Wadsworth's Sophia Fortner (33) and E'Anna Won (10) celebrate after defeating Perrysburg in a Norwalk Regional semifinal game Tuesday.
RON SCHWANE / GAZETTE Enlarge
NORWALK — Shortly after watching Strongsville upset Toledo Notre Dame Academy in the Norwalk Division I Regional opener Tuesday night, Wadsworth’s girls basketball team made sure the bracket wasn’t busted any further.
An efficient 47-33 victory over Perrysburg wasn’t as exciting as beating Canton McKinley last week, but the Grizzlies have never cared one bit about style points.
This one was the definition of workmanlike, as Wadsworth (23-3) scored the first eight points and managed two- and three-possession leads brilliantly with foul-plagued point guard Sophia Fortner playing only 5:10 in the first half. It then extended a seven-point lead to 15 in the third quarter.
Now winners of two straight inside Norwalk High — long known as a house of horrors — the Grizzlies will return for a 7:30 p.m. Friday night date with the Mustangs (21-4).
“It’s great to have a second win under our belts in this gym,” power forward Peyton Banks said, also referring to beating Whitmer in the 2016 regional championship game. “Hopefully we can get a third on Friday.”
Banks was a thorn in the Yellow Jackets’ side, scoring a game-high 20 points and helping centers Lexi Lance and Kacie Evans wall up physical second-team All-Ohioan Ashlynn Brown (8 points, 4 rebounds). Banks scored eight points as Wadsworth led 11-2 and made 6-of-6 free throws in the final 10 minutes.
Everything else was balanced, as Fortner, Lance, Evans and backup small forward Kylee Batey each had six points. Fortner made 4-of-4 free throws in the final minutes, Batey had four points in the middle quarters that Wadsworth won 22-11, Lance starred with Fortner on the bench and Evans came alive in the third quarter.
More importantly, Wadsworth dialed in defensively to hold its opponent to a season-low point total for the second straight game.
The Yellow Jackets (22-4) struggled with a man press at first, and Maddie Movsesian and Co. made sure 3-point specialist Nadeen Jemaa (3 points, 1-of-7 shooting) couldn’t soften the Grizzlies’ help-heavy scheme on Brown. Perrysburg made only 6-of-24 shots in falling behind 35-20 after three quarters and scored only two points over an 8:47 stretch of the second half.
Its leading scorer, power forward Tori Kopp, scored six of her 10 points in the fourth quarter.
“We all study film on our own,” Movsesian said. “We all review our scouting report right before (the game), and we have to know everything they do. That helps a lot and we keep telling each other, ‘Hey, she’s the shooter. Hey, she’s the driver.”‘
Wadsworth was brilliant in the opening minutes, but momentum could have unraveled when Fortner was called for her second foul at the 4:18 mark of the first quarter. The Grizzlies ended the period up 13-9 and scored the first two points of the second before Fortner returned at the 6:10 mark.
Fortner committed her third foul trying to take a charge just 52 seconds later. Wadsworth led 15-9 and maintained to 23-16 at halftime with E’Anna Won running the point and Lance getting inside for scores.
Perrysburg missed its opportunity, as the Grizzlies pushed ahead 35-20 on buckets by Taylor Leatherman and Evans and free throws from Banks. Brown made the only Yellow Jacket field goal of the third quarter, when her team took eight shots and committed five turnovers.
Senior-dominant Perrysburg cut a 17-point hole to nine multiple times in the fourth, but Fortner and Banks made 8-of-8 free throws to squash that idea.
“We have a lot of kids who understand what we’re trying to do,” Booth said. “They’re pretty smart, too, which helps.”
Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or email@example.com.
Wadsworth 47, Perrysburg 33
Norwalk Division I Regional Semifinal
WADSWORTH 13 10 12 12 — 47
PERRYSBURG 9 7 4 13 — 33
Wadsworth — Taylor Leatherman 1-4 0-0 2, Peyton Banks 6-9 6-6 20, Lexi Lance 3-6 0-0 6, Maddie Movsesian 0-1 1-2 1, Sophia Fortner 1-5 4-4 6, E’Anna Won 0-5 0-0 0, Kylee Batey 3-6 0-0 6, Kacie Evans 3-5 0-2 6, Allison Elchlinger 0-1 0-0 0 Molly Palecek 0-1 0-0 0, Leah Maher 0-1 0-0. TOTALS: 17-44 11-13 47.
Perrysburg — Whitney Thames 1-4 3-3 5, Tori Kopp 5-6 0-0 10, Ashlynn Brown 2-12 4-4 8, Nadeen Jemaa 1-7 0-0 3, Kristina DeMarco 2-5 0-0 4, Abbie Williams 1-1 0-1 3, Allie Michel 0-0 0-0 0, Madison Adamski 0-0 0-0 0, Kyle Griggs 0-2 0-0 0, Madison Fisher 0-0 0-0 0, Abigail Knopps 0-0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 12-37 7-10 33.
3-point goals — Wadsworth 2-9 (Banks 2-3, Lance 0-1, Elchlinger 0-1, Leatherman 0-1, Movsesian 0-1, Fortner 0-2), Perrysburg 2-14 (Williams 1-1, Jemaa 1-6, DeMarco 0-1, Griggs 0-2, Brown 0-4). Rebounds — Wadsworth 23 (Lance, Leatherman, Banks 4), Perrysburg 23 (Kopp 5). Assists — Wadsworth 12 (Fortner, Lance 3), Perrysburg 6 (DeMarco 2). Turnovers — Wadsworth 8 (Won, Elchlinger 2), Perrysburg 15 (DeMarco, Jemaa 4). Fouls — Wadsworth 12, Perrysburg 12. Fouled out — None. Records — Wadsworth (23-3), Perrysburg (22-4).
- Regional final opponents Wadsworth, Strongsville are similar
- Sophomore Taylor Leatherman is a star in waiting for Wadsworth
- Wadsworth soldiers on without Fortner in regional semifinal win
- Centers of attention: Lexi Lance, Kacie Evans form formidable duo for Wadsworth
- Wadsworth faces another challenge in regional matchup against Perrysburg
- GIRLS BASKETBALL DISTRICT CHAMPIONSHIP: Grizzlies beat Bulldogs to earn regional berth