Wayne coach Travis Trice knows what it’s like to work on something in practice and not see it carry over to the game. That wasn’t the case Friday when game night looked exactly like what the Warriors had practiced.
“We were unbelievable defensively,” Trice said. “Guys were in tune to what we’d been working on the last two weeks.”
The Warriors played a trapping zone defense that Springfield couldn’t solve and rolled to a 61-35 Greater Western Ohio Conference Central Division victory.
When the teams met earlier this season, the Wildcats (8-7, 2-4) hurt the Warriors (14-2, 4-1) with drives and short open jumpers in an 87-69 loss. Wayne didn’t blow that game open until a 24-12 third quarter. But this time Springfield couldn’t penetrate the 1-3-1 zone. By halftime the Warriors led 33-15 and led by as many 28 points on the way to their sixth straight victory.
The Wildcats (8-7, 2-4) have been an improved defensive team lately, and coach Isiah Carson didn’t have much to complain about on that end. But on offense he didn’t get the same pleasure of practice carrying over to the game that Trice got. He prepared his team for the 1-3-1 zone and expected more.
“We know how to work against it,” Carson said. “The pressure just really bothered us. We were absent offensively, and we didn’t get anything we wanted to do.”
Guards Ryan Minney and DaeShawn Jackson average a combined 29 points, but the Warriors held them to three and 16 points, respectively.
Wayne’s offense is built on balance with three players averaging between 12 and 10 points. Against Springfield, Ahmad Wagner and Juan Ford scored 13 apiece, Crisshawn Clark had 10 and Xerius Williams and Collin Russell had nine apiece.
“That’s the strength of our team,” Trice said. “We don’t have a superhero on this team. We’ve got a great unit. That’s what can make this team special if we continue to stay bought in on that.”
Springfield had won two of three and was coming off a double-overtime loss to Tecumseh at home. The Wildcats are 3-4 at home, so Carson had a longer than usual talk with his team after the game.
“A gut check … a heart check,” Carson said of the conversation. “This is our home floor. We’ve got to do a better job than that. We’re a better ballclub than that.”