2019-20 Zane Trace Pioneers
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John Bruce

The Best-Ever SVC Hoops Team: Jeff Reisinger Regional

We introduce the Jeff Reisinger Region of our Best-Ever SVC Hoops Team Bracket. Vote for your winners here.

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. 

Earlier this week, we released our Larry Jordan and Dale Haynes Regionals, as well as our Ron Shoemaker Regional. Today, we’ve got 16 more seeded teams in what we’re dubbing the “Jeff Reisinger Regional.”

NOTE: Photos in this article have been generously provided or found via Facebook.

Jeff Reisinger Bracket

No. 1 Piketon ‘08-09 (24-3) vs. No. 16 Zane Trace ‘96-97 (16-5)

  • The most recent regional champion out of the SVC is the ‘08-09 Piketon Redstreaks. Jeff Lisath’s balanced team split the SVC title with Westfall, but also swept the Mustangs in all three meetings, including a 78-71 district championship victory. SVC Player of the Year Cody Smith (19 points, 55 percent from the field) and fellow senior Jordan Brabson (18.7 points) led the Redstreaks’ explosive offense. Sophomore Evan Legg (12.6 points, 5.9 assists) ran the show while Keenan Brush and Caleb Southworth played outstanding interior defense and controlled the boards throughout the year. Jared Vulgamore, Kenny Helton, and Jamie Helton were key contributors off the bench, with Vulgamore made several key plays in the regional championship win over Grandview Heights. Brabson (24.5 points) and Smith (22.8 points) were utterly dominant in the team’s four wins at The Convo, including combining for 53 in the regional championship. Lisath’s ‘Streaks made a furious comeback to win the regional championship, erasing a late 10-point deficit to force overtime. A truly great team that came out of one of the better overall leagues since the turn of the century.
  • Despite graduating the majority of their offense from the previous season, the ‘96-97 Zane Trace Pioneers were able to win the SVC by two games. Gary Kellough’s Pioneers may have surprised a majority of the area, but not those who were closest to the Pioneers throughout the season. Senior Greg McCullough (14.2 points) was the leader for the Pioneers, but perhaps the greatest way to point out how much of a team they were … only senior Travis Branham also made the All-SVC list besides McCullough. An eight man rotation that also featured Nate Jarrell, Nate Strawser, Richard Larson, Kevin Groff, Josh Ross, and sophomore Lucas Singer, gave Kellough the depth and cohesiveness needed to make a surprising run to the top of the SVC. A shocking loss in the opening round of the sectionals versus Piketon aside, this was an incredible season for the Pioneers.

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No. 8 Unioto ‘94-95 (20-3) vs. No. 9 Adena ‘18-19 (19-7)

  • With an inside presence like SVC Player of the Year Jason Cruse (21 points, 15.1 rebounds), it’s easy to see why the ‘94-95 Unioto Shermans finished as SVC champions and district runner-up. But, if you doubled down on Cruse, junior Mike Fout (20.3 points) would light it up from deep. In the Tanks’ 82-63 district semifinal win over North Adams, Ron Lovely’s Shermans drilled 13 three-pointers. Fout knocked down seven 3’s of his own, point guard Shayne Combs and Chad Ward each hit two, while Matt Hoops and Kyle Hester hit one each. Teams were unable to key on Cruse and Fout, because Hoops, Combs, Ward, and Matt Park could light opponents up, with all four scoring 15-plus points in a game. Cruse’s dominance on the boards also opened up deep passes to start fast breaks multiple times in each outing. Even with falling in the district championship game to Minford, the Shermans were still able to win their second consecutive league title and clinch a sixth straight trip to The Convo for the district tournament.
Adena’s Zach Fout averaged 16 points and led the Warriors to their first district title in 39 seasons in the 2018-19 season.
CREDIT: Derrick Webb/SOSA
  • Behind a dynamic senior performance from Zach Fout, the ‘18-19 Adena Warriors made their first trip to the Sweet 16 in 39 seasons. Kyle Bradley’s Warriors had a great mix of youth and experience coming into the season, which led to a second place finish in the SVC. But things were really turned on when the lights were the brightest. Fout (16 points) was very good during the regular season, but turned it up even more during the postseason. He posted a double-double in each district tournament win and scored 21 in their loss to Harvest Prep in the regionals. Sophomores Logan Bennett (12.6 points) and Preston Sykes were also fantastic throughout the postseason. Senior Caleb Foglesong was the ultimate glue guy for the Warriors, doing all of the dirty work, while sophomores Nate Throckmorton and Jacob Shipley filled their roles extremely well. Sykes made an impressive adjustment late in the season as he took over more of the ball-handling duties when fellow sophomore Jarrett Garrison went down with an injury. If the Warriors had a healthy Garrison, they may have been able to make it a little deeper, as he was a vital part to their team. Still, a district championship, the first in 39 seasons, is nothing to sneeze at for the Warriors.

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No. 5 Unioto ‘15-16 (23-2) vs. No. 12 Adena ‘05-06 (19-4)

  • Perhaps the greatest “what if” in SVC history occurred with the ‘15-16 Unioto Shermans. Matt Hoops’ Tanks were in the midst of a dominant winning streak, led by senior Cole Cottrill. Cottrill was dynamic in all phases of the game, but would be injured in January, which severely altered the Shermans’ plans. The winning streak would continue and reach 55 consecutive regular season wins before it fell in a three-point loss at Chillicothe. A major reason for the streak continuing was the interior play of seniors Erique Hosley (11.1 points, 9.6 rebounds) and Isaac Wheeler (11.7 points, 6.9 rebounds). The sophomore backcourt of Logan Swackhammer (9.2 points, 4.8 assists) and Brandon Kennedy (10.8 points, 47 percent from 3) could beat you in a variety of ways if the defense packed it in. Sophomore Gabe Fisher stepped up in Cottrill’s absence and did so with unreal athleticism and effort. Sophomore Peyton Hill provided frontcourt depth and rebounding. Juniors Casey White, Clay Edler and Gavin Ogan, along with senior Sawyer Lovely, gave the Shermans outstanding depth at all three levels. The Shermans were able to avenge their single regular season loss by defeating Chillicothe in the sectional championship, before falling to Vinton County at the district level.
  • With a fantastic group of seniors, the ‘05-06 Adena Warriors achieved multiple things that the program had not done in over 25 seasons. Lou Postage’s Warriors won their first SVC title since 1976 and also won their first game in district play since the 1980 season. Seniors Nick Milliken and Andrew Sowers led the way for the Warriors, while juniors Michael Hitchens and Dylan Givens would also routinely take the lead for the Warriors. For instance, Givens knocked down a game-winning jumper to close out the regular season with less than five seconds remaining to beat Westfall. Steven Posey, David Halcomb, and Adam Zurmehly also provided a major spark for the Warriors as they ascended to the top of the SVC once again. The Warriors would defeat Piketon and Zane Trace in tournament play, reaching the district championship game.

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No. 4 Southeastern ‘02-03 (21-3) vs. No. 13 East Clinton ‘72-73 (15-4)

  • Perhaps you’d think that a team built around a 6-foot-11 senior center would be one dimensional, but the ‘02-03 Southeastern Panthers were far from it. Sure, two-time SVC Player of the Year Chris Skaggs (21.3 points, 13.1 rebounds) was the focal point, but with seniors like Trustan Detty (15.7 points, 6 assists) and defensive stopper Ronnie Detillion, the Panthers could hurt you in a variety of ways. Juniors Tony Young (8.9 rebounds) and Drew Prater, along with sophomore Jason Day and senior guard Jeremy Swanson, could each impact the game in positive ways for Larry Jordan’s Panthers as well. The Panthers dominated their way through the SVC for a second straight year and also through district play, including a 69-42 win over a very good Zane Trace team in the district championship. In that game, Skaggs shot 16-of-20 from the field and finished with a game high 34 points. The Panthers were defeated for the second straight year in the Sweet 16 by Garaway, who would end up as state runner-up.
  • In their final year of competition in the SVC, the ‘72-73 East Clinton Astros made sure it was one for the record books. Jim Kramer’s Astros ran roughshod through the SVC, finishing 7-0 and 15-4 overall. SVC Player of the Year Jeff Streber (19.4 points) and Jan Rittenhouse (17.1 points) led a balanced attack on their way out of the league.

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No. 6 Unioto ‘16-17 (19-6) vs. No. 11 Southeastern ‘87-88 (16-6)

  • The ‘16-17 Unioto Shermans were a single point away from gaining a measure of revenge versus Vinton County for how the previous season ended, but would have to settle for a one-point loss in the district championship game. Matt Hoops’ Shermans went 14-0 once again in SVC play, narrowly escaping a very game Piketon squad to extend the SVC winning streak to 55 games. Juniors Logan Swackhammer (12.2 points), Peyton Hill (13.1 points), Brandon Kennedy (10.6 points, 56 3’s) and Gabe Fisher led the way for the Tanks, while seniors Clay Edler, Gavin Ogan, Casey White, and Tre Ivey filled in roles to help put the Shermans over the top in SVC play. Ivey would put an exclamation point on the Tanks district semifinal win over Logan Elm with a late breakaway dunk.
  • Behind a massive senior season from SVC Player of the Year Mike Strausbaugh (22.2 points) and a pair of super sophomores, Larry Jordan’s ‘87-88 Southeastern Panthers returned to the top of the SVC after a two-year absence. Until that point, the two-year absence from the number one spot in the league was the longest break for the Panthers since they first joined the SVC. Sophomores Mike Adams (10.5 points, 7.7 rebounds) and Aaron Skeens (10.5 points, 3.7 assists) would show flashes of brilliance in the early goings of their careers. Sophomore classmate Mike Jordan, Bryan Barnes and Chad Mitten gave Jordan solid defenders who could also score the basketball. Strausbaugh was impressive throughout the season, but was most impressive with a 40-point barrage against Columbus Wehrle, who won the state championship and finished in the USA Today Top 25 nationally. Wehrle was led by future Buckeye standout Lawrence Funderburke, who had 30 in the 94-75 Wehrle win

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Unioto’s Isaac Little led the Shermans to a 20-4 record in 2019-20, averaging 13.5 points.
CREDIT: Derrick Webb/SOSA

No. 3 Southeastern ‘01-02 (22-2) vs. No. 14 Unioto ‘19-20 (20-4)

  • For the 13th time overall and third time while securing a gold ball, the ‘01-02 Southeastern Panthers were kings of the SVC. Larry Jordan, in his second year back after a four year hiatus, led his Panthers to the school’s 11th district title and did so in dominant fashion. Junior Chris Skaggs (18.3 points, 13.9 rebounds) would win his first SVC Player of the Year, while classmate Trustan Detty (16.7 points) was an outstanding outside threat. Winning by an average of 27 (!!) points a game during the regular season, the Panthers more than held up to that in their run to the Sweet 16, winning each of their three tournament games by over 22 points. Senior point guard Brian Netter did a little bit of everything to make the Panthers go. Netter averaged 8.1 points, 7.9 assists, and 3.8 steals per game, with the assists and steals leading the SVC. Fellow seniors Dave McGarvey and Chris Netral, along with Ronnie Detillion and Tony Young gave the Panthers outstanding depth inside and outside shooting. 
  • The most underrated and perhaps best definition of a TEAM in the entire tournament, the ‘19-20 Unioto Shermans exceeded preseason expectations from all pundits to earn a share of the SVC championship. Matt Hoops’ Tanks were led by junior Isaac Little (13.5 points) and seniors Josh Lambert (9.2 points, 64 percent from the field) and Reece Wheeler (7.1 points, 7.6 rebounds). Little was slowed by an injury that brought his averages down, but the Shermans’ depth was on full display throughout the season. Senior guard Nate Keiser became one of the better defenders and shooters in the SVC, while twins Cam and Carson DeBord gave outstanding defense and shooting as well. Gunnar Greenwalt and Jeremy Lambert filled out perimeter spots with excellence, while Cater Markko and Evan Park provided frontcourt depth and scoring. The ultimate team defense who only allowed 40 points per game.

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No. 7 Southeastern ‘97-98 (20-4) vs. No. 10 Laurelville ‘69-70 (18-4)

  • Following a disastrous ‘96-97 season, where they finished 5-18 and their new coach quit late in the season, the ‘97-98 Southeastern Panthers played like they had something to prove. Long time assistant Dan Easterday took over and immediately got the ship righted. Behind a standout performance from senior John Danicki (18.0 points, 10.3 rebounds), the Panthers went from underachievers to being right where Southeastern basketball was used to being, SVC champions and in the Sweet 16. It was not just Danicki who was the reason for the turnaround, as juniors Tyler Barbee (15.0 points), Wes Wood (11.4 points, 7.1 rebounds), Matt Castle and point guard Greg Schrader (6.9 assists) were extremely vital in the Panthers’ successes. Over the Panthers’ romp to the Sweet 16, Danicki averaged 24 points per game, including 29 in a 70-49 district championship win over North Adams.
Southeastern coach Dan Easterday, a longtime assistant, led the 1996-97 team to a 20-4 mark.
Submitted photo
  • With their third SVC championship in four seasons, the ‘69-70 Laurelville Wildcats made their mark on the SVC, even if the school would close two short years later. Jim Arnold’s Wildcats soared to a 17-3 regular season and split the SVC crown with Adena. To get their share of the title, senior Mike Shaw would hit a buzzer-beater in their regular season finale to beat Huntington, 73-71. Shaw would finish that evening with 29 points. The Wildcats won 16 consecutive games at one point in the season. Rick Fast, Steve McCabe, Mike Weaver, Marty Unger, and Denny Thompson would aid in a balanced attack that boasted the Wildcats to their final SVC championship.

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No. 2 Zane Trace ‘19-20 (22-4) vs. No. 15 Huntington ‘86-87 (20-3)

  • Returning all five starters from a district championship and Gold Ball winning team meant expectations would be high for the ‘19-20 Zane Trace Pioneers. For Gary Kellough and the Pioneers, those expectations would be met by repeating as district champions and sharing the SVC crown with Unioto. Cam Evans (21.6 points) would repeat as SVC Player of the Year, becoming only the ninth player to do so in SVC history. Evans would also finish his career as Zane Trace’s all-time leading scorer and would be named All-Ohio twice. Fellow seniors Nick Nesser (13.3 points), Colby Swain, Triton Davidson and Luke Johnson continued their excellence from the previous season. Freshman Nalin Robinson and senior Bryce Johnson gave depth for the Pioneers. Nesser and Davidson both had preseason surgery, which slowed their starts to their years, but ultimately paid off with their health down the stretch. The Pioneers defeated Adena 51-48 at The Convo and then a strong Ironton team in the district championship game.
  • With 18 regular season wins, including 12 straight that ended in the district semifinals, the ‘86-87 Huntington Huntsmen set a school record that has only been tied once since. Rick Bethel’s Huntsmen were a senior dominated squad with nine seniors on the roster. Mike Brown (14.2 points), Dennis Irvin (13.9 points, 8.8 rebounds), and Doug Jonas (12.8 points, 5 assists) led the Huntsmen throughout the season, but had plenty of help along the way. Dave Howard, James Skaggs, and sophomore Marty Kellough all made winning plays for the experienced Huntsmen. Kellough forced a key turnover that led to Brown’s game-winning layup to win their sectional championship game versus Eastern. The Huntsmen finished the regular season with easy wins over the two No. 1 seeds in the district in Whiteoak and North Gallia. Huntington would finish one game out of the SVC race, finishing behind the Mark Pairan led Zane Trace Pioneers.

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