HUBER HEIGHTS — L’Christian Smith sank three of four free throws in the final minute of play and Deshon Parker went two for two at the charity stripe as Wayne defeated Centerville 42-38.
The Warriors victory snapped a four game win streak by the Elks and pulled the Warriors to within one game of the second place Elks in the National East Division of the Greater Western Ohio Conference. Springfield remains in first place with 5-1 conference record and 11-2 overall. Wayne improved to 11-5 overall and 4-3 in conference play while Centerville drops to 5-2 in the conference and 8-5 overall.
Centerville opened the contest with methodical passes around the perimeter looking for an open man inside. The tactic kept the Elks within three points of Wayne, 11-8, by the end of the opening quarter. The first quarter saw Wayne’s Darius Quisenberry score his 1,000th career point to put Wayne up 7-6.
The Elks opened the second quarter continuing to play tentative basketball. Centerville didn’t take a shot until 1:35 had elapsed and the shot didn’t fall. Isaiah Trice scored to put Wayne 13-8. The Elks didn’t take another shot until 3:21 remained in the first half and missed again. Ray James answered with a bucket inside to boost the Warriors’ lead to 15-8 and Wayne took a 19-12 lead at the half.
“We want to be patient, but the first half we were passive. There is a difference,” said Centerville Coach Brook Cupps. “In the second half we were good. We attacked the zone pretty well and I was happy with it. We don’t mind long possessions, but they need to be long possessions aggressive possessions where we are looking to score, probing the defense and trying to make the defense adjust and move. In the first half we just stood around the perimeter and never really attacked anything and you miss shots when you do that. You don’t shoot it well, you don’t rebound well, you are on your heels all the time and it makes you passive defensively too.”
The second half was a different story. The Elks started attacking the basket but fell behind 22-14 before clawing their way back into the game. Keegan Saben scored on a baseline drive and Sam Lash came up with a steal on a Wayne inbounds pass and scored to make it 22-18. Quisenberry answered with a layup for Wayne and the Warriors called timeout at the 3:22 mark. The quarter ended with Wayne on top 25-21.
Saben scored back-to-back baskets and knocked down one of two free throws to tie the game 32-32 midway through the fourth quarter. The turning point, if there was one, came after Parker knocked down a pair of free throws to put Wayne up 34-32. Centerville stepped on the end line on its next possession and Smith converted two free throws after drawing a foul by Alec Grandin.
Saben sank one of two free throws and Centerville’s Donnie Shelton came up with a steal at midcourt and scored to cut Wayne’s lead to make it 37-35 with 1:03 to play, but down the stretch Wayne converted its free throws to put the game away.
“Centerville is a good team and they shoot it well,” said Wayne Coach Travis Trice. “With the guys that are just coming in to our program like Quisenberry and Ray James trying to get an understanding of what we do, we just haven’t had enough practice time and we knew we wouldn’t do a good job of handling their screens, their back screens and all those kinds of things. Coming from the Middletown game and the games we had last week we just haven’t had a chance to focus on it, really only one day.”
After running the table last season and going 22-0 in the regular season, Trice feels his team just needs to gain a little confidence.
“For our guys it’s about getting some confidence, getting some wins and picking out the good things that we did,” Trice added. “We didn’t shoot our free throws great, but we shot them down the stretch when it counted. I thought Parker and Smith stepped up and knocked down some crucial ones and at the end of the day we get the win.”
CEN 08 12 21 38 – 38
WAY 11 19 25 42 – 42
Centerville: Donnie Shelton 7, Alec Grandin 3, Adam Velasco 5, Ryan Marchal 1, Keegan Saben 12, Sam Lash 8, Jevon Henderson 2. Totals: 16-3-38.
Wayne: Isaiah Trice 6, Deshon Parker 6, Darius Quisenberry 10, Ray James 4, L’Christian Smith 14, Rashad McKee 2. Totals: 14-12-42.
3-point goals: Centerville 3 (Shelton, Grandin, Velasco); Wayne 2 (Quisenberry).
Records: Centerville 8-5 (5-2), Wayne 11-5 (4-3).
Reach Ron Nunnari at 684-9124, via email Rnunnari@civitasmedia.com or on Twitter @Englewood_Ind