Michael Richards knew this season was going to be different for Wayne Christian, and so far, the Eagles’ head coach has been right.
Wayne Christian started strong and kept Greenfield at arm’s length all game.
The Eagles built up a double-digit lead in the opening quarter and hung on to defeat Greenfield 51-43 on Friday evening in Coastal Plains Conference play.
“The girls persevered in this game,” Richards said. “It was a tough game, and it took a total team effort. We would not have won without the contributions from everybody on the team.
“That’s what it took.”
With the win, the Eagles improved their record to 10-0, and Richards said the Eagles’ focus and positive attitude have enabled them to remain undefeated.
The Eagles made a statement minutes into the contest.
Ella Fox and Caroline Fox each buried a three-pointer in the opening quarter, and the Eagles started the game off with a 12-1 run.
The Eagles led 12-2 at the end of the first quarter, but Knights battled back and cut the Eagles’ lead down to 22-16 at halftime.
At the start of the third quarter, back-to-back baskets from Megan Jackson and layups from Brianna Verme and Caroline Fox pushed Wayne Christian’s lead back up to 12 points.
“I could tell the girls wanted it,” Richards said. “I tell them that mental toughness and effort will beat skill any day, and to me, I think we had more effort, and we played hard from start to finish.”
Greenfield’s Serenity McNair drained four three-pointers in the third quarter, and the Knights broke out for a 12-5 run late in the third quarter, but Wayne Christian still led 35-28 going into the fourth quarter.
“McNair is a very good player, and she made a lot of shots,” Richards said. “She made it tough for us. She’s a very good player, and she has a bright future.”
McNair, who finished the game with 33 points, opened the fourth quarter with another three-pointer to cut Wayne Christian’s lead down to 35-31.
However, the Eagles responded with an 11-1 run to push their lead back up to 46-32. Greenfield continued to play tough, but the Knights were unable to complete to comeback.
“It got tough there, but I told the girls to stay composed and that we have to finish this game, and they finished it,” Richards said.
Ella Fox emerged as the leading scorer for Wayne Christian with 12 points. Verme chipped-in 11 points, Caroline Fox added 10 points, while Hayli Verme scored 7 points in the win.
Jackson and Leah Mills both finished the game with four points.
The Eagles (10-0 overall) will look to move to 11-0 this season when they visit Liberty Christian Academy on Monday.
“It means a lot to be 10-0,” Richards said. “We’ve been building the program over the past few years, and each year we’ve gotten better. I think that this year is probably one of the better years we’ve had.”