GRANGER TWP. — In what has become almost as automatic as a birthday, Wadsworth’s girls basketball team won another outright Suburban League crown. This time it came in a tidy 64-21 win over Highland.
Make no mistake, grabbing another league title like the Grizzlies (20-1, 13-0) did Saturday never gets old.
In beating the Hornets (6-15, 3-10), Wadsworth’s conference win streak reached 60 games. It notched its fifth straight league crown and 22nd in the last 24 seasons earlier in the week with a 45-29 victory at Nordonia.
“We work so hard for this every day in the gym,” Grizzlies center Madison Gilger said. “It’s such a huge accomplishment, especially for the seniors this year. We’ve won it every year since seventh grade.
“It’s awesome to end our final year with a Suburban League championship. There’s pressure, but it’s a good pressure because this is what we want. This is what we play for. We take it as a challenge. That’s our whole Wadsworth thing. They’re an obstacle for our opportunities.”
Those opportunities added up for the Grizzlies, who take great pride in the streak.
“I know they’re aware of it,” coach Andrew Booth said. “I don’t think it’s pressure for them because they’re used to it. It’s part of suiting up for the program.
“I believe they play harder because of the kids that have laid the foundation for those 20 years. They want to represent those kids and continue the legacy that they’ve passed on. They want to represent the Grizzlies program as best they can.”
Highland wasn’t much of an obstacle for Wadsworth, which was coming off its only loss of the season — 55-47 to Solon on Wednesday. In fact, this game almost was over before it started, as the Grizzlies raced to a 14-1 lead and held the Hornets scoreless the first 4:58.
Wadsworth one-upped itself on the defensive side of things when it held Highland without a point for the final 9:35 of the first half.
Putting up a goose egg in the second quarter and committing more turnovers (18) than taking shots (15) in the first half wasn’t so much Highland playing bad as it was the Grizzlies turning up the heat on defense.
“They’re coached well and have some talent there,” Hornets coach Bernard Bolha said. “They’re very good defensively. They have some kids on their team with some good IQ there.
“We had a few opportunities to put the ball in the basket and didn’t. But don’t take anything away from Wadsworth. They’re ranked No. 1 (in The Associated Press Division I state poll) for a reason.”
Jodi Johnson (17 points), Gilger (11) and Aubrey Virgin (10) led the way offensively for Wadsworth, while Peyton Booth (8 rebounds, 5 assists) added strength in other aspects.
Johnson had a strong first half with 10 points, while Hannah Centea (8 points) was the unquestioned leader defensively for the Grizzlies, who took a 37-5 lead into intermission.
The beginning was exactly what the team was looking for after falling to Solon.
“That start was important,” Johnson said. “We knew we had to come back and play how we’re used to playing. We didn’t play how we wanted to. We wanted to show we’re still the team that can come out on top.”
Marlee Profitt led Highland with eight points.
The Wadsworth junior varsity won 50-19. McKenna Banks led the Grizzlies with 12 points, while Christina Williams powered Highland with nine.