GWOC boys basketball: Wayne overtakes Centerville in second half

Damiene Boles promised himself not to miss another bonus shot like he had the previous game. Sure enough, this time Wayne’s senior guard swished two free throws with 15.6 seconds left that held up for a 52-50 defeat of host Centerville on Friday night.

Although Wayne also beat Fairmont in double overtime the previous game, Boles had clanged a bonus free throw opportunity with that game on the line.

“I was all down on myself all week and promised myself if I get in that situation again, I’m not going to miss,” he said.

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Wayne (4-1) has won four straight close boys high school basketball games since a season-opening loss at Columbus St. Francis DeSales. Wayne has beaten Beavercreek, Butler, Fairmont and now Centerville by a combined 13 points.

The Warriors achieved their latest win the hard way, overcoming a nine-point halftime deficit. After Centerville freshman Gabe Cupps, the son of Elks coach Brook Cupps, missed a corner 3-pointer at the buzzer the Warriors erupted in a midcourt celebration.

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It was the second straight loss for Centerville (0-2). The Elks opened the season with a one-point setback at Trinity Catholic (Ky.).

The Greater Western Ohio Conference matchup packed Centerville’s gymnasium and essentially featured two revamped lineups from last season. Among the few proven returnees was 6-foot-9 Centerville senior Mo Njie. The University of Dayton and Xavier are among the programs to have offered him, although he remains uncommitted.

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He delivered a game-high 17 points, including nine in the fourth quarter, to go with three dunks and altered many more Wayne shots. He also was paired with his 6-8 sophomore brother Kebba Njie (nine points). Along with 6-7 sophomore Rich Rolf (10 points in the first half), Centerville had a superior height advantage. Instead, Wayne unloaded a clutch second-half rally.

“We’re not consistent enough to win games like that,” Centerville coach Brook Cupps said. “It’s offensively and defensively on the boards, we’re going to get beat by good teams right now. Until we fix that stuff and get disciplined enough to actually execute every possession, every game, that’s how it’s going to be for us.”

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Malcolm Curry and Ben Palma each had nine points to lead Wayne’s mostly underclass lineup. Boles and Jalen Orwig are the only seniors for Wayne. Boles was the leading scorer (15.6) and rebounder (5.7) at Stebbins last season and transferred to Wayne as a senior. Because he moved back to the Huber Heights City School District, the Ohio High School Athletic Association ruled he’ll be eligible the entire season.

“Damiene is one of our verbal leaders,” Wayne coach Nate Martindale said. “He’s really embraced our system and our mentality. I’m so proud of him in how far he’s come not only in football but also basketball. He’s got a great grandmother who takes care of him and he’s a special person to me.”

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At 3-0, Wayne is the early GWOC American Division leader. “Our biggest thing is trusting the process and getting better every day,” said Martindale.

Miamisburg (4-1, 3-0) is the GWOC National leader, although defending Division II state champion Trotwood-Madison (2-0, 2-0) will weigh in on that.

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Centerville went 22-6 last season, tying Springfield for the GWOC National East title and falling to eventual two-time D-I state champ Cincinnati Moeller in a regional final.

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