PTC Girls Basketball Report: Pirates race out to front of County Division pack

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The Southeast Pirates appear to have come all the way back.

Just a few years removed from a perfect 20-0 season and league championship in 2007-08, the Pirates have been slowly rebuilding its proud tradition.

Last season, they had reached the level of competitive title contenders, finishing as runners-up in the Portage Trail Conference County Division behind unbeaten Woodridge.

This season, in head coach Bob Dunn's second year at the helm, the Pirates are 4-0 within division play and already hold road wins over chief challengers Waterloo and Woodridge.

The Pirates will host Garfield tonight and need to be on upset alert. The G-Men, a team filled with a heightened amount of talent this season, knocked off Woodridge on Saturday. Additionally, Southeast still has its first matchup with Windham looming -- a road matchup scheduled on Jan. 5.

"I think the reason for our turnaround is the hard work that the girls have put in during the offseason as individuals and as a team," Dunn said. "We know we have a long way to go, but these girls are committed to keep improving and they're really responding well to success."

Leading the way for Southeast has been senior center Shayna White, who is already putting together a tremendous season.

In a win over East Canton last Wednesday, White posted 21 points and 15 boards. That performance was bested just three days later when White had 22 points and 22 rebounds in a rout of Mogadore.

"Shayna has been dominant on the boards, averaging 14 to 15 a game and is scoring 22 points a game," Dunn said. "But Shayna is unselfish and has allowed for her teammates to get a lot of open looks. If we throw it into her and she doesn't have a chance, she'll kick it back our for her teammates."

The biggest beneficiary of White's unselfish play has been junior guard Brittany Butcher, who is averaging 17 points per game -- up from 6 ppg last season.

"Brittany has really put in a lot of work and picked up her average this year," Dunn said. "We actually have 8 or 9 kids in the scoring book every night, so while it seems like Shayna is our offense, we've actually benefited from a lot of balance this year."

WINDHAM'S DARI HELLER EMERGES AS SUPER SOPHOMORE

Playing at the varsity level as an underclassman can be a tall order, but a pair of league sophomores are leaving that notion behind them.

Windham sophomore Dari Heller emerged on the scene last season as a contributing freshman, but has already shown she has taken her game to the next level.

Alongside teammate, and fellow sophomore, Jessica Isler, the Bombers have a dangerous one-two punch.

While Heller has all of the abilities to score, she has shined the brightest with her fearless rebounding.

She is a threat for a double-double in every game and had 12 points and 17 rebounds in her team's most recent game -- a loss to Waterloo.

RAVENNA'S NEWCOMER

The true newcomer to the PTC this year has been Ravenna sophomore guard Deja Sanders.

With top scorers DiAndra Gibson and Malorie Gibson lost to graduation, there were major questions as to who could replace that point production for the two-time defending Metro Division champions.

Sanders, who was a standout on the JV team last season, has stepped in to fill the void.

Through seven games this year, Sanders is averaging 11 points, 2.3 assists, 2.7 steals and 2.7 rebounds per game.

The 5-foot-3 sophomore had the best game of her varsity career on Saturday and chose a good time to have it -- against arch-rival Kent Roosevelt.

Sanders led her team to victory with 16 points and four rebounds, while dishing two assists and swiping five steals.

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