CHILLICOTHE – Make it 36 straight.
With a season-opening 70-31 victory Saturday night against Logan at Unioto High School, the Unioto Shermans extended their regular-season win streak to 36 and exorcised all demons in the process.
Coming into 2015-16, Unioto had the task of replacing four seniors who all saw significant playing time last year. In Saturday’s win against the Chieftains, the Shermans (1-0) didn’t show any wounds as seven players scored six or more points.
“What I’m happiest about is the fact that in game number one, execution is not always going to be as sharp as it normally is,” Unioto coach Matt Hoops said. “But our effort on both ends on the floor tonight, no matter who was in the game, was maximum. I thought that each one of our guys played to their own strengths and didn’t try to do anything they couldn’t do. They embrace their roles, and if they continue to do that and stay unselfish, we can be pretty good.”
Anchoring the offense were seniors Cole Cottrill and Erique Hosley. Junior Clay Edler and sophomore Gabe Fisher were juggernauts on the defensive end.
“Defensively, we knew (Logan) was long and they were athletic,” Hoops said. “One of our goals was to limit (Logan) to one shot. I thought that we did a great job of that and a great job on the glass as a team.”
The Shermans set the tone from the opening whistle as Cottrill took the tip from Hosley and used a two-handed flush to give Unioto a 2-0 lead three seconds into the game.
The Shermans held a 10-5 lead with 3:41 left in the first quarter before ripping off a 6-0 scoring run to take a 16-5 edge into the second quarter.
Unfortunately for Logan (0-1), things continued to snowball downhill in the second as Unioto took leads of 19-9 and 26-11 before heading into the break with a 37-17 advantage.
After the break, sophomore Logan Swackhammer got into the mix after hitting a reverse lay-in on an extremely athletic play and following that up with a 3-pointer to put Unioto up 42-19 with 6:50 left in the third.
The lead would swell to 55-25 at the end of the third before the Shermans outscored Logan 15-6 in the final quarter to finish off a 39-point victory.
“We’ve really focused a lot on making sure our defense was solid and trying to turn our defense into offense,” Hoops said. “We felt like we could be successful tonight and if we can continue to improve on that and sure everything up, we can continue to put ourselves in the position to win.”
Cottrill led the way scoring wise with 20 points along with five rebounds and two assists. Hosley followed that effort with 14 points, 11 rebounds and three assists. Brandon Kennedy added nine points, while Swackhammer finished with eight and four assists. Also appearing on the stat sheet for the Shermans was Edler with six points and three steals, Fisher with six points and five rebounds and Isaac Wheeler with six and four rebounds.
Unioto will return to action Friday at Zane Trace.
“We’ll sit down and look at tonight’s film and see where we can get better,” Hoops said. “There’s always areas where we can improve. I’m sure Zane Trace will improve as well. They’ve got a great senior class, and those guys are winners. We’re playing on the road in the (Scioto Valley Conference). We’ll have our hands full.”
Unioto girls fall to Logan in physical game
CHILLICOTHE – Before the boys pounded the Chieftains, Unioto’s girls took a lump of their own.
The host Shermans (0-2) fell to Logan — a Division I team — by a final of 67-42.
“We learned that the potential is there,” Unioto coach Jeff Miller said. “For the majority of the game, the effort was there. We probably played 24 good minutes and out of the 32, I was fairly happy with that. The other eight were just bad, and that’s what we’ve got to fix. We can’t dig a hole that we can’t get out of.”
Unioto held a 6-4 lead with 5:00 left in the first quarter but allowed the Chieftains to go on a 19-0 run — one that lasted into the opening minutes of the second — to take a 23-6 lead. The Shermans managed to trim the deficit back to 10 points at 28-18 late in the first half but still went into halftime trailing 36-18.
Logan outscored Unioto 24-10 in the third, taking a 60-28 lead into the fourth before eventually walking away with the win.
For Unioto, Bri Thomas and Caroline Thiel tallied 12 points and four rebounds each while senior Kassidey Winegardner scored seven. Kaylee Valentine pitched in with six points and five assists while Summer Sigman added five points.
“Scoring was a huge improvement from last week,” Miller said. “We talked about how we didn’t get a lot of shot attempts last week. That could be a situation where kids are in different roles this year. They’re not used to shooting 10 times a game. As far as that’s concerned, we grew quite a lot from last week to this week.”
The Shermans will turn their focus towards Huntington, where they’ll travel Tuesday night.