HUDSON — Maddie Movsesian couldn’t help herself. Each time she walked into the Wadsworth gymnasium, she glanced at the banner recognizing the school’s Suburban League titles.
Much to her chagrin, the year 2017 was not listed.
“Every day, I looked up there, knowing we didn’t win it last season,” the starting shooting guard said. “That hurt me — it hurt all of us — a lot. We knew we had a lot of work to do, but earning another SL championship was always our first goal for this year.”
The Grizzlies fulfilled that Wednesday, locking up a share of the SL National Conference crown with a 69-43 victory at Hudson. It was Wadsworth’s eighth league title in nine years and restored the roar to its girls basketball program.
Point guard Sophia Fortner was masterful in collecting 11 points, nine nifty assists and three steals for the Grizzlies (19-2, 13-1), while power forward Peyton Banks dominated the paint by making 12-of-14 free throws en route to a game-high 17 points.
Both seniors spent the offseason recovering from reconstructive knee surgery, but weren’t about to miss out on their final prep campaign.
“Sophia is my best friend and we do everything together, so winning this championship makes it 10 times better,” Banks said while smiling from ear to ear. “It was huge for all of us on the team, but especially for the seniors. We only won 13 games last year, so this is very satisfying to be back on top.”
Fittingly, all five of Wadsworth’s 12th-graders were significant contributors as the Grizzlies clinched the co-championship with Stow.
Center Lexi Lance, Fortner’s future teammate at the University of Toledo, had four points and six rebounds, Movsesian scored four points and held her counterpart to an 0-for-7 shooting night and small forward Molly Palecek added four points and three steals off the bench.
The Grizzlies lost to Stow in their second SL game of the season, but stormed back to win the rematch and have developed into a legitimate state title contender. They are ranked No. 9 in The Associated Press Division I poll.
“We started off slow, but like every year, we grew as a team along the way,” Movsesian said. “The more time you’ve been in the program, the more you notice the little things coming together at practice. It’s special to be a part of something like that.”
Banks singlehandedly outscored the Explorers 11-10 over the first 15:10 as Wadsworth built a pair of 30-point leads. Not to be outdone, Fortner had more assists than the entire Hudson team had baskets until midway through the third quarter.
The Grizzlies also received 11 points, seven boards and three assists from sophomore small forward Taylor Leatherman and eight points and three steals from junior center Kacie Evans. Their high-water mark occurred three minutes into the fourth when Banks made two free throws to make it 64-29.
“Peyton has the heart of a lion, and she loves the game and loves being around her teammates,” Wadsworth coach Andrew Booth said. “For her to begin practicing with us 6ﾽ months after ACL surgery shows the commitment she has to this team.
“And I thought ‘Maddie Mo’ set the tone at both ends of the floor. She is the spark of the team because our whole system relies on her defensive pressure. She set a fast pace right away and is the type of player that makes championship teams.”
Senior center Traci Wright scored seven of her 15 points in the fourth and grabbed eight rebounds for Hudson (5-16, 3-11). Senior point guard Elizabeth Hinkle had 10 points and five assists and senior small forward Lorenza Chiarappa had six points, seven boards and three helpers.
The Grizzlies quietly walked to their locker room without celebrating on the Explorers’ court, then headed back to their gym after the game for the ceremonial cutting down of the nets.
“I hope people remember this group as a true team because we did it together,” Banks said. “I know I always will.”
- Hudson senior forward Heather Whitacre sang the national anthem, then grabbed four rebounds in the game.
- Freshman Maggie Long made four 3-pointers and scored 18 points to lead the junior varsity Grizzlies to a 57-11 rout.
Contact Brian Dulik at email@example.com.
Wadsworth 69, Hudson 43
WADSWORTH 26 14 14 15 — 69
HUDSON 6 8 13 16 — 43
Wadsworth — Taylor Leatherman 4-0-11, Peyton Banks 2-12-17, Lexi Lance 2-0-4, Maddie Movsesian 1-2-4, Sophia Fortner 4-0-11, Kacie Evans 3-2-8, E’Anna Won 1-2-5, Molly Palecek 1-2-4, Allison Elchlinger 1-0-2, Kylee Batey 0-0-0, Leah Maher 0-0-0, Sami Shaffer 0-0-0, Maggie Long 0-3-3, Lauren Zufra 0-0-0, Riley Shriver 0-0-0. TOTALS: 19-23-69.
Hudson — Lorenza Chiarappa 2-2-6, Heather Whitacre 1-0-2, Traci Wright 6-2-15, Sarah Hinkle 0-1-1, Elizabeth Hinkle 5-0-10, Dai’Shunai Steward 0-0-0, Audrey Kirkhope-Moss 3-0-9, Katherine Orazen 0-0-0, Taylor Miller 0-0-0, Trinity Goodloe 0-0-0. TOTALS: 17-5-43.
3-point goals — Leatherman 3, Fortner 3, Banks, Won, Kirkhope-Moss 3, Wright. Rebounds — Wadsworth 30 (Leatherman 7), Hudson 37 (Wright 8). Assists — Wadsworth 17 (Fortner 9), Hudson 11 (E.Hinkle 5). Records — Wadsworth (19-2, 13-1), Hudson (5-16, 3-11). Junior varsity — Wadsworth 57, Hudson 11.