Toledo Waite was seeking its fourth straight Toledo City League girls basketball title on Saturday. Instead, Toledo Central Catholic, bolstered by the double-double effort of junior post Brianna Jones, captured its first title since 2004 by defeating the Lady Indians, 68-50, before a near capacity crowd.
TOLEDO – The Toledo Waite Lady Indians had a remarkable run but like most good things it had to end.
Waite was seeking their fourth straight Toledo City League title but were derailed by another team that itself was no stranger to City League basketball titles: the Central Catholic Lady Irish.
Central, bolstered by the double-double efforts of their junior post player, Brianna Jones, captured their first title since 2004 by defeating the Lady Indians, 68-50, before a near capacity crowd.
The final score is not indicative of the closeness of the contest. The Irish were able to establish an early lead but until late in the fourth quarter could not pull away from the pesky Indians. With only 6:52 remaining in the game Waite was as close as seven points, 52-45. For the next two and half minutes neither team found a way to score and then it became all Central.
“There for awhile Marty (Central assistant coach Marty McKurk) and I were talking on the bench, ” said Central head coach Steve Pfahler. ” I didn’t know for certain if either one of us wanted to win that game. It would seem that one would turn it over, the other would turn it over, whatever. I just think there was so much competition levels going on out there that both teams wanted it so bad that I don’t think you saw both teams playing at their best.”
Over the final four minutes the Lady Irish outscored the Lady Indians, 16-5, to win going away. Waite, shooting 1 for 16 in the final quarter, could never get their offense going in the fourth quarter while Central could do nothing wrong.
“We couldn't make a free throw, we couldn't make a layup, we didn't box out, and they made those shots in the fourth quarter when it determined the game,” Waite coach Manny May said. “Central has been a great team all year long and they proved it tonight by making the big shots with the senior leadership they have on their team.”
A significant factor in the Central win was the fact that they were able to neutralize Waite’s talented post player, Natasha Howard in the second half. Howard, who still finished with 22 points and 14 rebounds, picked up her third foul in the second quarter and, although she still managed to put up good offensive numbers, her inside presence on defense seemed to be lessened and the Irish took advantage of the opportunity.
The primary beneficiary of Howard’s lessened defensive presence was Central’s Brianna Jones. Jones had a big afternoon on offense. Scoring a game high 22 points and pulling down 13 rebounds, Jones virtually matched the performance of Waite’s Howard and, because of Central’s depth, it was enough to allow her fellow Central teammates to pick up the slack necessary for the victory.
“I just had to come up and play my A game,” said Brianna Jones, “and stay focused. We just needed to gut it out.”
Also coming up with a big game for the Lady Irish was senior Danielle Lewis. Lewis, who has struggled at times this year, poured in 16 points. Eleven of those points came in the second half.
For long time Central Coach Steve Pfahler this title has special significance.
“This one feels really good. I thought, whoever won the City tournament this year, it would be a good feat because the competition is so tough. There's so many good teams and so many good athletes.This one may mean as much as any of them just because of the talent you have to go through to get to it.”