CHILLICOTHE – The best thing to do when you find yourself in a hole is to stop digging.
The Unioto Shermans, unfortunately, learned that lesson the hard way Tuesday night as the particular hole they had dug was much too cavernous to overcome.
Huntington (3-1, 1-0 SVC) was the beneficiary of Unioto’s misfortunes, as the Huntsmen opened up Scioto Valley Conference play with a 63-42 win at home over the Tanks.
“This is something we’ve been talking about with this group,” Huntington coach Eric Snyder said. “We have a veteran group. Our expectations are high. The one thing that we’ve been talking about is consistency. That’s the name of the game. Tonight, we put a consistent effort together from beginning to end. What was most important in that was all eight or nine that we played tonight stepped up and played their roles to the tee. Everybody was locked in.”
The subplot in Tuesday’s contest came in the second half when Huntington senior Ariel Sams hit a layup while being fouled on the way to the bucket. The two points marked numbers 999 and 1,000 in her career at Huntington.
“There is nobody that works harder than and there’s nobody that has put as much time into basketball as Ariel has,” Snyder said. “She’s traveled around and has put herself at a completely different level. She’s starting to get rewarded for that. She’s starting to see her name get written in the record books and tonight, she hits a huge milestone in 1,000. She’s off to a great start this year.”
While Sams stole the limelight in the second half, the first two quarters belonged solely to Huntington’s Carolane Cox.
At the 2:45 mark in the first, only one player from either team had scored and it was Cox, as Huntington had jumped out to a 7-0 lead. That edge grew to 15-2 at the end of the first eight minutes.
“With CC, her defense leads to everything else,” Snyder said. “When she gets locked in defensively, she’s tough to play against. Then, when you get the combo from her, defense and offense, we feel pretty good about our chances.”
When the second quarter began, Sams hit a 3-pointer from the left wing before Cox picked off a pass and went coast to coast for an easy layup, extending the lead to 20-2. Thanks to the momentum, Huntington outscored Unioto 17-9 in the quarter and took a 32-11 lead into halftime.
The third opened with Huntington’s Kennedy DeBord completing a three-point play and while Unioto played better in the second half — the Shermans matched Huntington’s second half scoring output at 31 points each — the deficit was never cut to less than 16 points.
Sams finished with 18 points and Cox scored 18 and added five rebounds. Rikki Magill scored nine points and grabbed six rebounds while Dylana Gragg and Jillian Snyder also pitched in with six and five points, respectively.
For Unioto, junior Caroline Thiel set the pace with 13 points and four rebounds as sophomore Summer Sigman added 11 points and seven boards. Kassidey Winegardner finished with six points while Kaylee Valentine had five.
Next up for Huntington will be a trip to Adena on Thursday night while Unioto (0-3, 0-1 SVC) prepares for its date at Paint Valley.
“This win is only as good as it is if we validate it,” Snyder said. “We’ve always had that belief. This win means nothing if we don’t validate it Thursday. Adena is a place where we’ve went over and for whatever reason, we haven’t played the best. We’re going to get back at it tomorrow and get our nose right back to the grindstone.”