After this year’s first full week of high school basketball season, here’s this week’s Shootaround, made possible by Roman Family Healthcare.
A. With a win at West on Thursday, Wheelersburg’s girls made a huge statement within the Southern Ohio Conference. That statement was, “The conference title still runs through us.” Led by Alaina Keeney and Lexie Rucker offensively, the Pirates took care of business and took home a win from a tough environment. It’s still early. Very early. But the Pirates are only going to get better. Keeney and Rucker have been phenomenal, Makenna Walker and Madison Whittaker are both more than able of putting up 10-plus points each night and Macee Eaton, Annie Coriell, Kiera Kennard, Lyndsay Heimbach and the the supporting cast are as solid as they come. There’s a ton of basketball left. But Wheelersburg still looks like the team to beat.
B. How about DeSean Branson’s Unioto Shermans? Branson has lifted the Shermans to two wins at the buzzer in the past nine days. He’s been impressive. But more importantly, Unioto looks to be gelling as a team. Blake Hoops is growing into a bonafide scoring option, Evan Park is one of the best “bigs” in our area, and Jordan Perkins, Ben Spetnagel, Newton Hoops and a host of others have consistently provided boosts when needed. Unioto’s 53-51 overtime win over Zane Trace showed that this year’s team is also capable of winning the SVC title. If the Tanks didn’t have confidence before that win, they’re oozing it now. They’ll continue to get each of their opponents’ best shots — they always do. But they’ve shown they’re capable of navigating the storm.
C. Don’t look now but Chillicothe’s girls are 3-1 in the Frontier Athletic Conference. Last year? The Cavaliers won one game in league play. The difference? The maturation of junior Jacey Harding. She’s been the definition of special all year long. Chillicothe has beaten Miami Trace, McClain and Washington while its only loss came to Hillsboro on the road. Harding is joined by Avery Erslan and Emma Barnes as Chillicothe’s production leaders while Paige Huggins and Emma Fromm round out a formidable starting lineup. The Cavaliers like to force turnovers and get out in transition. If they can finish at the rim, they could be scary good. Make no mistake about it — the FAC title race is wide open. But Chillicothe sits in the driver’s seat.
Chillicothe girls coach Anthony Gordon on his team’s 3-1 start in FAC action:
“Last year, we won one conference game the whole season. We’re 3-1 right now and right in the thick of things. I couldn’t be anymore proud of this group. I wanted to come out and look a little better offensively but out defense, I have to be really pleased with. We’re causing turnovers, getting into passing lanes and having opportunities at the basket. We just have to find a way to finish.”
Unioto boys coach Matt Hoops on DeSean Branson’s second game-winner in the past week:
“That was a great basketball player making a great play. We knew Zane Trace was going to try and deny him as much as possible. We were able to get the ball inbounds to him and he made a play. That’s what you want out of your senior and out of the guy we consider to be our go-to guy.”
Eastern Brown girls coach Kevin Pickerill on letting his team sort out the closing minutes of a 57-48 win over North Adams:
“That final minute was all about experience. I probably should have called a timeout, but we’re a team that still learning, considering we have two new starters and players playing different roles. But I didn’t want to bail them out, and I’m stubborn like that sometimes. It’s December and I wanted them to figure out how to get through it now, this way when a situation like that comes up in February and March, we know how to handle it. I trusted our seniors on the floor to come together and get it done. That’s exactly what they did.”
WORTH THE PRICE OF ADMISSION
Two Fairfield Lions etched their names in the history books this past week — senior Madison Bronner and junior Peyton Magee. Bronner recorded her 500th career rebound while Magee broke the school’s career assist record with her 246th. Both are imperative to Fairfield’s potential success this year and both are top-notch at their respective positions. If you get a chance, see them play. You won’t regret it.
After sitting out the majority of his junior season due to injury, McClain’s Bryson Badgley is back and ready to roll. Badgley has guided his Tigers to a 3-1 start while acting as an offensive orchestrator. He can hit the 3-ball, drive to the hoop and, most importantly, sit down and play defense on the other end.
SHOT OF THE WEEK
We love this photo from Cory Hall, one of our many talented photographers.
Paint Valley’s Cordell Grubb gets help to his feet by his teammates after a tough-nosed play in the lane. The Bearcats, standing at 4-2, have a big week ahead.
VIDEO OF THE WEEK
It wasn’t pretty. Actually, neither of Adena’s wins were this week. But the Warriors simply get the job done.
Adena is 4-0 overall and 3-0 in the SVC. Here’s Kiera Williams and Jadyn Smith after Thursday’s overtime win over Huntington.
PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK
SOSA’s Performance of the Week, which is always presented by Shane Maier of State Farm Insurance, belongs to Huntington’s Allison Basye.
Basye was … well … Basye on Saturday. The senior had herself a day, posting 37 points and 20 rebounds in a 62-41 win over West Union. She was also 12-of-14 from the free throw line.
Whiteoak’s Bradley Ashbaugh is ridiculously good. The senior’s latest performance included 44 points in a 75-69 win over Portsmouth at Shawnee State. With room, Ashbaugh is one of the best shooters in Southern Ohio. And that’s an understatement. He’s the reason why the Wildcats are, and will continue to be, dangerous on a nightly basis.
As if we didn’t already know she was phenomenal, Paint Valley’s Olivia Smith was up to her old tricks again this past week. The senior posted 13 points, 14 rebounds and 3 assists in a 68-46 win over Southeastern on Thursday, following an 18-point, 13-rebound performance in a win over Huntington on Tuesday. She’s been unstoppable early.
WHAT’S ON TAP
As usual, our team will be out and about this week with many interesting games on the schedule. Here’s where you can for sure find us this week.
Monday, it’s Clay at East’s girls while Waverly is Tuesday’s site as the Tigers’ boys host South Webster in an SOC II battle. Wednesday and Thursday, we’ll have updates from Circleville and Fairfield as Chillicothe’s girls travel to face the Tigers while the Lions’ girls welcome Eastern Brown in SHAC action.
We’ll kick off the weekend with coverage from Unioto as the Shermans host Paint Valley in a conference bout and, on Saturday, we’re bringing a double scoop of coverage starting with Lynchburg-Clay at Huntington’s girls and ending with Amanda-Clearcreek at Circleville’s boys.