Realistically, it took one full season for Darius Quisenberry to fully ingrain himself into the Wayne boys basketball program. Nothing unusual in that, especially when you’re a high profile and incoming transfer who already had surpassed 1,000 career points.
Chalk up last season to his break-in window with the Warriors. A spot in this week’s regional semifinals and possibly more is the payoff.
“This is a blessing, to be honest,” Quisenberry admitted after last Saturday’s 68-54 defeat of Oak Hills to win a district title at the University of Dayton Arena. “I’ve never played in Dayton, never got this far in the tournament. It’s all coming together.”
The boys and girls high school basketball seasons have morphed into crunch time this week. The boys, including Wayne, are at the Sweet 16 regional level. Greater Western Ohio Conference National East rivals Wayne and Springfield will play in separate Division I regional semifinals on Wednesday at Xavier University’s Cintas Center in Cincinnati.
The other three boys regionals all will play at Fairmont’s Trent Arena in Kettering. Up first is a D-IV regional semifinal doubleheader on Tuesday. Regional semi winners advance to regional finals on Friday or Saturday. Regional champs qualify for next week’s season-ending state final fours in Columbus.
Girls basketball is one week ahead, with its state final fours Thursday through Saturday at Ohio State University’s Schottenstein Center in Columbus. Bellbrook (D-II), Versailles (D-III) and Minster (D-IV) all earned spots in their respective final fours.
Much has happened to the Wayne boys since Quisenberry left Tecumseh after his sophomore season, none more impactful than three coaching changes within a month.
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Former assistant Nate Martindale eventually landed the job after former UD assistant Kevin Kuwik unexpectedly left to become Davidson’s director of operations. He was Wayne’s coach for one month last spring. The position initially opened when Travis Trice resigned to take over the Wayne girls program.
Those turned out to be all the right moves for the Warriors’ high-end program. Wayne (24-1) will play Princeton (23-3) at 8 p.m. Wednesday. Springfield (21-4) is up first against Moeller (23-3) at 6:15 p.m. The winners will play in a regional final at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
The last time Wayne had played for a district title in 2016 the Warriors were unbeaten, a favorite to win their second consecutive D-I state title and featured current UD standout Trey Landers. Instead, Lakota East landed a stunning 60-57 knockout.
Last season Wayne couldn’t get out of the sectional and lugged an uncharacteristic nine losses into the offseason.
“It’s big for our program,” Martindale said. “I told Trey that was for him and those guys on that team. At Wayne, we’re a family.”
Quisenberry, a Youngstown State signee, scored 31 points in Wayne’s 72-67 defeat of Princeton in a midseason showcase at Wilmington.
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• An area rep is guaranteed to make the boys D-IV state final four. That’s because the entire regional field consists of area teams.
Springfield Catholic Central (22-3) of the Ohio Heritage Conference opens with Midwest Athletic Conference power Marion Local (21-4) at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday. The 8 p.m. nightcap features Shelby County Conference rivals Russia (16-8) vs. Fort Loramie (24-2).
The winners will play for the regional title at 7 p.m. Friday.