MEDINA — The odds of this game being over by halftime are slim.
The top-seeded Wadsworth girls basketball team is well aware West Shore Conference champion Lakewood has nothing to lose in tonight’s Medina Division I District championship game.
That holds doubly true after the Grizzlies (24-1) watched in disbelief as the sixth-seeded Rangers (20-4) stunned Brunswick 40-39 at the buzzer Wednesday.
Tonight’s winner advances to face Berea-Midpark (21-2) or Wooster (17-6) in the regional semifinals next week at a site yet to be determined.
“When you’re a higher-seeded team like Lakewood was against Brunswick, sometimes it takes a little scare to get your attention,” Wadsworth coach Andrew Booth said. “Brunswick obviously got their attention, and on the tournament trail, you need to win a game with some luck that rights the ship, so to speak.
“We watched plenty of tape on Lakewood. They are very athletic, very physical and they like to play fast. They’re a dangerous team. We need to play well to move on, and that’s the way it should be at the district-final level.”
Despite being without leading scorer and 5-foot-11 post Madison Clause (left knee), Lakewood reached this stage by knocking off No. 15 Rocky River 55-38 before the aforementioned win over Brunswick.
Coach Mike Harper’s squad is athletic and aggressive at every position, prefers a full-court man press and pressures the perimeter in the half court.
Though the Rangers are remarkably balanced offensively — seven players have scored more than 100 points this season — freshman point guard Ryann Greenfield (5-7) and senior center Tori Milicevic (5-11) stick out due to their inside-out abilities.
“(Wadsworth) has a lot of depth and they have a lot of good players, but so do we,” said Lakewood sophomore Christin Donahoe, who hit the game-winning jumper against Brunswick. “I’m looking forward to a good game.”
Ranked fourth in the final Associated Press state poll, Wadsworth wasn’t pleased with a 52-19 victory over 20th-seeded Amherst on Wednesday — it was 8-for-19 at the foul line and outrebounded 28-26 — but has posted gaudy numbers regardless.
The Grizzlies defeated Lincoln-West, John Marshall and Amherst by a combined 210-45 score due in large part to forcing 83 turnovers, but the other end of the floor will be the emphasis tonight.
“Defensively after watching the tape, we were very efficient,” Booth said. “Our press was efficient, our half-court defense was effective and our rotations were very good.
“The thing we weren’t pleased with was our offensive execution and our decision-making. We were a little sloppy at that end of the floor. Lakewood is going to be a step up in terms of their defensive abilities, so we need to certainly be a lot sharper on the offensive end.”
Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or firstname.lastname@example.org.