NEW CARLISLE – The Greenville girls basketball team won an Ohio High School Athletic Association tournament game for the first time since 2011 on Saturday, defeating Stivers School for the Arts 60-34 at Tecumseh.
“Fantastic,” Greenville coach Rachel Kerns said of the Lady Wave’s first tournament victory in seven years. “That was the goal from the first day of practice. We just really wanted to set ourselves up to play a winnable tournament game and then to come here and do the job, and that’s exactly what we did.”
To earn the tournament win Greenville had to get past Stivers and its tough post player, Emily Fletcher. The 6-foot senior scored Stivers’ first 11 points of the game and was a big reason why the Lady Wave only led the Tigers 15-13 at the end of the first quarter.
“They have what you call a true dominant player,” Kerns said. “Not that she’s going to beat us with her speed, but you can’t measure her size. She’s actually really good around the basket so when she can catch it close we didn’t have anything to answer. Give her a lot of credit – she made a lot of good looks that she got.”
While Greenville knew it couldn’t contain Fletcher on the inside, Kerns said, the Wave knew they could outrun Fletcher and her teammates. So Greenville started pressing on defense and looking to get transition baskets on offense.
“Our defense was really good today,” Kerns said. “They did exactly what we asked them to do. We wanted pressure all the time. The first quarter we kind of wanted to get a feel for the game then the second quarter we really tried to jump in and get them in the full court.”
The quicker pace was beneficial to Greenville, who increased its lead to 28-17 by halftime – limiting Stivers to just 4 points in the second quarter, all of which were scored by Fletcher.
Stivers found more success in the third quarter with Maria Dixon and Joia Allen leading the Tiger offense, but Greenville continued to control the tempo and pushed its lead to 20 points, 50-30.
With a big lead, Greenville slowed down the game in the fourth quarter and focused on controlling the ball on its way to a 26-point victory, 60-34.
Morgan Gilbert led Greenville with 23 points in Saturday’s win.
“She was special today,” Kerns said. “I’m really glad Morgan Gilbert plays for the Lady Wave. She’s just an incredible kid and does everything that we ask. She’s extremely coachable, and I think that’s the greatest asset she brings to our team. So when we make a change or an adjustment she’s fine with it and she can make it happen, and a lot of times she makes the other four girls on the court better just because she’s out there.”
Also for the Lady Wave, Saki Nakamura scored 12 points, Payton Brandenburg scored 8, Jada Garland scored 7, Haleigh Mayo scored 6, Koryann Elliott scored 2, and Chloe Sowry scored 2.
Fletcher led Stivers with 23 points while Dixon scored 6 and Allen scored 5.
Greenville improved to 14-9 with Saturday’s win. The Lady Wave now advance to play Carroll at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Tecumseh in the second round of the OHSAA tournament. Carroll beat Bellefontaine 59-26 on Saturday.
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.