WATERFORD - Waterford's mid-January varsity girls' basketball schedule features games almost every evening.
It'll be capped at 7:30 p.m. Saturday when the Jerry Close-coached Lady Wildcats (11-3) host arch-rival and Dan Liedtke-led Fort Frye in a non-conference tilt at Waterford Elementary School.
Before that showdown, Waterford will have played Monday (winning 80-33 at Federal Hocking), Wednesday (lost to Warren 58-55), and today (Wahama).
JORDAN HOLLAND The Marietta Times
Waterford’s Brooke Drayer (22) delivers a pass to a teammate as Marietta High’s Luisa Barton defends during non-conference girls’ basketball action at Waterford Elementary School last Saturday night. Waterford is scheduled to host Fort Frye this Saturday night.
Photo courtesy of Pam Brooker
Fort Frye’s Morgan Liedtke drives to the basket against Rosecrans during a game on Jan. 3.
Doing the math, that's four games in six days.
"We played four games last week, too," Close said. "We like it, because we had that one stretch early on where we had a two-week layoff. We'd rather be playing games."
At least, the Lady Wildcats will have one day, Friday, to prepare for the Lady Cadets (12-3), whose only other scheduled game this week is at Caldwell at 7:30 p.m. tonight.
Fort Frye does have a full weekend ahead, though, because after playing Waterford, it is slated to face Riverview in the West Muskingum Tournament in a rare 5 p.m. Sunday game.
"It's going to be a busy two days," Liedtke said.
Schedule aside, it's not going to take much, if anything, to motivate the Waterford and Fort Frye girls for their Saturday matchup. This is after all a rivalry game, even though it is non-conference.
Last season, the Lady Cadets won both contests, 37-36 and 51-35.
"It's going to be a battle like it aways is," Liedtke said. "That's just the nature of a rival game. It's a fun game."
The Waterford Elementary School gym should be packed to the rafters as the Waterford and Beverly communities are only separated by a Muskingum River bridge.
When these two schools first played each other this season in Beverly on Dec. 8, 2012, the Lady Cadets defeated the Lady Wildcats, 57-49. Taylor Buchanan and Deidra Combs led the red, white and blue way with 15 points apiece. Brooke Borich chipped in with 11, and Micayla Hupp netted nine.
Waterford also had four girls in double figures with Taylor Hilverding scoring 12, Randee Seevers getting 11, and Brooke Drayer and Chelsey Paxton notching 10 apiece.
The game was tied 28-all at halftime until the Lady Cadets asserted themselves after the break by outpointing the Lady Wildcats 29-21.
"Fort Frye is tough to beat at their place," Close said. "I thought we battled and played hard. We made some mistakes, and Fort Frye will make you pay for it."
Since that setback, Waterford won nine straight contests, until falling to the Lady Warriors (7-6) on Wednesday night.
"We're starting to play well as a team," Close said. "We're improving and growing every game."
Last Saturday night, Waterford defeated visiting Marietta High, 69-65, in overtime.
During that game, Drayer scored her 1,000th career point. Her older sister Jessi, now playing at Waynesburg (Pa.), also achieved the prep milestone.
Waterford's last 1,000-points-plus career scorer was Emily Brown last season. Brown is currently competing as a freshman at Saint Peter's University in Jersey City, N.J.
Expected to join Brooke Drayer in the starting line-up against Fort Frye will be, Dani Drayer, Hannah Dailey, Hilverding, and Paxton.
"We like to protect our home court," Close said. "I just hope we can limit our mistakes and keep the game tight."
Fort Frye's probable starters will be Morgan Liedtke, Buchanan, Combs, Borich, and Hupp.
Fort Frye is hoping for a bounce-back victory against host Caldwell in a Pioneer Valley Conference tilt this evening. Last Saturday night, the Lady Cadets hosted and dropped a 63-52 decision to Huntington St. Joseph (10-1), a W.Va. Class A powerhouse.
It was a tough loss but a good experience for Fort Frye as St. Joe will be the type of school that the Lady Cadets can expect to play in the postseason.
The Lady Cadets also faced a pretty good Lady Irish player in Mychal Johnson, who will be playing collegiately at Notre Dame next winter. She scored 22 points against the red, white and blue cagers. "It was a game that we could've won," said Dan Liedtke of the St. Joe game. "We played with them, and we had an opportunity to win."
Waterford, too, is no stranger in defending standout players as it had the unenviable task of guarding Marietta's Erica Dawson, who is Xavier University-bound next season. Dawson tallied 30 points against the Cats.
After the Fort Frye game, Waterford will have some practice time as it isn't slated to play its next contest until Thursday, Jan. 24, at Miller.