CENTERVILLE — The Lady Warriors were pushed to their limit Saturday night at Centerville but managed to reel off their 20th consecutive victory, 54-48.
The Lady Elks scored 15 baskets, eight from 3-point range, six of which came in the second half and five in the third quarter to overcome a six point halftime deficit to take a 43-40 lead entering the final eight minutes of play.
Wayne led 16-13 after the first quarter and 26-20 at halftime and opened up an 11 point, 36-25 lead midway through the third quarter on a basket by Destiny Bohanon who led the Lady Warriors with 17 points. Wayne called timeout after Bohanon scored, but that timeout seemed to give Centerville a chance to regroup.
Victoria Harrison (14 points) and Alexis Hutchison both nailed a pair of 3-pointers after the timeout, Hutchison at the buzzer to put Centerville up 43-40 entering the fourth quarter to cap an 18-4 run by the Lady Elks.
Olivia Trice scored to open the fourth quarter to cut Centerville’s lead to one, but Harrison gunned in another trey to boost the Lady Elks lead to 46-42. Freshman Mali Morgan-Elliott scored inside and after a Centerville turnover Trice buried a 3-pointer as Wayne regained the lead 47-46. After another Centerville turnover Maya Dunson put up a shot inside and missed, got her own rebound and drew a foul from Lauren Ray. Dunson hit the back end of her free throws to put Wayne up 48-46.
Centerville put up another 3-point attempt but it didn’t fall. Morgan-Elliott was left unguarded and buried a 12-foot jump shot to put Wayne up 50-46 with 1:32 remaining. Harrison scored the Lady Elks final basket on an underhand scoop shot inside to make it a two point game with one minute left. With time waning Centerville was forced to foul. Dunson and Bohanon both went two-for-two at the line to seal the 54-48 victory.
Asked if he planned to attack Wayne with a barrage of 3-pointers, Centerville Coach Adam Priefer said it was more a case of taking advantage of what was available.
“I don’t think that was our game plan, we just took what we got,” he said. “We did a good job with our jump shots but we took it inside too. We shot the ball pretty well outside at times, especially in the third quarter. We just didn’t hit a couple in the fourth quarter when we had good looks. Two times we’ve pushed Wayne to the limit but we just haven’t gotten over the top yet.”
Priefer is hoping his team will end up with another shot at Wayne. That would happen if the Lady Elks win their first two games in the sectional tournament.
“Obviously that is our goal,” Priefer added. “We have to win our first two sectional games, and if we do it looks like we will be playing them again in the sectional final.”
Wayne Coach Sonya Miller praised her team for once again responding under pressure.
“Our girls stepped up big. This was a big game for us tonight,” Miller said.
Asked if she expected Centerville to test her team with such an outstanding effort, Miller said it was not surprising.
“Yes, we expected this,” Miller said. “We respect this program. Centerville only had two division losses coming into this game so we had to respect that and obviously the program the way Priefer has built it. It was a good game for us and it was a tough win. We defended well. We were just late on close outs on their perimeter shots and that hurt us, especially down the stretch. We got into some foul trouble and I had to sit Mali Morgan-Elliott and Shai McGruder and that always hurts.”
On the other hand, Destiny Bohanon stayed in the game and scored eight points in the third quarter, otherwise Wayne would have been in bigger trouble than it was facing a three point deficit entering the final quarter – which Miller was well aware of.
“Destiny really never came out of the game,” Miller noted. “She probably played all but two minutes of the entire game and that is pretty tough to do, especially for a freshman. Centerville always gets motivated when they play us. Everyone does. We used to be hunting, and now we’re the hunted and we understand that. That’s one of the things we have to keep impressing upon the girls, and that is every game is going to be pretty much them having to bring their ‘A game’ and we respect that.”
WAY 16 26 40 54 – 54
CEN 13 20 43 48 – 48
Wayne: Mali Morgan-Elliott 6, Kiara Herring 2, Destiny Bohanon 17, Olivia Trice 12, Shai McGruder 8, Maya Dunson 9. Totals: 21-9-54.
Centerville: Victoria Harrison 14, Alexis Hutchison 8, Weston Minnich 7, Jasmine Broner 12, Blythe Wesney 1, Lauren Ray 2, Logane Brazile 4. Totals: 15-6-48.
3-point goals: Wayne 3 (Trice 2, Dunson); Centerville 8 (Harrison 4, Hutchison 2, Minnich 2).
Records: Wayne 21-1 (10-0), Centerville 15-7 (7-3).
Maya Dunson looks to make a pass as Jessica Kimbrell defends.
Reach Ron Nunnari at 684-9124, via email Rnunnari@civitasmedia.com or on Twitter @Englewood_Ind