- Marc Pendleton Staff Writer
There are several good reasons why new Wayne boys basketball coach Nate Martindale leans on guard Darius Quisenberry. The two were paired as coach and player in youth basketball for three seasons and have been reunited with the Warriors.
Having bonded long ago, it was “Quiz” that Martindale hoped would be a difference-maker in what would be a 90-87 double-overtime instant classic win at Trotwood-Madison before a capacity crowd on Friday night.
“Darius is a tough kid,” said Martindale, who’s in his first season as the Warriors’ coach after being promoted when Travis Trice jumped to the Wayne girls team. “He’s a little stubborn sometimes, but you cannot question his toughness. I’m thankful to have the relationship that I have with him and I’m thankful he’s on my team.”
It was a boys high school basketball state-final quality showdown, a last stop both these high-end programs are shooting for. Wayne (8-0), appears to have its best team since winning the Division I state championship in 2015. The Warriors were 25-1 the next season, but couldn’t get past a district final.
Trotwood (5-2) lost to Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary’s on a last-second shot in the 2017 D-II state championship. Its only other loss this season was an early rematch at Akron.
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Quisenberry, a 6-foot senior who has signed with Youngstown State University, was clutch for the Warriors when they needed him most. He scored a team-high 23 points, including Wayne’s last five in the second OT.
“It’s a different mindset this year,” Quisenberry said. “We’re an actual family. It’s not about me, it’s about we. Coach Nate is a wonderful coach.”
Joining in those heroics was Wayne senior sub James Shanklin. He had scored just two points coming into the classic and added 10 more, including six in OT. His driving layup with 1:29 left in the second OT put Wayne up for good at 85-83. Quisenberry followed with a steal, layup and free throw and hit two more free throws with 14.6 seconds left for the final margin.
How unlikely was that? Wayne played all of the second OT without L’Christian “Blue” Smith, a rugged 6-5 center who tallied 19 points but fouled out late in the first OT.
“This is big,” said Smith, who signed to play receiver at Ohio State two weeks ago. “I have so much confidence in my guys. I was not tripping out at all when I fouled out. I knew my guys were going to get the job done.”
Emerging Wayne junior guard Ronnie Hampton also tallied 19 points, including nine in the second quarter.
“As a coach, when you’re playing those games, you’ve got to find a way,” Martindale said. “I have nothing but love for my guys. I’m really proud of them.”
Trotwood let victory slip away. Trailing by eight in the first quarter, the Rams rallied around senior Myles Belyeu’s 30 points and led by 11 early in the fourth quarter, “but we didn’t close the deal,” Trotwood coach Rocky Rockhold said.
“In the big picture, it doesn’t change our goals or change where we want to be. We told our kids, no one in the history of the (Ohio High School Athletic Association) has won a (state) championship in December. It impacts us because now we have to grow and learn from it, but it doesn’t change our ultimate goal.”
Amari Davis, Trotwood’s celebrated 6-4 junior, added 17 points and Carl Blanton 14. Davis surpassed 1,000 career points in the Rams’ previous game.
Wayne and Springfield, also 8-0, have separated themselves among other area D-I teams. They’ll play twice in the regular season, with a Greater Western Ohio Conference National East divisional title and No. 1 sectional seed at stake.
Trotwood is the area’s best D-II program with Dunbar (2-3) having rebooted its coaching staff and Franklin graduating to D-I.
Martindale and Rockhold had a heartfelt embrace afterward. Their roots also run deep, although in different eras. Martindale was a multi-sport standout at Cedarville and Rockhold the same at nearby Greeneview in Jamestown, both small-town Greene County rivals.
Wayne didn’t do itself any schedule favors. The Warriors were matched against Emmerich Manual (Ind.) at Indianapolis Northwest at 6 p.m. Saturday.
“It’s crazy,” said Quisenberry, who leads Wayne in scoring (17.9) and tops the GWOC in assists (6.7). “There’s nothing better than a Trotwood/Wayne game. It’s a classic. Double-OT? What’s better than that?”
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• Trotwood football coaches and players received state-title medals during halftime of the Wayne game. The most raucous ovations were for senior quarterback Markell Stephens-Peppers and senior running back Ra’veion Hargrove. Neither has signed national letters of intent and Hargrove de-committed from Bowling Green.
Trotwood defeated Dresden Tri-Valley 27-19 to complete a perfect 15-0 season and win a D-III state football championship earlier this month at Canton. It was the second state title for the Rams, who also went 15-0 in 2011 and won a D-II championship.