DELTA TWP. – Alisia Smith admitted it was a struggle for her to get going in the early stages Tuesday night.
Once the junior forward shook off the rust that stemmed from missing last week and settled in, she led the Waverly girls basketball team to a third straight victory.
Smith had a game-high 21 points as Waverly rallied to a 50-40 win over Grand Ledge at Phil Odlum Gymnasium.
Smith scored 12 points in the final quarter as she overcame a slow start by sparking the Warriors’ strong finish.
“In the first quarter I was kind of in a struggle,” said Smith, who has been banged up a little this season. “After that, I started to balance out and I started to actually get my game going.”
First-year Waverly coach John Schweitzer said Smith’s performance in the fourth quarter was one of her best stretches of basketball this season. And Smith’s strong finish, which came with a DePaul coach in the stands watching her, was key in helping the Warriors (10-5) overcome what was a seven-point deficit to start the quarter and pick up the win.
“She means a lot to us,” Schweitzer said. “She is a steadying presence on the floor for us, and a lot of the girls feed off her confidence. She can do a lot. She can handle the ball, she can finish at the rim and she can shoot the ball and she’s a great passer. I can’t say enough about what she brings to the table.”
It was Smith’s shooting from behind the 3-point arc that played a part in Waverly’s strong finish. She hit two threes in the fourth, including the go-ahead three with 2:00 remaining to break a 39-39 tie. That go-ahead three was part of an 11-1 spurt the Warriors used to close the contest.
Sophomore guard Jazlynn Wilcox also was big in the final quarter for Waverly and scored all eight of her points in the last eight minutes.
“She’s getting better and better,” Schweitzer said of Wilcox, who missed the first half of the season. “We’re excited about what she can do for us going forward.”
After a strong third quarter that resulted in it taking its first lead, Grand Ledge (7-8) struggled shooting late. The Comets were held to just one field goal in the fourth quarter – a three by Vanessa Odlum with 5:30 remaining.
“It was a tough night shooting, especially at the end of the game,” Grand Ledge coach Dave Jones said. “That’s kind of what we’ve got to figure out if we’re going to find a way to win some games down the road here.
“Credit to Waverly, they made their plays at the end of the game.”
Contact Brian Calloway at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @brian_calloway.