Between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, Wayne competed in the Wings and Rings Winter Classic, an in-season tournament hosted by Northeastern. The Lady Generals played two games on Wednesday December 27th, beating Winchester and Tri. Then they knocked off Northeastern in the championship game the next day.
“The most important things [we took away from the tournament] were the importance of executing our game plan the way we practice, and everyone doing their job/playing their role,” head coach Lacia Gorman said. “When that happens success comes.”
During that tournament, the Generals won two games by one possession a piece. They beat Tri 61-58. Then they beat Northeastern 55-54 in the finals. Those close wins helped Gorman and her players learn a great deal about their team.
“Winning close games is huge. It allows you to really learn from them,” Gorman said. “Why were you in that situation to begin with? Could it have been avoided if we had done some things differently? But it also builds grit within your team, it’s easy to fold under pressure, give up when you get down, so them feeling what it’s like to continue to fight should help us moving forward.”
Winning that tournament puts the Generals at 7-7. They started the season 1-4. But since beating SAC rival South Side on November 17th, Wayne has won six of their last nine games. Gorman attributed the team’s bounce back to its improved chemistry.
“We are finally comfortable with each other,” Gorman said. “We may have six seniors but really only a couple with varsity experience and the team is fairly new. So it takes time to learn each other and build that trust on the court.”
Two seniors in particular helped the lady Generals win the tournament. Khalise Collins had a double double (18 points, 10 rebounds) against Tri and came close to double doubles in Wayne’s other two games. She had eight points and eight boards against Winchester, and then put up 14 points and nine boards against Northeastern. Sydney Gorman scored in double figures twice. She had 15 points against Winchester and 12 against Tri. She also came up with a grand total of 14 assists in the three games combined.
“All year we have been looking for a leader, and collectively they got it done for us,” Coach Gorman said. “Sydney [has gotten it done] more so with her play and her willingness to score even though teams were keying in on her since they tagged her as the shooter; she still knew she had to score for us, which opens things up on the inside. Khalise; on the court she got buckets for us, rebounded well, but also vocally she stepped up, said things that needed to be said on the floor, in the locker room, etc. I am proud of both of them.”
One of Wayne’s freshmen also had a rather productive tournament. Davianna Irons scored 17 points against Winchester and came up with five steals. Against Tri, she scored 24 points, going seven for nine from the free throw line. Coach Gorman described Irons as the Generals “energy girl”.
“She brings a defensive intensity off the bench that helps shift game flow,” Coach Gorman said. “She’s also a natural scorer, she can get to the bucket when we need her to. Her abilities have helped us on both ends of the floor. She can only continue to get better.”
Wayne plays two games this weekend. They host SAC rival North Side tomorrow night at 6 pm. Then they’ll have a quick turnaround. The Generals play Blackhawk Christian on the road at 2:30 on Saturday.
“We take [it] one game at a time, do our best to execute the game plan and get the job done,” Coach Gorman said. “We don’t ever underestimate anyone. Teams lace up their shoes just as we do, we expect a battle; game in and game out.”