WADSWORTH — Allison Elchlinger walked into the gym and immediately noticed that the atmosphere was lacking. The senior power forward knew what had to be done.
“It seemed so dead, we realized that we needed to bring a lot of energy to change the mood,” she said. “Our bench always creates a bunch of energy to begin with, so it wound up being a ton of fun to be out there tonight.”
Elchlinger set the tone by scoring eight points and getting to the foul line seven times Saturday, helping the Wadsworth girls basketball team to a 58-33 victory over Nordonia in a Suburban League National Conference game.
The Grizzlies (12-2, 8-0) led from wire to wire in beating the Knights (6-8, 4-4) for the second time this season, riding a strong performance from their substitutes to remain undefeated in conference play.
Sophomore guard Maggie Long matched Elchlinger’s eight points, sophomore center Stephanie Andrews had four points, five rebounds and two assists and junior guard Sami Shaffer had three points as Wadsworth’s substitutes outscored their counterparts 23-2 in a dominant display.
“We didn’t lose anything when we went to our bench because they were so active,” Grizzlies coach Andrew Booth said. “(Elchlinger) really brought it the entire game and so did the other girls — and we needed it.
“The weather was nasty and there wasn’t a huge crowd here, so we kind of joked that it was a ‘Make your own fun night.’ Each of them took that to heart.”
Wadsworth opened the game with nine straight points and led 34-14 at halftime. An Elchlinger hoop midway through the fourth quarter gave the hosts their largest advantage at 58-29.
Senior center Kacie Evans and junior small forward Taylor Leatherman shared game-high honors with 11 points for the Grizzlies, who only committed three turnovers over the first three periods.
Junior E’Anna Won was exceptional running their offense with four points, six assists, four steals and zero turnovers. The 5-foot-6 point guard easily could have a dozen helpers, but Wadsworth missed nine point-blank layups off her pinpoint passes.
“I just love the way E’Anna is playing, she has improved so much over the last six months,” Booth said. “Our point guard controls everything on our team, and she’s making good decisions, pushing the tempo and doing a nice job defensively.”
Won said she “worked a lot over the summer” on her ballhandling because her goal was to win a spot in the lineup, but takes just as much pride in shutting down the opposition. She showcased all of her skills in a 90-second surge that saw her make two steals in the half-court, score a basket and earn a pair of assists in transition.
“A lot of our offense comes from our defense, which is why our defensive execution is so important,” Won said. “It’s even more fun for me, knowing that our team has so many offensive threats that I can get the ball to.”
Evans hauled in 12 rebounds, while Leatherman was 3-of-4 on 3-pointers. Senior shooting guard Kylee Batey added seven points for the Grizzlies, who claimed the battle of the boards 30-18 and were only whistled for three fouls.
Sophomore center Madison Cluse paced the Knights with 10 points and six rebounds. Junior point guard Dominique Evans had seven points and sophomore small forward Hallie Majoros had six points and three assists.
The game was completed in a tidy 52 minutes as there were just 11 fouls and 11 free throws attempted. Wadsworth won their first meeting 62-47 at Nordonia on Dec. 1.
“The coaches emphasized how important it was for us to keep playing well,” said Elchlinger, who attempted six more foul shots than the entire Knights team. “We executed a lot better than the last time we saw them.”
Won agreed, saying, “This was the start of our second round through the SL. We have definitely gotten better and we wanted to show that to everyone.”
Emily Rhoades scored 12 points and fellow freshman Allie McCall had nine as the junior varsity Grizzlies crushed Nordonia 44-6. Wadsworth pitched a shutout in the second half.
Wadsworth 58, Nordonia 33
NORDONIA 6 8 11 8 — 33
WADSWORTH 19 15 10 14 — 58
Nordonia — Hallie Majoros 2-0-6, Sion Williams 2-0-4, Madison Cluse 5-0-10, Kennedy Syllaba 2-0-4, Dominique Evans 3-1-7, Ella Gorta 0-0-0, Eden Kereky 1-0-2, DeeDee Adkins 0-0-0, Carmella Hack 0-0-0. TOTALS: 15-1-33.
Wadsworth — Taylor Leatherman 4-0-11, Maria Busson 1-0-2, Kacie Evans 4-3-11, Kylee Batey 3-0-7, E’Anna Won 2-0-4, Allison Elchlinger 2-4-8, Maggie Long 3-0-8, Stephanie Andrews 2-0-4, Sami Shaffer 1-0-3, Ciena Matheny 0-0-0, Ky’Sonna Won 0-0-0, Emily Rhoades 0-0-0, Astrid Kjeldsteen 0-0-0, Allie McCall 0-0-0. TOTALS: 22-7-58.
3-point goals — Majoros 2, Leatherman 3, Long 2, Batey, Shaffer. Rebounds — Nordonia 18 (Cluse 6), Wadsworth 30 (Evans 12). Assists — Nordonia 7 (Majoros 3), Wadsworth 12 (E. Won 6). Records — Nordonia (6-8, 4-4), Wadsworth (12-2, 8-0). Junior varsity — Wadsworth 44, Nordonia 6.