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Published: Sunday, 2/13/2005

Waite is over: Indians capture first City League title

BY STEVE JUNGA
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Shareese Ulis, who led Waite with 11 points, shoots over Patrice Lalor, who paced Notre Dame with 10. Shareese Ulis, who led Waite with 11 points, shoots over Patrice Lalor, who paced Notre Dame with 10.
MORRISON / THE BLADE Enlarge | Buy This Photo

In this, the 51st year of Waite High School's Grant Murray Field House, some new girls on the block made sure that the old girl finally got a championship to call her very own.

The Waite Indians - picked to finish seventh in City League girls basketball in a preseason coaches poll - completed an unlikely climb to their first league playoff title yesterday with a 41-35 victory over Notre Dame before a crowd of more than 2,000 at the East Toledo gym.

Sophomore guards Shareese Ulis and Anedria Allen led the way with 11 and 9 points, respectively, and junior forwards Tatyana McNeal and Briana Washington added eight apiece as Waite (15-4) forced 25 turnovers out of the Eagles (15-4) with pressure defense to offset some poor shooting.

"They handled it very well," said Waite coach Manny May, whose team finished 6-13 overall and 1-8 in CL play just two years ago. "We stayed in control of our emotions.

"I'm happy. I think it's a monkey off the public schools' back. The public-school programs are coming along, and it's a better City League right now."

What was the historical significance for Waite, which ended Central Catholic's run of eight straight CL girls hoop titles with a 53-52 semifinal win on Wednesday?

It was the first CL girls crown for a public school since Notre Dame lost 59-42 to Macomber-Whitney in 1991, the year that school closed.

It was the first City basketball championship for Waite, boys or girls, since the Indian boys shared the 1953 title with Central and Woodward. Waite's last outright title (boys) came in 1938. The Indian girls' last trip to the CL playoff came in 1992, when they lost to Scott 51-48 in their only prior title-game appearance in 1983.

Waite's girls hold up the City League basketball championship trophy after defeating Notre Dame. It is the first time a public school has won the title since Macomber-Whitney in 1991. Waite's girls hold up the City League basketball championship trophy after defeating Notre Dame. It is the first time a public school has won the title since Macomber-Whitney in 1991.
MORRISON / THE BLADE Enlarge | Buy This Photo

Just like this history, the stat sheet could have been thrown out the window yesterday in terms of using it for evidence as to why Waite prevailed.

Usually a solid perimeter shooting team, the Indians hit just 13 of 53 shots (24.5 percent), including a dismal 3-of-17 (17.6 percent) effort on 3-pointers. But what Waite did best was limit Notre Dame's chances. The Eagles managed just over half the shots Waite took, going 13-of-29 (44.5 percent) from the field.

Tied 29-29 after three quarters, Notre Dame was done in down the stretch by free-throw shooting.

Down just 33-29 after baskets by McNeal (at 6:43) and Ulis (at 5:58), the Eagles missed the front ends of successive bonus opportunities. They were 1 for 6 in the quarter and 6 of 16 for the game.

"It was very big," McNeal, who grabbed 10 rebounds, said of the win. "We just want to give thanks to God and stay humble. We had to step our intensity up and play good defense.

"I'm very proud of this win, but we're not done yet. We've got to continue on our journey."

The winning point turned out to be a free throw from Ulis with 1:20 remaining for a 36-30 edge. Allen hit two from the line 10 seconds later. Waite was 12 of 23 at the line.

"We stayed confident," Ulis said. "Every team goes through a struggle and, if you stay together, you can get through it. We had a couple of plays where we didn't execute, but we stayed stayed focused and got through it.

"Last time [versus Notre Dame] we came out flat. This time we came out with more energy and played hard the whole game. When they started to foul, I knew we had the game. We just had to concentrate and make our free throws."

When Heather Wiczynski (nine points) connected on her third 3-pointer of the game with 0:56 to go, it was just the second field-goal attempt of the fourth quarter for the Eagles, who went scoreless in the fourth until freshman guard Patrice Lalor's free throw with 1:35 left.

Lalor had 10 points, and Kristen Kerscher added eight for the Notre Dame, which was outrebounded 33-31. Waite committed 12 turnovers.

Notre Dame, which defeated Waite 44-41 in CL play on Jan. 26, led 14-11 after one quarter before Waite rallied to a 21-17 halftime edge.

"Both teams competed hard, but give Waite credit, they made a few more plays today to get the win and they deserve it," Eagles coach Rhett Boyd said. "We don't make free throws and then we come down and turn it over a couple times. There was a lull that was too much to overcome.

"In the second half we turned it over and they got the game going a little faster than what we wanted. Obviously that benefits them, especially in the fourth when they made their run."

Contact Steve Junga at: sjunga@theblade.com or 419-724 -6461.



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