Having gone nearly a month without a victory, it seemed fitting that Wayne had to wait a little bit longer to find a way to win again.
The Generals, fighting a battle of confidence, not to mention taking care of the ball, did not lead Bishop Dwenger until overtime but pulled away in the extra session for a 67-66 victory Friday night. The Generals improved to 6-4, ended a three-game losing streak and remained in the SAC race at 2-2.
More importantly, it ended weeks of frustration.
That was the biggest win of our season, said Wayne coach Aaron Rehrer, whose team had not won since the opening round of the SAC tournament on Dec. 26. Weve been slumping a little bit, guys havent been playing well. With high school kids its tough to keep them motivated if you dont win this game tonight.
Motivation has been hard to come by too since the loss last week of senior point guard Jescus Mitchell to an illness. Rehrer has been working three sophomores into his rotation more, as well, leaving most of the load to be carried by Mitchells brothers, Justin and Levi, and Cameron Leshore.
The three seniors carried the Generals when it mattered most against the host Saints. Trailing from the jump, it was Levi Mitchells rebound basket with 20 seconds remaining in regulation that tied the game at 55 and sent things to overtime after Dwenger missed a last-second shot.
Levi Mitchell scored four points, and Leshore added a layup to open the overtime to give the Generals their first lead at 61-55. Dwenger later got as close as 65-64 on Kyle Hartmans layup with 41 seconds to go, but Justin Mitchells answer with 32 seconds left sealed the victory.
It was Justin Mitchell, Waynes leading scorer at 20 points per game, who was a picture of the Generals frustration early, going scoreless through three quarters. But it was his 10-point burst in the fourth quarter that gave Wayne the jump it needed.
Really I dont look to score any more; I look to be a facilitator, he said. I know when we play teams they say, Stop Justin Mitchell, so theres always two players on me and theres got to be an open player. I just do the little things – rebound, assists, stuff like that.
When its time to take over, Ill be there.
Justin Mitchell finished with 12 points, and Levi Mitchell had 19. Leshore, coming off a 30-point performance in a loss to Norwell on Wednesday, led all scorers with 22.
Hes really putting the team on his back, Justin Mitchell said of Leshore. Its his team really, and I tell him that. If he does this every night, hes probably one of the best guards in the state. Hes one of the best Ive seen.
Grady Eifert led the Saints (5-3, 2-2) with 21, Hartman finished with 17 and Jeff Mugg added 10.