July 23, 2016

Partly sunny

Huge run gives Grizzlies Sweet 16 berth

Wadsworth's Madison Gilger shoots against Lakewood's Erin Hoffert, left, and Christina Kamkutis during the third quarter. (RON SCHWANE / GAZETTE)

Wadsworth’s Madison Gilger shoots against Lakewood’s Erin Hoffert, left, and Christina Kamkutis during the third quarter. (RON SCHWANE / GAZETTE)

Albert Grindle

The Gazette

MEDINA — Seniors Madison Gilger, Peyton Booth, Hannah Centea, Courtney Palange, Taylor Wyatt and Olivia Thompson know the routine: Convincingly win a district title, cut down the nets and wander aimlessly until a parent asks for a celebratory photo.

It never gets old.

Sixth-seeded Lakewood got a glimpse of the Wadsworth girls basketball team’s storied tradition Friday in the Medina Division I District championship game, and the Rangers’ already slim chances went to zero in a flash during a 55-32 Grizzlies victory.

Top-seeded Wadsworth (25-1) advances to battle Berea-Midpark (22-2), a 58-46 winner over Wooster, in the regional semifinals Tuesday at North Royalton.

“We had a checklist,” Gilger said. “Me, Peyton, Hannah, Courtney, Taylor, Olivia, we said we wanted four Suburban League championships — we just got that. This is our fourth district championship — we got that.

“We’re just going through the list, and every single one is sweeter.”

Wadsworth, which has won four tournament games by an average of 46.8 points, got the wake-up call it needed midway through the second quarter when Lakewood’s Taylor Shaw hit the front end of a one-and-one that cut the Grizzlies’ lead to 22-17.

That call was answered with anger, as Wadsworth scored 33 of the next 38 points and led 55-22 when the benches cleared with 3 minutes left in the game.

The difference wasn’t rocket science or even simple schematic change. It was all about execution and focus.

“We were making some dumb plays and giving them some fouls,” Booth said. “We weren’t playing smart there for a little bit, and it was getting too close, especially for my liking.

“But we came out in the second half fast and stepped up, got that run and pushed it to 30.”

Sophomore small forward Jodi Johnson led the scoring with 18 points, including six in the opening 4:17. New Hampshire recruit Booth added a staggering all-around line of eight points, seven rebounds, six assists and five steals, while Gilger scored 12 of her career-high 14 points during the 33-5 splurge.

As has been the case all postseason, Wadsworth made up for a deficiency in one area by dominating others. Friday featured 1-for-13 3-point shooting that was negated by going .463 (19-for-41) from the floor and .640 (16-for-25) from the foul line.

Meanwhile, the run-and-jump press forced 23 turnovers and the dogged help-heavy man in the half court held the Rangers (20-5) to .268 shooting (11-for-41), including 3-for-15 from 3-point range.

“We all looked at each other and said, ‘Oh, we’ve got a game,”’ Gilger said. “We haven’t played a (close) game since (a 53-32 win over) Revere (on Feb. 12), so we were, like, ‘Let’s go out and show (Lakewood) what it’s like.”’

Wadsworth appeared to be on the verge of another first-half laugher when it led 19-7 after one quarter. The stars came to play early, as Johnson and Booth scored or assisted on all 19 points and finished the period with combined totals of 12 points, three assists and five steals.

The pesky Rangers stayed alive, though, by settling in to the ragged pace. A sudden hot streak by Shaw — she scored all eight of her points in the second quarter — and an uncharacteristic seven Wadsworth turnovers allowed Lakewood to stage a 10-3 run.

Once Booth and Laurel Palitto righted the ship with free throws and Thompson found Wyatt for a layup, however, there was no stopping the Big Red Machine.

“We just brought more energy than we had earlier in the quarter,” Johnson said. “We just had more fun.

“This teaches us we need to bring energy to every game and that anything is possible.”

Next up on the checklist: The Sweet 16.

“This isn’t our goal, so this isn’t where we want to stop,” Booth said. “This is a stepping stone, but it’s really exciting to say we’ve won the district championship all four years I’ve been here.”

Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or agrindle@medina-gazette.com.

Wadsworth 55, Lakewood 32

Medina Division I District Final

LAKEWOOD                           7   10   4   11  —  32

WADSWORTH                      19  10  14  12  —  55

Lakewood — Erin Hoffert 0-1 0-0 0, Megan Barrett 1-8 0-2 2, Tori Milicevic 2-6 0-0 4, Maggie Rowell 2-9 0-1 5, Ryann Greenfield 0-3 2-6 2, Taylor Shaw 2-5 2-4 8, Christin Donahoe 3-7 0-0 6, Christina Kamkutis 0-1 0-0 0, Mallory Shaw 1-1 3-3 5, Allison Mazzeo 0-0 0-0 0, Trinity Knall 0-0 0-0 0, Daleen Zakaib 0-0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 11-41 7-16 32.

Wadsworth — Jodi Johnson 7-11 4-8 18, Laurel Palitto 1-3 3-4 6, Madison Gilger 6-7 2-2 14, Peyton Booth 1-6 6-6 8, Hannah Centea 0-3 0-2 0, Taylor Wyatt 2-3 0-0 4, Olivia Thompson 1-5 0-1 2, Aubrey Virgin 1-2 1-2 3, Courtney Palange 0-0 0-0 0, Elizabeth Edurese 0-1 0-0 0, Annie Gilbert 0-0 0-0 0, Jenna Johnson 0-0 0-0 0, Brenna Murphy 0-0 0-0 0, Brennan Williams 0-0 0-0 0, McKenna Banks 0-0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 19-41 16-25 55.

3-point goals — Lakewood 3-15 (T. Shaw 2-4, Rowell 1-4, Hoffert 0-1, Barrett 0-2, Donahoe 0-2, Milicevic 0-2), Wadsworth 1-13 (Palitto 1-2, Wyatt 0-1, Centea 0-1, Virgin 0-1, Jo. Johnson 0-2, Booth 0-2, Thompson 0-4). Fouled out — None. Rebounds — Lakewood 23 (Barrett, Greenfield 5), Wadsworth 35 (Booth 7). Assists — Lakewood 6 (Mazzeo 2), Wadsworth 13 (Booth 6). Turnovers — Lakewood 23 (Greenfield 6), Wadsworth 20 (Thompson, Virgin, Booth 3). Total fouls — Lakewood 17, Wadsworth 13. Records — Lakewood (20-5), Wadsworth (25-1).

Albert Grindle About Albert Grindle

Albert Grindle is a sportswriter for the Gazette. He can be reached at 330-721-4043 or agrindle@medina-gazette.com.