NORTH ROYALTON: The shots were not consistently falling for the Wadsworth girls basketball team Tuesday night. But the Grizzlies’ defensive effort was solid all evening in a 46-27 victory over Rocky River Magnificat in a Division I regional semifinal at North Royalton High School.
Wadsworth (25-2) used an 18-0 run that started in the second quarter and lasted a minute and 29 seconds into the third quarter to separate from Magnificat (18-8).
“Defense was the key to this game,” said senior McKenzie O’Brien, who led the Grizzlies with 15 points and five rebounds. “Even if our shots were not falling, our transition defense was solid. Our main goal was defense and that is what we executed well.”
The Grizzlies outscored the Blue Streaks 14-0 in the second quarter to erase a 10-6 deficit.
“The thing we talked about before the game was you never how you are going to shoot the ball,” Wadsworth coach Andrew Booth said. “That old adage, ‘You never know if the ball is going to go in, but you can always play defense.’ We said, you don’t need to be the best defensive team in Ohio, but you better be doggone close.
“I thought to hold a team like Mags — I know they are inexperienced [with five freshmen, five juniors, one sophomore and two seniors], but they are pretty doggone talented — to hold them to 27 is pretty good. We pitched a shutout in the second quarter and we only gave up six in the fourth quarter.”
O’Brien scored eight points in the second quarter. Wadsworth got two points apiece from junior Peyton Booth, senior Rachel Goddard and senior Taylore Robinson during the quarter.
“We didn’t shoot well at all,” Peyton Booth said. “Offensively, we were not playing very well, so we tried to get our defense going. They had zero points in the second quarter. We really fed off our defense and scored out of transition following steals.”
Andrew Booth urged his team to play full-court defense. He also said the Grizzlies had better spacing on offense during the surge.
“When they did break our pressure, the kids did a very good job with their scouting report,” Andrew Booth said. “I don’t know if they ran one of their sets to completion that we talked about with our scouting report. The kids were very in tune mentally.”
Wadsworth led 20-10 at halftime, 30-21 after three quarters and maintained a double-digit lead for a majority of the fourth quarter.
“I think they got worn down a little bit with our pressure,” Andrew Booth said. “I don’t know that we always got turnovers, but the energy they spent getting into the frontcourt, I think that took its toll.”
Wadsworth forced 23 turnovers and committed 10. The Grizzlies also held a 43-28 rebounding edge.
Goddard, a Miami (Ohio) recruit, finished with 10 points, three rebounds and two steals.
“We have this goal of making it to state,” Goddard said. “I don’t want anything more than to get to state.”
Wadsworth will play Toledo Notre Dame Academy in the regional final at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Norwalk High School.
Peyton Booth totaled eight points and 11 rebounds.
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.