MEDINA — It didn’t take long to figure out one girls basketball team was ages ahead of the other in Wadsworth’s 80-31 win over Barberton in the Medina Division I Sectional semifinals Wednesday.
The top-seeded Grizzlies (21-2) advance to play 12th-seeded Akron Garfield on Saturday.
Wadsworth pounced on the 11th-seeded Magics (5-16) early behind McKenzie O’Brien (16 points), as the senior guard scored 10 points of the team’s 31 first-quarter points.
The Grizzlies extended the lead to 49-9 at halftime.
“We had a lot of energy in the locker room,” center Taylore Robinson said. “Coach (Andrew Booth) told us that in order to win eight games, you have to win the first game. We took that to heart and had a lot of energy and we were ready to go.”
Despite going deep into their bench early, the Grizzlies, who had 14 players score, maintained their poise and executed throughout.
“We always just have to keep doing the little things because if we stop doing the little things, it creates habits for when things becomes tougher,” guard Haley Hassinger said. “So, the most important thing is to focus on the little things. We try hard to focus on defense and the things we don’t really focus on when playing tougher teams.”
The only close quarter was the final one, as Wadsworth still maintained a 23-19 margin to push the lead over 50 points before a three-point play by Barberton’s Ashlee Ford (9 points, 6 rebounds) cut it to 49.
The statistics for Wadsworth were impressive, as it shot 32-of-65 from the floor despite making just 2-of-16 from 3-point range. The Grizzlies also outrebounded the Magics 33-20.
The Wadsworth defense was strong as well, forcing 31 turnovers while holding the Magics to 5-of-25 shooting through three quarters.
“Definitely defensively is where we put our minds in our game,” Robinson said. “Our defense creates our offense. But if we’re not talking and we’re not all on the same page, then we don’t get our offense working.”
The Grizzlies, who are no strangers to blowouts early in the tournament, know they can use what they learned from this game going forward.
”It feels good,” Hassinger said. “We just want to make sure we keep going and don’t stop playing the way we have been lately. We want to keep the run and make it as far as we can this year.”
Contact Chad Grant at firstname.lastname@example.org.