HUBER HEIGHTS – Clutch free-throws down the stretch enabled the Wayne girls to hold on to defeat Lebanon 40-39 in their home opener Wednesday night.
Two free throws by freshman Mali Morgan-Elliot, and two free throws by freshman Destiny Bohanon were keys to Wayne overcoming a late fourth quarter surge by Lebanon to come out on top in the Greater Western Ohio Conference (GWOC) crossover battle.
“It was a total team effort, “said Coach Sonya Miller. “If you look at our scoring across the board it was pretty balanced, we also had 18 boards tonight, eight of them offensive. Our team rallied when shots didn’t fall, we have to get every 50/50, and we have got to get those loose balls to continue to be effective.”
At the end of the first quarter Wayne led 9-6 pushed ahead by a Dunson 3-pointer. Wayne extended the lead with three 3-pointers in a row, one by Morgan-Elliot and two from Dunson to take a 20 -13 lead at the half.
The third quarter, Wayne maintained a seven point lead as both teams exchanged baskets making the score 29-22. With 3:31 left in the fourth quarter Wayne extended its lead to their largest margin of the game by 13 points, leading 35-22.
With three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Lebanon put the pressure on Wayne with a full-court press that allowed them to go on an 11-0 run and cut the lead to 35-34 with 55 seconds left. After a called Lebanon foul, Bohanon went to the line and hit the front end of two free throws, then Morgan-Elliot hit both of her free throws to make the score 38-34.
With 16.2 seconds remaining, Lebanon scored once more as Alex Warring hit a 12-footer to make the score 38-36. With 12.9 seconds left in the game Bohanon stepped to the line once again and hit both free-throws to give Wayne the lead, 40-36. Bohanon’s second free-throw proved to be the game winner as Lebanon hit a three-pointer in the final seconds.
“One of the things that happens with young teams, it’s not easy stepping up when the game is close and knocking down free throws, “said Coach Sonya Miller. “We talk about how free-throws are going to win a lot of games for us and we shoot a lot of them in practice. What surprised me was that we shot 100 per cent at the end of the game, in a tough game like that it could have turned the table on us. With the game being so close it could have gone an entirely different direction.”
Maya Dunson led Wayne in scoring with 11 points while Shaquille McGruder had 10 points. Destiny Bohanon had eight points and Mali Morgan-Elliot added points points. Olivia Trice and Kaira Herring each had two points.
Leading scorers for Lebanon were Jenna Bour with 10 points while Ali Russell and Alex Warning each had six points.
Wayne travels to Greenville at 7:30 p.m. on Monday and to Trotwood at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Reach Stephen Granata by contacting Greg Smart at 684-8088 or on Twitter @ HH_Courier.com.