Pioneers closer than I thought
By Shayne Combs, SVCsportszone.com

When watching the top five or six players for the Unioto Lady Shermans, I still think Unioto is the team
to beat; however, nothing caught my eye more in Friday night’s SVC girls’ basketball preview
than the incredible athleticism and depth of Zane Trace. I will still name the purple and gold “the team
to beat,� but the gap between one and two is much smaller than I thought it would be entering the
2009-2010 season.

Zane Trace appears to have a pair of point guards in Jenna Wiget and McKenzee Tatman, a big, strong
frontline led by this year’s volleyball Player of the Year in Jessica Roepke, and one of the leagueâ
€™s top talents in junior Sierra Sigman. Sigman is an extremely versatile player who can score in a
variety of ways. She has a mixture of strength and quickness that makes her a difficult match-up.

The reason I still pick Unioto is the dominate duo of Janae Driggs and Chloe Cottrell. Both are very
tough to contain off the dribble, and both are two of the top perimeter defenders in the league. You
combine this with a sharp-shooting Erin Bane and a dominate post presence in Makenzie Arledge, and I
have to give the purple and gold a slight advantage.

What I do worry about Unioto is their depth. I think ZT has far better talent as you move down the
bench. Foul trouble to Driggs or Cottrell could be very difficult for Unioto to overcome. Possibly Uniotoâ
€™s “Xâ€� factor this season could be sophomore Hannah Miller. At 5-9, Miller is a versatile talent
that gives Unioto some much needed offensive punch after their top four scorers. Miller’s athleticism
on the defensive end, as well as her ability to score the basketball could be just what Unioto needs to
stay on top.

After these two giants at the top, I would go with Adena. Although I think the Lady Warriors are a year
away in terms of challenging for the SVC title, I still feel this year’s squad will finish in the third spot.
Adena contains nice balance. They consist of a nice trio on the perimeter in Brytan Givens, Autumn
Smith, and Jenny Grigsby. The Lady Warriors also have good size and strength on the frontline with
Kelsey Bielanow, Kirsti Yates, and Olivia Arledge.

After the top three, I feel this is where the biggest drop-off comes. In the next five teams, several
unanswered questions leave me wondering where to put them. Sometimes it is tough to tell from the
preview, but I really like Southeastern. The Lady Panthers have incredible size. They have a nice mixture
of returning players led by Catherine Dresbach, and some really talented young kids.

Piketon and Paint Valley are two stories that need more time to be clearly told. Friday told us nothing
about Piketon as the Redstreaks played without Alex Southworth and was playing against a Zane Trace
team that had more athletes than they had uniforms to dress them all. As for Paint Valley, I like their
guard play with Whitney Hollon and Abbie Walls, but they lack some depth and could struggle to find
scoring from their bench.
Westfall is a team that has definitely improved. The Lady Mustangs return Makenzie Wippel who gives
them solid scoring and rebounding. Perhaps the biggest lift for Westfall comes from the health of Casie
Zimmerman. Last year, Zimmerman was obviously in a lot of discomfort when playing, but now seems to
be healthy and able to create a lot more offensive chances for herself and her teammates.

Huntington is a team that has been hit hard by graduation over the past two seasons. The Lady Huntsmen
have a core of athletes that fans will recognize from other sports, and now the question is: How will they
respond now that they are forced to shoulder more responsibility? I never doubt that this team will play
as hard as any team on any night, but my question comes on the offensive end in terms of scoring enough

It should be a solid year in the SVC. The league is probably weaker than a year ago, but I think the
league will have more competitive games this season. I feel like a few teams at the top suffered key losses
from last year, and I feel some teams at the bottom have improved. This should equal a wide open
standings in the bottom half of the league.