BERNE – From the stands, Addison Bayman appeared perfectly in control as she hit nine of her 10 free throws in the fourth quarter to help Woodlan overcome a 14-point deficit and beat Adams Central 57-52 in the ACAC girls tournament finals on at South Adams on Saturday.
But a good while later, after she’d raised the trophy with teammates – the first time the Woodlan girls have celebrated a conference tournament title since 1992 – and after she’d been named the Hilliard Gates MVP and cut down her piece of the net and posed for pictures, her hands were still shaking.
"I feel really good right now, it feels really good to finally get here," Bayman said. "We feed off the gym big-time, so hearing them yell 'defense' really meant the world to us out there. We played tougher, you could tell, in that last 30 seconds. Everyone went harder, everyone meshed together."
The good feelings for the Warriors continued into the boys championship final, where Woodlan also bested Adams Central, this time by a score of 48-35.
Woodlan (15-5) dominated the the Jets (12-7) in their first meeting, a 50-23 Warriors win back in December. But the Jets continued the hot shooting that carried them through the first two rounds of the finals, shooting 54.5% in the first half and going into halftime with a 29-16 lead.
Even as Woodlan continued to pressure Adams Central on defense, continually forcing turnovers and putting the Jets on edge, the Jets were still able to get the ball to the basket for layups often enough that they took a 14-point lead into the final quarter. At that point, Woodlan coach Gary Cobb decided it was time for a change, switching to man-to-man defense for the final quarter.
"We always play zone, that's our trademark, we wanted to put pressure on them, and they shot lights-out," Cobb said. "They forced us out of our game. The first time we played them, they didn't shoot like that. I knew tonight would be more of a war, but l can't say it enough, we never quit."
Bayman led the Warriors with 24 points, 14 of which came in the fourth quarter. Dakotah Krohn scored 15.
McKenna Dietsch continued her hot streak for Adams Central, scoring 16 points, and Carly Holley caused problems in the post again and again, scoring 16 points for the Jets.
In the boys game, Joe Reidy, Mitch Mendenhall and Aiden Bayman (Addison's twin brother) scored to give the Warriors an 8-0 lead.
Mendenhall took over the game in the second quarter, scoring nine points and grabbing three rebounds. Reidy, a 6-foot-7 sophomore, helped Mendenhall control the paint. The Warriors did not score a single 3-pointer during the game – they went 0-7 in the first two quarters, and by the second half had largely stopped attempting outside shots – while occasional treys by Adams Central (5-8) kept the Warriors (7-5) from shutting the door on the Jets.
"Pound the ball in the middle, they had to try to contain me and Joe," Mendenhall said. "We got stuff done, we got the ball moving around and popping, everybody hit shots. And we pushed the ball up and down the floor and matched up. That was our plan."
Late in the third quarter, a steal and layup by Adams Central's Lucas Van De Weg cut the Warriors' lead to 29-27, but the Jets were never able to tie the game.
Mendenhall was named the boys Hilliard Gates MVP after scoring 23 points and grabbing nine rebounds. Reidy scored 11 points and had nine rebounds and Aiden Bayman scored 10. Aaron Hahn was the last Warrior to win the Hilliard Gates trophy for the boys, doing so when Woodlan last won the tournament in 2017.
"It's awesome; it's a team sport, it's not just the MVP, but to be up there with my mom now is awesome, it's cool," said Mendenhall. His mother Kristen (Hermann) Mendenhall won the award in 1987.
Van De Weg led the Jets with 12 points, and Ben Voirol scored 11.