INBOX RESPONSE = February 23, 2011
SVC willing to add a team? Several basketball questions concerning SVC boys . .
. even some SVC volleyball questions in this week's inbox
Shayne Combs,
I am just a Vinton County Fan.  I was wondering if the SVC has plans for expansion.  I believe
that it would be a great fit for Vinton County.  As you know, the Vikings play a significant
number of SVC teams in just about all sports such as Unioto and Piketon in Football - Piketon,
Southeastern, Paint Valley, and Unioto (Foundation Game) in Boys' Basketball.  And so on for
the other sports.  In this day of traveling expenses, it could just make sense for everyone.


This discussion for the SVC has been off-and-on for quite some time now. The SVC is an incredible
conference that has great longevity and great tradition. Change is something that the conference seems to
be reluctant to take on at this point. From a competition standpoint, the SVC is definitely facing some
enrollment discrepancy that has made for an overall top-heavy league in terms of consistently competing
throughout all sports.

When I look at possible expansion ideas, the biggest hiccup becomes football. The reason I say this is
because if the league were to expand, I think it would have to do so into big-school, small-school
divisions. In this case, I think big schools, such as Vinton County, would line-up to fight for a spot like
that; however, finding a smaller school, that has football as well as consistent numbers in junior high
sports, freshman sports, and secondary sports such as cross country and golf, would be a little more

I would say for now the SVC is fine. In the next decade or so, if certain schools feel they get too big or
too small to best fit the SVC perhaps those individual schools would have to make a decision for the
future at that time.

I follow the SVC quite a bit, but I am confused about one thing you said in your all-league
article for the boys. You were talking about injuries, grades, and other issues playing a key part
in the league this season. I wasn’t sure I understood what you meant. With Piketon, was it
really going to matter?


I don’t think it would have prohibited Piketon from winning it all (even the golden ball for that
matter), but I do think many of the issues did give the standings a different look. With this website
covering high school student-athletes, I think it would be unfair for me to discuss certain issues, but these
issues definitely did play a role in this year’s league.

Think about this. If I were to predict the top-15 players in this year’s league back in the fall, I would
say at least six and maybe even up to eight of them did not make it through the entire season due to an
issue of some sort. Within this list of players, six different schools were hurt in some way. This number is
incredible to me.

For example, the Pioneers have several good players on this year’s team, but they obviously
struggled without their top two returners. I thought Zane Trace would compete for the second or third
spot in the standings, but after losing Joel Tripp and Colton Whitehouse, this obviously just wasn’t a
realistic finish.

Paint Valley is another example. The Bearcats got out of the gates fast before losing Aaron Claytor to
injury. Paint Valley had beaten Adena, Huntington, and Zane Trace in league play and had played Unioto
to a two-point game on the road, but following the loss of their 6’3� senior, who was averaging
close to 10 points and six rebounds, the Bearcats started to slip from a possible top three team to a
possible middle of the pack team.

As I said before, I do not feel comfortable talking about certain issues, but I will say that Southeastern,
Westfall, Adena, and Unioto all had issues of some sort to deal with. All these teams made great strides
in 2011. I know all teams have challenges to face – that is just part of the game. I think this year’s
situations will play a big role on next year’s league as well. The league has a chance to be pretty good
next year in terms of competitive balance.

I follow Southeastern the most, but I love watching all SVC sports. I feel like your first-team
was perfectly picked, but I was amazed how far the talent level seemed to drop after first team.
Why do you think this is this case? Is this just a cycle? Will the league be better next year?


The top five this year was an easy list to put together, but I wouldn’t be too concerned about the rest
of the list. This was a league that had a lot of youth top to bottom, and when you have that you are going
to have a lot of individuals who have not yet learned how to impact the game in multiple ways. I can
remember watching players like Brick Davis and Michael Brown a year ago, and even though they were
both talented, they didn’t always put their mark on a game if they weren’t scoring. This year both
players matured in terms of their overall games. Both were players who could impact a game with their
scoring, rebounding, passing, defense, and leadership. I know I watched Davis and Brown several times
this year, and both were tough match-ups because of their versatility.

If you look at my all-league squad, you see a lot of sophomores. These sophomores are very talented,
and over the next year, these kids will add things to their game. Young players often times do not
understand how to impact games on the nights when the ball is not falling. As kids get older, they start to
get better at the “little things.� They will improve as ball handlers and passers, and their biggest
improvements will usually come on the defensive end.

After the Legg kid from Piketon, I thought the guard play was down this season. Why do you
think this is the case? I also wanted to know if you thought the league would be better next
year. I sure hope it is because basketball is my favorite sport, and this year was frustrating to
watch sometimes. Who do you think is the early favorite?


I think the overall guard play was really inexperienced this season. A lot of teams had a lot of first year
sophomores and juniors handling the bulk of their decision-making. I also think schools just have fewer
good ball handlers in their programs. A big reason in my opinion is the change in local little league
programs. Over the last six or seven years, little league programs are starting to put together more travel
teams, rather than splitting into multiple teams. I understand the new format is designed to develop the top
players at a higher level, but it also prohibits multiple kids from developing multiple skills. Now, if the kid
who was designated the point guard of the future in the fifth grade isn’t still the best PG option in
junior high and high school, the overall skill level is going to suffer.

I don’t know if the league will be a lot better next year in terms of having great teams, but I do think it
will be exciting in terms of there being several teams with a chance to compete for a title. This season,
Piketon was the obvious favorite; whereas, next season, Piketon and Unioto will still be good, but several
other teams are going to have a chance to compete for a title. Huntington has basically the same team
coming back. Southeastern returns a nice nucleus. Westfall has a really nice group returning with the best
JV team to add to it, and Zane Trace is going to be much better if Colton Whitehouse can return from
injury to join all the kids returning from this year’s varsity squad.

I know you are deep into basketball, but do you have any thoughts on the move of volleyball
coaches in the SVC?  Merriman going to ZT will be good for their program, but who's going to
take over at Westfall.  I've also heard that Piketon's coach is leaving.


The move of Coach Merriman definitely gives the league a different look. I have felt Zane Trace has been
on the way up over the past few years. Merriman is going to inherit a very talented sophomore group (this
year’s freshmen) next year. As for the Westfall job, that is a great job when you consider some of the
talented pieces returning for the Lady Mustangs. Whenever you have a great thing going, I always feel it is
good to hire within if the right coach is willing and able. I know Coach Merriman had a nice staff in place,
but I am not sure if any of the younger level coaches have the desire to take that job. As for going outside
the district to fill the position, I would think Westfall Volleyball has become well-known enough to draw a
lot of attention from some very worthy candidates.

As for the Piketon job, I was unaware of there being any coaching change. If this is true, I hate to hear
this, because I think it is tough for a program to gain momentum if there is constant coaching turnover. I
think we have found in non-league and tournament play over the past several years that the SVC plays
some solid volleyball top to bottom, but the top four – and now possibly five programs – from the
last decade make it tough for some schools, even in their best years, to compete at the highest level of the