By JOHN HOWLEY / sportingpumpkin.com
CIRCLEVILLE — Unioto coach Matt Hoops doesn’t always know if his team’s offense is going to be there over the holiday break but he knows his team’s defense will be ready. And a strong defensive outing gave rise to a big offensive night as the Shermans handed host Circleville a 69-29 loss Tuesday night.
“Anytime you play over the holidays, a lot of times your offense gets just a little bit out of whack just because you’re out of the rhythm of what you’re doing and it sometimes carries over to the court,” Hoops said. “We always say that our defense can go anywhere and travels with us. We take a lot of pride in it. That’s what we tried to do tonight was turn our defense into offense.”
After getting out to a 14-8 lead in the first quarter, the Shermans forced seven CHS turnovers in the second and they scored 12 straight points on the way to a 30-14 halftime lead.
“They played extremely physical, but in the right way,” Circleville coach Cody Carpenter said. “They pushed off our spots, they did a nice job with their rotation and they caused us to force up a lot of bad shots.”
Circleville cut into the Unioto lead to open the second half but the Shermans had added two points to it by the end of the period to be up 44-26.
The fourth quarter belonged to the Shermans as they scored the final 21 points of the contest.
“Time was a factor tonight. The longer we played, the better we got. Finally, in the fourth quarter we were able to open that thing up,” Hoops said. “I thought coach Carpenter did a nice job coming out in the second half with a different defensive look to try to slow us down for a little bit, and it worked. But once we got comfortable, our defense was able to get a couple of stops and everything played out of that.”
“I hoped we would have played a little more aggressively, with a little bit more passion and heart. I didn’t think we did that tonight and that hurts me to say that, but it’s a fact,” Carpenter said. “That’s what we discussed after the game that we didn’t play with that and we’ve got to get ready for tomorrow because we’re only seven games in and we can’t have that reflect on the rest of our season.”
Senior Isaac Little led Unioto with 18 points and freshman Tayvion Galloway put in 14 as 10 players scored for the Shermans.
Senior Evan Justice was Circleville’s top scorer with nine points and was the focus of the Shermans’ defense.
“Cameron DeBord and his brother, Carson DeBord, both took turns guarding him, but we really guarded him as a team. We think he’s that good of a player that you’ve got to guard him with five guys and not just one,” Hoops said. “We did a good job staying in our gaps and not allowing him to get to the paint and the easy scoring areas. We wanted him to take tough shots and we were able to do that tonight.”
The Shermans also were in control on the boards as they outrebounded Circleville 44-19 Tuesday with Cater Markko grabbing 11 to go with six points. Justice had nine for the Tigers.
“It’s a matter of effort. There were plays where we attempted to box and we did a nice job and they just found a way to get the ball, and I can accept that. But not giving that effort or making an attempt to box, I can’t accept that,” Carpenter said. “I can take my butt kicking if we’re playing the right way and the team is just better. And Unioto was better than us, but we just didn’t play the game the right way and that’s the part that I can’t accept.”
Carpenter said there is still a lot of season left and they’ve got to put the negatives behind them.
“We’re still fortunate that we’re getting to play, and I don’t want to forget that,” he said. “We’re going to come in practice tomorrow and get ready for Teays Valley coming in on Saturday. If we focus on all these negatives, we’re not going to be able to move forward and have some success.”
The Tigers start the new year hosting Teays Valley on Saturday while the Shermans are scheduled to be home with Adena.
Circleville battled back from a 10-point deficit to force overtime but Unioto came out on top 49-43 in the reserve game.
Nolan West led the Tigers with a game-high 19 points. Matthew Bradley scored six points for Circleville, Kraig Foster and Parker Kidwell each had five, Winston Jones and Slater Search each scored three and Avery Ferrell added two.
Unioto 69, Circleville 39
Unioto — Cameron DeBord 4-0-9, Carson DeBord 2-0-5, De’Sean Branson 3-0-7, Isaac Little 7-2-18, Tayvion Galloway 6-2-14, Ben Spetnagel 1-0-3, Evan Park 1-1-3, Cater Markko 3-0-6, (40) 1-0-2, (44) 1-0-2. Three-point goals — Cameron DeBord, Carson DeBord, Branson, Little (2), Spetnagel. Total — 29-59 5-6 69.
Circleville — Evan Justice 3-3-9, Trevor Coleman 1-0-3, Briley Cramer 3-0-7, Ethan Moore 1-0-2, Craig Fleck 3-1-8. Three-point goals — Coleman, Cramer, Fleck. Total — 11-42 4-6 29.
Quarter scores 1 2 3 4 F
Unioto 14 16 14 25 69
Circleville 8 6 12 3 29