BOWLING GREEN — The Anthony Wayne boys basketball team didn’t panic in the early moments.
Instead, the Generals simply needed enough time to find their comfort zone in an otherwise decisive win.
In a 64-51 win over Mansfield Senior for the Division I district basketball championship, the Generals appeared to struggle in the first quarter, falling behind by six points to the Tygers.
Those struggles were short-lived.
Anthony Wayne (20-4) used an 18-point second quarter to take a 27-18 lead at halftime, then stretched its lead to as many as 23 points in the fourth quarter Saturday at the Stroh Center.
PHOTO GALLERY: Anthony Wayne boys win district
“We knew from the start that we needed to handle pressure, going into this game,” said Mark Donnal, who led Anthony Wayne with 20 points and 14 rebounds. He also blocked eight shots. “We got off to a slow start. We were a little nervous, we had some jitters and after the first quarter, we got that out of our system. We came in, we played our basketball and executed our plays and beat their pressure.”
Donnal was one of four Generals to score in double figures, joining Jake Reid (13 points) and Ose Omofoma and Matt Fox (10 points each).
“We know coming into any game we have so many different options offensively,” Donnal said. “Tonight was my night, and I hit a couple shots, but we had Jake rebounding and Ose going to the basket, and we made a lot of free throws, which helped us out.”
Anthony Wayne went 2 for 6 from the floor for nearly the first six minutes as Mansfield took an 11-5 lead, but in the final 1:18, Omofoma and Donnal scored to cut Mansfield’s lead to 13-9 going into the second quarter.
Less than three minutes into the second, Hunter Johnson’s free throws completed Anthony Wayne’s turnaround, giving the Generals an 18-16 lead — their first lead of the game — and in addition to starting the game 16 for 16 from the free-throw line, Anthony Wayne took advantage of six turnovers, three steals, and six blocks in the half.
“Both teams had a little feeling-out session there, at the beginning of the game,” Anthony Wayne coach Bryan Borcherdt said. “The difference was, when they kept going back inside, Mark kept altering so many shots and then we’d rebound, and then we could come down and score. Then, we worked our way back into the game, and that’s how we got our lead. Once we built that lead, we did a very good job of maintaining that lead.”
The Generals held the Tygers scoreless in the final 3:34 of the half to take a 27-18 lead at halftime and built an 18-point lead in the third (38-20) on account of Mansfield’s poor shooting. The Tygers missed their first five shots of the third and by the time Mansfield called a timeout with 2:03 left in the third, it was 9 for 38 from the floor and only 1 for 9 on 3-pointers before Robert Jones’ 3-pointer cut the lead to 40-27 with 1:54 left in the third.
“You really can’t attribute it to a lot,” said Mansfield coach J.T. Reese, whose team trailed 45-31 after the third and finished 18 for 61 from the floor. “We were just missing shots. I thought they played a big zone. We’re trying to attack the middle of the zone, and they’ve got a big guy [Donnal, at 6-foot-10] in the middle, and we did a little better in the second half with pulling up at the foul line, as opposed to the first half.”
Contact Rachel Lenzi at: email@example.com, 419-724-6510 or on Twitter @RLenziBlade.