CINCINNATI — Wayne missed some easy inside shots early, had others blocked, and wound up trailing Walnut Hills by as many as 12 points in the first half Saturday at Cincinnati Princeton during the girls Division I district final.
Despite a furious fourth quarter rally that saw the Lady Warriors pull to within three points with 17 seconds left but Walnut Hills managed to pull away late to win the game 58-49, but not without some controversy.
Walnut Hills managed to hold Wayne junior guard Nyla Hampton scoreless in the first half. Hampton came to life to score all 12 of her points in the fourth quarter to lead the Wayne rally.
Walnut Hills 6-foot-1 senior center Kennedi Myles blocked multiple Wayne shots inside during the first half while the Lady Warriors missed some layups and easy looks from close range. The Eagles’ intense defense made life miserable for Wayne early on.
Myles blocked Hampton’s first shot in the fourth quarter, but after that Hampton found a way to score. Lovie Malone buried a 3-point shot at the end of the third quarter to cut the Eagles’ lead to 36-28. After Myles blocked Hampton’s shot out of bounds Aniyah Brown stole the inbounds pass, dished to Myles for a bucket as Walnut Hills stretched the lead to 10. A jump ball went in the Eagles favor and Darian Burgin scored. After a Wayne missed shot Myles drew a foul and sank both free throws to put Walnut Hills up 42-28.
At that point it looked as if the Eagles had put the game out of reach. After coming up with a steal Walnut Hills missed a layup. Hampton drove inside and drew a foul from Zuri Williams. Hampton sank one free throw and on the ensuing Walnut Hills possession she came up with a steal and scored to make it 42-31.
Myles drove inside to score for Walnut Hills and Hampton answered with a bucket for Wayne. Destiny Bohanon (14 points) came up with a steal and dished to Aubryanna Hall (17 points) for another Wayne score to cut the Eagles’ lead to 44-35 with 5:27 remaining. Myles muscled inside for another Walnut Hills basket and after a missed shot by Wayne Aniya Brown scored to give the Eagles a 48-35 lead.
Brown fouled Bohanon who sank both free throws and after both teams got called for traveling Myles scored to make it 50-37. Hampton drove down the left side of the lane surrounded by three Walnut Hills defenders and drove underneath the basket and flipped a shot up as she drove past the basket to score a reverse layup. Hampton then came up with a steal and scored to cut the deficit to 50-41 with just over two minutes to play.
After Walnut Hills missed a shot Hall scored but Myles answered with another strong inside move to keep it a nine point game, 52-43. During a scramble for a loose ball Bohanon drew a foul by Brown and sank both free throws. The Eagles put up an errant shot and Hall scored to cut the deficit to 52-47 with 34 seconds left.
Ma’kaylia Lute came off the bench with orders to commit a foul and fouled Sean Kelly Darks who missed the front end of the one-and-one. Wayne controlled the rebound and Hampton scored to make it 52-49 with 17 seconds left.
Hall committed her fifth foul sending Darks to the line who sank one of two free throws. That set the stage for a controversial no call by the officiating crew that changed the complexion of the game.
Destiny Bohanon set up for a 3-point shot attempt and as she fired the ball toward the hoop got decked and landed on the court. Walnut Hills controlled the rebound and stormed down the floor. Olivia Trice fouled Myles and seconds later Wayne coach Travis Trice got slapped with a technical foul as he fumed over the no call on Bohanon’s shot.
Walnut Hills sank three of the four related free throws and with seconds left Darks sank two more for Walnut Hills to make the final 58-49.
“It’s one of those things as coaches to second guess things all the way through,” Trice said. “At the end of the day we just missed a lot of easy shots that we normally would make and missed some free throws that we’ve been doing a great job of sinking. I think Walnut Hills was more physical at times and things weren’t getting called at times and sometimes physical teams reap the benefits of that. I thought Bohanon got fouled for sure and that was a difference maker. I am so proud of this group of girls. They have come such a long way. This is one of those times that as a coach you hate for the season to end because these girls bought into everything we’ve talked about over the last two months. I truly believe they are one of the best teams in the state over that time period and I just feel for them. They laid it all out on the line and sometimes even when you do the right things, things don’t turn out the way you want them to. I couldn’t have asked anything more from them and I am certainly proud of this group.”
WAY 07 16 28 49 – 49
WAL 13 24 36 58 – 58
Wayne: Nyla Hampton 5-2-12, Destiny Bohanon 5-4-14, Olivia Trice 1-0-3, Aubryanna Hall 7-2-17, Jaida Wolfork 0-1-1, Lovie Malone 1-0-3. Totals: 19-9-49.
Walnut Hills: Miyah Brooks 1-2-4, Aniyah Brown 3-2-10, Sean Kelly Darks 4-8-16, Darian Burgin 2-0-5, Zuri Williams 1-0-2, Kennedi Myles 8-5-21. Totals: 19-17-58.
3-point goals: Wayne 3 (Trice, Hall, Malone); Walnut Hills 4 (Brown 2, Darks, Burgin).
Records: Wayne 17-5, Walnut Hills 25-1.