By Kevin Wannemacher
Times Bulletin Business Manager
AYERSVILLE — The first half of Thursday night’s Green Meadows Conference boys basketball game at Ayersville High School was not one of Wayne Trace’s best efforts.
Wayne Trace never got into any rhythm offensively and the Pilots were the aggressor on both ends of the floor as Ayersville posted a 33-19 lead at the intermission.
The Raiders, though, responded in the second half.
Wayne Trace outscored the host Pilots 48-20 in the final two quarters in rallying for a 67-53 win in Defiance County.
As much as Ayersville controlled the first half, the Raiders did even better in completely dominating the second half. Wayne Trace forced 18 Ayersville turnovers in the third and fourth quarters combined.
“We came out of the locker room and really stepped up the intensity level,” noted Raider head coach Jim Linder. “I thought we became the team that was more aggressive in the second half and that was one of the things we talked about at halftime. We knew we had to come out and raise our defensive intensity and I think we were able to wear them down.”
With the Pilots on top 39-25 midway through the third quarter, Wayne Trace scored ten straight points to trim the deficit to 39-35. Ethan Linder sparked the Raider run, connecting on a three-point play, two free throws and a basket in the spurt. Colby Speice also had a bucket and Corbin Linder chipped in a free throw.
“We had a lot of kids contribute tonight,” continued the Raider mentor. “Four kids were in double figures and they all stepped up and made some big plays for us.”
After a three-point play by Ayersville’s Pat Gerken made it 42-35, two Corbin Linder baskets and a bucket by Colby Speice brought Wayne Trace within 42-41. Corbin Linder then added one of two foul shots as the Raiders knotted the score at 42-42 heading into the final stanza.
The Raiders put the game away in the fourth quarter, limiting the Pilots to only a trey by Trey Bauman in the first six minutes of the stanza.
Meanwhile, Wayne Trace scored 15 points in the same stretch. A pair of Jake Arend free throws and an Ethan Linder two-pointer put the Raiders in front 46-42.
Following Bauman’s trey, the Raiders added buckets from Speice and Ethan Linder to widen the margin to 51-45. Wayne Trace added a pair of charity tosses each by Corbin Linder and Speice before an Ethan Linder basket put the Raiders in front 57-45 with 1:41 left in the contest.
Two Mike McGuire free throws pulled Ayersville within 57-47, but the Pilots would get no closer.
Wayne Trace sealed the victory, hitting 17-of-24 fourth quarter free throws including their final ten points of the night.
“This is a tough place to play,” commented Jim Linder. “We’ve had some good teams come over here and really struggle. It’s good to get a win on the road in the league.”
Ethan Linder had 19 points to lead the Raiders with Speice adding a dozen. Devin Wenzlick and Corbin Linder both posted 11 points for Wayne Trace, which remains unbeaten in two GMC games while moving to 8-1 overall.
Ethan Linder, Arend and Wenzlick all had five boards for the red-white-and-blue while Speice dished out five assists and posted four steals. Ethan Linder also had six steals and Arend added four.
Ayersville’s Brayton Martin led all scorers with 21 points while teammate Trey Bauman added 13. Kevin Zimmerman and Dauson Dales had six rebounds each for the Pilots, who fall to 8-3 overall and 0-1 in the conference. Bauman and Dales each had three steals as well while Martin dished out three assists.
The first half saw Ayersville post leads of 13-10 after one quarter before widening the margin to 33-19 at the intermission.
“We didn’t come out ready to play,” concluded the Raider head coach. “We just never were able to get into any flow there in the first half. You have to give Ayersville a lot of credit too. They came out and really guarded us defensively and we had to make some adjustments to that.”
Wayne Trace’s junior varsity moved to 8-1 overall and 2-0 in the Green Meadows Conference with a 46-35 win over the Pilots.
Alec Vest paced the Raiders with 13 points while Justin Speice added nine and Darius Hale chipped in eight. Hale and Vest each dished out four assists and posted three steals. Cole Shepherd topped Wayne Trace with nine rebounds.
Eric Engel scored 11 points for Ayersville, who drops to 9-2 in all games and 0-1 in the conference.
Wayne Trace returns to action tomorrow as the Raiders visit Lima Shawnee in non-league action.
Score by quarters
Wayne Trace 10 9 23 25- 67
Ayersville 13 20 9 11- 53
Wayne Trace (67)
Miller 2, Glass 0, E. Linder 19, C. Speice 12, Arend 5, C. Linder 11, Vest 0, Wenzlick 11, Sinn 5, Blackmore 2
Martin 21, Lawson 0, McGuire 3, Dales 2, Lamb 0, Theiroff 4, Bauman 13, Zimmerman 5, Gerken 5