WEST CHESTER – Wilmington was victorious Saturday night in its opening game of the Division I Sectional tournament, turning back the upset-minded Colerain Cardinals, 65-53, at Lakota West High School.
The Hurricane will play 7:30 p.m. Wednesday against St. Xavier, as the Bombers defeated Loveland 80-50 in the third game Saturday night.
On this night, Layne Griffith was the go-to guy for Wilmington, leading all scorers with 27 points. He started slowly with just two points in the opening period but then ripped the nets for 10 in the second and nine in the fourth quarter. Griffith also pulled down eight rebounds in the contest, as Wilmington dominated the boards, by a 31-19 margin.
“Layne had an outstanding effort tonight,” WHS head coach Michael Noszka said. “He definitely was the player of the game. He was very poised on the floor and took good shots (making 12 of 17 attempts).”
It was a see-saw game throughout the first half, with the lead changing hands seven times. It was a 28-28 standoff at halftime.
“We told them at halftime to keep playing hard, but to do a better job guarding. Too many times we let them inside and they scored easy baskets against us,” said Noszka. “In the second half, our transition offense was much better and we dominated them on the glass. Winning the rebounding battle was huge for us. Colerain is a very athletic team.”
Coming out of the locker-room was a different Hurricane squad. Wilmington had righted its ship and seized control of the game. WHS put 18 points on the board, limiting the Cardinals to just eight. Matt Smith’s trey beat the buzzer, making it 46-36 heading into the final period.
Colerain would not go away, however, and eventually cut the deficit to 59-53 with 2:00 to go in regulation, but they failed to score any points the remainder of the game. Wilmington claimed the fourth quarter 19-17.
Leading scorer for the Cardinals was Rodney Wiley with 16, but he was limited to just three points in the second half of play.
Smith finished with 15 points for WHS, 13 in the second half. Jeffery Mansfield, double-teamed and sometimes triple-teamed by Colerain, still managed to score 13. He also converted five of his six free throws. Mansfield also pulled down six rebounds.
Coming off the bench, Cam Coomer added eight points for Wilmington.
February 24 2018
Division I Sectional
@Lakota West High School
Wilmington 65 Colerain 53
(53) COLERAIN (fg-3fg-ft-tp) Hatter 4-0-1-9, Wiley 6-1-3-16, Gaither 3-3-0-9, Jones 3-0-3-9, Dorsey 4-0-0-8, Roberts 1-0-0-2. TOTALS 21-4-7-53.
(65) WILMINGTON (fg-3fg-ft-tp) Morris 1-0-0-2, Coomer 3-1-1-8, Griffith 12-0-3-27, Smith 7-1-0-15, Mansfield 4-0-5-13. TOTALS 27-2-9-65.
Bill Liermann covers college and high school sports for the News Journal. Follow him on Twitter @lierjet.