Wayne overcomes four-point fourth quarter deficit to beat St. Edward in overtime.
COLUMBUS — Wayne overcame a nine-point first quarter deficit and a four-point fourth quarter deficit to beat Lakewood St. Edward 57-51 in overtime and earn a trip to the Division I state finals. Wayne will face Westerville South tomorrow at 8:30 p.m. at Value City Arena to decide the Div. I champion.
It didn’t look like Wayne would get to the title game for much of the night on Friday. St. Edward led by four points midway through the fourth quarter, and Wayne struggled from the field in the game. But the Warriors finished the fourth on a 12-8 run to force overtime and outscored the Eagles 6-0 in the extra period to win.
“It wasn’t pretty and was one of those uncharacteristic games for us, but I told my team that champions find a way to win,” Wayne head coach Travis Trice. “And the only thing that matters is that you’re moving on to the championship game.”
“Guys stepped up at different times throughout the game and I’m really proud of our guys.”
Wayne took the first lead of the fourth period when Rodrick Caldwell hit a couple of free throws with 6:20 remaining, but St. Edward capitalized on a couple of Wayne turnovers to take a 43-39 lead.
Trey Landers tied it at 43 apiece when he got above the room on a tip-in with about four minutes left. Wayne built a four point lead later in the quarter off of a three-point play from Caldwell, but St. Edward stormed back.
Kipper Nichols hit a basket with 31 seconds left to tie the game at 51-51. Wayne turned the ball over on its last possession with 5.4 seconds left, and St. Edward went for a last-second shot attempt after a timeout. Nichols was not able to connect on a three-pointer and the game went to overtime tied at 51-51.
With 25 seconds remaining in overtime and a 53-51 lead, Trice hit two free throws, then ten seconds later took a charge to give his team the ball back. Caldwell got fouled with 13 seconds left and hit both free throws.
St. Edward didn’t make a shot in overtime, and Wayne pulled ahead. Ahmad Wagner hit the go-ahead basket with 2:14 left, and D’Mitrik Trice and Caldwell added foul shots in overtime to make the final score.
Lakewood St. Edward (21-6), the defending Div. I state champions, fired out of the blocks and mounted leads of 12-2 and 16-5 in the opening period. Wayne was ice-cold from the perimeter and St. Edward was scorching the nets. At the 5:00 of the second period, Wayne was 4-of-20 from the field while the Eagles were 9-of-11.
Wayne started getting some stops on the defensive end of the floor and also crashed the offensive boards enough to get to the free-throw line and mount a comeback. With 3:42 left in the third period, two Xeyrius Williams free throws made the score 20-17.
Wayne’s Demond Parker hit a three-pointer from the left corner at the buzzer, which tied the score at 26 at the break. Wayne clawed back on the strength of 12 offensive rebounds in the first half, with Trey Landers and Williams accounting for six each.
“We didn’t start the way we’d have liked and when you’re not hitting your first shot, you’ve got to get second and third shots,” Trice said. “We had to continue to go to the offensive boards and it was something that kept us in the game.”
St. Edward made 61 percent from the field, while Wayne was 32 percent, including just two for nine from beyond the arc.
Trice gave Wayne its first lead of the game on a three-pointer early in the third quarter. St. Edward took the lead right back until Williams tied it with a trey at the 2:25 mark. The Eagles were able to get a couple of scores inside, but Caldwell scored on a break-away lay-up at the third quarter buzzer to tie it at 37-37.
These two schools matched up in the state football finals this past season, so a rivalry was already in place. Both Caldwell and Williams felt good about the school’s first ever trip to the state basketball finals.
“I’ve been wanting this all of my life and like coach says, ‘Keep believing and we’re going to get here’,” Caldwell said.
Williams, a UD recruit, talked about the perseverance to get the chance to play for a state title.
“It’s what every player in the state of Ohio dreams of, and just working every year for this,” Williams said. “Why not now, senior year, go out with a bang?”
Big time players made big time plays for both teams in this one. Wayne was led in scoring by Caldwell with 17 points. Williams contributed 13 points and eight rebounds, five of which were on offense. Iowa signee Ahmad Wagner had nine points and five rebounds, while Landers was big on the glass with a team-leading nine rebounds.
For St. Edward, 6-7 Kipper Nichols led all scorers with 20 points and had a team-high nine rebounds. Ryan pitched in 14 points while Funderburk finished with 13 points, all but two of which were in the first half.
Wayne goes for their first state title on Saturday night against Westerville South (27-1). Tip-off is at 8:30. In Division IV, No. 1 ranked Tri-Village goes for their school’s first state title on their quest to go 30-0. They play Harvest Prep at 10:30 Saturday morning.
Wayne postgame press conference: Travis Trice, Rodrick Caldwell, Xeyrius Williams