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 that 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.
NOTE: Photos in this article have been generously provided or found via Facebook.
Ron Shoemaker Bracket
No. 1 Unioto ‘90-91 (23-4) vs. No. 16 Logan Elm ‘66-67 (14-5)
- As the only team in SVC history to reach the state championship game, the ‘90-91 Unioto Shermans belong in the pantheon of great SVC teams, regardless of sport. Ron Lovely’s Tanks were led by All-Ohioan and SVC Player of the Year Matt Combs (23.9 points, 11.1 rebounds, 4.6 assists), but also had a wealth of depth and scoring ability. Senior sharpshooter Jeff Miller (14.2 points, 4.6 assists) and junior Jason Thress (9.5 points) could stretch the floor if teams keyed on Combs too hard, while junior Dan Cox (7.0 points) and Jim Hutchison were athletic bangers inside. Senior D.B. Mullen (5.0 assists) helped run the show with great patience. There were different stars throughout the run to the finals, which they would need in winning close games throughout. Combs notched 36 points in a win over Zane Trace, Thress hit four 3’s in a one-point win over South Webster, Miller canned back to back 3’s after being cold all night in a three-point win in the Sweet 16, and Cox shot 8-of-10 from the field against Shenandoah. Combs and Miller then combined for 44 points in an 80-58 win over Bedford Chanel in the state semifinal. No team has made a deeper run in SVC history.
- Behind an All-Ohio season from SVC Player of the Year Russ Merrin (20.6 points), the ‘66-67 Logan Elm Braves found themselves as co-SVC champions, along with Laurelville. Keith Merrin’s Braves went 4-1 in the SVC and were filled with high quality seniors. Along with the younger Merrin, the Braves used Tom Smith, Jim Moorehead, Dale Jenne, Greg Fraunfelter, and Steve Fouch to win their third SVC crown in five seasons, and the first of three straight titles before they left for the MSL.
No. 8 Piketon ‘12-13 (22-4) vs. No. 9 Westfall ‘65-66 (17-4)
- Jeff Lisath’s final team at Piketon made another special run. Behind a loaded senior class, which featured SVC Player of the Year Craigen Moore (18.7 points), District Player of the Year Zach Farmer (15.3 points, 7.6 rebounds), and Isaac Brabson (10.6 points, 7.2 assists), the Redstreaks went 13-1 in a very good SVC and reached the Sweet 16 for the second time in five seasons. Junior Jeremy Farmer and sophomore Wyatt Brewster each showed up big time throughout the entire season, but especially at tournament time. Piketon fell by a basket in the Sweet 16, but gave the Redstreak faithful a ride that will be remembered for a long time to come.
- In only their second year as a school, the ‘65-66 Westfall Mustangs took down all competitors to win the SVC championship. Larry Wilson’s quintet were led by SVC Player of the Year Neil Coleman and junior Tom Hamman. Brad Thompson, Tom Beard, and Tom Scribner added depth to the starting lineup while super-sub Ray Mowery could light up the scoreboard off the bench. Behind a pressure defense and a fastbreak offense, the Mustangs swept Logan Elm to advance to district play for the first time in school history. Coleman, Hamman and Beard combined for 47 points to complete the sweep. Westfall went 5-0 against fellow Pickaway County teams throughout its dominant season.
No. 5 Piketon ‘10-11 (20-3) vs. No. 12 Westfall ‘99-00 (18-5)
- A dominating performance by the ‘10-11 Redstreaks brought home the first undefeated SVC championship in school history. Jeff Lisath’s Streaks defeated opponents by an average of 18 points while winning the league by four games. SVC Player of the Year Evan Legg (22.5 points, 4.7 assists, 4.7 steals) was the go-to guy for the ‘Streaks, but they were far from a one-man show. Senior Keenan Brush was a supreme shot blocker and efficient around the rim, sophomore Craigen Moore could light teams up, while fellow sophomore Zach Farmer gave great versatility on both ends of the floor. Seniors Jared Vulgamore, Jacob Braniff and Jamie Helton were tough matchups and great athletes as well. Sophomore Isaac Brabson was able to give Legg a break at the lead guard spot, making the Redstreaks’ offense even more dangerous. The ‘Streaks would fall in the district championship game, but that does not deny their dominance throughout the season.
- After not winning the SVC outright for 34 years, the ‘99-00 Westfall Mustangs used all of their depth to win it by themselves. Allen Koker’s Mustangs won their final SVC game in overtime to wrap up the league title on a Brock Dick free throw in overtime. It was one of the many times that Dick stepped up for the Mustangs on the season. Whether it was inside or outside, he was a vital cog for the Mustangs. SVC Player of the Year Tyler Schleich (23.7 points, 12 rebounds) dominated most games, including a 32-point, 17-rebounds performance over Unioto to give the Mustangs a one-game lead late in the year. Point guard Aaron Schirm (15.1 points, 6 assists) ran the show and could provide scoring when necessary. Chuck Byrd, Jared Priest, and Trey Fausnaugh provided scoring in bunches and solid defense. The Mustangs would advance to the district tournament before falling to Wheelersburg in the semifinals.
No. 4 Adena ‘75-76 (20-3) vs. No. 13 Unioto ‘71-72 (13-6)
- After making a run to the regional the previous year, anything less for the ‘75-76 Adena Warriors would have been a letdown. Fortunately for Ron Hall and his Warriors, they repeated that performance and more. The Warriors won their second SVC championship, second district championship, and won a school record 20 games in 23 contests. Led by seniors Dave Givens (13.7 points) and Clark Gilmore (13 points), the Warriors disposed of opponents with regularity. Juniors Rick Hill (12 points), Tim Ragland, and Rob Ackley filled their roles to perfection and could each take over games if needed. Brent Wright and Kevin Roll provided depth for Hall as the Warriors cruised to a second straight district crown, including a 61-45 win in the district final against a much bigger Alexander squad.
- In Robert Munn’s first season as Unioto’s head coach, the rookie mentor guided the Shermans to their first ever SVC championship. Behind big Rick Evans (21.4 points, 12 rebounds), the Shermans would routinely light up the scoreboard. In their league-clinching 101-63 win over Laurelville, the Shermans had three players score over 20 points, which is the only such occurrence in school history. Jeff Zeisler led with 29, Dave Hice and Evans each had 22, and Steve Detillion added 10. Hice (16.5 points), Zeisler, Detillion, and Steve Frey (11.5 points) all averaged in double figures for the high scoring Shermans, who averaged 77.9 points per game. The Tanks were eliminated in tournament play by Zane Trace, but still had an outstanding season overall.
No. 6 Paint Valley ‘92-93 (18-3) vs. No. 11 Unioto ‘13-14 (20-4)
- The ‘92-93 Paint Valley Bearcats won the SVC for the first time in 29 seasons and were utterly dominant in doing so. Dave Shoemaker’s Bearcats won the SVC by a comfortable three games. SVC Player of the Year Craig Kerns (18.7 points, 7.7 rebounds, 5.9 assists) led the way, but he was one part of an outstanding senior class. Point guard Josh Anderson (11 points, 7.5 assists), Deric Newland, Shane Cawley and Jason Johnson were all outstanding for the champs. Eric Danielson brought some umph as an underclassman who could provide versatility for the Bearcats. An early upset in the tournament brought their historic season to an early end, but this still may have been the best team in Paint Valley history.
- A season after breaking through to the district level for the first time in 12 years, the ‘13-14 Unioto Shermans started the epic SVC winning streak that would last for nearly five full seasons of play. Matt Hoops’ Tanks had only one senior on the roster, Alex True, and started off the season 0-2, including an overtime loss to Zane Trace to start league play. They would win 20 of their next 21 games to outright win the SVC and advance to the sectional finals. It was the fifth time a Unioto team won at least 20 games in a season. SVC Player of the Year Nick Corcoran (17.2 points, 65 3’s), hit big shots throughout the season, including a 25-footer to beat Huntington in the second half of the season. Juniors Nick Overly (10.3 points), Kyle Strange (8.2 points), Alek Adkins (7.0 points), and Trevor Detillion (5.9 points) all took turns excelling, while sophomores Erique Hosley (8.8 points) and Cole Cottrill provided excellent versatility on both ends.
No. 3 Southeastern ‘81-82 (22-4) vs. No. 14 Piketon ‘17-18 (19-6)
- Returning three starters from the previous year’s regional championship team, the ‘81-82 Southeastern Panthers had high hopes for another great season. While their season finished in the regional championship game, I think you would be hard-pressed to find anybody disappointed with the Panthers’ overall resume. Senior Butch Doles (18.5 points, 11 rebounds) won SVC Player of the Year, while Jeff Dresbach (12.5 points) and point guard Stacy Dennewitz (9.4 points) helped the Panthers dominate the SVC to a 15-1 mark. Dave Richter, Mark Skaggs, and Mark Higley gave Larry Jordan a variety of ways he could choose to attack a defense. The Panthers had great size, which led to them routinely out-rebounding their foes, which gave them a major advantage throughout the tournament.
- Behind one of the most dominant individual seasons the SVC has seen in recent years, the ‘17-18 Piketon Redstreaks made a push to a district championship before falling short. Evan Legg’s Streaks were led by Tanner Perdue’s insane year. The senior averaged 25.2 points, 9.9 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 2.9 steals per game while shooting 55 percent from the field. It wasn’t just Perdue that made the Redstreaks go though, as junior lead guard Alex Blanton made a great leap, freshman Isaac Little progressively improved throughout the year, and junior Blake Reader provided great help side defense in taking over 20 charges on the season. A team that was predicted for a bottom half of the league finish took third and was playing its best ball down the stretch.
No. 7 Huntington ‘07-08 (20-3) vs. No. 10 Southeastern ‘78-79 (20-2)
- For only the second time in school history, the ‘07-08 Huntington Huntsmen won the SVC title. But it was also the second time in four short years. Two-time SVC Player of the Year Josh Kellough (21.7 points) led the way for the Huntsmen, but he was not alone. Twin brother Justin Kellough was nearly as dynamic for Rick Uhrig’s Huntsmen, earning first-team All-SVC honors as well. Corey Cottrill, Zach Riley, Drew Trusty, Davey Collins, and Craig Magill each had their own star-making moments throughout the Huntsmen’s dominant season as well. A 16-point destruction of Chesapeake in the district semifinal was one of many highlights on the season for the green and white. Huntington would fall to Wheelersburg in the district championship game, but would finish the season ranked No. 3 in the final AP poll.
- Larry Jordan’s ‘78-79 Southeastern Panthers breezed through the SVC with a 15-1 record and did it with great balance. Seniors Mitch Holton (13.4 points) and Sam Eldridge (10.3 points) led the way, but classmates Steve Stauffer and Jeff Detty more than held their own as well. Steve Eldridge, Lee Snyder, and Jerry Hice also provided quality minutes for the Panthers. The Panthers suffered two defeats on the season, both coming on shots at the buzzer … vs. Bishop Flaget in the regular season and against Southern in the district championship game. This version of the Panthers was the first to play the patented zone defense that you would see Jordan’s teams use in different years.
No. 2 Southeastern ‘80-81 (23-4) vs. No. 15 Zane Trace ‘70-71 (14-5)
- For the fourth time in school history, the ‘80-81 Southeastern Panthers won a regional championship and advanced to the Final Four. Larry Jordan’s Panthers split the SVC with a very good Westfall team, with each going 14-2 in SVC play. Following league play, the Panthers were more than prepared for yet another long tournament run, one that would be punctuated with a 48-45 win over Buckeye Trail in the regional championship game. Seniors Jerry Hice and Gary McCorkle combined for 31 points in the state semifinal loss to Kalida. Juniors Butch Doles (16.7 points) and Jeff Dresbach (11.5 points) were the leading scorers throughout the season. Dave Richter and Stacy Dennewitz were also key cogs for the Panthers’ machine as they marched through the Southeast District once again.
- One season after finishing No. 1 in the state, but not actually being in the SVC, the ‘70-71 Zane Trace Pioneers made themselves welcome in the new league by winning it. Ron Hall’s final Pioneer squad won the SVC with a 6-1 record. Dave Hammond (20 points) won his first of two SVC Player of the Year awards, becoming the first to do so in SVC history. Larry Bowles, Dick Damron, John Payne, and John Welch made for a dynamic starting five for Hall. A quick tournament exit would not dampen the outstanding SVC debut for the Pioneers.