Wayne girls blitz Centerville; showdown draws multiple college coaches

It’s a Wednesday night in mid-December. Not a lot going on. It’ll heat up by the weekend. Nothing unusual about that. High school sports take off on Friday nights and Saturdays.

Yet, here they were, sprinkled throughout the almost-new Wayne High School gymnasium. Women’s basketball coaches from Florida State University, South Carolina, Dayton, Bowling Green, Western Michigan, Valparaiso and others couldn’t help but notice the many state championship and high-achievement banners hanging throughout.

They liked what they saw on the court, too.

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“It’s fun to have those girls out there and have these (coaches) come out and show them some love,” assured Wayne girls basketball coach Travis Trice.

What unfolded was Wayne’s 56-37 beatdown of visiting Centerville. It was a matchup of two of the area’s best Division I teams, although Fairmont and Springboro will eventually have a say about that. And it was quickly decided. Wayne was money in transition, making the extra pass and bottoming open shots. It was 35-13 by halftime; game over.

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There were plenty of recruitable reasons to keep watching. Wayne 6-foot junior Bree Hall is as good as everything posted about her game. She hit 7 of 11 shots, converted 7 of 8 free throws and had 21 points to go with seven rebounds, three assists and two steals. Her defensive intensity was even better.

Verbally uncommitted, it’s easier to list who hasn’t offered her. The word already was out about her as a middle school phenom. Ohio State and Michigan State made offers before she played a varsity game. Now a three-year starter at Wayne, Louisville, North Carolina, Kentucky, Indiana, Minnesota, Dayton and many others have joined in that recruitment fun.

“She’s gonna be big time,” said Trice after huddling with several college coaches.

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Just as coveted is Cotie McMahon of Centerville. A 5-10 sophomore, she was a key reason why the Elks extended last season to a D-I regional final. She also had 21 points, displayed a dogged defensive toughness and is a sure finisher around the basket.

Hall and McMahon are AAU summer teammates on Sports City U out of West Virginia.

“We go against each other all the time because we’re AAU teammates,” Hall said. “It was a big-time matchup and it was great going against her.”

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Bowling Green had a special interest. Wayne senior guard Nyla Hampton (12 points) signed with the Falcons last month. Centerville junior guard Amy Velasco is verbally committed to BG. She leads the Elks in scoring and is among the GWOC leaders, but was held to a single 3-pointer at Wayne.

Trice’s daughter Olivia Trice is a freshman guard at BG.

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And there’s more to Wayne (6-0). Jaida Wolfork, a 5-10 senior, draws the toughest defensive assignments and delivered against McMahon and before that 6-3 Maddy Westbeld of Fairmont (Notre Dame signee and another Sports City U teammate) and 6-2 Grace VanSlooten of Toledo Notre Dame, its best returning player coming off a D-I state final four season.

Wayne also has Alyssa Hargrove-Hall (seven points), a 5-9 junior transfer who led Beavercreek in scoring last season. Just this week she was ruled eligible for the entire season by the Ohio High School Athletic Association.

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Twice Centerville cut its deficit to 13 points in the second half; Wayne responded each time. The Elks (3-2) are a work in progress after going 25-3 last season but losing three starters.

“We’re trying to figure out how to play with one another,” Priefer said. “That always takes time. They have a lot of pieces.”

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So do Springboro (5-0) and Fairmont (5-1), which Wayne beat 51-49 in a buzzer-beater last Saturday. All four teams will play each other twice in the regular-season GWOC round-robin format. Then, it’s on each program to fulfill a hoped-for championship destiny and earn those coveted field-house banners.

“This is amazing,” Hall said. “It’s definitely a big step in doing a lot of great things with this team.”

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