July 1, 2016

Partly sunny

Girls basketball: Grizzlies show mettle against talented Rams at Classic in Country

BERLIN TWP. — The Toledo Rogers girls basketball team met Wadsworth at exactly the wrong time Sunday.

While the final score read 43-35 in favor of the undefeated Grizzlies, a lot of the win at the Classic in the Country Challenge can be contributed to what happened earlier in the week.

Wadsworth’s Taylor Wyatt shoots over Toledo Rogers’ Keyanna Austin. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY RON SCHWANE)

Wadsworth’s Taylor Wyatt shoots over Toledo Rogers’ Keyanna Austin. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY RON SCHWANE)

With Wadsworth (15-0) perhaps looking ahead just a bit when it faced Cloverleaf, it barely squeaked by in a 12-point win.

Fast forward to Sunday and it wasn’t pretty.

The Grizzlies, who are ranked second in The Associated Press Poll Division I poll, came in angry against the D-II eighth-ranked Rams (11-3) and it showed in one of the best defensive efforts of the season.

“Moreso than needing a game like this, we needed a game like Cloverleaf to wake us up,” said Wadsworth coach Andrew Booth, whose team had previously beaten the Colts by 39. “I think we were getting complacent, a little bit comfortable.

“This team has done a great job of competing and hanging their hat on defense and, for whatever reason, we didn’t play very well. I think we needed Cloverleaf’s game to happen to win tonight’s game because I think we competed more than we have all year.”

It came at the expense of Rogers, which was held to 12-for-48 shooting. That none of the Rams’ superstars scored more than seven points (Tori Easley) proved just how strong the Grizzlies were without the ball.

“Cloverleaf proved we don’t know the game,” Wadsworth guard Hannah Centea said. “If you don’t know it, it will bite you in the butt. We thought we did, but we’ll never know the game.”

The Grizzlies, who were led by Jodi Johnson’s 17 points and Taylor Wyatt’s 12, proved they know defense. It came at an opportune time.

Up 24-19 at halftime, Wadsworth needed some stops in the third quarter to stem the tide and put the game away. The Grizzlies got just that in a quarter where Rogers scored just two points.

Holding the Rams scoreless over a 6:22 stretch, Wadsworth was able to extend its lead to 35-21 after three.

Not bad considering Peyton Booth (8 points, 4 rebounds) was mired in foul trouble early in the second quarter, when she picked up her second foul with 5:57 left.

“I knew we did a pretty good job on them, but (the third quarter) is the ballgame right there,” Andrew Booth said. “What worried me was they’re such a team of momentum, at no time in the second half were they able to do anything to get that momentum.”

Speaking of momentum, the win against the Rams came at the right time, as the Grizzlies have big SL games at Green and Nordonia this week.

Booth no doubt will break down the film from Sunday’s impressive defensive performance and use is as the litmus test for the squad moving forward.

“The win is pretty big for a showcase like this,” he said. “For me, this is on par or better than the atmosphere of the state tournament. Kids don’t get to play in this too often. For us to play so well, we’ve got the tournament draw, six league games and a big non-conference game with Solon. This will remind us to not get complacent. If we come out and play this hard every game, we’ve got a chance to be pretty good.

“I told the kids, ‘They have six kids going D-I. Whether you play in college or not, you may not play a better team as a collection than you just did.’ For them to do what they did, it’s a tribute to them.”

Contact Brad Bournival at sports@medina-gazette.com.