HUBER HEIGHTS — After getting off to a sluggish start Saturday the Wayne girls basketball team found itself in unfamiliar territory as it trailed Centerville 12-9 by the end of the first quarter and 26-23 at halftime.
The second half was a different story. The Lady Warriors defense stepped up the pressure to limit Centerville to eight third quarter points and five in the fourth to post a 57-39 victory. Wayne pressure coupled with poor shooting by the Lady Elks enabled the Lady Warriors to post its second win of the season against division rival Centerville.
“Pressure does that and it does it to any team,” said Wayne Coach Sonya Miller. “You can’t allow teams to sit comfortably in their offense and shoot the ball. If you do, they are going to get into a very good rhythm. We understood that at halftime and we knew we had to raise the intensity. We focused on that in the locker room.”
Wayne improved to 17-4 overall and 12-0 in division play to retain its solid hold on first place while third place Centerville fell to 14-8 and 7-5.
Junior center Shai McGruder led Wayne with 16 points, sophomore center Mali Morgan-Elliott had 13 and sophomore guard Destiny Bohanon had 10. Victoria Harrison, a senior, led Centerville with 10 points.
Miller attributed Centerville’s early advantage to her team not hustling as well on defense during the first half as it could have.
“We were a little sluggish with our defense and we weren’t doing the little things that we talk about all the time,” Miller said. “We have to close out on the shooters. Our defense is the staple of who we are and we didn’t come out showing that in the first half.”
A lot of girls high school teams seem to struggle playing Saturday games. When asked if that was the case with her team as well, Miller felt there are no excuses.
“I don’t like to make excuses for the team. I tell them they have to fight through whatever the circumstances are,” she added. “No matter what time we play, no matter what day we play. It clearly boils down to just being mentally tough to handle whatever the situation is at the time.”
Wayne will open sectional tournament play Saturday, February 18 at Troy High School against Piqua (3-19) at 4:30 p.m.
CEN 12 26 34 39 – 39
WAY 09 23 37 57 – 57
Centerville: Sidney Kemp 8, Victoria Harrison 10, Kasey Perry 4, Blythe Wesney 3, Sam Chable 8, Emma Stanley 2, Meghan Mattingly 4. Totals: 15-3-39.
Wayne: Dominique Camp 5, Nyla Hampton 2, Kyra Willis 2, Mali Morgan-Elliott 13, Destiny Bohanon 10, Shai McGruder 16, Maya Dunson 9. Totals: 25-5-57.
3-point goals: Centerville 6 (Kemp 2, V. Harrison 2, Wesney, Chable); Wayne 2 (Morgan-Elliott, Dunson).
Records: Centerville 14-8 (7-5), Wayne 17-4 (12-0).
Reach Ron Nunnari at 684-9124, via email Rnunnari@civitasmedia.com or on Twitter @Englewood_Ind