Vinton County basketball
SOSA Staff

SOSA Staff

SOSA’s top 10 sports moments of 2021

We name our top 10 moments from 2021.

SOSA Staff

What a 2021 it was within the area’s high school sports scene. 

Even while still dealing with a pandemic, it didn’t stop countless jaw-dropping moments, instant classics by the drove and excitement at every turn.

2022 is officially here. We can’t wait to witness more of the same. But before we jump headfirst into a new calendar year, let’s rewind and take a look back at our top 10 moments from 2021.

Unioto’s run to the Final Four 

Entering the season on the soccer pitch, Unioto had high expectations for itself, and understandably so. But the run the Shermans ultimately went on even surpassed their own expectations. Getting revenge on Alexander in a district semifinal, then winning a district final in overtime against Marietta. Then came the most impressive win — a 3-2 improbable comeback victory over St. Clairsville in a regional semifinal before clinching its first regional title since 2004 with a win over Athens. Oh, and most of the crew is back next season.

10. Aug. 27: Ironton makes SportsCenter’s Top 10 with unbelievable finish in win over Jackson

Every great team needs to have a little luck on their side throughout the season. Week 2 of football season was Ironton’s turn to find magic. Tied 7-7 with just 5.2 seconds left, Jackson’s Ethan Crabtree buried a 28-yard field goal to put the Ironmen ahead 10-7 in what was thought to be the game-winner. However, 1.9 seconds remained and that’s all the Tigers needed. The ensuing squib kick was taken by Braxton Pringle, who pitched to Landen Wilson, who ran left before nearly being tackled. But he managed to pitch the ball to Ty Perkins, who reversed field and found an opening. Perkins dashed 82 yards for the game-winning touchdown and ate his cereal the next morning while watching his legendary run on ESPN. 

STORY: Kick return touchdown lifts Ironton over Jackson in instant classic

9. May 26: Peebles rallies, shocks Notre Dame in regional semifinal

No lead is ever safe in tournament play. It’s something that everyone understands. But it isn’t fully understood until said lead is erased in front of your eyes. Entering the fifth inning of a Division IV softball regional semifinal, the Titans led 8-1. A pair of two-run singles from Caydence Carroll and Avery Storer helped cut the lead to 8-6. Later in the inning, Darby Mills stepped up with the bases loaded and uncorked a three-run double, putting the Indians ahead 9-8. The Titans tied the game at 9-9, but Peebles’ Kyndell Lloyd laced an RBI single to give it a 10-9 lead and ultimately, the game. 

STORY: Peebles stuns Notre Dame with with improbable comeback win in regional semifinal

8. Nov. 11: South Webster and Adena volleyball punch tickets to state 

It was clear before the volleyball season started that these two teams were the creme of the crop. Senior leadership, All-Ohio talent across the board and superior head coaching. For Adena, it wasn’t challenged as it swept its way to sectional, district and its first regional championship since 2014. As for South Webster, it dropped just one set through its tournament run while winning its third straight sectional and district titles before sweeping Newark Catholic for its first-ever regional championship. While both teams’ seasons ended in a state semifinal, their legacy is forever marked in school history. 



7. May 25: Hillsboro baseball wins district title in wild fashion over Unioto

Division II baseball was unbelievably loaded this past season, so much so that a then-18 win Hillsboro team was given a No. 7 seed. That was all the motivation it needed. After stunning Jackson for a sectional title and beating Sheridan on the road, the Indians came ready for Unioto. Hillsboro jumped out to a 4-0 lead, following RBIs from Zach Humphries and Brayden Hisling, before a two-run single from Ryan Scott. Unioto answered with four straight runs: RBIs from Carson DeBord, Landyn Patterson, Dewey Dailey and DeBord again in the bottom of the seventh. Scott added an RBI single in the eighth, followed by a bases-loaded walk for a 6-4 game. Ashton Crace hit an RBI single for a 6-5 game, but Hillsboro’s Brad Miller got a strikeout to end the game and give the Indians their first district title since 1993. 

STORY: Scott’s clutch hit helps Hillsboro beat Unioto and win district title

6. May 29: Wheelersburg softball returns to the big dance 

It was no secret that Wheelersburg’s group was completely stacked. The “big” names were endless. But there was motivation after falling short in a district championship the previous season. The Pirates breezed by Wellston to once again claim a district title before easing by Tuscarawas Valley to set up a regional final showdown with Ironton, which turned into a one-sided affair. Andi Jo Howard tossed a gem, going the distance and allowing just four hits while striking out eight batters. Five different Pirates collected an RBI in the 9-1 victory as they won their first regional since 2017. 

STORY: Wheelersburg routs Ironton to claim regional championship

Wheelersburg’s Boo Sturgill celebrates after hitting a home run in a Division III state semifinal game this past spring.
CREDIT: Derrick Webb/SOSA

5. Nov. 14: Wheelersburg shocks Ironton in regional semifinal

In the opening week of football season, Ironton handed Wheelersburg a 40-6 beatdown, setting the standard for what the Tigers hoped would be a third straight state final appearance. However, those plans took the hardest of left turns 13 weeks later. Ironton scored on back-to-back possessions, thanks to a 53-yard run from Jaquez Keyes and a 19-yard run from Landen Wilson to take a 14-3 lead. Yet, Wheelersburg didn’t panic. Instead, it came up with an interception before Eli Jones scored for a 14-10 game. Defense took center stage in the second half and the Pirates came up with two interceptions … one by Casey Doerr to set up an Ethan Glover touchdown and the other from Eli Swords to clinch the upset win. 

STORY: Wheelersburg erases early deficit, knocks out Ironton

4. Nov. 7: Eastern Brown wins first-ever girls soccer regional

Much like their girls basketball team from the previous season, the soccer team was filled to the brim with talent. Now it was just a matter of how far Eastern Brown could go in the tournament. After falling in their last three district finals, the Warriors got over the hump with a 4-1 win over Wheelersburg — clinching its first-ever district title. Playing with house money, Eastern followed that with a 2-0 shutout win over Hiland before a clash with Fairbanks in the Elite Eight. Tied 2-2 with 17 minutes left, Rylee Leonard drew a foul in the box to set up a penalty kick, which Mary Litzinger promptly struck and connected with the back of the net to send the Warriors to state. 

STORY: Eastern Brown holds off Fairbanks, punches first-ever ticket to state semifinal

3. March 12: New Boston punches first-ever ticket to state

The Tigers were on the regional stage just a couple of years ago, also against Hiland and suffered a miserable 43-point loss. After winning their second district title in three years, New Boston yearned for that elusive regional title. It got its chance against the Hawks and didn’t waste the opportunity. The Tigers took a 26-21 lead at halftime and never trailed again, despite being tied 35-35 heading to the fourth. Tanner Voiers buried a triple, Brady Voiers hit back-to-back buckets and Chase Clark hit a layup to close out the team’s first regional championship since 1960.

STORY: New Boston punches tickets to Dayton, wins first regional title since 1960

2. June 5: Valley wins first regional since 1977

Playing in the SOC II, Valley was the underdog going against Minford, Waverly and Wheelersburg. But that experience all paid off in the tournaments. The Indians’ magic started by defeating Huntington to win a district championship. That was followed by a narrow victory over Paint Valley to play against Hiland for a trip to Akron. The Hawks hadn’t given up a single run throughout the whole postseason, but that changed quickly. George Arnett hit an RBI single and later a two-run double to put the Indians ahead 3-1. They added two more runs on a balk and a fielding error. Meanwhile, Carter Nickel tossed all seven innings, striking out seven batters and helping the Indians punch their tickets to Akron. 

STORY: Valley wins first regional title since 1977 with win over Hiland

1. March 12: Vinton County’s run to the state championship 

What started as a simple goal to win its first-ever district title in girls basketball turned into the greatest run, in any sport, in Vinton County history. The Vikings had been knocking on the door for the past three seasons. But this year’s group? It ran through the district, beating Circleville to check off its initial goal. Then it defeated Tri-Valley and that put Division II on notice. It dominated Sheridan for its first-ever regional championship, but it wasn’t done. Coming down to the final minute in a state semifinal against Laurel, Cameron Zinn ran in circles before attacking the basket and converting the game-winning layup to punch the Vikings’ ticket to the state championship. Though VC didn’t win the title, the Vikings made an improbable run that will never be forgotten.

STORY: Vikings advance to Division II state championship game


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