WILMINGTON — Playing its third strong opponent in six days, the Wilmington girls basketball team again relied on its defense to pick up its second straight win.
Trailing the defending Division III state runners-up Waynesville by as many as seven points in the second half and six points in the fourth quarter, Wilmington clamped down on the defensive end to pull out a 46-44 victory Saturday afternoon at Fred Summers Court.
After holding Western Brown scoreless for the final 6:42 Thursday, the Hurricane (4-3) held the Spartans (4-4) without a point over the last 6:10 Saturday.
The Spartans struggled from the floor after halftime. After making 13 of 25 shots in the first half, Waynesville made just 5 of 23 in the second half and 1 of 11 in the fourth quarter.
“I think our girls’ focus on closing out with a little more urgency improved during the final stretch,” WHS head coach Zach Williams said. “That was something we lost in the Carroll game. When we got tired, we lost focus.
“We reminded them at halftime, ‘You’re here, now’s the time to do the little things right.’”
Meanwhile, Wilmington erased a six-point fourth-quarter deficit with three consecutive baskets by Karlie Morgan. The game was tied at 44 with 3:38 remaining.
“She had a rough night to start,” Williams said of Morgan. “She got a little down on herself and she battled back. The conversation we had with her was, ‘We need you right now.’ She came in and made those big buckets. I can’t tell you how proud I am of her. So happy to see it and proud that she did it.”
Waynesville ran more than a minute off of the clock late but turned it over with 44.5 left. Wilmington freshman Sophie Huffman drove to the basket on the ensuing possession and was fouled.
Huffman missed the first free throw but made the second to give Wilmington a 45-44 lead.
“She has been playing her butt off all year,” Williams said. “She still makes some freshman mistakes. That girl plays with so much heart and intensity. She’s learning, and she brings so much to the table. She’s not afraid to step up and take those shots.”
The Spartans had two straight possessions with a chance to take the lead. On their final possession, junior Leah Butterbaugh got a great look at a long three for the lead, but it wouldn’t fall.
Another Hurricane freshman, Katie Murphy, grabbed the rebound and was fouled with 0.3 left. She made one of two to finish the game off.
Williams wasn’t surprised to see the two freshmen make big free throws down the stretch.
“I have faith in both those girls stepping to the line and hitting free throws as much as I do any of the other girls,” Williams said.
Jasmine Jamiel, who sparked the Wilmington offense to start the game with four three-point field goals in the opening quarter, led WHS with 15 points. She also had five rebounds and four steals.
Huffman had another strong night, scoring 11 points and pulling down seven rebounds. She also had three assists and three steals.
Butterbaugh led Waynesville with 13 points and 13 rebounds. Isabella Cassoni had 12 points. After Waynesville outrebounded Wilmington 20-9 in the first half, they were outrebounded 21-17 after halftime.
Williams was pleased with how his team continued to progress through a tough week. Wilmington followed up a tough loss Monday against Carroll with two impressive wins against Western Brown and Waynesville.
Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019
At Fred Summers Court
Wilmington 46, Waynesville 44
(44) WAYNESVILLE (fg-3fg-ft-tp) Leah Butterbaugh 5-3-0-13, Alexei Van Schaik 3-2-0-8, Kenzie Purkey 2-0-1-5, Carli Brown 2-1-1-6, Isabella Cassoni 6-0-0-12. TOTALS 18-6-2-44.
(46) WILMINGTON (fg-3fg-ft-tp) Jasmine Jamiel 5-4-1-15, KeAsia Robinson 1-0-0-2, Sami McCord 0-0-4-4, Sophie Huffman 4-1-2-11, Katie Murphy 2-0-2-6, Karlie Morgan 4-0-0-8. TOTALS 16-5-9-46.
FIELD GOALS: WV 18/48 (Cassoni 6/15, Butterbaugh 5/11); W 16/46 (Jamiel 5/13, Huffman 4/6, Morgan 4/10)
3 POINT FIELD GOALS: WV 6/19 (Butterbaugh 3/6); W 5/14 (Jamiel 4/8)
FREE THROWS: WV 2/4; W 9/19 (McCord 4/4)
REBOUNDS: WV 37 (Butterbaugh 13, Purkey 8, Brown 6); W 30 (Huffman 7, McCord 5, Jamiel 5)
ASSISTS: WV 7; W 12 (McCord 5, Huffman 3)
STEALS: WV 11 (Van Schaik 3, Brown 3); W 9 (Jamiel 4, Huffman 3)
BLOCKED SHOTS: WV 1 (Brown); W 0
TURNOVERS: WV 23; W 19
Matt Sexton covers high school sports for the News Journal. Follow him on Twitter @MattSextonPxP.