By Shayne Combs,
Thursday night’s SVC showdown at Unioto with the Lady Shermans and the Lady Warriors ended
up being all it was advertised to be and more. The two teams were never separated by more than two
possessions as Unioto found a way to pull out the 54-52 win to earn the SVC championship for the fourth
straight season.

The biggest surprise to me early in the game was the atmosphere. There was a huge crowd as expected;
however, the gym was really flat early in the first half. I am not sure if it was the emotion of senior night or
just nervous energy from both teams, but the atmosphere did not have an electric feeling to it at all in the
early going. I thought this worked to Adena’s favor. Even though Adena was battling foul trouble in
the first half, Unioto wasn’t really converting at a high rate at the charity stripe. I felt like the constant
whistle kept the game slow, and it kept Unioto in the half court for the most part. On the offensive end for
the two-shade blue, Jenny Grigsby was the story in the first 16 minutes. Grigsby was showing off her
entire skill set Thursday night. The super sophomore scored in the paint, recorded put-back baskets, and
finished in transition as well. Grigsby even stepped out and helped relieve Unioto’s pressure when
Adena’s Autumn Smith was forced to the bench with foul trouble. Grigsby scored 14 of her team-
high 23 points in the first half as Adena enjoyed a 23-20 lead at halftime.

In the third quarter the game began to get quicker and Unioto started to show signs of taking control. The
Shermans won the frame by eight as they turned the three point halftime deficit to a five point advantage
entering the final quarter. This third-quarter run was capped off by a beautiful drive by Unioto’s Janae
Driggs, as the league’s best player drove right, got to the other side of the rim, and beat the clock to
give Unioto a 34-29 lead.

Adena immediately responded and the crowd did as well. After a weird atmosphere throughout the first
three quarters, it was like the two sides realized that the two teams were playing for a championship. It
took Adena just a little over two minutes to regain control as a Grigsby old-fashioned three gave Adena a
36-34 lead with 5:38 to play. This started a stretch of back-and-forth basketball that was quite simply a
treat to watch.

What made the basketball so good was the variety of players who made plays. As mentioned in the
article above, Grigsby and Driggs were great as usual, but both teams received great contributions from a
variety of players. First, Unioto’s Maddie Davis was outstanding Thursday night. Davis scored 13
points and grabbed 14 rebounds. The athletic senior also helped somewhat contain Grigsby in the second
half all while producing several key buckets down the stretch. Freshman Tori Cox delivered two key
fourth-quarter field goals – the second coming off a great open-court assist from Mallory Retherford.

Adena got major contributions from sophomores Natalie Cooper and Michelle Ackley. Both players
knocked down a pair of big threes in the final quarter. Ackley, who had hit a big three at the end of the
first quarter as well, finished with 13 points including a triple to tie the game at 52-52 with 16 seconds
remaining. Cooper ended with 10 points as she played a great all-around game. Cooper does so many
good things throughout the course of a game to help her team win. The three-point shooting of Cooper
and Ackley appeared as if it was going to lift Adena to the championship, but Driggs simply was not going
to let her team lose. Twice the senior immediately answered in an anything-you-can-do-I-can-do-better
way as she knocked down two late threes of her own including a deep triple that gave Unioto a late lead
of 50-49.

Finally, speaking of winning plays, it was Unioto’s Morgan Gumm who once again delivered the
clutch basket. The winning play came with four seconds and it unfolded as follows: The game had 16
seconds left. It appeared to me Adena, who had only four team fouls, was attempting to foul to eat some
clock, but the reach-in attempts were not called. As Driggs crossed half court she skipped the ball to
Gumm on the left wing. Gumm, who had just delivered the game-winning FTs in the ZT win a few weeks
back, attacked the glass off the dribble and scored with four seconds remaining. After a timeout and
complete confusion on where the ball was to be taken out, Adena had one last opportunity, but they were
unable to convert as Unioto secured the two-point win.
In the junior varsity title race, Unioto defeated Adena
and Westfall beat Paint Valley. This puts Adena,
Unioto, and Westfall all at 12-2 as the trio shares the tri-
championship. Adena led 24-19 after three, but with
JV, often times quarters can play a role in terms of
certain players only playing part-time JV. The other big
play came when Adena’s Alyssa Kennedy fouled
out with 1:54 remaining. At that time, Adena led 31-28,
but following her exit, Unioto finished the game on an 8-
4 run to win it 36-35 on a late bucket by Logan Cottrill.
Click here to see tonight’s McDonald’s i’m
lovin’ it SVC JV Scoreboard for scores and stats of
these two big JV games.