers ends Monday evening in a 44-38 loss to South Webster in a Division III
sectional semifinal at Valley High School.
But all season long — brick by brick — Gracie Lightle, Brianna Odel, Ally Crothers and Camryn Alexander kept building
a program that seems destined for sucess no matter the cicrumstances.
“The four seniors leave a legacy of even though you may not be the tallest on the floor, or the most athletic, you can
still get the job done,” Coreno said. “They settled in four bricks for our program’s foundation. Those bricks aren’t going
anywhere. They’ve got concrete in between them. That’s a good legacy to leave. You don’t have to say too many
words verbally. They led by their actions.”
Coming into the year, Coreno admitted he expected six to eight wins out of this group. His girls exceeded those
expectations in abundance.
“They overachieved and that’s all them. That’s all them wanting to get better and giving every ounce of sweat out of
their bodies that they can,” Coreno said. “That’s what’s been going on here for 11 years.”
The loss of the four seniors will certainly be felt. But that doesn’t mean Piketon’s future is dim. The Redstreaks have a
plethora of young talent waiting in the wings … and remember, they learned the ropes from players like Lightle, Odel,
Crothers and Alexander.
That’s got to count for something.
“We have a lot of young kids, who we played tonight,” Coreno said. “So that year of experience on varsity is just huge.
You can’t tell someone what it’s going to be like. You have to go through it. So we got that year out of the way. We’re
looking forward to spring ball in a couple months.”
Tale of the tape
The Redstreaks came out of the gate firing Monday night. Behind a 3 from junior Ally Ritchie and two putbacks from
Brianna Odel, Piketon grabbed a 9-2 lead with 3:58 left in the first quarter. But at that moment, South Webster called
upon post players Maddie Cook and Bailey Cox to enter the game, shifting momentum.
That duo kept the Jeeps in the ballgame, cutting the lead to just two at halftime, 19-17.
“We knew it was going to be a handful with those two bigs in the middle,” Coreno said of Cook and Cox. “We knew we
couldn’t stop everything so when they started hitting smoe outside shots, that’s when we had the conundrum. We
chose to stay with the bigs.”
That decision gave SW’s Bri Claxon the chance to shine.
Trailing 21-17 with 7:10 to go in the third, Claxon tied the score with back-to-back buckets before Cook gave the Jeeps
their first lead of the night at 23-21 at the 5:37 mark. Then, with the game tied at 24, Claxon led an 8-0 run as South
Webster take full control, 32-24.
Lightle then hit two free throws and Odel scored again, cutting the lead to 32-28 heading to the fourth. With 4:34 left in
regulation, Lightle dialed long distance to cut the lead to 36-34 … but that was as close as the Redstreaks came to
regaining an edge.
Down the stretch, the Jeeps remained relentless on the glass and hit needed shots to put the win on ice.
Claxon led South Webster (9-13) with 14 points while Cook added 10 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. Cox
finished with eight points and 10 rebounds, and Karli Montgomery ended the night with two points and five rebounds.
For Piketon, Lightle had 14 points and four boards, Odel added 11 points and a team-high six rebounds, and Ritchie
ended with five points and four boards.
South Webster: 6-11-15-8 — 44
Piketon: 10-9-9-10 — 38
South Webster: 17-41 FG, 9-13 FT, 1-9 3pt. (Claxon 1), 43 rebounds (Cook 11), 26 turnovers, 7 assists
(Hornikel 3). Scoring: Claxon 14, Cook 10, Cox 8, Maloney 4, Ka. Montgomery 2, Hornikel 2, Stephens 2, Ke.
Piketon: 12-53 FG, 10-18 FT, 4-18 3pt. (Lightle 1, Odel 1, Ritchie 1, Little 1), 23 rebounds (Odel 6), 10
turnovers, 6 assists (Odel 2, Wagner 2). Scoring: Lightle 14, Odel 11, Ritchie 5, Little 4, Crothers 2, Wagner
|SHOOTING WOES DOOMS UNIOTO
IN DISTRICT SEMIFINAL LOSS
|Tanks shoot 8-of-40 from field, 12-of-28 from FT line
CHILLICOTHE — Games are won and lost at the free throw line. When you shoot 43 percent from the charity stripe,
chances are, you’re not going to win a lot of games.
Unioto’s Achilles’ heel this season has been free throw shooting, but the Shermans’ talent has usually been able to
outweigh one of the team’s few negative attributes.
However, in Wednesday’s Division II district semifinal matchup with Sheridan — where the Shermans shot 12-of-28
from the line — that wasn’t the case and, in effect, Unioto saw its season end by a 35-31 final.
“Let’s call a spade a spade. Free throw shooting hasn’t been a strength for us all year,” Unioto coach Jeff Miller said.
“It’s one of those things where it’s repetition, repetition, repetition. We’ve tried different things. We’ve tried to shoot
them in bulk, not as many at times … tonight was one of those situations where if we hit five or six more, we probably
win the ballgame.”
In general, throughout all 32 minutes, the game was nip and tuck. The largest lead either team had was five points
while both programs’ benches went eight to nine deep.
The Generals (22-2) used depth to make the Shermans (21-3) look deeper on their bench than they normally do. But
that’s something Miller’s crew had been warned of.
At one time or another, Amanda McGlone, Alexis Miller, Avery Miller, Erin Callahan and Jerzi Paul all had their number
“That’s their style. That’s what they do. We prepared for that,” Miller said. “If you’re not communicating on subs, and
all of the sudden you lose kids, you’re going to pay. We had to counter that with some more subbing of their own.”
The loss forces Unioto to bid farewell to two seniors in McGlone and all-conference center Jocie Fisher. While
McGlone contributed with valuable minutes off the bench all season long, Fisher led the team in scoring and
rebounding with averages of 16.3 points and 9.1 rebounds per night.
“What I told Jocie and Amanda is that I can remember them running around in third grade in Unioto uniforms,” Miller
said. “Now, here we are, sitting in the locker room after their last high school game. I can’t say enough good things
about those two kids. It says a lot, just for the simple fact that when they were in the third grade, there were 18 kids.
There’s two left from that class, and it’s them. You’re talking about two kids who are outstanding in everything they do.”
Tale of the tape
Amber Cottrill’s 3-point field goal with 7:24 left in the first quarter got the night’s scoring started and gave the
Shermans an early lead. But Sheridan fought back with an 8-2 run, taking an 8-5 lead with 4:36 left to play before the
Shermans ended the quarter on a 7-1 run, grabbing a 12-9 advantage heading into the second.
Neither team lit up the scoreboard in the second as defense became the focal point. The Generals took a 17-15 lead
with just 42.9 seconds left before taking a 17-16 lead into the break.
When Cree Stulley began the third with a bucket at the 6:32 mark, Unioto went back in front. Sheridan then went on an
5-2 run, going up 23-20, before Callahan tied the game at 23 with her only points of the night at 41.2 seconds.
In the fourth, Stulley gave the Shermans 25-23 lead with 7:24 remaining. But that was the last lead Unioto saw. The
Generals ripped off a 7-0 run, taking a 30-25 edge, and found just enough success at the free throw line to put the
Stulley and Emily Coleman each had seven points on the night while Fisher had six and a game-high 12 rebounds.
Cottrill added five points and six boards, and Alexis Miller hit a 3.
For Sheridan, Sydney Cooperrider had 12 points and seven rebounds while Faith Stinson added eight points and 10
boards. Kendyl Mick also helped out with six points, seven rebounds and three assists.
What’s on tap
While the loss of Fisher and McGlone will certainly leave a void, the Shermans welcome back four starters and a cast
of role players who will immediately contribute next season.
“You’re always thinking future,” Miller said. “We have a lot of returning players and we’re really close to where we want
to be. It’s just the little things we’re going to have to work on this summer so we can try and take the next step.”
Unioto: 12-4-7-8 — 31
Sheridan: 9-8-6-12 — 35
Unioto: 8-38 FG, 12-28 FT, 3-9 3pt., 28 rebounds (Fisher 12), 10 turnovers, 4 assists (Coleman 2). Scoring:
Stulley 7, Coleman 7, Fisher 6, Cottrill 5, Al. Miller 3, Callahan 2, Av. Miller 1.
Sheridan: 10-40 FG, 12-22 FT, 3-19 3pt., 32 rebounds (Stinson 10), 12 turnovers, 7 assists (Mick 3). Scoring:
Cooperrider 12, Stinson 8, Mick 6, White 3, Beckstedt 3, Conrad 2, Montgomery 1.
|ADENA ESCAPES UPSET BID,
PUNCHES TICKET TO CONVO
Warriors rally from double-digit deficit to top Portsmouth
WAVERLY — For quite some time, and maybe even still, Portsmouth had Adena on its heels Friday night in a Division
III sectional final at Waverly’s Downtown Arena.
The Trojans gave the top-seeded Warriors everything they wanted … and then some … by starting fast, playing tight
defense and embracing the underdog role.
An underdog that’s playing emotionally and knocking down its shots can be extremely dangerous. But luckily for the
Warriors, Friday wasn’t the night they’d be knocked off.
In the end, Adena adjusted accordingly and overcame a double-digit deficit to pull out a 57-54 win. The Warriors are
officially Convo bound, the first — and for now, only — Scioto Valley Conference program to be able to make that
claim this season.
“First of all, I want to give Portsmouth credit because they played really good defense coming out,” senior Zach Fout
said. “They get up in you and they make you turn the ball over. But we just played our hearts out. We struggled in the
first half, but in the second, we cranked it up.”
Point guard Preston Sykes said a recent loss could’ve helped the Warriors get over the hump.
“I think our Huntington game last week kind of helped us,” Sykes said. “We faced some adversity that night and we
hadn’t really had much this year. The tournament type of defense that’s called, I feel like it was hard to get used to.
But we adjusted real well to that in the second half.”
Tale of the tape
Miles Shipp put the Trojans on the board first before Adena’s Logan Bennett, who was extremely active early, tied the
score with 6:52 left in the first quarter. When Danny Lattimore gave Portsmouth a 5-4 edge at the 4:30 mark, the
Trojans didn’t trail again until the fourth.
After taking a 15-9 lead into the second, a 30-22 lead into halftime, and a 42-36 advantage into the final eight
minutes, the Warriors’ offense woke up in the fourth.
Portsmouth’s Matthew Fraulini hit a 3 with 3:39 remaining, putting the Trojans in front at 49-44. But Bennett and and
Preston Sykes simply couldn’t miss. Bennett cut the lead to 49-47 with a 3-ball at the 3:02 mark before Sykes cut the
lead to one, at 51-50, with 2:22 to go.
On the other end, Fraulini hit two free throws to put the Trojans back in front at 53-50, but Sykes drilled another deep
ball with 1:15 remaining to tie the score. After forcing a turnover, Adena’s Zach Fout hit two free throws with 59.4
seconds left, giving the Warriors their first lead since the 4:49 mark in the first quarter.
Over the final minute stretch, Adena hit two additional free throws to make it 57-54 before Portsmouth’s last minute 3-
point attempt clanked off the rim.
Sykes had a team-high 18 points alongside five assists while Bennett added 16 points and six rebounds. Fout ended
with 15 points and six rebounds, and Jacob Shipley had six points.
For Portsmouth, Shipp ended the night with 15 points and five boards, Lattimore had 14 points, five rebounds and
four assists, and Fraulini led all scorers with 20 points.
What’s on tap
Adena advances to take on Ironton, a 44-25 winner over Oak Hill, in a Division III district semifinal at 3 p.m. on March
2 at Ohio University’s Convocation Center.
The appearance at the Convo will be the Warriors’ first since the 2015-2016 season.
“It’s going to be pretty cool [playing at the Convo],” Bennett said. “We just have to sit down and play some defense.”
Fout agreed with that statement.
“What he said. Sit down on defense, execute on offense and we’ll be fine,” Fout said.
Portsmouth: 15-15-12-12 — 54
Adena: 9-13-14-19 — 57
Portsmouth: 18-32 FG, 12-17 FT, 6-9 3pt. (Fraulini 4), 20 rebounds (McKinley 7), 16 turnovers, 7 assists
(Lattimore 7). Scoring: Fraulini 20, Shipp 15, Lattimore 14, McKinley 2, Johnson 2, Puff 1.
Adena: 18-47 FG, 12-22 FT, 9-24 3pt. (Bennett 3, Sykes 3), 27 rebounds (Bennett 6, Foglesong 6, Fout 6), 11
turnovers, 12 assists (Sykes 5). Scoring: Sykes 18, Bennett 16, Fout 15, Shipley 6, Foglesong 2.
|E n d i n g t h e D r o u g h t
Adena claims first district title in 39 years
|Pictures by Jenny Campbell
ATHENS — Jimmy Carter was the President of the United States, Blondie’s “Call Me” was the song that topped the
charts, the Rubik’s Cube made its debut, and gas was $1.19 per gallon.
We’re, of course, referencing the year 1980, also when Adena’s boys basketball program won its last district title …
until Saturday evening that is.
With a 53-40 win over Chesapeake in a Division III district championship bout, the Warriors (19-6) put an abrubt halt
to a 39-year drought.
“This has just been an awesome ride,” Adena coach Kyle Bradley said. “I keep telling Hannah, my wife, that this group
is so much fun to be around. I don’t want it to end and here we are, almost two weeks into March. The guys have
worked their tails off for this. I’m proud of them.”
The district crown comes just a year after Bradley’s Warriors finished 6-16. Over the summer, the team went on a trip
to Gatlinburg, Tennessee and basketball wasn’t the center of attention.
Bradley says hat trip and team-bonding experience is now paying dividends. It’s also what filled his thoughts as the
clock hit zero Saturday.
“The buy in from the kids, man. That’s what I was thinking. You can be talented, have a great coaching staff and all
that. But the kids have to buy in,” Bradley said. “We kind of set basketball aside for six days, just hung out as a team
and got to know each other. They got to see coach Bradley as a person and not just a basketball coach. I told them, ‘I’
m licensed to be tough on you because we spend the time together.’ They’ve responded well to that. Credit goes to
As for the in-game action, Logan Bennett lit up the score sheet … quietly. The sophomore hit big shot after big shot
en route to leading the team with a game-high 17 points and 13 rebounds.
“What a game for LB. I didn’t even know he had 17 points,” Bradley said, smiling. “It’s really nice when you have a 6-
foot-4 guy who can bring the ball up for you because Chesapeake is a really scrappy group in the full court. Late,
[Bennett] did a good job of handling the pressure and getting the ball to the middle for us.”
While Bennett led the charge offensively, Nate Throckmorton did so on the defensive side of the basketball.
Throckmorton held Chesapeake’s Levi Blankenship to just 11 points.
“I thought early, we gave them some transition opportunities,” Bradley said. “But in the second half, I thought we
eliminated those. Nate Throckmorton’s defense on [Blankenship] was really good. He didn’t get any clean looks and
he can flat out shoot it. That was really big for us.”
Tale of the tape
Adena’s Zach Fout started the night’s scoring by a hitting a 3 with 7:08 left in the first quarter. From there, the
Warriors capped a game-opening 8-2 run. Heading to the second, Adena had a 12-8 lead and Fout had five early
The Panthers forced a 16-16 tie with 3:24 left in the second but, behind Fout, Bennett and Caleb Foglesong, the
Warriors ended the half on a 9-5 run to take a 25-20 lead into the break.
In the third, the game continued to stay tight as Adena held leads of 27-20 and 30-26 before enjoying a 35-33
advantage heading to the final eight minutes. After leading 39-35 at the 5:39 mark in the fourth, Preston Sykes led a
5-2 run to make it 44-37 with 3:18 to go.
From there, the Warriors played good defense and hit their foul shots down the stretch.
After Bennett’s 17 points and 14 rebounds, Fout also posted a double-double with 14 points and 10 boards while
Sykes added eight points, five rebounds and three assists. Foglesong also heloped out, scoring nine points.
For Chesapeake (15-11), Blankenship had 11 points and three steals while Eli Archer added 10 points and five
What’s on tap
The Warriors now have a date with Harvest Prep in a Division III regional semifinal at 8 p.m., Thursday at Ohio
Harvest Prep will enter that contest with a 24-2 record and losses to Fairmont and Marquette Catholic.
“You make it to the regionals and there are 16 teams playing,” Bradley said. “You roll the ball out and you see what
happens. I’ll tell you the same thing I told the radio, I’m going to enjoy this one. Then we’ll get started on Harvest Prep
[Sunday] night. Any team that comes out of the Central District is going to be a really good basketball team.”
Chesapeake: 9-3-5-11 — 40
Adena: 12-9-26-14 — 53
Chesapeake: 16-37 FG, 7-17 FT, 1-11 3pt. (Blankenship 1), 20 rebounds (Hutchison 8), 17 turnovers, 5
assists (Jackson 2). Scoring: Blankenship 11, Archer 10, Hutchison 7, Jackson 6, Derth 6.
Adena: 18-42 FG, 14-21 FT, 3-12 3pt. (Fout 2), 37 rebounds (Bennett 14), 15 turnovers, 11 assists (Fout 3,
Sykes 3). Scoring: Bennett 17, Fout 14, Foglesong 9, Sykes 8, Shipley 3, Throckmorton 2.
|Zane Trace wins first
district title since 1970
ATHENS — Forty-nine years.
In 1970, gas cost 36 cents per gallon … and Zane Trace’s boys were district champions. But that was the last time the
Pioneers could make that claim. Until Sunday afternoon that is.
With a 51-45 win over Fairfield Union at Ohio University, the Pioneers (21-4) secured the program’s third-ever district
crown while putting an end to a long dry period.
“The pressure was on our kids. I could feel it this week because it was drug out so long,” ZT coach Gary Kellough said.
“But I’m really proud of my guys. They stayed focused and did a great job. Each one of them contributed something
important and something that we worked on in preparation for this game. It was just a group effort, even my second and
third team. All of them had a hand in beating a good Fairfield Union team, who is very well-coached.”
In the third quarter, the Falcons (16-9) made their run at Kellough’s crew. But Zane Trace absorbed the blow and
bounced back quickly.
“I thought our kids stayed sharp,” Kellough said. “The third quarter was a struggle because they were making a run at
us. But I thought at the end of the third, we responded really well and did the things we needed to do to get a win.”
Cam Evans [who else] led the charge.
The sensational junior guard scored a game-high 23 points and sunk 13-of-16 free throw tries. But he also received
help from Nick Nesser and Triton Davidson, a duo that combined for 20 points and 13 rebounds.
“[Evans] got frustrated a few times because he thought, on some of his finishes, he was getting bumped and fouled,”
Kellough said of Evans. “So I told him, ‘Keep on going because you’re going to get beat up.’ Then, I thought Nick
stepped up and hit a couple of big shots. But a guy that really, really stepped up for me was Triton [Davidson] …
Speaking of defense, ZT’s Luke Johnson played plenty. Johnson held his matchup — Fairfield Union’s Chase Poston
— to just 4-of-14 shooting.
“He’s a guy that’s unsung on our team. We said the number one thing in this game was that we had to shut the Poston
kid down,” Kellough said. “He’s been hot for them. Luke stayed after him and dogged him the whole game and the was
the key for us. He didn’t give him any open looks.”
Tale of the tape
The Falcons got on the board first when Evan Conley dialed long distance at the 7:04 mark in the first quarter. Nesser
answered on the other end with a jumper before Zane Trace later took its first lead of the game at 11-10, courtesy of
Evans, heading into the second.
The Pioneers took a 15-10 edge before Fairfield Union went on a 4-0 burst. But Zane Trace jabbed back with a 7-2 run
to end the half, taking a 22-16 lead into the break.
In the third, the Falcons opened things with an 8-2 run, forcing a 24-24 tie. That’s when Evans and Davidson
spearheaded a 7-0 run to put ZT back on top at 31-24. By the beginning of the final eight minutes, the Pioneers’ lead
had been cut to three at 33-30.
Conley made it 35-33 with another deep ball at the 7:29 mark in the fourth. But that was as close as Fairfield Union
would get. Zane Trace ripped off a 9-4 run to go up 44-37. From there, they hit their foul shots when they were given
the opportunity to do so.
Overall, Zane Trace was 18-of-23 from the charity stripe.
Evans led all scorers with 23 points alongside five rebounds and two assists. Nesser ended with 12 points and six
rebounds while Davidson added eight and seven. Colby Swain also played well, tallying two points, seven rebounds
and three assists.
Conley led the Falcons with 20 points and four assists while Huston Harrah had 12 points and nine boards.
What’s on tap
The Pioneers advance to a Division II regional semifinal where they’ll face New Philadelphia. That game is slated for an
8 p.m. tip-off, Wednesday at the Convocation Center.
“We went up and saw New Philadelphia and they’re different from us. They’re a typical East District school,” Kellough
said. “They run five-out and really don’t have anything in the post. They’re great 3-point shooters and they have a
great point guard. They’re sound. It’s going to be a dogfight. We have to eliminate the 3 and punish them inside.”
Fairfield Union: 10-6-14-15 — 45
Zane Trace: 11-11-11-18 — 51
Fairfield Union: 15-43 FG, 8-12 FT, 7-20 3pt. (Conley 4), 25 rebounds (Harrah 9), 7 turnovers, 9 assists
(Conley 4). Scoring: Conley 20, Harrah 12, Poston 8, MaGill 5.
Zane Trace: 15-38 FG, 18-23 FT, 3-5 3pt. (Ison 1, Johnson 1, Nesser 1), 29 rebounds (Swain 7, Davidson 7), 8
turnovers, 8 assists (Swain 3). Scoring: Evans 23, Nesser 12, Davidson 8, Ison 3, Johnson 3, Swain 2.
CHILLICOTHE — On a cold night at VA Memorial Stadium, Piketon’s Jacob Mathews found a way to keep warm.
Mathews, a junior, struck out eight of the first nine hitters he faced Monday evening in a 5-0 win over defending
Division III district champion Lucasville Valley.
“Valley is a good team. I told the guys coming in that we were going to have to strap it in tight and play a good game
offensively and defensively,” Piketon coach Jonathan Teeters said. “I told Jacob before the game that he had to get
ahead and pound the [strike] zone. That’s what he’s capable of doing whenever he’s on.”
Monday, Jacob Mathews was on.
The Indians (1-1) finished the night with just one hit, coming thanks to Jesse Jones, who broke up a no-hitter in the
bottom of the fourth inning. Mathews’ final pitching line ended at 4 ⅓ innings of one-hit, eight-strikeout baseball.
“I just felt like I had it all going today. My defense had my back,” Mathews said. “My teammates put up five runs for me
and I just did my work. My curveball was a lot better than my slider tonight. I just tried to make it work.”
Monday’s win was Piketon’s second consecutive shutout. The Redstreaks (2-0) blanked Meigs in their season opener
this past Saturday. On all accounts, pitching and defense is what Teeters hopes his guys hang their hats on all
“We’ve worked really hard in the offseason,” Teeters said. “They guys are buying in. It’s really nice to see what we’ve
done over the first two games. You can tell, just with body language and how hard these guys are working … it’s nice
to start off with two wins.”
Valley’s Jared Morrow took the loss on the hill, throwing four innings and giving up five earned runs on eight hits.
However, four of those runs came in the third inning alone.
Evan McGuire got the Redstreaks on the board with an RBI single in the second inning. Then, in the third, Piketon
pieced together a two-out rally that featured an RBI triple from Easton Lansing, another RBI single from McGuire, and
a walk and a hit batter with the bases juiced.
That’s all Mathews needed to nail down his first win of the year.
“Evan McGuire didn’t miss one fall workout or one winter workout,” Teeters said. “He’s always there. Same thing for
Easton Lansing. They’re just reaping what they’ve been sowing. I’m really glad to see they’re off to a good start.”
Lansing finished 2-for-4 with a triple, a run and an RBI, McGuire was 2-for-4 with a run and two RBIs, and Paul
McGaughey ended the evening 1-for-3 with two runs.
Piketon is back in action Tuesday evening, playing host to Jackson and looking for a third straight win.
|BEARCATS MAUL WESTERN
Paint Valley wins first game in convincing fashion
In a 21-2 shellacking of Western Tuesday evening in Bainbridge, Paint Valley (1-1) got its first win. Now, with the
monkey off their backs, the Bearcats will start looking for more of the same.
“It’s big to get the first one,” Paint Valley coach Ryan Smith said. “When you’re starting three freshmen, it’s big for
them. They don’t have the experience at this level just yet. Hopefully we take the momentum into our next game.”
While her offense gave her plenty of run support — and then some — senior pitcher Savannah Smith picked up the
win in the circle. She threw three of the game’s five innings, struck out seven, surrendered just one hit and gave up a
run that was unearned.
“Last year, [Savannah] started pitching and, defensively, we were a better team with her playing shortstop,” Smith
said. “So we pulled her from the circle and she didn’t pitch much at all. This year, she’s just worked so hard at
pitching. She was throwing 100 pitches a day when we were in the gym, and that’s every one of our pitchers.”
While Savannah dealt, her sister Olivia led the Bearcats’ offense … alongside the efforts of fellow freshman Abbi
Stanforth. Combined, that duo was 4-for-6 at the plate with two triples, six runs and five RBIs.
“It’s a special class,” Smith said of his freshmen. “They have so much instinct from playing so much. You don’t have
to tell them what to do. They just know what they have to do. I like utility players. I can take any of those girls and play
them at any position. That’s nice to have.”
Savannah Smith echoed those sentiments, noting how well the freshmen class is mixing in.
“They’re pretty athletic,” Smith said. “We’re a little bit young this year but I think we mix pretty well. It’s super fun to be
around all of them.”
Olivia Smith finished 2-for-3 with a triple, three runs and two RBIs while Stanforth was also 2-for-3 alongside a triple,
three runs and two RBIs. Sophomore Haylee Vaughn was 1-for-2 with a double, two walks and two runs, and Chloe
Manion was hit by two pitches while logging a double, two runs and an RBI.
The Bearcats will look for a second straight win Wednesday night, traveling to Jackson.
“I know [Jackson] has a pretty decent pitcher,” Smith said. “Hopefully we show up, hit the ball like we did tonight and
put some runs up.”
|METTLER, MCDONALD LEAD
BEARCATS PAST PANTHERS
CHILLICOTHE — When Lane Mettler is composed with the ball in his hands, good luck touching a pitch.
Paint Valley’s right-handed flamethrower was just that Thursday night in a 9-2 win over Clay at VA Memorial Stadium.
He threw 5 ⅓ innings of three-hit baseball and struck out 11 Panthers.
“The biggest thing with Lane, the talent level is off the charts, but you always use the phrase ‘Compose and
compete.’ He probably gets sick of hearing that,” Paint Valley coach Shayne Combs said. “I always tell him that he can’
t take the mound with a linebacker’s mentality.”
Mettler’s performance didn’t come against an easy team to beat. The Panthers (3-1) entered the contest riding a
three-game win streak and had outscored their opponents 41-5.
Maybe Clay’s bats were due for a night off or maybe Mettler just overpowered them. Either way, the Bearcats (3-1)
will certainly take the victory and run.
“One pitch at a time. I thought he did that tonight,” Combs said. “There were a couple of plays early in the game
where maybe we wish we could’ve had back defensively, but he pitched around that. I probably left him out there a
batter too long but I’m really pleased. Clay is a good baseball team with a very good coaching staff. That’s a team
that could win their conference.”
While Mettler dealt on the hill, teammate Macky McDonald provided his run support at the dish.
At the top of the lineup, McDonald set the tone all night long. He led the game off with a triple after finding a gap in
“Macky is a really good baseball player,” Combs said. “He’s special. You have to remind yourself that he’s a kid that’s
pretty much had an on-base percentage of .500 or higher. If he gets out in back-to-back appearances, you’re
wondering what’s wrong with him. I’m sure every coach would tell you that their leadoff hitter makes them go. That’s
the same for us.”
McDonald finished 4-for-5 with a triple, a double, a run and two RBIs.
After he started the game with the aforementioned three-bagger, Travis Wise laced a sacrifice fly into left field to give
the Bearcats their first lead of the night. Clay answered in the bottom of the first inning when Clay Cottle tripled and
scored thanks to an RBI single from Jaden Jesse.
In the third, Patrick Chapman led the inning off with a single before coming around to score on an RBI single from
McDonald after advancing to second on a wild pitch. With a 2-1 lead heading to the fifth, Paint Valley tacked on two
more runs to make it 4-1.
The Bearcats then took out an insurance claim in the sixth, scoring two more to push the lead to 6-1, and three more
in the seventh, making it 9-1. The Panthers scored a run in the bottom half of the seventh but it was much too little,
much too late.
“This is a quality win,” Combs said. “I told the guys not to be surprised to look back in six weeks and to see [Clay’s]
won 20 games and contended for their conference championship.”
Paint Valley takes a day off Friday and gets back to action Saturday in a JV-varsity doubleheader against Fairfield.
“We adjusted our schedule a little bit to pick up some non-league games later in the year,” Combs said. “Our JV is off
to a 2-0 start and we’re excited about some of those kids as well. [Saturday] is an important day for us because we’re
really searching down the line in our pitching staff. We’re looking for guys to step up. I look forward to that challenge
|Pioneers top Huntington, keep pace with Unioto, Westfall
Hitchens' complete game, eight strikeouts lead the way
|PHOTO CREDITS: Jenny Campbell
CHILLICOTHE — Zane Trace wasn’t supposed to win eight of its first 11 games, wasn’t supposed to be in the hunt for
a league title, and wasn’t supposed to beat teams projected to finish in the top half of the league … like Huntington.
But the Pioneers are 8-3, still undefeated in the Scioto Valley Conference and — with a mix of pitching, defense and
timely hitting — beat the Huntsmen 4-1 Monday evening on the road.
It may be time to take a look in the Zane Trace’s direction … no matter what’s “supposed” to happen.
“Our girls, some of them don’t know enough about the game,” Kunz said. “They’re looking to be spoon fed on every
instance. We’re trying to get away from that a little bit. As they learn the game, they’re going to start reacting. I’m just
very proud of them, how they played this evening and how they held on in tough situations.”
If you’re looking for a synopsis of Monday’s win, it’s a short one.
The Pioneers (8-3, 4-0 SVC) scored three runs in the top of the second inning, which was eventually all they needed
to nail down a win. But while the offense did its job early, pitcher Destini Hitchens held her own for seven straight
The senior hurler allowed just five hits, struck out eight and gave up one earned run.
“I came into this game knowing [Huntington] had good hitters,” Hitchens said. “I struggled a little bit but I had to push
myself and I knew I had my defense there to back me up. I kept on throwing and just didn’t give up.”
That seemed to work.
Hitchens’ defense indeed came up big time after time — including three straight outs recorded by second baseman
Alexis Guffey and a huge outfield putout via Gabrielle Hamm in the bottom of the seventh inning.
“We’re not a young team but we’re inexperienced at a lot of positions. The number one thing we’re trying to teach is
how to play good defense,” Kunz said. “That’s what we did tonight. They had some base runners in scoring position
and we came up with some big plays.”
And it’s not like the Pioneers beat an average pitcher. Aside from the second inning, Huntington’s Kylee Kellough had
her way in the circle.
The sophomore whiffed 12 and gave up just two hits. Both hits, however, came in that second inning and were
conjoined with two errors.
“With [Kellough], you never know what you’re going to get. She’s an outstanding pitcher with outstanding stuff,” Kunz
said. “Our big thing was just to try and put the ball in play as much as possible and create a situation where we force
the defense to move and surprise them.”
Huntington (4-5, 2-2 SVC) was led by Lillie Snyder at the plate, who was 2-for-4 while Kellough was 1-for-3 with a walk
and Braiden Collins finished 1-for-3 with a double.
For the Pioneers, Brianna Fetters was 0-for-1 but drew two walks, stole three bases and scored two runs. Hitchens
and Ashley Jones collected a hit for Zane Trace while Jones recorded an RBI.
The Pioneers get back to action Wednesday, traveling to Unioto in a game that pits two undefeated teams in league
against each other. Huntington will try to get off the schneid the same night, traveling to Paint Valley.
“We want to make sure we’re playing as hard as we can, competing, and then at the end of the ballgame, hope you’re
on the situation to win it,” Kunz said. “We were able to do the job and complete it tonight.”
blows game open
in win over Adena
|With game tied 1-1
in the 6th, UHS
scored eight times
to take control
CHILLICOTHE — For the first six innings of Monday’s home date with Adena, Unioto’s offense seemed to be in a slumber.
The Shermans’ hits were Texas Leaguers, and hard to come by at that, contact was minimal and pop flies were becoming a norm.
But in the bottom of the sixth inning, with the game tied 1-1, the Shermans (12-2, 6-1 SVC) finally woke up and knocked the wheels of the
Warriors’ wagon to the tune of eight runs on nine hits.
In a game that lasted a total of 63 minutes, that eight-run inning was the difference in a 9-1 win.
“We’ve seen some good pitching over the past three games and it takes awhile to adjust to different pitchers,” Unioto coach Rob Hull
said. “I wish we would’ve done it a little earlier but once we got around the lineup two solid times, everybody was on point, making solid
On the other side, the Warriors (3-7, 2-5 SVC) played what coach Greg Storts called one of their best games this season. Adena limited
its mistakes, made solid contact all night long and gave itself a chance to win a ballgame.
“Our goal is to climb into the other half [of the league] and go compete with Unioto, Westfall, Huntington,” Storts said. “We knew it was
going to be hard to win a league title. Tonight, you saw how Unioto can hit a ball when they’re on. But that’s what we can do if we go out,
execute and not make the mental mistakes we make sometimes. Our ceiling is what you saw today.”
Pitchers Jocie Fisher and Abby Butler cruised through the first five innings.
Butler’s only blemish during that time was an RBI groundout via Avery Miller in the first inning, scoring Hallie Pinkerton to give Unioto a 1-
0 lead. The Warriors tied the ballgame in the fifth when Jade Johnson took a Fisher offering deep.
“It was a change-up, low and away. I called the pitch and Jocie hit her spot. [Johnson] just got a great swing on it and took it opposite
side. Hats off to her.” Hull said. “Adena is a good team and they’re young. They have a bright future ahead of them.”
Then, in the bottom half of the sixth, the Shermans pulled away for good.
With one out and nobody on, Pinkerton doubled before Jayla Campbell reached on a bunt single. After Campbell stole second, Miller
logged her second and third RBIs with a hard-hit ball through the left side of Adena’s infield.
With Unioto leading 3-1, Miller scored on an RBI single via Haley Holt, who then scored on an RBI double via Jocie Fisher, making it 5-1.
The Warriors intentionally walked Payton Britton, making way for Tori Neff to make it 6-1 with an RBI single just before Carissa Wheeler
That’s when Jerzi Paul stepped to the plate and hit a three-run homer (Kaleigh Uhrig, pinch-running for Britton was called out on runner
interference) to produce the night’s final.
Pinkerton finished the night 2-for-4 with two runs and a double, Miller was 1-for-3 with three RBIs, and Paul was 2-for-3 with three RBIs.
Fisher earned the win in the circle, throwing six innings, allowing three hits, walking a pair and whiffing four.
For the Warriors, Johnson was 1-for-3 with the homer, Cheyenne Ater was 1-for-2 with a triple and a walk, and Livia Sheppard finished
1-for-2 with a double and a walk.
Unioto gets back to action Wednesday evening, traveling to Huntington. The Warriors host Westfall the same night after a non-league
contest against Northwest on Tuesday.
“We just have to keep the confidence rolling,” Hull said. “It’s a big thing with our young girls. So moving forward for us, it’s keeping that
strive of hitting line drives and staying positive. Defensively, I think we’re pretty sound. In the circle, we’ve kind of proven ourselves over the
past couple of weeks. I think if we work on hitting our spots a little more and keeping our confidence, I think this team can go pretty far.”
OUTRIGHT SVC TITLE
Westfall beats Unioto 6-2,
claims third straight
|Pictures by Jenny Campbell
CHILLICOTHE — The road to the Scioto Valley Conference title still runs through Williamsport.
After entering the top of the seventh inning deadlocked in a 2-2 tie with Unioto Wednesday evening, Westfall scored
four runs to beat the Shermans, 6-2, and clinch an outright SVC softball title — the program’s third consecutive such
“This is our third SVC title now and I think our junior class has really led,” Westfall shortstop Josie Williams said. “It’s a
big deal to us. We just want to keep working and get the Gold Ball.”
After handling Unioto, rather convincingly, earlier in the season by an 8-3 final, the Mustangs (19-1, 13-0 SVC) found
themselves in a dogfight the second time around.
The Shermans (17-5, 10-3 SVC) scored first, taking a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first after Hallie Pinkerton tripled
and Jayla Campbell singled her in. In the circle, Unioto pitcher Jocie Fisher held the Mustangs scoreless through four
inning, working out of two bases loaded jams.
But in the top of the fifth, Westfall’s Darby Minor reached on error and advanced to third on a passed ball. Williams
then tied the game with an RBI single before scoring on an RBI double via Liz Stonerock, giving the Mustangs their first
lead of the evening, 2-1.
“Up in the batter’s box tonight, we were really struggling to find pitches we could hit and to jump on her pitches,”
Williams said. “I just knew that I had to come up big and find the pitch that I could hit. I did that.”
Trailing 2-1 in the bottom of the sixth, Unioto’s Avery Miller forced a 2-2 tie with one swing. The freshman sent a rocket
over the left-center field fence, her sixth home run of the year, and gave the Tanks a much-needed late-inning lift.
But in the top of the seventh, the Mustangs answered … in a big way.
Ayzia Fullen started the inning with a double before scoring on a second RBI single from Williams, putting Westfall back
in front at 3-2. Williams then moved to third on two passed balls before scoring on an RBI double off the bat of
Leading 4-2, and with Tackett standing on second base, Maddie Mullins put an exclamation point on the inning with a
two-run, no-doubt home run, rounding out the night’s 6-2 final.
Westfall’s Marcy Dudgeon got the win in the circle, throwing all seven innings, allowing seven hits and striking out four
“We aren’t used to having close games like this and working from behind. We usually come out on top,” Dudgeon said.
“We just capitalized and I knew that I had to throw strikes and that if they hit it, they hit it. I knew my defense would back
At the plate, Williams was 3-for-4 with a double, two runs and two RBIs. Mullins finished 2-for-4 with the homer and two
RBIs, Tackett was 2-for-4 with a run and two RBIs, and Fullen went 2-for-4 with a double and a run.
For Unioto, Pinkerton was 1-for-4 with a triple and a run, Campbell was 1-for-3 with an RBI, and Miller finished 1-for-2
with a walk and a home run.
Both teams get back to SVC action Friday evening. Unioto travels to Adena and Westfall hosts Zane Trace. A win over
the Pioneers would give the Mustangs a second straight Gold Ball.
“Our freshman year, we got robbed of the Gold Ball in our last league game,” Dudgeon said. “So, definitely, we wanted
the Gold Ball last year and we’re not done yet. We’ve got [the SVC title] in the bag but we’re not done yet. We want to
|Pictures by Jenny Campbell
|BEARCATS MUSCLE PAST NEW BOSTON
Stanforth, Smith lead the way in win
GLENWOOD — As of Sunday evening, Paint Valley coach Ryan Smith didn’t know whether Abbi Stanforth was going
to be available to play Monday in the Bearcats’ Division IV sectional semifinal contest at New Boston.
Stanforth also runs track and is favored to qualify for regionals in the hurdles events. She was choosing between the
postseason softball game and her conference track meet.
So when she called Smith to let him know she'd be there, he couldn’t help but smile and breathe a sigh of relief.
“I found out [Sunday] night that she was coming to the softball game,” Smith said of Stanforth. “She’s a big track star
and she’s really big at hurdles. It shows the character out of her. She could’ve went and ran hurdles. She gave that
up tonight, skipped the SVC Meet, to come here and pitch softball.
The Bearcats (6-15) sent Stanforth to the circle and the freshman put forth a spectacular performance to get the job
done. In seven innings, she allowed seven hits, walked three, struck out eight and kept working out of jams at
The result was a 10-3 win over the Tigers. Seems like Stanforth made the right decision.
“She said, ‘Coach, I want to come pitch and win.’ As a coach, it’s just unbelievable to hear that from a freshman who
gave up what she gave up,” Smith said. “I love that kid. I’m proud of her. It speaks to how she pitched tonight and how
she’s pitched all year long.”
Even with Stanforth, the Bearcats didn’t experience a “usual” night. Their bus was nearly 45 minutes late, they had to
rush through pregame warm-ups and it was a win or home situation.
But Smith’s group kept its composure.
“The bus left 45 minutes later than we originally wanted it to, so we knew from the get-go that we were going to be
here past start time,” Smith said. “I just told them to stay focused and stay in our same routine. That’s one thing we’ve
been pushing. I was pleased with the way we kept our focus and the way we played.”
New Boston (5-18) surrendered three runs in the top of the second inning, thanks to an error in the outfield and a
bases loaded walk issued to Olivia Smith. The Bearcats then added two more runs in the fifth inning via another
defensive miscue and an RBI single from Stanforth.
Down 5-0, New Boston cut the lead to three in the bottom half of the fifth when Lexus Oiler walked with the bases
loaded before Morgan Rawlins tallied a sacrifice fly.
In the sixth, with a 5-2 lead, Lea McFadden singled home a run before Savannah Smith put the game out of reach for
good with a three-run homer over the left field fence. The Bearcats scored their 10th and final run in the seventh on
an RBI double from Olivia Smith.
“She was hitting pretty well and then she went into a slump,” Smith said of Savannah. “I moved her down in the batting
order a couple of games and that’s always a hard thing. I told her that she could earn that spot back but I needed her
to hit the ball. I tell the girls that there will be no favoritism on my part. I’ve stuck to my guns on that. So she started
coming back, hitting pretty well. I told her I needed her to get up, focus and hit a ball hard. She did that tonight.”
Oiler doubled in the bottom half of the seventh to round out the night’s final but it was much too little, much too late for
the Tigers to mount a comeback.
Savannah Smith finished 2-for-4 with a double, a homer, two runs and three RBIs. Paige Rickey was also 2-for-4 with
a run, Stanforth was 1-for-2 with a run and an RBI, Olivia Smith finished 1-for-4 with two RBIs and McFadden ended
the night 1-for-4 with a run and an RBI.
The Bearcats advance to a Division IV sectional final where they’ll face top-seeded Clay. That contest is slated to
begin at 5 p.m., Thursday evening.
“We have to show up ready to hit the ball,” Smith said. “Show up, hit, focus and defensively, we cannot have errors.
We have to hit the ball, we have to be aggressive on the base paths and we have to play good defense. I feel
confident if we can do those three things.”
|PIONEERS EASE PAST WEST, ADVANCE TO SECTIONAL FINAL
Guffey throws seven strong innings in win
KINNIKINNICK — When Zane Trace lost its starting pitcher Destini Hitchens to injury earlier this spring, Alexis Guffey
was forced into the circle.
Guffey, a sophomore, was reluctant at first. But then reality set in and she accepted the challenge.
“Everyday, I would ask Destini if she was better yet,” Guffey said, smiling. “But eventually, I just stepped into it and
knew I had to pitch. So I just pitched.”
Tuesday night was one of Guffey’s proudest moments as a pitcher. She led her Pioneers (14-12) to a 10-3 win over
Portsmouth West in a Division III sectional semifinal.
“I was hitting spots pretty well tonight and I threw the pitches [Zane Trace coach] Don [Kunz] wanted me to throw,”
Guffey said. “My defense played pretty well behind me, too.”
Guffey’s final line included seven innings, seven hits allowed and a strikeout. As she alluded to, her defense certainly
worked behind her, not committing an error.
“Watching [West] warm up, I was ready for some big hits. I’m used to throwing a couple of balls off line or bobbling a
couple of balls every game,” shortstop Evie Bennett said. “But tonight, I just came out with a lot of energy and thought
about this being our last game as seniors on this field. So I just went out there and played with all I had.”
The Senators (5-18) struck the scoreboard first when Haivan Dillow logged an RBI single in the top of the first inning,
scoring Nataya Richards. But Zane Trace immediately answered with six runs in the bottom half of the inning, taking a
Those six runs came on a sacrifice fly, a sacrifice bunt, two bases loaded walks and an error.
Instead of hanging their heads, the Senators chose to fight back.
West scored one in the second and another in the third, cutting the Pioneers’ edge to 6-3. The run in the third came
from a solo homer off the bat of Dillow.
After Dillow’s homer, in the fifth inning, West had a chance to force a 6-6 tie or at least cut the lead to a single run.
With Laney Ayers standing on third and Richards occupying second, Guffey got the Senators to pop out to third and
ground out to short, ending the inning and the threat.
The Pioneers put a four-spot on the board — keyed by a two-run single from Hannah Unger — in the top of the
seventh, furthering their lead and putting the game out of reach for good.
For West, Dillow finished 1-for-3 with the home run and two RBIs, Richards was 2-for-4 with two doubles and a run,
and Morgan Rigsby was 2-for-3 with a triple and a run.
Bennett finished 1-for-3 with two walks, a stolen base and two RBIs while Guffey was 2-for-3 with a run and an RBI.
Unger was 1-for-3 with a walk, two runs and two RBIs and Brianna Fetters ended the night 2-for-4 with a stolen base
and two runs.
The win allows the Pioneers to advance to a Division III sectional final. They’ll travel to Minford on Friday for that
contest, which has a scheduled 5 p.m. start.
“We’re going to go out there and give it all we’ve got. This is our last season [as seniors],” Bennett said. “We don’t
want to be done.”
|Pictures by Jenny Campbell
|Unioto fends off Jackson, claims sectional crown
Win marks Tanks' first sectional championship since 2015
CHILLICOTHE — In the most crucial of moments Wednesday evening, Unioto coach Rob Hull walked to the pitcher’s circle, gathered his
infield, and told a joke.
Heading into the top of the seventh inning, the Shermans held a comfortable 5-1 lead over Jackson in a Division II sectional final.
But the Ironladies weren’t giving up hope.
Instead, with two outs, Jackson (13-9) mounted a three-run rally to cut the lead to 5-4. With the tying run on first and the winning run at the
plate, Hull called timeout and did what he does best.
“I just said, ‘Stay calm ladies.’ Told them a little joke, made them smile and let them breathe a little,” Hull said. “Then I walked back.”
It must’ve worked.
Unioto senior hurler Jocie Fisher got the next hitter to groundout to third base, sealing the program’s first sectional championship since
“It’s huge for the program. We set goals at the beginning of the season and our goal was to get to Athens,” Hull said. “The seniors have
never been. So it’s a huge win for them, our team and our program. It’s huge.”
Senior Jayla Campbell gave the Shermans (19-5) a quick boost in the bottom of the first inning. After Hallie Pinkerton doubled into the left-
center field gap, Campbell turned on a pitch and sent a ball sailing over the left field fence, putting Unioto up 2-0.
“[Hull] said, even before the game started, to go up there and be relaxed,” Campbell said. “So that’s pretty much what I did. I was like,
‘Another pitcher, another day.’ I got down in the count and I thought she was going to throw me high, but it was right there. I honestly didn’t
think it was going over but then they all started screaming. It felt great just to jog it easy in.”
In the fourth, freshman Carissa Wheeler added another run to Unioto’s total with an RBI double, knocking in Kailey Uhrig — who was
pinch-running for Fisher after she was hit by a pitch.
Wheeler then scored, thanks to an RBI single from Jerzi Paul, making it 4-0 before Jackson finally got on the board in the fifth, cutting the
lead to three at 4-1.
Unioto got an insurance run in the sixth with Payton Britton logged an RBI double, pushing the lead back to four at 5-1. Then came the top
of the seventh when Fisher worked out of trouble.
“We knew they were going to hit so our big thing was defense,” Fisher said. “When it came down to it, we got it done. In the last inning,
[Jackson] started to hit a little bit but we kept fighting.”
Campbell finished 2-for-3 with a home run, a stolen base and two RBIs while Wheeler went 2-for-3 with two doubles, an RBI and a run.
Britton was 1-for-3 with a double and a run, and Paul was 1-for-3 with an RBI.
In the circle, Fisher tossed all seven innings while allowing nine hits and surrendering three earned runs.
The Shermans advance to play Sheridan in a Division II district semifinal at 5 p.m., Monday at Ohio University.
“It feels great that we can win [a sectional title] in our last year here,” Campbell said. “We’ve always wanted to get to OU and now we get to.
So it feels great.”
|Paint Valley stuns top-seeded Clay, advances to district semifinal
|Pictures by Jenny Campbell
RUBYVILLE — Coming into Thursday’s Division IV sectional final against Portsmouth Clay, Paint Valley coach Ryan
Smith knew exactly what his Bearcats were up against.
The top-seeded Panthers have been a Division IV powerhouse since 1978, winning 39 sectional titles during that time
alongside 24 district, nine regional and three state championship crowns.
So when Smith was preparing to discuss beating that type of foe with his girls, he asked for some extra help from the
big guy in the sky.
“I’d been praying that the Lord would give me a story to tell because I knew exactly what we were up against,” Smith
said. “Yesterday, I was walking and the good Lord told me to look down. I look down and this stone caught my eye.
[The Lord] said, ‘I want you to talk about David and Goliath.’”
Paint Valley came into the game with six wins, compared to Clay’s 22. The Panthers were the No. 8 ranked team in the
state and had no plans of going home early.
“I picked the stone up, carried it around in my pocket all day today and all day yesterday,” Smith said. “I just kept
thinking, ‘How am I going to tell the story?’ When we got [to Portsmouth], we went out to left field and I pulled the stone
out. I asked them if they’d ever heard the story of David and Goliath. Some of them raised their hand and said, ‘Yeah.’
I told them the giant was over 10-feet tall and that’s Clay. We’re David. We’re not expected to win a ballgame at all.”
Well … the bigger they are, the harder they fall.
Behind freshman Abbi Stanforth in the circle and senior Lea McFadden, among a host of others, at the the plate, the
Bearcats (7-16) slung their stone and knocked out Clay by an 8-5 final — putting one of the biggest, if not the biggest,
wins in program history in the books.
It was Clay's first loss in a sectional title game since 2005 and just the third loss at that juncture in program history.
“We had to hit the ball better than ever, we had to play defense better than ever and we had to keep our focus,” Smith
said. “Every now and then, I’d pull that stone out. They kept their focus. Hats off to the girls. Onto the district
Out of the gate, Paint Valley came out swinging.
The Bearcats began the night with a three-run first inning thanks to an RBI single from Haylee Vaughn and a
defensive miscue that allowed two additional runs to score. Clay (22-3) got its first run in the bottom of the inning on
an RBI single via Cassidy Wells.
But Paint Valley quickly stretched its lead back to three when Paige Rickey drew a bases loaded walk in the second,
making it 4-1. That score would stand until the bottom of the fifth when the Panthers got an RBI single from Megan
Bazler before another run scored on error.
Leading 4-3 in the top of the sixth, Olivia Smith singled before Vaughn walked. That’s when McFadden stepped to the
plate and delicately put the cherry on top of the icing.
The senior catcher muscled a pitch over the centerfield fence, giving the Bearcats a late 7-3 lead and a shot of
momentum when they needed it the most.
“Coming in, we weren’t too sure what to expect,” McFadden said. “We knew [Clay] was good. We were the lower seed
and they were the higher seed. We knew we had to give it our all. That’s what we did tonight. We played unstoppable
defense, Abbi pitched a great game and we hit the ball well.”
Savannah Smith tacked on an insurance run in the seventh, making it 8-3, before Stanforth held down the fort in the
bottom half — after the Panthers had scored two runs — by getting her last batter to pop-up with the bases loaded.
Stanforth threw all seven innings, allowed three earned runs on 11 hits and struck out three. That’s coming against
one of the state’s best lineups from top to bottom.
“My mindset coming into the game was that [Clay] was going to hit the ball hard,” Stanforth said. “I had to pitch well
and I had to be accurate. I think I pitched pretty well and hit my spots. I just kept my head up and kept throwing strikes.”
McFadden finished 4-for-5 at the plate with two doubles, the homer and three RBIs. Olivia Smith was 3-for-5 with three
stolen bases and three runs, Vaughn ended the night 1-for-3 with with two walks, two runs and an RBI, and Savannah
Smith went 2-for-4 with an RBI.
The Bearcats advance to a Division IV district semifinal where they’ll take on Reedsville Eastern at 4:30 p.m., Tuesday
at the University of Rio Grande.
“I think we need to come out exactly how we did tonight,” McFadden said. “Tonight, it was a whole different team. You
could tell. Our defense has to keep being good, not letting anything get by us and we need to keep hitting the ball …
pick our strikes and just go out and have fun.”