The Press Newspaper
Though Waite girls’ basketball isn’t winning every game, the offense has consistently been there.
Behind a senior-laden class, four Waite players are averaging in double figures, but the Lady Indians are 4-4 overall and 1-3 in the Toledo City League.
Waite point guard Ramiah Henry leads the way averaging 13.8 points, followed by center Latesha Craig (13.3) and guards Taylor Works (11.9) and Yatiah Caldwell (10.6). Henry, Craig and Works have all had at least one game scoring at least 20 points, a sign that any can be relied upon to carry the load for the offense. Caldwell has a season-high of 16 points and has scored 14 on two other occasions.
"When Ramiah comes down the floor, she’s a slasher and a scorer," coach Manny May said. "Her mentality is to go through an open lane. And we have Latesha down low and Taylor and Yatiah, too. They all play a pivotal part and they score in double figures because they feed off one another. It’s easy for them to get along and they have good chemistry — they don’t have an animosity between them. When you’ve got four players that can score in double figures, it’s hard to stop them. It makes it hard for (the defense) to stop all of them."
Many of May's teams have hit their stride late in the season, as was the case last year when the Indians made a run to the CL Finals before falling to Rogers, a regional finalist.
May says that as the season progresses, he'll need his defense to make the difference between winning and losing.
"You’ll probably see us go more full-court press and some of the other kids will play more, But you won’t press against teams that you cannot rotate out of it quickly. You’ve got to make sure you can rotate within the defense and you don’t want to give up points in the press. Sometimes you’ve got a running team of a half-court team on the floor, and you adjust,” May said.
"They’ve got to improve on their rebounding and their defense — they’ve played great defense at times but then they’ll have mental lapses. It’s a process."
May expects more out his experienced group of athletes, a unit that, in addition to his four top scorers, includes starter Sharena Gary and off the bench, Mary Perkins, Ashley Richards and Tazunique Smith.
“I feel they can play a lot better given that they’re juniors and seniors," he said. "They should get better as the season progresses. This is the third year of varsity experience for some of them. They're a very talented group. It’s about them working together and learning to play together — we've seen it in spurts but not for a whole game."
Another problem May’s club has dealt with has been a tendency to fall behind and be forced to dig themselves out of a hole. Most recently, the Indians rallied from a five-point deficit in the fourth quarter before tying the game up in regulation, then falling to Woodward, 58-53, in overtime.
In a non-conference affair with east side rival Clay, the Indians trailed by 11 early in the final period and cut the deficit to three only to run out of gas as the Eagles held on for the victory. Even in Waite's season-opening win against Dayton Meadowdale, the Indians had to rally late before sending the game into overtime and taking control of the contest in the extra session.
What May is hoping for is to bring some younger players currently on the junior varsity up to for the varsity level in an effort to give his starters some time to rest. He's referring to players like Mia Rodriguez, Dayjenay Wells, LaTricia Williams and Leslie Barnett, who he says are “younger, more inexperienced athletes that are trying to learn the ropes before they can be thrown in with the more experienced players.”
"Over the course of the next two weeks, as we get healthy, we can improve a lot more," May said. "My starters log so many minutes because I’m playing a lot of kids on JV to get them some minutes. Sometimes my kids will play two quarters straight before getting a sub. As the younger players start to improve, we can play them more."
May, in his 17th year leading the Indians, has become one of the longer-tenured girls cage coaches in Northwest Ohio. He has a polished resume that includes four City titles and a Division I state runner-up finish in 2010. All four league titles came before conference realignment took place and Whitmer, St. Ursula, Notre Dame, and Central Catholic moved on to the Three Rivers Athletic Conference.
On top of that, May currently has two former players competing at the collegiate level. Six-foot-3 center Natasha Howard, who was part of the state runner-up squad and was named Ohio’s Ms. Basketball three years ago, is a senior at Florida State and is currently averaging first on the team in scoring, averaging 16.3 points and 8.3 rebounds for a 9-1 team that is ranked 24th in the Associated Press poll.
Kre’Ana Henry, last season’s Alan Miller Jewelers All-Press Player of the Year, is on the basketball court at Moberly Area Community College in Moberly, Missouri, where she’s recovering from a knee injury sustained last winter.