GREENVILLE – Two players who helped transform the Greenville girls basketball team into a winning program were honored prior to the Lady Wave’s 50-37 victory against Sidney on Saturday.
Payton Brandenburg and Cassie Cromwell were recognized in Greenville’s senior day festivities before the Wave’s regular season finale against Sidney. Greenville only won three games during the duo’s first two years of high school basketball, but since then they’ve led a resurgence that includes 13 victories this season and the Wave’s first winning season since the 2012-13 school year.
“They’ve been through it all,” Greenville girls basketball coach Rachel Kerns said. “They’ve been through when we were really rough, not very good at all and when we weren’t going to win very many games. And for them to have 13 wins their senior year with a really good chance to get 14, I just can’t thank them enough for the tone that they have set for our program. The expectation the younger girls have is because of what our seniors have done.”
To add another win to its résumé, Greenville had to beat Greater Western Ohio Conference rival Sidney, who despite having won just two games this season played with the Lady Wave for three quarters on Saturday.
Sidney jumped out to a 5-2 lead early on with 5 points from Alina Kindle before Greenville went on a 10-0 run to claim the lead. At the end of the opening quarter the Wave led 17-8.
Led by Carly Dean and her 7 second quarter points, Sidney cut into Greenville’s lead and reduced its deficit to a single point by halftime, 23-22.
Greenville managed to hold off Sidney throughout the third quarter but still only led 33-30 entering the fourth quarter.
Behind Saki Nakamura, who scored 10 of her game-high 15 points in the final period, Greenville did pull away in the fourth quarter.
“That’s the Saki that we think we’re just going to get. We were waiting for her to show, waiting for her to come, and it was so nice to see her have a little confidence in her abilities because she sure played like she had all the confidence in the world today,” Kerns said. “She just played an all-around really good game. Defensively she did great, but really how she rebounded was what kept this game from getting a lot uglier than it could have been.”
Ultimately it wasn’t as pretty as Coach Kerns wanted, but Greenville beat Sidney by 13 points, 50-37.
“It’s nice that we have developed our program to where it is, to where we might not play a really great offensive game, even defensive game, and we’re still able to come out of here with a nice lead,” she said. “It just goes to show how far we’ve actually come. I know I say that a lot, but it’s just the truth of where we were and where we are now.”
Nakamura led Greenville with her game-high 15 points. Also for the Wave, Morgan Gilbert scored 11 points, Brandenburg scored 9, Jada Garland scored 9, Haleigh Mayo scored 5, and Lani Shilt scored 1.
Dean led Sidney with 14 points. Also for the Yellow Jackets, Kindle scored 12 points, Emma Wiford scored 5, Kyana Johnson scored 4, and Samantha Reynolds scored 2.
Greenville finished the regular season 13-9 overall and 10-5 in the GWOC with Saturday’s win. The Wave will begin Ohio High School Athletic Association tournament play against Stivers at noon Feb. 17 at Tecumseh.
“We’re excited,” Kerns said. “I think we have a really good chance. It’s a game that we can win, should win and hopefully we do win. The good thing is we get five days to get ready for them. This is one game where who we play throughout our regular season schedule is going to make a difference compared to what their regular season schedule looks like. They do have quite a few wins, but I think we’re going to be alright.”