The league round Thursday night for SVC girls did not have a match-up of league leaders, but I was interested in watching Piketon play a game in which they were considered by most the favorite to win. In an earlier game this season, I watched Piketon play Adena in a game that caused Piketon some mismatch issues and the Lady Redstreaks were forced to do some things that perhaps they are not as comfortable doing. The match-up at Huntington Thursday night contained a Lady Huntsmen group that plays extremely hard but is inexperienced and simply not as talented as Piketon. The interesting thing about watching Piketon in this match-up was the chance to see them play more man-to-man and a little more up-tempo. I like seeing Coach Coreno use this strategy in a game like this because it takes a young team and shows the ability they have not just now but in the future as well. As Piketon continues to get better from last year to this year and this year to next year, the Lady Redstreaks are going to find themselves in the role of favorite more and more. Often times last year and even on occasion this year, the Lady Redstreaks have been hurt by not being able to play multiple styles, and this can sometimes put teams in serious jeopardy of being knocked off by teams of lesser ability. I have always believed when a team reaches an elite status it is when they can play and win games in different ways. The Piketon boys are a great example of this. They are a team that can win 80-79 one night and 50-49 the next. They can outscore you in a track meet and they can defend you and out execute you in a defensive, half court struggle. This is why I believe tonightâ€™s defensive look is an example of Piketonâ€™s growth as a program. Moving forward, I believe Piketon is a threat to shorten a game and give one of the top three teams a scare. This was evident in Piketonâ€™s first-round meeting with Unioto. On the other end, both Paint Valley and Southeastern were successful in doing the same to Piketon as both the Bearcats and the Panthers gave the Redstreaks a first-round scare.
I realize in many of the games against the leagueâ€™s top three teams that Piketon will have to utilize some zone and play some slower tempo; however, I slowly see Piketonâ€™s style starting to evolve. With a talented 6-0 point guard in Alex Southworth running the show, Piketon is starting to show more offensive punch. Senior Tori Pelphrey gives the Lady Redstreaks a nice inside threat and Piketonâ€™s freshmen duo of K.K. Jenkins and Aleah Pelphrey continue to get better. You add in a hard-working Elisha Manley, an improving bench, and some very talented pieces from Piketonâ€™s junior high group and I believe the future Piketon squads are going to start to quicken their pace. As for now, their continued push at a possible 13 win regular season and possible sectional championship is probably going to consist of some slower, hard-fought games when it comes down to some of the quality opponents that they will have to beat to accomplish these goals. I feel a key to this style is Tori Pelphrey. Being a senior, Pelphrey is the one Piketon player that contains experience of battling in the paint in a varsity game. As Piketon starts to play in more championship level games â€“ be it SVC or sectional â€“ their young kids are going to start to sense how the game is played and officiated with a physical nature. Every screen, every box out, every loose ball, and every basket cut is going to lead to contact, and the teams who learn to handle this and play through it are usually the teams who are going to succeed in big games. This is one area I will give credit to Huntington tonight. Even though Piketon was more talented, I felt at times tonight Huntington was the more aggressive team. Throughout the game, Piketonâ€™s basketball talent showed up on the scoreboard, but there were several instances where I saw some of Piketonâ€™s youth in terms of their reaction to Huntingtonâ€™s aggressiveness. I started to think back to Piketonâ€™s problems on the glass against Adena and about Coach Corenoâ€™s comments about his young team not handling Uniotoâ€™s second-half push. These are all normal issues for a young team, and the more Piketon faces these situations, the better they will get.