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Sidelines: Waite girls comes so close; Liberty-Benton wins it all

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Except for the finishing piece, it was a dream season for coach the Waite girlsbasketball team.

Led 6-foot-3 senior forward Natasha Howard, the Indians reached the Division I state championship game, falling 47-45 to Canton McKinley.

The Indians, coached by Manny May, lost to Start three times last season, but reversed things this year by beating the Spartans three times en route to becoming only the second team in Waite's 96-year history (boys or girls) to reach a state championship game. (The Waite boys basketball team lost in a state final in 1927).

The Florida State-bound Howard became the first player from northwest Ohio to be named the state's Ms. Basketball and was chosen to the first team of the Parade Magazine All-America team.

The Northern Lakes League title boiled down to a Sylvania duel bewteen Northview and Southview, with veteran coach Jerry Sigler's Wildcats prevailing behind Olivia Fouty. Surprisingly, however, it was third-place Perrysburg (18-7), which upset third-ranked and previously unbeaten Marion Harding in a district final and advanced to the D-I regional final before falling to Waite.

In the Suburban Lakes League, repeat champion Lake — coached by Denny Meyer and led by junior standout KaysieBrittenham — posted its second straight 20-0 regular season and 22-1 final record. The only two losses the last two years came in D-III district finals against Liberty-Benton, which this year closed at 27-0 and as the state champion under coach Nate Irwin. Senior first-team All-Ohioan Amanda Hyde led the Blanchard Valley Conference champion Eagles' first state title run.

The Eagles eliminated Toledo Area Athletic Conference champion Ottawa Hills (19-3) in the district semifinals in what was arguably Ohio's toughest D-III girls district field at Anthony Wayne. The four qualifying teams came in with a combined record of 75-9.

Wauseon (21-4) edged Archbold for the Northwest Ohio Athletic League title, and advanced to the D-II regional semifinals for the second straight year.

— Steve Junga

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