SVC GIRLS BASKETBALL  *  Saturday, December 11th  *  ROUND ONE, GAME THREE
TOUGH TO
TAKE
By Shayne Combs, SVCsportszone.com
Injury to Arledge leaves SVC fans
left to wonder both now and later
When I first heard the news via email Thursday night,
I just felt sick. In a time where I question how much
kids really work on their game in the off-season, I
couldn’t help but be impressed with the
improvements Mackenzie Arledge made in her game
from last year to this year. A player that was already
voted the league’s best player last season had
come back this year as a much improved athlete and
player. This ACL injury leaves SVC followers left to
wonder now if Unioto can still roll to a league-record
fourth straight title and later if the record books
would have read differently in the long run.

As Unioto played for the first time without Arledge
(at Zane Trace on Saturday), the Lady Shermans
proved that they are still a team capable of
competing for a league championship. Arledge’s
absence leaves several questions that can only be
answered by watching the remainder of the season,
but I do think today’s game gives you some
inkling of how Coach Driggs and her Tanks are
going to go about playing without their POY. First,
you do not lose 17 points per game without
wondering where the offense is going to come from
for Unioto. This is where Hannah Miller comes into
play. Miller is a talent that first caught my attention at
last year’s preview. At 5-11, Miller is a tough
match-up, and with the increased scoring
opportunities, Miller will pick up some of the slack.
It also helps that you still have Janae Driggs and her
near-20 points per game average. Secondly, you do
not lose 13 rebounds per game without being
concerned with the glass. Again Miller will need to
pick it up, but freshman Tori Cox and senior
Madison Davis will both be needed to play increased
minutes that will need to equal increased rebounding.
This stat was a factor in today’s game as ZT
was plus-15 in rebounding, but again, in fairness to
Unioto, Zane Trace is very athletic and this is the first
game in which Unioto is learning to rebound without
their leader.

If Unioto’s glass is to stay at least close to half
full, the one place you could see an easy transition
for Unioto is in their defensive pressure. Athletes like
Cox, Davis, and Miller all give Unioto athleticism on
the frontline. Unioto also has elite defenders like
Driggs, Morgan Gumm, and Mallory Retherford on
the perimeter. The Shermans are also close to getting
another great athlete in Ashley Flautt back from a
health issue.

Away from the team, you can’t help but wonder
about how this injury affects SVC history. I had
already started preparing my
“1,000 Things in
Common: Arledge and Driggs become first four-
year classmates in SVC history to score 1,000
career points in girls’ basketball�
article
for SVCsportszone.com later this season. With
Arledge less than 50 points from 1,000 when she
went down Thursday night, and Driggs closing in on
900 career points, it seemed like a foregone
conclusion that this great duo was on their way to
four straight league titles and an unmatched scoring
accomplishment. Several teammates have scored
1,000 in their respective careers, and six pairs of
classmates have done it on the boys’ side;
however, in the history of the league, no two
classmates who played together for four years
scored 1,000 points each.

Winning league championships and worrying about
scoring milestones aside, Arledge was given some
positive news Friday. Morehead State told Arledge
they are committed to her, and Arledge is prepared
to have surgery and make a full recovery for college
basketball next winter. I do not know Mackenzie
Arledge, but the evolution of her game over the last
couple of years tells me a lot about her character and
her work ethic. I only know about the rigorous rehab
of knee surgery from friends who have gone through
it; however, if I had to bet on it, I bet you see
Arledge wearing the blue and gold as a member of
the Lady Eagles to start the 2011-2012 season.
Pioneers Prevail
Today marked the second straight Saturday I have watched a
great match-up in girls’ basketball, and in both instances
Zane Trace has been involved. Last Saturday, it was the Lady
Pioneers unable to finish against Alexander; however, this time,
ZT was able to make just enough plays to hang on for a 36-32
win over Unioto.

A back-and-forth first half saw Unioto lead by one at 9-8 after
one and Zane Trace lead by three at 17-14 at the half. In the
third quarter, it looked like ZT was going to face a nightmare
situation as starters Hayley Carle and Jenna Wiget both picked
up foul number four before the halfway point of the period. It
looked like Unioto was going to have a great opportunity to get
control of the game, but just the opposite took place.
Sophomore Joanna Saultz and freshman Jillian Pontius
combined to give Coach Dunkle a great stretch of play. Saultz
scored a bucket and grabbed three rebounds in the period
including a huge offensive rebound. Pontius recorded a key
steal and had an assist as the Lady Pioneers actually stretched
its lead to 29-22 after three quarters of play.

Speaking of nightmares, the past 48 hours probably feels like
one for Coach Driggs and her Lady Shermans, but as you
would expect a three-time defending champion to do, Unioto
never stopped coming Saturday. Their relentless defensive
effort made up for a horrific offensive day, and as the game
reached the final minutes Unioto was down just one possession
with the ball. Unioto did get the ball inside, but once again came
away empty as ZT’s Erin Dailey was there to defend the
paint. Dailey scored just six points, as it was Kelsey Dunkle and
Sierra Sigman who provided most of the ZT scoring, but the 6-
0 senior grabbed 18 rebounds according to my stat sheet,
blocked five shots, and changed another two or three as the
Lady Pioneers came up with multiple key stops to put the game
away.

Last Saturday, missed free throws, turnovers, rebounding, and
a lack of composure down the stretch cost ZT from beating a
very good Alexander team (who by the way I just got word
beat Pickerington Central 44-42 today at the Convo), but this
week, ZT was able to convert a little more from the line as all
seven if its fourth quarter points came from the charity stripe.

Obviously, the Mackenzie Arledge situation changes the league
picture. Four teams have to feel like they are in a position to win
it all. For Unioto, the defensive effort was incredible, but the
offensive end is going to be a work in progress. Janae Driggs
scored seven of her 10 points in the first period, and Hannah
Miller scored 10 of her 14 points in the second half. Other than
that, an Ashley Flautt jumper in the third quarter and a Mallory
Retherford jumper in fourth quarter were the only other field
goals for Unioto today.

Unioto will be fine. They are well coached, and Coach Driggs
will get things organized offensively. Defense is an easier
transition without Arledge, but offensive is a different story.
Unioto only had one practice to prepare to attack a ZT team
that has been an elite defensive team for years.

As for ZT, they have to feel like they have new life. After a
tough overtime loss Thursday to Adena, they respond with a
huge win. Before, I didn’t think 12-2 would even have a
chance to share the title, but now I am not sure if 12-2 couldnâ
€™t win the league outright.
www.svcsportszone.com
More pictures from Ken Farrar
More pictures from Tracy Carle