Getting to the City League championship game got to be a normal thing for Waite’s girls’ basketball team the last few years.
Reaching this year’s CL title game on Feb. 16 against sixth-ranked (Division II) Rogers didn’t come with all the pomp and circumstance as the Indians’ previous appearances with all-everything player Natasha Howard, but it was special just the same.
Coach Manny May, in his 15th season, guided Waite to the league title game without Kre’ana Henry, the team’s leading scorer. The 5-foot-11 senior wing was one of the top scorers in the CL and was the Indians’ second-leading rebounder when she was lost for the season after 14 games.
Henry was averaging 17.6 points a game when she went down with a torn ACL against Columbus Brookhaven.
“She did the little things,” May said. “She handled the ball in the high post and had nice height, and she could handle the basketball. She had great leadership skills. Losing Kre’ana was very hard for the team to recover from because of her leadership.”
May said a variety of players stepped up in Henry’s absence, most notably Latesha Craig, a 6-1 junior post. Craig averaged 12 points and a team-best 10.5 rebounds a game after Henry went down with the injury.
“She’s been dominating in the post,” May said. “She could be very good, one of those kids who can come out of the City of Toledo and dominate. She has a good jump shot, and the sky’s the limit if she puts the work in.”
Waite, which lost to former CL rival Central Catholic in the sectional tournament on Feb. 20 at Clay, finished the season with an 8-13 record and a 6-4 mark in the CL.
The Indians had four players average between 6-7 points a game this season.
Sophomore point guard Ramiah Henry, who saw some varsity action last season, averaged seven points, five assists and two steals a game during the regular season.
“She’s a heck of a defender,” May said. “I just want her to take control of the basketball and be a point guard. As a sophomore, she hasn’t learned how to do that. She defers too much. At crucial times, when she should be handling the ball, she’ll let somebody else have the basketball when it’s not their forte. She needs to point people to where they need to be and do the things they need to do.”
Senior guard/forward Janea Kenny and junior guard Yatiah Caldwell both averaged seven points a game.
“Janea is coming around; she had her ups and downs,” May said. “She’s a very talented kid, one of those (players) who could have scored more. But, she would rather pass. She needs to be more poised at times, but she can handle the basketball and she can shoot it. If she puts her mind to it, she can accomplish anything.
“Yatiah is a flat-out scorer. Her ability to get to the basket is phenomenal, but she has to know when to go and when to put the brakes on and make a pass. She’s a north-south player. She has to improve her game, to see the game on the east and west side of the floor.”
Taylor Works, a 5-10 junior wing, averaged six points a game while May’s daughter, junior guard Kayla May, averaged three points.
“Taylor is hard on herself,” coach May said. “She has a nice jump shot, but she has to develop dribble skills and move her feet. She has another year to work on that. Kayla had some jitters at times, but she played really good defense and made good decisions. She didn’t show people the level she could play at.”
Coach May said the Indians could be even more competitive next year if they continue to work hard in the offseason.
“Next year depends on how we do in spring and summer,” he said. “They have to really get in the gym and work on their game as individuals and as a team. We’ll have a good mix of juniors and seniors, and they have to to jell together and work hard together and really get after it.”