John Bruce, Contributor
If you are trying to determine the greatest team to ever play in the Scioto Valley Conference, how would you do it? Would you use recency bias? Would you know that a certain number of years were better than others?
Whatever way you decide to make your picks on these brackets, one thing that I ask of you is this: use the facts and information provided to you in the coming article and whatever experience you have with these teams to make the best choice.
First up, we have 16 seeded teams inside what we’re calling the ‘Larry Jordan Regional.”
NOTE: Photos in this article have been generously provided or found via Facebook.
Larry Jordan Regional
No. 1. Southeastern ’89-90 (24-2) vs. No. 16. Southeastern ’16-17 (9-18)
- The 1989-90 Southeastern team is the clear favorite in this matchup. Larry Jordan’s Panthers featured two 1,000-point scorers in Mike Adams and Aaron Skeens. Both players won the SVC Player of the Year award while also helping the Panthers finish the regular season at 19-1 with a 14-0 record in the conference. Following the regular season, the Panthers rolled off sectional, district, and regional championships as well, before bowing out against St. Henry in the Final Four. Besides Adams and Skeens, the Panthers also started Chad Mitten, Mike Jordan, and 6-foot-6 Chad Jordan. Off the bench came Carl Lawhorn, whose rebound of a missed 3 in the regional final set up a 3 from Skeens to send that game into overtime. Possibly the most impressive moment of the season for the Panthers was their overtime win over Columbus Wehrle. Wehrle would go on to win their third consecutive state title in March 1990.
- The 2016-17 Southeastern team is one of the greatest Cinderella stories in Southeast District history. Andy Slaughter’s Panthers finished a lowly 5-17 in the regular season, before going on an epic four-game winning streak to win the school’s 16th district championship and first since 2003. Senior Aaron Benson hit a buzzer-beater to knock off Zane Trace in their opening tourney game. Benson then scored 21 to lead the Panthers over top seed (and defending regional champion) Lynchburg Clay in the sectional finals. Zach Bodary and Rex Hartman combined for 32 in the win. In their next, win over Minford, freshman Lane Ruby scored 18 of his 21 in the second half to put the Panthers over the top. Ruby also led them in scoring in a 35-31 upset over No. 5 Oak Hill in the district finals. The Panthers would be aided by Ethan Smith, Clinton Minney, and Dawson Steele along the way. The magic would end in the regional semifinals, but it was a historic run that won’t soon be forgotten.
No. 8. Piketon ’85-86 (22-3) vs. No. 9. Adena ’79-80 (18-7)
- The 1985-56 Piketon Redstreaks team came at the peak of the Joe B. Stewart era in the Village of Piketon. They were led by SVC Player of the Year Scott Legg, who averaged 20 points and 6.6 assists per game to pace the Redstreaks to their first SVC title. The ‘Streaks displayed excellent depth, with only Legg and Rod Nichols (12.1) averaging double-digit scoring figures, but averaged a steady 67 points per game. Tim Hill had a put back bucket in the closing seconds of the sectional finals to give the team its first sectional title since 1958 before Trace Davis knocked in a 10-footer in the closing seconds to beat Crooksville in the district semis. Legg paced the Redstreaks to their first district title with a 29-point effort while Bud Brabson notched 15 off of the bench for the winners. Doug Smith was the fifth starter for the ‘Streaks and provided them with excellent size inside.
- The 1979-80 Adena Warriors built off of a strong regular season and carried the momentum to their third district championship in six seasons. Coach Doug Hill was able to build a strong roster surrounding SVC Player of the Year Steve Ragland. Ragland, Tim Hester, Tony Seyfang, Bruce Lane, and Dave Ferguson were all key cogs in the Warrior machine that winter. In their tournament run, they knocked off SVC Champion Southeastern, Trimble, and state-ranked Peebles in the district finals. Peebles had previously handled them a loss earlier in the season. The Warriors dropped a tough game in overtime against Southern in the Sweet 16. Ragland (16.1), Hester (14.3), and Ferguson (11.2) all averaged double figures.
No. 5. Zane Trace ’00-01 (19-3) vs. No. 12. Logan Elm ’64-65 (15-7)
- The 2000-01 Pioneers were the first team to finish unbeaten in SVC play in 11 seasons and featured outstanding depth and talent. Gary Kellough was able to use the depth to dominant SVC and sectional championships. SVC Player of the Year Jeran Cox (14.9 points, 5.4 assists) ran the show while fellow seniors Seth Haynes (5.6 assists) and Nate Sever (18.6 points, 72 percent shooting) gave the Pioneers a three-headed monster. Of course, you need complimentary pieces to aid that monster and the Pioneers had just that. 6-foot-11 senior Colt Mitchell was an intimidating rim protector, while sophomore Nate Singer gave some extra versatility as well. Even more depth off the bench helped the Pioneers to an 18-2 regular season, with an average margin of victory of 18 points.
- The Logan Elm Braves were a force in the early years of the SVC and the 1964-65 version proves that. Keith Merrin’s group finished 5-0 in league play and reached the Central District championship game. SVC Player of the Year Jeff Lutz led the way for the Braves, but they also featured a sophomore named Russ Merrin, who was the younger brother of Coach Merrin. Russ went on to be a two-time All-Ohio member and an SVC Player of the Year in his own right.
No. 4. Southeastern ’74-75 (20-5) vs. No. 13. Piketon ’03-04 (19-4)
- Possibly the most underrated team in the tournament, the 1974-75 Southeastern Panthers went 12-0 in SVC play and won six tournament games before falling in the regional championship game. Larry Jordan’s squad was more balanced than some, with only two that averaged double figures in Butch Bolte (13.3) and Greg Pummill (12.9). Senior Craig Kirk came alive in the district tourney, averaging 20 points after only averaging seven during the regular season. Sophomore Coy Prater, who would end up over 1,000 career points, and senior Tim Clemmons ran the show, while Mark Carroll, Rick Stevens, and John Bennett also gave valuable minutes in the run to the Elite 8. All four regular season losses were to teams who would later join the SVC, but for the 1974-75 year, the Panthers were dominant in league play.
- After going 15-48 over the previous three years, Piketon was very confident coming into the 2003-04 season. Brett Coreno had the horses to make a push at their first SVC championship since the ’91-92 season and they would win that and more. SVC Player of the Year Kyle Vulgamore was paired with juniors Kyle Miller, Eric Farmer, and Eli Porter to finish as a district runner-up. Vulgamore put up ridiculous numbers (17.2 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, 5 steals) and ended with more than 1,000 points in his career. Miller and Farmer reached that number as well. Darrack Haithcock, Nathan Francis, and Ben Thompson played key parts to the ‘Streaks return to the top of the SVC.
No. 6. Southeastern ’84-85 (23-2) vs. No. 11. Zane Trace ’09-10 (18-5)
- Larry Jordan’s Panthers scorched through the SVC with a 16-0 record, before also storming to a district championship. They were led by two-time SVC Player of the Year Bryan Alley, who led the Panthers’ attack with 18 points each night. Juniors Doug Hice (13.5 points, 7.4 rebounds) and Dean Cartee (9 points, 7.8 rebounds) also made the all-league team. Jon Dresbach, Dan Reynolds, and Scott Hutchison were key cogs in the impressive attack as the Panthers won four games to win their district crown, winning by an average of 19.5 points.
- Speaking of Bryan Alley, the former Panther great was the head coach for the 2009-10 version of Zane Trace. The SVC champions and district runner-up (for the second straight year) were led by SVC Player of the Year Kirk Maxwell (20.1 points, 6.8 rebounds, 4.4 assists). Maxwell was not alone as he was flanked with Gabe Haynes (13.3 points), Joel Tripp, Rick Chamberlain (8.2 rebounds), sharp-shooting Drew Davis, and the Cochenour twins, Derek and Dallas. If not for a freak injury in the district title game to Maxwell, the Pioneers may have been playing at The Schott.
No. 3. Unioto ’17-18 (22-3) vs. No. 14 Huntington ’88-89 (18-6)
- The final of four consecutive Gold Ball winners for Unioto went out with a bang. Matt Hoops’ senior-filled squadron was led by co-SVC Player of the Year and All-Ohioan Logan Swackhammer (18.2 points, 6.3 rebounds, 4.5 assists), All-Ohioan Brandon Kennedy (13.3 points, 50% shooting from 3-point range), 6-foot Gabe Fisher (11.9 rebounds), and Peyton Hill (10.8 points). Junior Chance Smith hit big 3’s throughout the tournament run and sophomore Cade McKee played key defensive minutes. The Shermans would run their consecutive SVC winning streak to 69 games and would win their second district title in four years. The senior class finished their careers 90-12 overall.
- The 1988-89 version of the Huntington Huntsmen became the first team in school history to reach the district championship game. Jerry Mowery’s Huntsmen finished second in SVC play, but made a run before falling in overtime to eventual regional champion Wheelersburg. With experienced guards in Marty Kellough, Todd Black and Chad Carroll, and quality bigs in Geremy Ray and Mark Williams, the Huntsmen came within an eyelash of winning the first district championship in school history.
No. 7. Southeastern ’77-78 (20-3) vs. 10. Zane Trace ’95-96 (17-6)
- After making a run to the Final Four the previous year, the 1977-78 Panthers made another deep tournament run. Larry Jordan’s squad was led by SVC Player of the Year Rick Schrader (15.4 points) and fellow seniors Toby Kellough (11.3 points). Jeff Detty (9.8 points) and Sam Eldridge (9.7 points) also contributed consistent scoring. Scott Eldridge and Mitch Holton gave big minutes as well. Holton would be the hero in the district championship game as he hit a 20-footer with four seconds remaining to win the title. Like others, a key injury likely kept them from reaching the Final Four, as Schrader went down late in the district finals, which hampered him into the Sweet 16.
- The 1995-96 Zane Trace Pioneers were the first ZT team to win a district game in 26 seasons and nearly had the comeback to end all comebacks to win a district title before coming up two points shy. Gary Kellough’s Pioneers were led by SVC Player of the Year Chris Beard (20.2 points, 8.7 rebounds, 6.1 assists) and sweet-shooting Bernie Davis (16.1 points, 7.3 rebounds, 5.5 assists). The senior duo was flanked by Nate Jarrell, Greg McCullough, Travis Branham, and Dan Gray. In their district championship game loss, they rallied from a 17-point deficit early in the second half to take a late lead, but eventually fell by two points.
No. 2. Bishop Flaget ’82-83 (23-1) vs. No. 15 Unioto ’73-74 (15-5)
- The first SVC school to finish the regular season unbeaten, the 1982-83 Bishop Flaget Panthers are also the only team to ever have co-SVC Players of the Year on the same roster. Ron Lovely’s Panthers soared through the regular season unblemished before falling in triple overtime in the district finals. Seniors Pat Austin (16.7 points) and Tony Taylor (16.1 points) shared the honors, while junior Nick Corcoran (13.4 points) also starred for the Panthers. Corcoran would go on to win Player of the Year honors the next season. The Panthers featured eight seniors on the roster and had great depth aided by John Stark, Steve Hirsch, Paul Corcoan and Jimmy White.
- Unioto’s second SVC Championship season came in 1973-74. Mike Harris’ group was led by 6-foot-8 junior Greg Alcorn (17.7 points, 11 rebounds). Fellow junior Steve Frey (15.5 points) along with Bob Tallmon and Gary Fout gave the Shermans a nuanced attack from inside and out. The SVC champs were knocked off in the sectionals by Southeastern on a deep jumper to beat the buzzer, but the Shermans cruised to an 8-0 league season.