TALLMADGE: The Wadsworth girls basketball team entered the second quarter Wednesday trailing host Tallmadge by one point.
The Blue Devils were dictating tempo with gritty defense and deliberate ball movement around the perimeter on offense. The approach was effective and ran the clock.
Grizzlies senior Hannah Centea and sophomore Jodi Johnson made sure the second quarter was a different story.
Centea and Johnson played aggressively and helped Wadsworth build a double-digit halftime lead, an advantage that led to a 44-26 victory. The win extends Wadsworth’s winning streak to 52 games over Suburban League foes.
“I think coach [Bill] Johnson does a great job with his kids,” Wadsworth coach Andrew Booth said. “He will probably be the first to say that depth is probably an issue with Tallmadge, but the kids they put on the floor, their first five or six kids, are very talented basketball players. They have a veteran group with three seniors that have been with them for four years.
“We knew that possibly they may do that [and run time of the clock]. They have played that style before. It is a good strategy when depth might be an issue. I think our kids were prepared for it. The biggest thing I am most pleased with was our kids stayed patient defensively. Our kids didn’t start gambling and didn’t start over-reacting when they were taking 30 [seconds], 40, a minute off of the clock. I think we started wearing them down in the second quarter a little bit. … Our depth, obviously, was a factor.”
Jodi Johnson finished with 14 points and four rebounds. Centea scored 13 points, sophomore Laurel Palitto added six points and senior Olivia Thompson chipped in five.
“I think we have good senior leadership, too,” Booth said. “We have six seniors.”
Tallmadge led 10-9 after a quarter, but Wadsworth led 26-13 at halftime.
“That was their game plan,” Centea said. “They wanted to shut us down, and in the first quarter, they did it. They came out to play. [Senior] Kelsey Rice was a big factor and so was [senior] Mary Ryan.”
Centea scored eight points in the second quarter and Johnson had five points.
“In the second quarter, there is no doubt that she sparked us,” Booth said of Centea. “You want that out of a senior point guard, to give us a couple of buckets. Defensively, I think she is always solid and I think typically we as a group are always solid.”
Tallmadge applied a tight man-to-man defense throughout and found itself behind 31-19 after three quarters. Junior Joanna Catalano paced Tallmadge with nine points and five rebounds. Ryan scored seven points and senior Kirsten Lightel added five points.
“We were trying to slow it down and take the best looks available,” Bill Johnson said. “Our goal was run a minute and a half to two minutes off the clock every possession and then get into a set and try to score that way.
“They get up and down the floor so fast and they are so athletic, and they can score from everywhere. If we could do a good job of limiting their possessions and limiting the amount of shots they got, our goal was to hang around and be in the game in the fourth quarter. I think we did a good job of that. When you look at their scores throughout the year, one of our main goals was how are we going to do in the first quarter because they have pounded people in the first quarter. We had to match their intensity.”
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MBeavenABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.