WADSWORTH — Senior Maria Busson cut the last strand of the net, freeing it from the rim and slipping it around her neck.
That tradition was just a formality Wednesday, as the Wadsworth girls basketball team had secured a share of the Suburban League National Conference championship long before the final buzzer thanks to a nearly perfect defensive effort in the first half on the way to a 47-27 victory over Hudson.
“On paper, we don’t look like the most talented bunch, but we’ve earned it all,” Busson said. “That was in the gym in summers and putting up shots, and it’s obviously a blessing to have the accomplishments that we’ve had over our careers.”
Hudson (8-13, 6-8) center Kate Orazen scored just over a minute in to cut the Grizzlies (17-4, 13-1) lead to 5-2. What followed was a clinic in defensive pressure by a Wadsworth squad determined to put a recent defeat to co-champion Stow behind them and secure a share of the National crown for the second straight season.
Wadsworth held the Explorers without a field goal for the next 14 minutes, taking a 17-2 lead after the first quarter. The Grizzlies were up 25-3 when shooting guard Ali Menendez hit a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 25-6.
“We preach defense, That’s pretty much all we talk about and our offense comes from our defense half the time,” senior Kylee Batey said. “As long as we have five players working in unison, then we are really good on defense.”
The fact that the conference championship came on senior night when the Grizzlies were celebrating Busson (6 points, 6 rebounds), Batey, Allison Elchlinger (3, 4) and Denmark exchange student Astrid Kjeldsteen was a bonus for a group that helped Wadsworth win three conference championships, two regional championships and the 2016 Division I state championship.
“I’m really going to miss this group of seniors,” point guard E’Anna Won said. “All through preseason and during the season, they really led the team to help us improve. I’m really happy to win (the championship for them) this year.”
Batey and Won formed a dangerous backcourt tandem in the first half that led the Grizzlies offensively.
Won led her with nine points and two assists, scoring or assisting on five of Wadsworth’s 10 field goals, while Batey, a Lawrence Tech recruit, was even more active with seven points and four assists.
Won scored 13 points in the game, while Batey tallied nine.
I’m probably the most proud of them for the fact that the work they put in is what led up to this championship,” Wadsworth coach Andrew Booth said. “This championship was won in the summer, in the spring, in the fall during the offseason.”
Wadsworth won the junior varsity game 42-10 behind 11 points by Ciena Matheny.
Wadsworth 47, Hudson 27
HUDSON 2 4 12 9 — 27
WADSWORTH 17 10 12 8 — 47
Hudson — Emma Messina 1-1-4, Taylor Miller 0-0-0, Kate Orazen 2-1-5, Ali Menendez 1-0-3, Sarah Hinkle 1-0-2, Kendall Paltoni 1-0-3, Abby Wickerham 1-0-3, Dai’shunai Steward 1-0-2, Anastasia Lawler 0-0-0, Delaney DeGironimo 2-1-5, Jocelyn Weaver 0-0-0, Juliette Lamb 0-0-0, Constance Coring 0-0-0, Maddie Newberry 0-0-0. TOTALS: 10-3-27.
Wadsworth — Taylor Leatherman 1-0-3, Maria Busson 3-0-6, Allison Elchlinger 1-0-3, Kylee Batey 4-0-9, E’Anna Won 5-2-13, Stephanie Andrews 2-3-7, Regan Simpson 2-0-4, Sami Shaffer 1-0-2, Ciena Matheny 0-0-0, Ky’sonna Won 0-0-0, Emily Rhoades 0-0-0, Allie McCall 0-0-0. TOTALS: 19-5-47.
3-point goals — Paltoni, Wickerham, Menendez, E. Won, Leatherman, Batey, Elchlinger. Rebounds — Hudson 39 (Steward 8), Wadsworth 34 (Leatherman 7). Assists — Hudson 7 (Lamb 3), Wadsworth 11 (Batey 4). Records — Hudson (8-13, 6-8), Wadsworth (17-4, 13-1). Junior varsity — Wadsworth 42, Hudson 10.