CENTERVILLE — L’Christian Smith scored 25 points to lead Wayne past Centerville 73-53 in a Greater Western Ohio Conference Central Division matchup Friday night.
The Warriors, who are ranked No.2 by the J.J. Huddle Ohio High School Power Poll and No.1 in the AP poll continued to flex their muscle in the GWOC by defeating the Elks to remain undefeated at 14-0.
Despite Centerville’s eight 3-pointers and overcoming a 15 point deficit to pull within 8 points to start the fourth quarter the Elks could not stop an explosive Wayne run to finish out the game. Centerville had no answer for the super sophomore Smith who was a force to be reckoned with on the inside for the Warriors as he dominated the paint and the offensive glass.
“They didn’t have anybody that could guard him, “said Coach Travis Trice concerning Smith. “Blue (L’Christian) is tough for anyone to handle when he relaxes and plays and he’ll get inside. He wants to be out on the perimeter and I know at the next level that’s what we will be working on is for him is to move out to the perimeter so he’ll be effective at the next level should he decide to play basketball, but right now there’s not a lot of people that can stop him around the basket.”
Wayne moved out in front of Centerville 9-3 to start the first quarter but the Elks Donny Shelton hit a 3-pointer to cut the lead down to three points. The Warriors answered as Rodrick Caldwell connected with Kenny Couch for a basket and then Caldwell followed with a bucket of his own as he drove into the lane for two points. Couch hit a free throw after he drew a Centerville foul to extend the lead to 14-6 at the end of one quarter.
Centerville hit a scoring drought to start the second quarter getting some good looks, but shots were not falling. Wayne took full advantage by extending their lead to 14 points as Smith scored on the inside twice and Caldwell scored off a steal enroute to an 11-0 run. Centerville came back with a couple of buckets by Daniel Buchenroth off drives to the basket and a 3-pointer from Adam Valasko and another from Buchenroth to cut the lead to nine points and a 29-20 score. On Wayne’s last possession they took the clock down to 15 seconds and then made their move to score. Caldwell drove toward the baseline and hit an open Chazz George who drained the mid-range jumper at the buzzer to end the half with a 31-20 advantage.
With 5:41 left in the third quarter Wayne extended the lead to 15 points as Smith scored on two consecutive baskets inside and George scored off a steal and dunk. Centerville knocked the lead back down to ten points as Patrick Smith hit a 3-pointer at the 3:46 mark. Wayne again moved the lead to 15 points as Chandler Fointno nailed a 3-pointer and Couch scored inside to give the Warriors a 47-32 advantage. Centerville would not surrender though and with 54 seconds left in the third quarter hit three quick baskets to cut the lead to eight points and a 47-39 score.
That was as close as Centerville would get as Wayne exploded on a 23-5 run in the fourth quarter to leave the Elks in the dust. Smith started the rally on a three point play as he scored going with authority to the basket while being fouled. On the next possession Trey Landers threw down a one handed dunk off a missed shot that had even the Centerville crowd mesmerized. The show continued as Smith got a pass off a fast break slamming it in for the score. With 3:15 left in the game Demond Parker hit a 3-pointer then connected on a pass to Landers for the hoop and a 25 point lead to secure the win.
The Wayne bench chipped in 18 points that included two 3-pointers one each from junior Chandler Fointno and sophomore Deshon Parker. Couch and Fointno had six points each to contribute to the victory.
“I like it a lot, “said Coach Trice concerning the development of his bench players. “Kenny Couch has been solid all year and we will continue to rely on him, Chandler (Fointno) has played a lot of minutes along the way. Deshon Parker is another guy we have been looking at down the road and wanted to make sure he got some opportunities, he did a good job defensively, knocked down a three and handled the ball for us. That’s what we are really focused on is getting our bench a little deeper.”
Leading scorers for Wayne were L’Christian Smith with 25 points, 5 of 5 free throws, Roderick Caldwell 9 points, and Trey Landers 8 points. Leading Scorers for Centerville were Sam Lash 12 points, Daniel Buchenroth 11 points and Keegan Saben 8 points.
“It’s more about us than anybody else, “said Coach Trice. “This team coming off a State Championship and the guys that were on that team have a mission to create their own identity, we talk about it all the time, create your own legacy, so every game is a big game for us. This team does a good job of not looking past anyone, that’s why we have been consistent all year.”
Wayne will host Trotwood-Madison (14-1) Tuesday, Jan. 26 at 7:30 p.m. and Beavercreek (3-12) Friday, Jan. 29 at 7:30 p.m.
WAY 14 31 47 73 – 73
CEN 06 20 39 53 – 53
Wayne: L’Christian Smith 25, Rodrick Caldwell 9, Trey Landers 8, Chazz George 7, Demond Parker 6, Kenny Couch 6, Chandler Fointno 6, Isaiah Trice 3, Deshon Parker 3. Totals: 15-11-73
Centerville: Sam Lash 12, Daniel Buchenroth 11, Keegan Saben 8, Donny Shelton 5, Alec Grandin 4, Adam Velasco 3, Patrick Smith 3, Keven Meiners 2, Jevon Henderson 2. Totals: 11-7-53
3-point goals: Wayne 4 (Demond Parker 2, Fointno, Deshon Parker); Centerville 8 (Lash 2, Saben 2, Smith, Velasco, Shelton, Buchenroth).
Records: Wayne 14-0 (5-0), Centerville 8-7 (3-2).
JV Score: Wayne 67 Centerville 28.
Reach Steve Granata via email at firstname.lastname@example.org