|Division III District Championship * The Convo in Athens
|Almost an Upset
ZT pushed top-ranked Oak Hill to the
brink before falling by a single point in OT
|By Shayne Combs, email@example.com
I know it is tough to accept moral victories when the end result means the end of the season; however,
Zane Traceâ€™s effort in Saturdayâ€™s Division III District Championship against undefeated and No.
1 state-ranked Oak Hill sure did the Scioto Valley Conference proud. The Pioneers dominated tempo for
nearly the entire 36 minutes while enjoying the advantage on the scoreboard for most of the day as well,
but in the end, the Lady Pioneers came up one point short as the red, white, and blue fell 39-38 to settle
for a runner-up finish.
The main story line in this instant-classic tournament battle was Zane Traceâ€™s ability to keep the game
in the half court. I felt going into the game that the Lady Pioneers would have trouble not turning it over
close to 20 times, but I felt they could still compete on the scoreboard with that turnover total if they
limited the â€œliveâ€� turnovers that allow Oak Hillâ€™s transition game to flourish. Unofficially, I had
ZT for 19 turnovers, but I would say only about five of those were â€œliveâ€� miscues. When you play
against pressure teams who like to play fast, you can travel, double dribble, or toss the ball out-of-
bounds and get away with it. This is especially true when you defend in the scrimmage area the way Zane
Trace can defend. On the other hand, if you are sloppy with the dribble or allow them to constantly
deflect passes, it does not take long for things to get away. To ZTâ€™s credit, they never allowed the
game to get too fast, and as a result, they had chances at both the end of regulation and in overtime to win
but just couldnâ€™t get the shot to fall.
In the first half, Zane Trace executed well. The Lady Pioneers were outstanding in their half court
defense. They held Oak Hill to 27-percent shooting while only sending them to the foul line four times. On
the other end, Oak Hill had problems defending Sierra Sigman and Erin Dailey. Zane Trace had success
scoring in the paint as the Lady Pioneers were able to get to the free throw line 10 times in the first half. It
was obvious Oak Hill was frustrated with the way the first half was going, but nonetheless, the Lady
Oaks still led 16-14 late in the half. A put-back basket from Hayley Carle tied the game at 16-16, and
then, ZT ended the half with a great possession that ended with a Dailey to Sigman score to give the Lady
Pioneers the halftime advantage at 18-16.
Zane Trace started the second half well as they extended their lead to two possessions on a few
occasions. Foul trouble did become a concern at one point, as a tough charge/block call appeared to be
going in favor of Dailey but was quickly changed to a block resulting in her third foul. With both Dailey
and Jenna Wiget having three fouls in the third quarter, Oak Hill showed signs of gaining control, but
Carle stepped forward and gave ZT a needed offensive lift to keep the Lady Pioneers in a good position
tied at 29-29 entering the final quarter.
Coach Dunkle did a great job preparing his team. It was obvious his girls were well schooled in the
tempo that was needed in order to give ZT a chance of pulling off the upset. Coach Dunkle also utilized
his timeouts well through the first three quarters to help prevent the game from getting too fast when Oak
Hill did cause a â€œliveâ€� turnover or force ZT into a quick, ill-advised shot. The key to pulling off any
upset is getting off to a good start, shortening the game, and getting late in the game with an opportunity to
win, and Zane Trace definitely had done all of this through the first three quarters.
In the fourth quarter, ZT was able to strike first as Wiget found Sigman down low for an old-fashioned
three. Zane Traceâ€™s momentum was slowed a little by Dailey picking up her fourth foul (which made
the earlier block/charge call even more crucial). Offense was hard to come by for both teams in the final
period as Zane Trace held leads of 33-31 and 35-33, but on both occasions Oak Hill answered to tie the
game. Finally, with both teams tied at 35-35, ZT was forced into a costly turnover, but the Lady Pioneers
answered defensively with a stop to force overtime.
The extra session followed a similar feel as the first 32 minutes as outstanding defense was making points
difficult to manufacture. Oak Hill broke through first with a free throw to take a 36-35 lead. As the clock
clicked under a minute, both teams were able to get something they had not had much success in getting
all day â€“ a three-pointer to fall. Kelsey Dunkle knocked down a huge triple to give ZT a 38-36 lead,
but Oak Hill immediately answered with an equally big three-pointer to take the lead back at 39-38.
Following a Zane Trace timeout with 15-seconds remaining, the Lady Pioneers had one last chance to
win it, but they were unable to convert as the shot attempt went out-of-bounds giving Oak Hill possession
with less than a second left. The Lady Oaks had to simply inbound the ball to clinch the district title.
In the loss, Zane Trace was led by seniors Sigman and Dailey. Sigman scored 16 points while Dailey
recorded 11 points and eight rebounds. Carle added seven points and six rebounds for ZT. Perimeter
players Wiget and Dunkle combined for only four points on the day, but both did a solid job withstanding
the intense Oak Hill pressure and provided their normal incredible effort on the defensive end. Zane
Trace ends the season with a 17-6 record as the program says goodbye to seniors Sigman, Dailey, and