Rogers' Cha'Ron Sweeney goes to the basket against Woodward's Mylisha Fitchpatric during a City League semifinal at Scott High School. Sweeney led the Rams with 14 points despite spending a lot of time on the bench after Rogers built a big early lead against the Polar Bears.
Waite and Start clashed for four quarters on Thursday night in a City League tournament semifinal held at Scott.
Waite's Latesha Craig knocks over Start's Torie McDuffie. Craig scored 12 points. The Indians will face Rogers in the final.
The winner's reward would be a chance to play in the City League tournament championship game.
Start's Chelsie Randolph, left, battles Waite's Taylor for a loose ball. The Spartans got back in the game with their pressure defense.
Waite committed 22 turnovers, including 15 in the second half, but still managed to hang on for a 34-31 victory over Start.
Rogers' Akienreh Johnson slips past Woodward's Asieonna Alfred on her way to the basket. Johnson and the rest of the Rams get a chance to defend their title on Saturday.
"Start pressed us, and we should have handled the press a little better," Waite coach Manny May said. "We threw the ball away and made it closer than it should've been."
Outside of the score being tied at 2 early in the game, the Indians (8-10) held a lead over the Spartans (11-10) the rest of the night. They went up by as many as nine points early in the second quarter before Start cut the lead to one point three times after halftime.
Latesha Craig, Waite's 6-foot-1 junior center, scored a team-high 12 points, and Janae Kenny added nine points, including a 3-pointer, to lead the Indians.
With the Indians leading 31-30, Waite's Yatiah Caldwell drained a 3-pointer with 1:01 remaining to give Waite a four-point lead.
Start's Torie McDuffie, who finished with a team-high 12 points, made one of two foul shots with 52.2 seconds to make it 34-31. An Indians turnover gave Start an opportunity to tie the score during the final 10 seconds, but a Spartans 3-point attempt was off the mark to seal the win for Waite.
"It feels good to win, and I don't like losing," said Kenny, a 5-9 senior guard. "We went out and tried our hardest."
Nonetheless, earning the right to play in the title game means facing defending City League champion Rogers, which steamrolled Woodward 97-22 in the other semifinal.
"They have speed, are athletic," May said of the Rams (18-3). "They're going to press us, and we have to make sure we can handle their pressure."
Rogers' starting unit barely broke a sweat against Woodward in the opening game of the night.
Rogers had five players score in double figures, with 10 Rams finishing with at least five points. The Rams sank 10 3-pointers on the night.
Rogers’ senior point guard Cha'Ron Sweeney led the way with a game-high 14 points while spending nearly half the game viewing the action from the Rams’ bench. Rogers' starters were instrumental in the Rams closing out the first quarter with a mountainous 35-6 lead over the Polar Bears.
Toriana Easley and Akienreh Johnson pumped in 11 points apiece, while Sasha Dailey and Keyanna Austin registered 10 points each. Easley scored all of her points in the opening quarter, while Johnson tallied eight of her points during the period.
The Rams took a 55-12 lead into halftime and were well on their way to punching their ticket to play in the CL tournament championship contest.
Woodward junior forward K'Shawna Barnett pumped in 11 points, and Cierra Stamper chipped in six points to pace the Polar Bears.
Contact Donald Emmons at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6302 or on Twitter @DemmonsBlade.