MEDINA: Wadsworth’s defense was suffocating once again, and the Grizzlies cruised to a 52-19 win over Amherst Steele in a Division I district semifinal game at Medina High School on Tuesday night.
Wadsworth (24-1) has now allowed nine, 17 and 19 points in its three playoff games, respectively. That’s 45 total points allowed in 96 minutes of postseason basketball. The Grizzlies have also outscored their opponents 210-45.
“Defense has been our calling card all year,” Wadsworth coach Andrew Booth said. “I don’t know if we’re as quick as we have been in the past, but our half-court has been outstanding.”
The Grizzlies’ defense was still better than the final score indicated. At halftime, Amherst Steele (12-12) had managed only four points and had turned the ball over 21 times compared to 11 total shots.
But for a No. 1 seed with state title hopes, it wasn’t nearly as clean of a game as Booth wanted. So far, no team has been able to do much against Wadsworth’s defense. But Booth wasn’t satisfied with the Grizzlies’ offensive effort Tuesday.
“Overall, I don’t think we played very well,” Booth said. “[In the second quarter], we had as many turnovers [seven] as points. Bottom line, you progress down the tournament trail and don’t bring your ‘A’ game, you’re going to get beat and you’re going to regret it.”
Grizzlies senior Taylor Wyatt scored a team-high nine points. Senior Peyton Booth (five rebounds, three steals), sophomore Laurel Palitto (four steals), junior Aubrey Virgin (two steals) and senior Madison Gilger (six rebounds) all added eight points.
Still, Booth wasn’t pleased with the Grizzlies’ execution and knows they’ll have to deal with physicality better as they advance through the tournament.
“Our decision making wasn’t very good tonight and we tried to force some things,” he said. “I think we allowed their physicality to throw off our timing a bit. The deeper you get in the tournament the more physical the games become. Our execution just wasn’t very crisp tonight.”
If the Grizzlies continue to keep opponents under 20 points a night, it might not be an issue.
Lakewood 40, Brunswick 39
Brunswick took the lead with a minute remaining but couldn’t hold it, losing at the buzzer to Lakewood in the other district semifinal.
Brunswick (10-13) led 39-38 and was able to force a turnover on an inbounds pass with 3.8 seconds left. The Blue Devils’ ensuing inbounds pass left its receiver off balance. An attempt was made to throw it off a Lakewood defender, but it missed and went straight to sophomore Christin Donahoe, who picked it up and hit a jumper at the buzzer.
Brunswick was led by junior Paige Salisbury (20 points) and freshman Olivia Andrew, who finished with 10 points and came up with a key steal and 3-pointer with 1:05 remaining to give the Blue Devils a 39-38 advantage.
Lakewood (20-4) will play Wadsworth in the district final Friday night at Medina High School.
Ryan Lewis can be reached at email@example.com. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/RyanLewisABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.