No one is quite certain whether Anthony Wayne began its girls basketball program in the late 70s or early 80s.
But most will concur that the primary reason for the school's first league title was born around that time.
Anthony Wayne, with a young coach and a wealth of talent, clinched its first Northern Lakes League title last night in a 65-27 rout of visiting Rossford.
Justin Zemanski, all of 27 years old, needed just two seasons at AW to accomplish what hadn't been done in almost 30.
"He's young, but he has the knowledge in basketball," said senior Kacie Ulrich. "He's taught us well. He taught us the fundamentals."
After the game, Zemanski was serenaded to a warm applause from the home crowd as he put a pair of scissors to the final loop of basketball net.
"He's the best coach I've ever had," said senior Jordyn Sadowski, who led everyone with 15 points. "He's the glue that holds this team together, basically."
With wins over Maumee and Bowling Green, Anthony Wayne (16-1, 12-0) can finish undefeated in the NLL. An opening night loss to powerhouse Findlay represents the lone blemish on the Generals' season.
"This is the best group of players and people that a coach could ever ask for," said Zemanski, who spent his first two years at AW as an assistant. "No jealously, no bickering, no fighting, just good kids that are down for the common good of the team."
Allison Papenfuss scored 14 points to complement Sadowski in the paint.
Zemanski credits his assistant, Pat Phillips, just 30, for taking command of the team's defense, which was fully showcased last night.
Applying a relentless zone, the Generals held Rossford (3-15, 1-12) to just two points in the middle two quarters. About 12 minutes ran off the clock between points 11 and 13 - a drought that finally ended on a Kelsey Wiegand field goal with 4:30 remaining in the third quarter.
When Rossford wasn't missing shots (12-of-39) it was turnovers (30) that kept the Bulldogs from finding the basket.
"All throughout the game we make sure we have pressure on the ball," said Ulrich, who scored five points. "Our defense always gets our offense started."
Not that it was necessary on this particular evening.
A tremendous defensive effort allowed for the Generals' offense to coast a bit in the second half, and were outscored 14-11 in the final quarter. But after three solid quarters, and three decades of empty banners, the fourth quarter was simply an eight-minute nuisance prior to party time.
"It's surreal. Every year we set goals and we were saying, let's try to be 15-5 or 16-4, and now that we're 16-1 it's just so nice," Sadowski said.
Asked when the possibility of an NLL title became realistic, Zemanski pointed to the end of last season, when his squad played well down the stretch and finished third in the NLL.
"We knew we had a good shot at it after last year," he said, "but we knew we were going to be young."
As it turned out, not an issue for coach or team.
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