Waite's Natasha Howard, who had 16 points and nine rebounds, looks to shoot against Start's Tiffani Blackman, left, and Azia Bishop. The Indians improved to 18-2. The Spartans fell to 16-4.
Start was 19 points closer Saturday in the City League girls basketball championship than it was in a game against Waite 17 days earlier.
But, thanks to some clutch rebounding and free-throw shooting down the stretch by 6-foot-3 senior Natasha Howard, the Indians still had enough of an edge to claim the title with a 44-43 victory before a crowd of 2,600 at the Waite Field House.
Howard scored 8 of her 16 total points on 8-of-12 free-throw shooting in the final 6:28, including hitting the first of two foul shots with eight seconds remaining.
That proved to be the winning margin as Waite (18-2), ranked sixth in Ohio in Division I, secured its fourth City title in six seasons.
"I came out and played hard and put it down on the court for my team," Howard said of her finishing touch. "There was a lot of pressure on me with the free throws.
"I wasn't as good as I'm supposed to be. But, when I needed the [crucial] free throws, I knocked them down for my teammates."