Girls' Preview
By Shayne Combs, admin1@svcsportszone.com
In preparing to write this year’s preview article for girls’ basketball, I almost felt that I could just
go back and copy and paste a lot of last year’s preview article.

Adena or Unioto? -  Is another team ready to threaten Zane Trace for the third spot? - Just how
much parity will there be in the middle to bottom of the league?

Well, the answers a year ago were Adena, no, and a lot. In 2012-2013, I believe these same questions
are a good starting point, but finding the answers could possibly be twofold. First, these questions have
me looking back to last year. Then, I am left to predict if there has been enough of a change to change the
outcomes this season.

Let’s start at the top. It is hard to argue that Adena and Unioto is where the title discussion starts and
pretty much ends. Adena returns several pieces from last year’s gold ball team, but gone is the very
talented point guard Autumn Smith. Smith’s ability with the ball made life so much easier on every
Lady Warrior, and she made it near impossible for SVC teams to defend the great balance of the Adena

Returning to lead the defending champs is last year’s Player of the Year Jenny Grigsby. Grigsby is an
incredible talent. Grigsby, who enters her final season a little over 100 points shy of 1,000, is the leagueâ
€™s best scorer on one end, and in my opinion, the best overall defender on the other. I feel Grigsby has
enough versatility in her game to help Coach Cox fill the void at the PG position when needed, but at
some point you are left to wonder how much is too much – even for the best player in the league – to
shoulder. I realize there will not be too many people across the league feeling sorry for Coach Cox
because he does return four other key pieces. Natalie Cooper is one of the league’s most versatile
players. Cooper is a great defender. Her length and quickness allow her to guard four or five different
positions, and her offensive game really has improved as I was really impressed at Friday night’s
preview with her ability to create her own shot. Michelle Ackley also returns as one of the better shooters
in the league. Ackley shot the ball well on the big stage last year, and when she does this it basically
makes Grigsby an impossible match-up. Other than the point guard position, I feel the biggest key to
Adena’s repeat attempt could come in the paint. Alyssa Dawson and Alyssa Kennedy – both
seniors – both are ready for big years in my opinion. Dawson is a strong, tough player with great feet
and usually plays the game with great efficiency. Assuming Kennedy’s minutes will go up, this gives
Adena more size than a year ago, and she should really allow Coach Cox to be even more aggressive
with his defensive pressure.

As for Unioto, Coach Miller has another really deep, talented team. The talent and athleticism is going to
overwhelm two-thirds of Unioto’s schedule, but the questions come when looking at Unioto taking
the next step. As stated before, the loss of Smith at Adena does close the gap from last year, but I think
Unioto is going to have to show some improvements of its own in certain areas. The first thing the Lady
Shermans have going for them is that they seem healthier. Mallory Retherford is moving much better than
a year ago, and Taylor Overly – who played very well in Friday’s preview - returns after losing her
entire season a year ago to a knee injury. You combine them with the elite talents of Alexis Overly and
Tori Cox as well as an elite athlete like Ashley Flautt, the great size of 6-1 Hannah Nelson, and a solid
role player in Halle White, and Unioto should be better in some key areas this season. My biggest
concerns a year ago for this team are still a concern for me when it comes to Unioto playing the best
teams on its schedule. As I mentioned earlier, Unioto’s talent and athleticism will take care of several
opponents, but in match-ups where Unioto cannot cause turnovers and play in transition, can the Tanks
create enough easy points? Although very talented a year ago, Unioto did not have a player who could
take the ball and create their own shot or a shot for a teammate. All the half court points had to come
from execution of quick-hitters and that is tough to live on against good teams. I am anxious to see if
Overly and Retherford can create more space off the dribble or if Cox – who from what I saw Friday
night is ready for a huge year - becomes more comfortable one-on-one on the block. Unioto’s half
court offensive ability will be the one thing that will decide if this is going to be a really good team or a
team ready for a really special season.

The gap between Adena and Unioto has shrunk, and it should make for two incredible head-to-head
match-ups. I think you will see Unioto be the more dominate team throughout the league; however, in the
head-to-head match-ups, it is hard not to call Adena the “team to beat� until someone proves
otherwise. Assuming no other team can beat these two teams, these two games will decide the SVC
championship once again in 2012-2013.

Next up on last year’s final standings was Zane Trace. As for other teams pushing Zane Trace, we
did see this happen last year, but it was on various nights and not even close in the overall standings. The
Lady Pioneers won 10 league games last year finishing five games ahead of the next closest team. The
biggest problem with this team is going to be offense. The Lady Pioneers only averaged 40 points per
game last year and they graduated over half of that scoring. The one thing that will still make it tough on
the rest of the league to catch them is ZT’s ability to defend. A Joe Dunkle coached team is going to
be tough, they are going to be well-schooled in man-to-man, and they are going to make every dribble,
pass, and catch tough for opponents. If you look at the Zane Trace roster, it is full of athletes who have
been highly successful in a variety of sports and know how to win. I think this group of girls by the
midpoint of this season could end up being one of Coach Dunkle’s best defensive groups. As for
offense, the offensive talent of Kylan Strausbaugh should help, and Hayley Carle and Joann Saultz will
have to take on more offensive responsibility than in years past. With overall guard play being better in
this year’s league, it is going to make it tough for ZT to create points off its defense. You combine this
with ZT’s struggles to score, and I think you will see the Lady Pioneers playing a lot of closer games
than in year’s past. The biggest key might simply be this: Can teams who have lost for several years
now to Zane Trace get over the hump and find a way to beat them?

Next up is our foursome in fourth. The parity in the middle of the standings was crazy. We had four teams
tie in fourth place with a record of four games under the five-hundred mark. Paint Valley, Piketon,
Southeastern, and Westfall all split with one another a year ago. Obviously, injuries to Alex Southworth
and Keisha Brown made the second half the season play differently than the first half, but for the most
part we had teams beating up on one another.

The four teams who finished with 5-9 records will try to figure out how to close that five-game gap on
Zane Trace. Westfall is one team that many are talking about in the preseason. Coach Blue returns Jess
Miller and Paige Swaggerty – both coming off solid seasons a year ago – and now welcomes a group
of freshmen who appear ready to impact the varsity game immediately. From what I watched Friday
night, Kelsie Robinson, Regan Stonerock, and Jessica Mathes are all names SVC fans better get to know

Another team hoping to take giant steps forward is Paint Valley. Led by returning first-teamer Charlene
Stout as well as junior Laci Stanforth, the Lady Cats look to become more consistent in 2012-2013. One
thing working against them is that they are not going to sneak up on teams the way they did a year ago.
This time last year, coaches around the league had no idea the impact Stout would have on this team. At
6-0, Stout managed the point for Coach Holbert and allowed Paint Valley to control tempo on most
nights. I believe Stanforth is ready for a breakout season and with two all-league caliber players, PV
should match-up well with the majority of the SVC. Senior Riley Litter, as well as juniors Faith Davis,
Nellie Rhoads, Kaylie Armstrong, and Kamren Bobb, completes a roster that should be a little deeper
than last year. Paint Valley was a team that nearly upset Zane Trace late in the season a year ago, but also
lost at Southeastern and Westfall. Again the key will be finding a way to consistently play at a level worthy
of a top half spot.

The next two teams are tough to figure out. Piketon and Southeastern both have legitimate arguments that
last year’s standings would have looked completely different if not for the injuries of Alex Southworth
and Keisha Brown.  For Piketon, they return solid frontline play in K.K. Jenkins and Aleah Pelphrey.
Coach Coreno has always done such a great job of developing his bigs. Jenkins and Pelphrey do a great
job of running the floor, and if given touches should help Piketon be very competitive on most nights. The
Lady Redstreaks also return a solid shooter in Ashlee Lawhorn, who now as a sophomore looks as if she
is starting to get more comfortable putting the ball on the floor and making plays.The biggest question for
this team is the floor general. Anytime you graduate a six-foot PG and send her D-I it is going to leave a
hole. Piketon appears that it will go young at the point. Like any rookie PG there will be learning to do.
Freshman PG Payton Reuter, who is one of four rookies on a Piketon roster that does not have a senior,
has a nice feel for the game, and she does a nice job handling the ball. As she becomes more comfortable
with the speed of the varsity game, I also believe she is capable of knocking down the uncontested
jumpers that should come available due to Piketon’s post play.

As for Southeastern, Erin Uhrig and Logan Goebel return to give the Lady Panthers some experience, but
the program also has a new leader in first-year coach Mike Adams. Lydia Dresbach and Brandi Sarlo
both appear healthy and ready to go which helps the talent level of the Lady Panthers. It is way too early
to tell what a realistic goal is for Southeastern. This is still a young team, but a team that probably has
more depth than a year ago. The Lady Panthers have lost some really good guard play, so I will have to
see a few early season match-ups to know for sure. Based on Friday’s preview, SE definitely
appeared every bit as athletic as any of the teams fighting for position in the middle of the pack.

Last year’s eighth-place team was a “winless in conference play� Huntington team that should
be much improved this season. Jackie Kellough returns as a senior much improved after playing as a
junior following a stretch where she was not playing basketball. I thought Kellough looked like a
completely different player when I saw her late last year compared to earlier in the season. Huntington will
also get a new look from a strong incoming freshmen class including point guard Ariel Sams. The ball
handling ability of Sams as well as her ability to shoot the three should help Huntington improve on an
SVC worst 25 points per game a year ago. The Lady Huntsmen will still go through plenty of growing
pains against the top half the league, but I do expect the green and white to compete much better against
the bottom half of their schedule.

In conclusion, let’s revisit our questions.

Adena or Unioto? -  Is another team ready to threaten Zane Trace for the third spot? - Just how
much parity will there be in the middle to bottom of the league?

I believe the answers in 2013 are…too close to call, yes but can they get past the head-to-head history
with the red, white, and blue, and a lot with what should be an improved level of basketball compared to
the 5-9 quartet a year ago.

As always it should be a fun season to follow. Please join us on our return of the Triple Crown
Family Fun Center SVC Sports Talk podcast show in early December as Jeremy Ward will join
me to talk about everything you need to know for both the boys and girls in this year’s
Scioto Valley Conference.