Defensive Lockdown
Coach Dunkle and his Lady Pioneers
are making points tough to come by
By Shayne Combs,
A sports cliché that you hear in all sports is how teams take
on the personality of their head coach. In terms of SVC girlsâ
€™ basketball, this is quite evident with the Zane Trace Lady
Pioneers and their head coach Joe Dunkle. I know in Coach
Dunkle’s playing days he never met a deep jump shot that
he didn’t like, but I also know that he brought great
toughness and great competitive spirit to the game. When I
watch this year’s Zane Trace team, I see a lot of those

If you haven’t seen this year’s Zane Trace squad, they
are a team that does not have great depth but are believed by
many to have the most talented starting-five in the league.
They are extremely athletic, and they have a great toughness â
€“ both mentally and physically – that makes them an
incredible defensive team. I have watched Zane Trace play four
times this season, and each time, I come away impressed with
something different about them on the defensive end.

Teams have trouble running their base offense against ZT for a
couple of reasons. First, their quickness allows them to contest
every dribble and every pass. Second, their toughness makes it
tough for teams to screen and come off those screens with the
proper timing. This usually pushes teams further from the
basket, and it makes it tough on teams to reverse the basketball
back-and-forth across the midline. Even on the possessions
that ZT does not force a turnover, you will often times see
them deflect the basketball and force teams to take a tough
shot. Finally, Zane Trace’s well-positioned defense puts
them in position to rebound well.

The other thing Zane Trace does defensively is they contain
the other team’s best player. With the exception of a few
examples, you do not see the number one option of a ZT
opponent scorch them for a high number. One reason for this
is the fact that Zane Trace is well coached for what their
opponent is going to try to do. Secondly, the versatility of
their lineup allows the Lady Pioneers to match-up with a
variety of players and play the same way all the time. They
are so athletic that it is rare you will find an opponent that will
not allow them to match up full court and/or half court and
guard with intense pressure for 32 minutes.

This versatility starts with Zane Trace’s frontline of Erin
Dailey, Sierra Sigman, and Hayley Carle. This trio has the
ability to guard multiple positions on the floor. Dailey, ZTâ
€™s 6-0 center who is the anchor of this great defense, just
doesn’t change shots at the rim, but she can also sit down
and guard the dribble or deny passes on the perimeter. This
prohibits teams from using their post people to relieve
pressure. Dailey, who averages nearly five blocks, three steals,
and 12 rebounds per game, contains a variety of defensive
skills that keeps the ZT pressure constant. Sigman is arguably
the league’s best overall athlete when you combine
strength and quickness. Sigman’s quickness allows her to
guard the point on one possession, and her strength allows her
to bang with bigger post players on the next. Carle, just a
freshman, is an outstanding athlete. Like Sigman, Carle can
guard multiple positions on the floor and has great length and
quickness that allows her to get her hands on a lot of passes
throughout a game.

The Zane Trace guards – Kelsey Dunkle and Jenna Wiget -
deserve a lot of credit as well because of how hard they contest
the dribble, particularly at the beginning of the possession.
Dunkle, who often times will draw the assignment of the other
team’s top guard, has a high basketball IQ, and when she is
not being asked to exclusively faceguard a great scorer, she is a
great team defender as well. Wiget, a senior, brings good
experience and toughness to ZT’s defensive effort. Her
setter, point guard mentality makes her a natural vocal leader
on the court.

In watching ZT in person, they definitely pass the eye test
both athletically and technically on the defensive end, but if
you like statistical proof, the Lady Pioneers dominate the
numbers as well. The Lady Pioneers have recorded 150 steals
(12.5 spg.) in their first 12 games, and six ZT players average
at least one steal per game. Zane Trace gives up a league low
34.6 points per game.  Four times a ZT opponent has failed to
score 30 points in a game, including southeast power
who Zane Trace held to 26 points in their most recent win, and
eight times the Lady Pioneers have held their opponent to
under 40 points.

Zane Trace has allowed over 40 points four times. Twice it
happened in overtime – once in a win against
and a second in ZT’s only league loss to Adena. Zane
Trace allowed 48 points to an Alexander team that has beaten
the likes of Pickerington Central and South Point this season. I
watched the tough, one-point loss to Alexander and this loss
had far more to do with ZT’s free throw shooting, ball
handling, and other issues down the stretch than how well the
Lady Pioneers defended the Lady Spartans. Finally, the most
points ZT has given up this season was 51 to McClain. In this
game, Zane Trace had only allowed 30 points through three
quarters before McClain took 26 trips to the foul line in the
final quarter alone.

This brings me to a key point of foul trouble for Zane Trace
during the second half of the league schedule and on into
tournament play. The Lady Pioneers can sometimes be hurt by
a tightly called game. Even though they have started to get
solid performances from Joanna Saultz, this is not a deep team
at all, and a game with 30 or 40 total fouls called isn’t what
Coach Dunkle wants to see.

Another key for Zane Trace is the battle of turnovers. As good
as Zane Trace has been defensively, there has been times
where offense has been tough to come by. The Lady Pioneers
depend on their defense to create some offense, and the red,
white, and blue must limit their own turnovers in order to
make teams have to score all of their points against the great
ZT defense in the half court rather than be able to create easy
offensive chances in transition.

The first 12 games have proven if you don’t turn ZT (6-1,
9-3) over and you do not get to the foul line, you are going to
struggle to score over 40 points in a regulation game.
Obviously three teams have found a way to beat Zane Trace
regardless of these stats, but the stats tell you that the
lockdown defensive style that Zane Trace has become
synonymous with this season is going to put them in every
game down the stretch of the SVC race, and it will make them a
tough out in this year’s Division III tournament.

Pressure defense, balanced scoring combine
to give ZT opening night win


Defense paves the way for ZT

Lady Pioneers see win slip away in
final few minutes

2010-2011 ZT Schedule & Roster

2010-2011 ARCHIVES: Look for all scores
and more links under the ZT scores for
pictures from Tracy Carle