NORWALK - Fool's gold.
That is obviously what underdog Lorain Southview had when they held a 13-9 second-quarter lead over sixth-ranked Waite in last night's Division I girls basketball regional semifinals.
That's because the Indians (22-2), who were careless with the basketball early on, would go on a rampage in the transition game from there on and romp to a 73-34 victory over Southview at Norwalk.
All-American 6-3 senior forward Natasha Howard led the charge with 28 points and 18 rebounds, 6-2 junior forward Shanice McNeal had 21 points and eights rebounds, and senior guard Miriah Haynes added 12 points and seven boards as Waite reached its first regional final.
"We just needed to settle down early," Waite coach Manny May said. "We came out too intense and too hyped up. We needed to settle down and start making good decisions with the basketball."
In an all-local showdown for a trip to Columbus for the state semifinals, the City League champion Indians will face tournament Cinderella Perrysburg (18-6) of the Northern Lakes League for the regional title Saturday at 1 p.m at Norwalk.
The Yellow Jackets, who placed third in the NLL, advanced to their second straight regional final by beating Brecksville-Broadview Heights 44-36 in last night's second semifinal. Perrysburg lost 31-23 to Start in last year's regional final here.
After Southview star Shaniqua Ogle hit a 3-pointer to put the Saints ahead 13-9 with
6:29 left in the first half, Waite - which had already committed 11 of its 24 turnovers by that point - suddenly found a gear that Southview could not match.
Over the game's next 7:48, the Indians' pressure defense forced 14 Saints turnovers and turned them into a game-breaking 30-3 surge.
"We just needed to slow our energy down a little bit and be patient, because we had so many turnovers," Howard said of her team's poor start. "So, that's what we did.
"That's what we do all day in practice. We work on our defense and moving our feet."
Waite, which streaked to a 30-16 halftime lead, capped that decisive run with a 3-pointer from junior guard Brooke Hunt for a 39-16 lead with 6:11 left in the third quarter.
By game's end, Waite had squeezed 36 turnovers out of the overmatched Saints, and outrebounded them 53-28.
"I want to go to state real bad," McNeal said, "because we might not even have sports next year. I want to be able to get a state championship."
McNeal was referring to a recent proposal made by the Toledo Board of Education that included eliminating sports for all Toledo Public Schools as a way to trim over $3.5 million out of a $30 million budget deficit.
Waite was 30-of-76 from the field and 9-of-15 from the line. The Saints were 13-of-48 from the field and 4-of-6 from the line.
Ogle, a sturdy 6-0 junior who has committed to Bowling Green State University, was the only effective player against Waite's overwhelming pressure, scoring 20 points and grabbing seven rebounds.
"We thought we were going to make it a little closer than what we did," Ogle said. "But they pushed the lead and, just like that, it happened. I wouldn't say it was devastating. We just weren't ready for it. We kind of panicked a little bit and lost focus."
It was the last basketball game for Southview, which is slated to close following this school year, with a probable consolidation with Lorain Admiral King High School.
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