By Kevin Wannemacher
Times Bulletin Business Manager
HAVILAND – Leading 49-31 late in the third quarter, Ayersville appeared to have Friday’s Green Meadows Conference girls basketball game at Wayne Trace firmly in control.
However, the Lady Raiders came within one possession of pulling off the upset.
Wayne Trace pulled within 62-59 with 11 seconds remaining, but was unable to come up with the game-tying shot as the Lady Pilots held on for a 63-59 victory at the ‘Palace.’
Despite the loss, Raider head coach Bethany Hughes was pleased with how the Lady Raiders responded in the final period.
“The girls didn’t give up, and I was pleased to see that,” commented the first year Raider head coach. “We dug ourselves a big hole, but they kept fighting and battled their way back to give themselves a chance at the end.”
Trailing 49-33 entering the final quarter, Wayne Trace’s Lauren Speice opened the quarter with an offensive rebound and basket to make it 49-35. Following a basket by Ayersville’s Kelsey Johnston, another Speice bucket and a three-point play from Brenda Feasby trimmed the deficit to 53-41.
“We picked up our intensity as we got more confidence there in the fourth quarter,” Hughes added.
Ayersville’s Kylee Tressler temporarily stopped the Raider momentum, connecting on a three-point play to push the margin to 56-41. The Raiders, though, quickly answered as Feasby hit one of two free throws before adding two more charity tosses on the next possession in pulling Wayne Trace within 56-44.
The red-white-and-blue continued to chip away at the Pilot lead. An Erin Mohr trey along with consecutive buckets by Speice brought Wayne Trace within 60-51 with 1:02 remaining.
A Feasby bucket made it 60-53, and the Raiders sliced the deficit to 62-57 on a Mohr three-pointer with 26 seconds on the clock.
After a missed Pilot foul shot, Feasby scored to get Wayne Trace within 62-59 at the 11 second mark.
Wayne Trace would get one more chance as Ayersville missed a pair of free throws, but a Raider turnover proved to be too much to overcome.
The Pilots’ Megan Schubert stepped to the free throw line and hit one of two foul shots with one second on the clock to seal the 63-59 Ayersville win.
“We were able to do a lot of positive things tonight,” Hughes continued. “The biggest thing was how the girls battled and didn’t give up. I am so proud of them for the way they responded. We went to the boards good tonight but we still have to do a better job of taking care of the basketball.”
Neither team was very successful taking care of the ball as Wayne Trace committed 31 turnovers on the night while Ayersville had 22.
Mohr led all scorers in the contest with 22 points to go along with four rebounds while Speice chipped in 14 points and 14 rebounds. Feasby added a dozen points, three assists, four steals and four boards as well for Wayne Trace. Shayna Temple also posted 11 points, four assists, five steals and eight boards.
The Raiders fall to 8-5 overall and 1-2 in the league with the loss while Ayersville moves to 11-2 in all games and 3-0 in the conference. The Pilots visit co-league leader Holgate in action on Thursday. Hicksville is also 3-0 in GMC action and tied with the Pilots and Tigers for first.
Molly Hammersmith paced Ayersville with 19 points, ten rebounds, three assists and seven steals with Schubert chipping in 16 points and 14 boards. Brittany Addington added seven assists and Tressler recorded 15 points, six steals and three assists.
Ayersville took advantage of 11 Raider turnovers in the opening stanza to post an 18-12 advantage after eight minutes of action. The Pilots posted a 27-22 lead at the intermission.
Wayne Trace had a slight edge on the boards, 39-38. The Lady Raiders were 23-of-53 from the field (43 percent) compared to Ayersville’s 25-of-62 (40 percent). At the charity stripe, Ayersville was 11-of-23 (48 percent) while the red-white-and-blue was 9-of-18 (50 percent).
In the junior varsity contest, Stacy Flint and Maddie Zartman each scored four points in overtime to lift Wayne Trace to a 53-47 win over the Pilots.
The Lady Raiders are now 9-3 overall and 2-1 in the GMC with the victory while Ayersville drops to 5-5 and 1-2.
Estie Sinn paced the Raiders with 16 points while Leah Sinn chipped in 15, including hitting a game-tying trey late in regulation. Flint finished with nine points.
Isela Brown had 17 points for the Pilots with Korbyn Martin adding ten.
Wayne Trace returns to action Tuesday as the Lady Raiders host Delphos Jefferson in non-league action before visiting Hicksville in GMC play on Thursday. The Pilots welcome in Edon on Tuesday in non-conference play. Ayersville then visits Holgate on Thursday in a battle for first place in the GMC.
Score by quarters
Wayne Trace 12 10 11 26- 59
Ayersville 18 9 22 14- 63
Wayne Trace (59)
Mohr 22, Temple 11, Speice 14, Wilcox 0, Feasby 12, Poling 0, Young 0
Tressler 15, N. Hammersmith 2, M. Hammersmith 19, Schubert 16, Addington 6, Johnson 4, Carnahan 0, Engel 1