WADSWORTH — The Wadsworth girls basketball team came into the Grizzly Den on Saturday a little defensive and a whole lot aggressive — much to the dismay of Norton.

By the time things were over, the Grizzlies walked out of nonconference action with a 59-31 win in which they almost went coast-to-coast.

A huge second-quarter run and incredible defense put Wadsworth (7-1) ahead early, late and virtually everywhere in between — there was just one 10-second span during which the Panthers (5-2) led and that was only 8-7.

“You’re playing a team that is obviously angry,” Norton coach Brian Miller said. “They lost [46-44] at New Philly Wednesday, so they’re going to play with more passion tonight at home.

“Obviously, we have to hold our own in the first half, weather the storm a little bit, don’t get into double-digit deficits and, to be honest with you, they had to have made nine or 10 3s tonight. That was the killer. They were making them. They normally don’t make that many, but give them their just due. When you leave them wide open, they made them.”

The Grizzlies made as many 3-pointers (9) as they did conventional baskets in a game in which they never let off the gas.

Wadsworth’s usual stifling defense forced 21 turnovers, a four-point second quarter and three-point fourth quarter.

The Grizzlies turned the ball over only 11 times to help the lopsided score.

Add a 14-for-37 performance (.378) by the Panthers and a 31-rebound night from Wadsworth and it was easy to see that the Grizzlies weren’t going to let Norton back up off the canvas once they knocked the squad down.

“I think our defense is normally pretty strong,” said Wadsworth's Taylor Leatherman, who led the way with 13 points. “That’s where we normally excel. I think we really knew what they were going to do. We knew how fast they were playing and how out of control they can get. We kept our minds and kept ourselves under control. We got our offense out of defense.”

That line of thinking really shined through in the second quarter after a bucket by Madison Burns cut Wadsworth’s lead to 21-16 with 5:12 left before the break.

The Grizzlies went on a 15-0 run to close out the quarter and were up 20, all but stopping any chance of a loss before the Christmas break.

“That was big,” Wadsworth coach Andrew Booth said. “They were hanging around and did a great job against our press. We settled down and backed the press off a bit to get it going our way.”

With Leatherman, Maria Busson (11 points), Kylee Batey (11), Maggie Long (8) and Kacie Evans (8 points, 10 rebounds) leading the way, it looked like the second half was going to be a walk.

To the credit of Kelsey Hosey (7 points, 10 rebounds) and teammates, the Panthers cut it back to a 13-point game, but Leatherman sandwiched two 3-pointers around a free throw by Bryana Housley (9 points, 3 assists) to make things comfortable again and Wadsworth never looked back.

“The only two buckets we scored in the third quarter were 3s by Taylor,” Booth said. “If you’re going to struggle a bit, it’s good to mix a couple of made 3s in, which we did.

“That was huge. They cut it to 12, but we were able to hit a couple big shots of our own and got a couple stops. We started moving the ball a lot better and Taylor is one of our better shooters. When she catches it in rhythm, I feel pretty confident it’s going to go down.”