|IT ALL COMES DOWN TO THIS
|SVC trio still in title hunt entering Thursdayâ€™s
|Shayne Combs, SVCsportszone.com
It is quite remarkable to take a minute to reflect on what Unioto has accomplished in the past four years.
Four titles, three of which already outright with the fourth becoming outright if the Lady Shermans are able
to beat Adena Thursday night. Unioto is also perfect at home during that stretch. Janae Driggs and
Mackenzie Arledge, who are the only two players in SVC history to win four SVC titles, will now try to
add one last league win which would make them 53-3 in SVC play.
Obviously, Arledgeâ€™s role has been limited to assistant coach. The leagueâ€™s best player had her
senior season come to an end back on December 9th, but Arledge has continued to lead. Frontline
players Hannah Miller and Maddie Davis have really stepped up big in her absence. Miller is a top-10
scorer and a top-15 rebounder in the SVC. Davis is an elite athlete who can score and rebound and has
been extremely valuable on the defensive end showing the versatility to shut down both post players and
perimeter shooters. Uniotoâ€™s frontline has also been given a great lift recently with the great play of
freshman Tori Cox. Cox, who has led Unioto in rebounding and block shots over the last few games also
showed the ability to score the basketball with 14 points in Saturdayâ€™s win over McClain.
Adena counters with one of the leagueâ€™s most talented post players in sophomore Jenny Grigsby.
Grigsby, one of the SVCâ€™s most consistent and efficient players, leads Adena with 13.4 points and
7.8 rebounds per game. They also possess an extremely talented guard in Autumn Smith. Smith will play a
big key in this game in terms of her ball handling and decision-making. Her ability off the dribble should
help neutralize Uniotoâ€™s pressure. In the first meeting of these two teams earlier this season, Smith had
an aggressive first half to help Adena stay close while Grigsby battled foul trouble. In the second half, I felt
Smith lost her aggressiveness. Outside of Brytan Givens, who scored a team-high 12 points, Adena really
struggled on the offensive end scoring only 11 second half points.
Uniotoâ€™s guards will have their hands full against the talented backcourt of Smith and Givens;
however, the Lady Shermans have a solid backcourt as well. Driggs has had an outstanding year
dominating opponents on both ends of the floor. Driggs is the leagueâ€™s top scorer on the offensive end
at 20 points per game, and on the defensive end, she records nearly six steals per game to lead the league
in that category as well. Two other keys in the backcourt are Mallory Retherford and Morgan Gumm.
Retherford is starting to show the ability to take over more ball handling responsibility which frees up
Driggs to move off the ball. Gumm, who will probably draw the defensive assignment of Smith, always
does a solid job of keeping the ball in front. Gumm has also shown the ability in recent big games such as
Zane Trace and McClain of making some key plays and clutch free throws. Another great attribute of
Unioto is how deep they can go. An athlete like Ashley Flautt gives Coach Driggs so much versatility and
Lauren Stoutâ€™s ability to spot up and shoot the open three gives Unioto some options with situational
When a gameâ€™s probable line-ups contain names like Driggs, Miller, Grigsby, and Smith, it is
sometimes easy to forget about roles players, but these big, championship-deciding games almost always
come down to big plays from members of the supporting cast. Often times it doesnâ€™t have to be
scoring. It can be the little things that add up to make the difference. I mentioned Uniotoâ€™s great depth
above, but Adena has a great depth of role players as well. Michelle Ackley provides the ability to
knockdown the three-point shot. Hannah Halcomb and Alyssa Dawson play key minutes as well, but I
feel the Adena role player who can impact a game in the most ways is Natalie Cooper. Cooper averages
almost five points, four rebounds, nearly three assists, three steals, and she even blocks a shot per game.
She will need to stuff the stat sheet in this game for Adena to be successful. In the first meeting, I did not
think Adenaâ€™s younger players responded real well to Uniotoâ€™s pressure. Thursday night is going
to be an amazing atmosphere (if you were at the Unioto/ZT game a few weeks back you know what I am
talking about) and the team who handles the atmosphere and the other teamâ€™s defensive pressure is
going to have a huge advantage in this game.
Another big key will be how this game is called and how both teams adjust. Grigsbyâ€™s first half foul
trouble was a huge factor in game one. Rebounding and turnovers will be key stats, and it will be
interesting to see who can apply the most pressure and who can win the glass without fouling. Even though
neither team shoots it very well from the line, neither team can afford to watch their key players sit for long
periods of time in foul trouble.
In order to understand the high stakes in this one, a fan would only need to look at the standings. Unioto
holds a one game lead over Adena and Zane Trace. A Unioto win equals an outright title. An Adena win
would equal a co-championship for the Lady Warriors and the Lady Shermans, and in this scenario, it
could become a three-way share if Zane Trace is able to win at Piketon.
The varsity championship isnâ€™t the only title to be decided Thursday night. The sure-to-be incredible
atmosphere will first witness the junior varsity championship. Adena enters the league finale at 12-1.
Unioto enters at 11-2. Westfall is also 11-2. Adena will need a win to take the outright title; however, a
Unioto win would make for a co-championship and a Unioto win combined with a Westfall win over Paint
Valley would equal a tri-championship. We arrived at this scenario because of a Westfall victory over
Adena last Thursday night. The win came in double overtime, and it kept the Lady Warriors from
clinching the outright championship.