Despite ‘special’ game from Rice, Wayne falls at Flyin’

KETTERING – Wayne’s schedule the past 13 days isn’t the kind anyone would go out of their way to play.

First came Chaminade Julienne (14-1) and a loss at the buzzer on George Washington III’s 3-pointer. Next, GWOC rival Centerville (10-2) and a 29-point soul-searching loss. On Sunday at the 20th Beacon Orthopaedics Flyin’ To The Hoop showcase, the opponent was Garfield Heights (12-1).

The road Warriors (none of these games were at home) had a chance in a back-and-forth tussle against Garfield, but defensive breakdowns in the fourth quarter cost the Warriors in a 75-71 defeat.

The losses came to three teams considered to be top 10 teams in Ohio — Centerville and Garfield Heights in Division I, CJ in Division II — with a combined record of 36-4. Wayne is 9-3.

“It’s really about just learning from these losses and getting back into film sessions and see what we need to work on,” Wayne senior guard Lawrent Rice said. “Were bouncing back for sure — confidence is still there.”

Rice’s personal confidence only grew Sunday. He scored 33 points on 10 of 17 shooting, including 5 of 11 from 3-point range. He scored 19 in the second half.

“I’m doing as much as I can, but I don’t really care about points,” Rice said. “I care about the win.”

Juan Cranford added 17 points, Jared Furlow 10 and the Warriors shot 46.8% and made 11 of 28 3-pointers. Defense, however, let the Warriors down in the fourth quarter.

Garfield got to the lead early (the score was 53-53 after three quarters) and kept it with penetration and passes inside to wide-open Deandre Jones for four easy baskets, including two dunks, the last of which put the Bulldogs up 71-68 with 1:57 left. Jones scored 18 points.

“We just could not get our rotations right, period,” Wayne coach Nate Martindale said. “When you can’t get stops, you can’t win close games down the stretch.”

During this recent stretch Wayne faced high-level players like CJ’s Washington (Michigan signee) and Centerville’s Gabe Cupps (Indiana) and Jonathan Powell (several Power 5 offers). On Sunday, the Warriors had to guard Garfield’s Marcus Johnson, one of the most heralded freshmen in the country. Johnson scored 19 points with a variety of quick moves.

“Marcus can play,” Martindale said. “He’s a freshman, but he doesn’t play like a freshman at all.”

Rice is a four-year starter headed to Murray State. He had the first 30-point game of the event and has scored 30 or more four times this season.

“I told him, it’s a big-time stage.” Martindale said. “So it was time to show up and do what you need to do. Lawrent was special today.”

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