KETTERING — After leading by as many as 21 and 18 at halftime, the Wayne girls basketball had to fight hard Wednesday night to post a 48-41 victory at Fairmont.
Mali Morgan-Elliott (11 points), who was a starter for Wayne last season but transferred to Fairmont, scored the first four points for the Lady Firebirds on two sets of free throws to give Fairmont an early 4-3 lead. Kloe Muntz and Olivia Trice each buried 3-pointers for Wayne and Trice tallied nine first quarter points to give the Lady Warriors a 16-8 lead entering the second period.
Trice scored another trey in the second quarter, as did Mya Dunson while Nyla Hampton and Aubryanna Hall scored four points each to boost Wayne’s lead to 33-15 at halftime.
Kyra Willis picked up her third foul early in the third quarter and Jaida Wolfork her fourth and had to go to the bench. That changed the complexion of the game. With several players hampered by illness all week the Lady Warriors were not at full strength and from that point on Fairmont began chipping away at Wayne’s lead.
“We didn’t hit our shots in the second half and didn’t get into our pressure and then got some quick early fouls which changed up our lineup, so we had to play girls that had been out all week and sick,” said Wayne Coach Travis Trice. “We only had about six or seven girls that were really kind of fresh and able to play in practice this week, so when you have different lineups different things happen. We missed some layups and Fairmont made a couple of plays, but I am still pretty ecstatic about the way the girls played. We didn’t play well in the second half and didn’t finish very well and didn’t hit our free throws, but it is early in the season and that is what you should expect.”
Madeline Westbeld, a 6-foot, 3-inch sophomore forward who was held scoreless in the first half, scored five third quarter points as did Morgan-Elliott and freshman guard Ashley Daniels had seven points to help Fairmont reduce Wayne’s lead to 38-32 by the end of the third quarter.
Fairmont pulled to within five points with 2:15 remaining when Trice fouled Westbeld who converted both free throws. From there Wayne hung on by converting four of eight free throws while Fairmont managed to score only one more basket on a shot by Kierra Thornton to make the final tally 48-41.
With the victory Wayne improves to 2-1 overall and 1-0 in the National East Division in the Greater Western Ohio Conference while Fairmont falls to 2-3 overall and 0-1 in division play.
Wayne plays at Beavercreek on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and hosts Wilmington on Monday at 7 p.m. Fairmont hosts Centerville at Trent Arena on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. then travels to Springboro on Wednesday.
WAY 16 33 38 48 – 48
FMT 08 15 32 41 – 41
Wayne: Kloe Muntz 5, Nyla Hampton 6, Aubryanna Hall 11, Kyra Willis 6, Jaida Wolfork 2, Olivia Trice 15, Mya Dunson 3. Totals: 14-16-48.
Fairmont: Kierra Thornton 2, Mali Morgan-Elliott 11, Madeline Westbeld 10, Madison Bartley 6, Iyerlan Alberts 3, Ashley Daniels 9. Totals: 13-12-41.
3-point goals: Wayne 4 (Trice 2, Muntz, Dunson), Fairmont 3 (Morgan-Elliott, Westbeld, Alberts).
Records: Wayne 2-1 (1-0), Fairmont 2-3 (0-1).
Reach Ron Nunnari at 684-9124, via email Rnunnari@AimMediaMidwest.com or on Twitter @Englewood_Ind