MACEDONIA — On the surface, the Wadsworth girls basketball team’s win over Nordonia looked like another in a long line.
Those paying attention to the Suburban League National Conference race know how important the 48-39 triumph Saturday could be in the end.
Wadsworth (6-5, 5-2) has yet to lose a league title this decade, but that could change this season if the Grizzlies don’t play perfectly.
Two games back of Twinsburg (9-3, 7-0) and a game behind Stow (8-2, 6-1) at the midway point, the win over the Knights (6-6, 4-3) was crucial.
“It was a must-win for both teams,” Wadsworth coach Andrew Booth said. “At least that’s how we approached it. It wasn’t always pretty, but I told the kids in the locker room, ‘This wasn’t the state championship or the regional final, but this was a big game for us, and a lot of those games come down to free throw shooting.”’
Neither team shot very well from the floor, with Wadsworth 11-for-35 (.314) and Nordonia 13-for-36 (.361).
Where the game turned for the Grizzlies was at the free throw line, as they continued to pound the paint and get to the charity stripe.
They rarely missed, going 25-for-28 (.893). Peyton Banks (21 points, 10 rebounds) was the key at 15-for-16.
“You know, going 15-of-16, a lot of times it’s about getting the right people to the line,” Booth said. “She’s obviously our best free throw shooter. There have been games where I think she’s been a little bit passive. Today, I think she hunted a little bit better.
“She got to the rim and attacked a little bit better. When she got to the rim, she made the correct read to get to the line. To be successful, especially with a young team on the floor most of the time, we have to get a little something from Peyton, and today she did that for us.”
The junior took control on the defensive end and was key to a unit that forced 15 turnovers and pressured the Knights into ill-advised shots.
“Defense is a huge key to our offense,” Banks said. “When our offense isn’t working, that’s what helps us win games. Nordonia is an amazing team with a lot of good players. We can use this in the future when we play other good teams.”
The game also marked the return of Wadsworth junior Lexi Lance, who missed six games with a knee injury. Booth brought his 6-foot-1 Toledo recruit in at integral moments, and Lance responded well.
She went 2-of-2 from the floor and 5-of-5 from the line, finishing with nine points and four rebounds with two turnovers in 12:14 of action.
“It feels amazing,” Lance said. “It was great getting back with everybody again. I wasn’t expecting to get out and perform as well as I did. It helps a lot getting ready to play and being prepared mentally.”
- Nordonia’s Soleil Barnes raised her average (14.4) over a half-point with a 20-point effort. The sophomore standout went 6-for-14, hitting three 3-pointers that would have been good by NBA standards.
- The Wadsworth junior varsity won 58-9 behind a 20-point game from Ally Eichlinger.
Contact Brad Bournival at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wadsworth 48, Nordonia 39
WADSWORTH 18 7 10 13 — 48
NORDONIA 6 15 6 12 — 39
Wadsworth — McKenna Banks 2-0-4, Taylor Leatherman 2-0-5, Kacie Evans 1-1-3, Peyton Banks 3-15-21, Maddie Movsesian 1-0-2, Maria Busson 0-0-0, E’Anna Won 0-4-4, Olivia Chaney 0-0-0, Lexi Lance 2-5-9. TOTALS: 11-25-48.
Nordonia — Alexi Maciejowski 0-1-1, Sandra Spellman 3-0-8, Sarah Turley 2-0-6, Lizzie Imrie 2-0-4, Soleil Barnes 6-5-20, Jordan Zambach 0-0-0, Ariyuan Robinson 0-0-0, Dominique Evans 0-0-0: TOTALS 13-6-39.
3-point goals — P. Banks 3, Leatherman, Barnes 3, Turley 2, Spellman 2. Rebounds — Wadsworth 27 (P. Banks 10), Nordonia 9 (Barnes 8). Assists — Wadsworth 6 (K. Evans 2), Nordonia 6 (Barnes 4). Records — Wadsworth (6-5, 5-2), Nordonia (6-6, 4-3). Junior varsity — Wadsworth 58, Nordonia 9.