By Dan Ramey
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The Cavaliers trailed 17-14 at the break but managed a 52-37 win over visiting Zane Trace in a game that featured the return of Gary Kellough to "The Hatt" Tuesday night.
“It’s great to be back” said Kellough, who in 2008 led Chillicothe to its only State Basketball championship. “We had a lot of great memories here. Seth Dawes texted me today… I hear from those kids every day” referring to players on his Cavalier teams. “I feel at home at Zane Trace, but I feel at home here, too”.
The Pioneers came into the contest following a win over Circleville in last weekend’s debut in the Tip-Off Classic and displayed stretches of good chemistry. However, the first 16 minutes of Chillicothe’s season opener was a typical first game of the season… missed layups, missed free throws, a handful of miscues leading to turnovers and a need for adjustment.
“They (Zane Trace) did a really good job of sagging it in, knocked off our cutters well” Cavs Coach Eric Huffer said after the game. “They forced us into some tough shots from the outside. I thought we looked sluggish… (the offense) wasn’t cutting hard, wasn’t setting screens… pretty blah.”
Chillicothe held a 6-4 lead through the first quarter, but in the second, the Pioneers outscored the Cavs 13-8 for a 17-14 margin at halftime.
“I thought we played better in the second half” said Huffer. “We picked up the tempo more… and hats off to Zane Trace… I thought Cameron Evans was a man tonight, as a sophomore.”
Evans finished the night with 14 points to lead all scorers. He hit six straight points to pull the Pioneers to 34-30 early in the fourth quarter, but it was the closest Zane Trace could stay as the Cavs reeled off a 9-2 run for a 43-32 lead with 3:25 remaining.
At the core of Chillicothe’s second half, Huffer described it as a heart check. “We missed seven layups, we were 4-of-9 from the free throw line… we had two wide open layups, just missed the easy pass… it was nerves. I thought we responded well, but we coulda been better.”
And they did get better, scoring timely transition baskets with points off of turnovers to boot.
Three Cavaliers scored in double figures, led by Simon Roderick with 12 points while Branden Maughmer and Will Roderick poured in 11 points apiece.
Zane Trace’s Isaac Beam put in 11 points to join Evans in double figure scoring.
“I think we’re talented” said Coach K of his young Pioneer team. “We moved up to Division 2 this year. We’ve challenged our kids through the summer and during the scrimmage season playing a lot of D-1’s and we’ll even upgrade our schedule more next year because we’ll have most of these kids coming back.”
The Pioneers (1-1) open Scioto Valley Conference action Friday with Unioto at The Pit and a trip to Paint Valley Saturday. Chillicothe (1-0) begins play in the Frontier Athletic Conference at Miami Trace Friday.
ZANE TRACE (37): Cameron Evans, 14; Isaac Beam, 11; Triton Davidson, 7; Drew Rittenhouse, 4; Gabe O’Dell, 1; Nick Nesser, 0; Jeremy Lambert, 0; Luke Johnson, 0.
CHILLICOTHE (52): Simon Roderick, 12; Will Roderick, 11; Branden Maughmer, 11; Brandon Noel, 8; Jayvon Maughmer, 6; Jalen Jordan, 3; Jason Benson, 3; Tre Beard, 0; AJ Corbin, 0; Darius Lawson, 0; David Hirsch, 0.