KINNIKINNICK – After a while, Zane Trace’s girls basketball team finally found its feet.
But the hole it had dug earlier ultimately produced doom and gloom when it was all said and done.
The Pioneers (0-2) fell to Berne Union on Friday at Zane Trace High School in the first of five games as part of the 2015 Tip-Off Classic, by a final of 40-37.
“Berne Union is a veteran group and they came out playing very quickly,” Zane Trace coach John Denen said. “They were 20-5 last year but we knew that. If you take the start away, you’ve got a whole different outcome in the game. But that’s basketball.”
Denen’s Pioneers fell behind early, allowing the Rockets (1-0) to seize a 14-5 lead heading into the second quarter. In the second, a reccurring theme started to manifest itself for ZT; turnovers.
Ball handling along with passing became an issue for the Pioneers, as Berne Union took advantage of the opportunities it was given, taking a 24-14 into the break.
Coming out of the locker rooms, the Pioneers finally found some life.
“We just told the kids that we had to slow down and value the basketball,” Denen said. “We spread the court a little bit and made some really nice passes. That was a good eight minutes of basketball for us.”
In all, Zane Trace outscored Berne Union 18-7 in the third, keyed by 10 points from senior Katie Unger. Heading into the final quarter of play, the Pioneers had a 32-31 lead.
However, the offense slowed down in the fourth as the wheels started to fall off. The Rockets took a lead at 35-34 and never looked back en route to a 40-37 win.
Unger led the Pioneers with 13 points, four rebounds and three assists while Morgan Arledge chipped in with 11 points. Also contributing was Justine Pontious, who scored five points, grabbed six rebounds and dished out three assists.
Lauren Shephard led the Rockets in scoring with 17 points while Madison Ross followed with nine and Sarah Bieber finished with seven.
Zane Trace will be back in action Tuesday, hosting Paint Valley in its Scioto Valley Conference opener.
Pioneers defuse Rockets in rout
KINNIKINNICK – On the opposite side of the envelope, Zane Trace’s boys wasted no time in proving who the better team was in the night cap of Friday’s action.
Behind a balanced attack, the Pioneers handed Berne Union a 61-44 loss in the season opener for both teams.
“I think we’ve got 8-9 guys who can do a lot of things for us,” Zane Trace coach Allen Koker said. “I was impressed at the fact that we had 14 assists as a team. We made that extra pass which led to open shots. You can tell that by the 48 percent shooting mark we put up in the first half. Our coaching staff has done a really nice job this year.”
Newcomer Quintin Davidson — a transfer from Chillicothe — immediately made his presence felt with a mix of speed and athleticism.
“Q has been here for a week and a half and he adds another dimension,” Koker said. “He made good decisions tonight and took care of the ball with just two turnovers. This system and school has to be different for him, but he’s handled himself extremely well so far.”
Davidson led the charge in the first quarter, assisting his teammates in an eight minute period in which Zane Trace outscored Berne Union 18-5.
In the second quarter, the Pioneers extended their lead before halftime behind Davidson and veteran Pierce Mowery, taking a 30-12 advantage into the locker rooms.
“We want to play hard, fast and for each other,” Koker said. “We set the tone in the first half and kind of cruised after that. We were solid as a unit and rebounded well as a team also. One weak link can make everything go south. So I’m really pleased with the way we played.”
The Pioneers’ lead would stay in effect at counts of 42-16, 46-26 and 55-35 before the final buzzer went off at 61-44.
Mowery led all scorers with 17 points. Davidson followed with 15 points while Trey Rittenhouse added eight. Alex Wolff also had a stellar outing, scoring six points, grabbing eight rebounds and passing out six assists.
As a team, the Rockets shot just 41 percent from the floor; including a 4-of-16 mark from downtown.
The Pioneers will now look towards their conference opener on Dec. 4 against Unioto while Berne Union gets ready for a trip to Lakewood on Dec. 2.