Talent and challenges. Travis Trice knows both.
After a 10-year run as the Wayne boys basketball coach, which included a state title, Trice has passed the halfway point in his inaugural season as the Warriors varsity girls coach.
Sunday, at the prestigious Classic in the Country, Wayne dropped a 41-39 overtime decision to undefeated Newark inside Berlin Hiland High School’s Perry Reese Center. The Wildcats (12-0) debuted at No. 1 this week in the first Associated Press Division I state poll.
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En route to its 8-5 start, Wayne has dropped games to Ohio’s top three ranked D-I teams, including No. 2 Lakota West and No. 3 Mount Notre Dame. The Warriors also own losses at Beavercreek and to Tennessee-power Hamilton Heights Academy, which is ranked No. 7 nationally by MaxPreps.com.
The schedule is steep. And not one Trice anticipated tackling 12 months ago.
“It’s definitely been a fun ride,” said Trice, whose boys teams won 197 games, seven Greater Western Ohio Conference titles and the 2015 D-I state championship. “With the boys a lot of times you have to let them know they aren’t as good as they think they are. The flip-side with the girls is you have to convince them they are better than they think they are.”
“The process is what were focused on,” said junior Olivia Trice, the coach’s daughter. “We’re young and inexperienced, but we’re definitely scaring some teams. Playing the schedule we have, we will get there.”
This isn’t the exact Wayne team CIC organizer’s thought they’d be hosting.
Last March, after leading Wayne to 45 wins in two years and the program’s first district title (2016), then-reigning two-time GWOC coach of the year Sonya Miller resigned following a letter of reprimand from district officials issued due to her husband’s involvement as an unsanctioned coach. Trice – partially inspired by his daughter – made the coaching switch in May.
Before the start of the season, two Wayne starters left school, including two-time reigning GWOC Central player of the year Shai McGruder. McGruder, who has signed with New Mexico, transferred to Trotwood-Madison. Junior Mali Morgan-Elliott, who started 24 games last year, transferred to Fairmont.
Wayne junior Destiny Bohannon, a two-time first team All-GWOC selection and Dayton commit, returned from a torn ACL in mid-December and has been slowly working her way back into game shape.
“Nobody is crying for us - trust me,” Trice said. “We want the people here that want to be here. The girls that are here have bought in. I feel like we’re one of the best teams in the state period. I expect us to be a problem for people.”
Wayne gave Newark all it wanted.
Ahead 18-16 at halftime, the Warriors built a 22-16 third quarter lead before a 9-0 Newark run turned momentum. Down 30-29 entering the fourth quarter, the Warriors rallied for a 37-35 lead with 14.4 seconds left in regulation. A putback by Newark on a missed shot forced the extra stanza.
Down 41-39 with 1.1 seconds to go in OT, the Warriors inbounded the ball along their sideline but Olivia Trice’s 3-pointer was just wide right.
The game was that close.
Trice, who holds offers from Akron and IUPUI, led Wayne with 11 points, while Kyra Willis added nine.
Freshman sensation Bree Hall, who holds offers from Dayton, Ohio State, Michigan State, Minnesota and Indiana, wowed the crowd with her athleticism and potential. The Warriors leading scorer on the season (10.1 points), Hall had four points, four rebounds and three steals.
Additional hammers for Wayne include Nyla Hampton (offers from Dayton, Miami and Ball State) and senior Maya Dunson (signed with Loyola University Chicago).
Wayne faces Regis Jesuit (CO) on Monday at 1:20 p.m.
“I told the girls we were going to take the first 10-12 games and figure out who we are,” Travis Trice said. “We’ve done that and were finding our groove. This is a disappointing loss, but I think through three quarters of the game we were the better team. This is part of the learning process.”
Said Olivia Trice: “We’re saying ‘trust’ in our huddle. Trust our teammates and trust the process. We’re striving to be great. We’re not there yet.”
• Friday’s winter weather inhibited Minster from making the trip in time for its originally scheduled Saturday tip against Thornville Sheridan. Instead the Wildcats - Ohio’s No. 1 ranked D-IV team - opened Sunday with a 44-41 loss to Elyria Catholic. Minster’s game change forced the CIC to host seven games on Sunday for the first time.
Down 37-24 in the fourth quarter, Minster (12-1) rallied to tie it 41-41 and had a last second 3 to force overtime that missed.
Coming into the game, only two of Minster’s previous 12 wins had been decided by less than 20 points. The Wildcats shot just 27-percent from the field (12-of-45) and were out rebounded 39-28. Taylor Kogge and Demarius Wolf each scored 10 points for Minster. EC (10-4) was paced by Ally Winnen’s double-double (17 points and 10 rebounds).
•Fairmont, which played Westerville South on Sunday, lost 40-37 to Toledo Notre Dame Academy on Saturday. Down 16, the Firebirds (6-6) rallied behind sophomore Madeline Westbeld who impressed with nine points, 12 rebounds, four assists, five blocks and two steals.