DEFIANCE — Wayne Trace made its final visit to the ‘Pilot Hangar’ one to remember as the Raiders put away Ayersville for a 61-49 victory Friday night in Green Meadows Conference boys basketball action.

Leading by one point at halftime, the Raiders hit 17 of 19 fourth quarter free throws and used that difference to pick up the road conference victory.

Wayne Trace (14-3, 4-1 GMC) sets up a huge showdown with conference front-runner Hicksville (15-1, 5-0 GMC) this coming Friday at the ‘Palace.’ The Aces rolled by Fairview 68-34 in league play last evening. Tinora (11-5, 4-1 GMC) also stayed tied with the Raiders for second with a 38-31 win over Edgerton Friday night.

The Raiders got big efforts from several players and were led by senior Jake Kuhn with 18 points in the contest while senior Eli Sinn chipped in nine.

However, a pair of sophomores also were key figures for Wayne Trace.

Nate Gerber scored all of 13 points in the fourth quarter, including connecting on eight of eight free throws in the period.

Reid Miller stepped up as well for Wayne Trace, getting ten points and hitting four consecutive foul shots in the fourth quarter.

The Raiders finished the night 22 of 27 overall at the foul line compared to Ayersville’s 9 of 19 on the evening.

“We shot the ball well at the free throw line tonight,” noted Raider head coach Jim Linder. “The guys stepped up and hit foul shots in pressure situations. This is a tough place to come in and play and I am very proud of the way we handled that pressure.”

After a first half that saw the Raiders post a 19-18 advantage, Wayne Trace opened the game up in the third quarter by outscoring the host Pilots 16-10 for a 35-28 lead.

The Raiders did so by not committing a turnover in the quarter, finishing with only eight miscues on the evening.

“Eli is a warrior,” noted Linder of his senior point Eli Sinn. “He has played through a lot and just is our leader. Reid (Miller) is playing well for us right and just keeps getting better. Trae (Sinn) came in and gave us some quality minutes. All of our guards are doing a good job and taking care of the basketball.”

The Pilots pulled within 38-33 early in the fourth quarter on two free throws by Ryan Martin but Wayne Trace answered.

Two Jake Kuhn baskets and a pair of Eli Sinn foul shots helped the Raiders widen the margin to 45-33 as the Raiders seized control.

A Kyle Nicely helped Ayersville trim the deficit to 45-39 but that would be as close as the Pilots would get.

Gerber, following a flagrant foul and a technical foul on the Pilots, hit four straight free throws to push the margin to 51-39 and the Raiders sealed the game at the charity stripe.

Miller and Gerber each hit four free throws down the stretch with Miller also recording a steal and a layup to wrap up the Raider victory.

“Any time you can go on the road in a tough place like this and get a win is big,” concluded Linder. “But all this does is put us in a situation where we have another tough league game next Friday. We have given ourselves an opportunity to play a good Hicksville team with first place in the conference on the line.”

Kyle Nicely and Sam McGuire each had 11 points for the Pilots while Ethan Schlachter chipped in nine.

Wayne Trace returns to the court this evening as the Raiders welcome in a very good Kalida team. The Wildcats are 13-3 on the season after a 52-49 double overtime win at Ottoville.