By Chad Grant
MEDINA — Wadsworth girls basketball coach Andrew Booth joked with his daughter, forward Peyton Booth, after the game that she led the team in a negative stat.
She did. She committed the Grizzlies’ only foul of the game.
That statistic alone perfectly sums up top-seeded Wadsworth’s nearly flawless 88-16 Medina Division I Sectional win over 12th-seeded Akron Garfield on Saturday.
The Grizzlies (22-2) advance to play Cloverleaf, which knocked off Copley 53-51, in Thursday’s district semifinals.
Wadsworth opened the game with 13 straight points on five baskets with five assists before Garfield (3-20) even managed to get a shot off.
“I think we’re just trying at this point to take every step one at a time no matter who we play,” Peyton Booth said. “We’re just trying to get better every game to hopefully make a run in this tournament.”
The Rams finally managed to get on the board with a basket from Kalyn Williams, but it proved to be just a brief pause in the Grizzlies’ onslaught that ended with them up 53-9 at halftime.
Starters Rachel Goddard (17 points, 7 assists), McKenzie O’Brien (14), Haley Hassinger (12), Taylore Robinson (10, 4, 3) and Booth (4, 12) were able to rest their legs for what they hope is a long tourney run, and the Grizzlies again went deep into their bench.
“I think we want to see each other succeed and do the best we can,” O’Brien said. “We’re a very close team and we only have a few games left with each other — possibly six games. We’re really close and we just want to see each other do their best and we do what it takes to get the win no matter what.”
Wadsworth went 15 players deep for the second straight game, while the Rams only had nine players in uniform.
For the seniors, the time together on the floor — regardless of how little that time is in games like these — is very important.
With the outcome never in doubt, Wadsworth got valuable tournament playing time for some of its younger players and again worked on some different things.
“It’s good experience for them because they are going to be in our shoes next year,” Booth said. “You can tell they’re nervous, and it’s getting them more and more prepared for what they are going to go through when we all aren’t here.”
One of those things was the basketball equivalent of taking a knee in football. Wadsworth did virtually everything it could to avoid scoring any more points the last 4 minutes.
This also allowed the Grizzlies to pitch a shutout in the final quarter.
“We’re really just focusing on our defense,” O’Brien said. “Defense usually wins the games — we work on our shooting of course in practice, too — but defense is what is going to win the games down the line.”
Contact Chad Grant at firstname.lastname@example.org.