<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="1252"%> hawkhoops.com | Media Coverage


Wadsworth takes Hiland's best shot

Daily Record Sports Writer

BERLIN -- The first Associated Press poll claimed Wadsworth as the state's best.

That remains to be seen.

But one thing is for certain -- nobody is better at the Classic in the Country than the Grizzlies.

Turning loose a suffocating defensive effort, Wadsworth remained the undisputed champions of the CitC IV finale Monday night with a 55-36 victory over Hiland, ranked No. 4 in the AP state poll in Div. IV, and back-to-back state champs. The Grizzlies (12-1), now 5-0 at the premier basketball event in Ohio, are the lone school to make more than two appearances and remain unbeaten.

"We needed a good strong test in a hostile environment and that's exactly what we got," Wadsworth coach Andrew Booth said. "I knew it was going to be a great game ... thankfully we picked a good time to have our best half-court defensive game of the year. There's no doubt about that."

Wadsworth scored 18 of the game's final 21 points, forcing four Hiland (8-3) turnovers and holding the host Hawks to 1-of-7 shooting in the final six minutes. Meanwhile, All-Ohioan and Eastern Michigan recruit Cassie Schrock scored eight of her game-high 16 points in the fourth quarter.

Her 3-pointer to start the frame pushed -- one of just four Wadsworth made 3s in 23 attempts the Grizzlies out to a 37-30 lead. And Schrock's putback of her own miss at the 1:56 mark all but closed the coffin, putting the Grizzlies ahead 45-36. Schrock added seven rebounds and five assists on the night.

"I've had great luck here," said Schrock, the daughter of former Chippewa basketball coach Denny Schrock. "They came out with a lot of energy for the fourth. I thought that shot quieted them down a little bit."

Hiland's own All-Ohioan, junior Jena Stutzman, kept the partisan crowd revved up most of the game.

Stutzman hit four deep 3-pointers en route to 17 points, but tired some in the fourth quarter and had three of her eight turnovers down the stretch. She did have the Hawks' lone bucket of the final stanza, bouncing an inbounds pass off an unsuspecting defender with her back turned for an uncontested layup.

"She actually called me this afternoon and said, 'Coach, I think I need to do some more shooting," Hiland coach Dave Schlabach said. "We had already had shoot-around in the morning, but she came back and shot a few-hundred 3s on the gun. She played with the swagger and confidence we've been looking for, she just tired out."

Wadsworth was relentless in many ways. It's defensive sets harassed the Hawk ballhandlers regardless of whoever was in possession, forcing 17 turnovers. The Grizzlies also finished with 17 offensive rebounds and 14 second-chance points -- lofty numbers considering 46-of-52 Hiland possessions resulted in one field goal attempt or less.

"We did do a pretty good job on the boards," Booth said. "We may be a lot bigger than they are, but they always have five people in and around the paint crashing the boards. That neutralizes a lot of our height."

That wasn't the case early. When Lindsay Tenyak scored an old-fashioned three-point play on a third-chance opportunity, and Schrock followed that up with another third-chance hoop 45 seconds later, the Grizzlies were out to a 17-3 lead at the 2:05 mark of the first.

Hiland didn't fold, though, using three Stutzman 3-pointers in the final 8:48 of the first half to pull within 25-20 at intermission. But after closing within two on a number of occasions in the third quarter -- 25-23, 27-25, 29-27 -- Hiland managed to get up just one shot that would have tied the game.

"We can't be satisfied with playing well for 28 minutes," Schlabach said. "There's no question about it, we did some good things this weekend, but we can't be content.

"If we're going to do anything in the tournament, if we're going to beat a team like that -- and we all know who I'm talking about -- we have to do certain things better. We have to pressure for 32 minutes, we have to defend the post, we have to slow the game down and execute."

Courtesy The Daily Record, Wooster, Ohio

hawkhoops.com. All rights reserved.