Waterford downs PHS girls, 63-49

Waterford's Alli Kern, left, battles Parkersburg's Maddi Leggett, right, for the ball during girls basketball action  Thursday night at the Cooper Annex. Photo by Ron Johnston.

Waterford's Alli Kern, left, battles Parkersburg's Maddi Leggett, right, for the ball during girls basketball action Thursday night at the Cooper Annex. Photo by Ron Johnston.

WATERFORD — Megan Ball had a monster game.

The 5-foot-11 senior scored a career-high 29 points as Waterford High downed Parkersburg High, 63-49, in non-conference girls basketball action at the Cooper Annex Thursday night.

“If it wasn’t for my teammates, basically they’re the reason everyone gets to score,” said Ball, a Walsh University recruit. “I mean, I’m just trying to do whatever I can to help. And whenever I have teammates who I can count on, it’s a lot easier to take the pressure off me as well.”

Ball was 12-of-12 from the foul line, 8-of-8 in the fourth quarter when the Wildcats (7-1) outpointed the W.Va. Class AAA second-ranked Big Reds (5-2), 24-10, to win by a 14-point margin.

“It’s been a struggle for the past couple of weeks, so for this to be the night that I hit them (freebies), that’s incredible,” Ball said.

As a team, Waterford was 15-of-17 from the charity stripe in the final eight minutes of play.

The Wildcat victory avenged a 56-52 season-opening setback to PHS at Memorial Fieldhouse on Dec. 2.

“Coming in, everyone was saying that we were going to lose again,” Ball said. “But we knew we had to prove them wrong.

“And once Hannah (Duff) went out (early in the fourth quarter), we had to win it for her, because after seeing what happened, we couldn’t let that stand.”

Alli Kern, an Ohio Dominican recruit, added 20 points, and Duff chipped in with eight before she was injured.

“We did a good job on Kern, but not on Megan,” said first-year PHS boss Scott Cozzens. “In the end, it’s one game and our seventh game of the season. We have 15 more to get ready for the tournament. And we’ll learn from this.”

Parkersburg, which hadn’t played a game in 10 days, was paced by Madi Mace’s 16 points. Maddi Leggett chipped in with 11, Shay-Lee Kirby had nine and Bre Wilson netted seven.

“That’s a really, really good team,” said Waterford head coach Jerry Close. “That’s why we wanted to play them twice. We figured it would be tough to beat them.

“Tonight, the kids came out and obviously played the best game of the year. It was just nice to see their resilience. That was a physical team, and our kids withstood it. That’s another thing. We don’t see that physicality very often.”

Before the fourth quarter, the contest was nip-and-tuck for 24 minutes. Sparked by Leggett’s five first-quarter points, PHS staked itself to an 18-13 advantage. Ball kept the ‘Cats close with eight points.

In the second period, Waterford grabbed the lead, 24-21, on Kern’s triple at the 2:36 mark. But the Big Reds closed out the first half with a 5-0 run, highlighted by a Mace putback and Aleea Crites’ buzzer-beating steal and layup to put the visitors back on top, 26-24.

It stayed tight in the third, and in the closing seconds, Ball’s layup gave Waterford a 39-36 lead. But once again, PHS beat the buzzer when Mace knocked down a three to knot the score.

Early in the fourth, Ball’s bucket made it 41-39. But the Big Reds came back and tied it on Wilson’s deuce.

Then after Ball drained a three, the Wildcats never looked back. Hayley Duff followed with a layup and bonus freebie to make it 47-41. Ball scored again to stretch the home team’s lead to eight.

Later, Kern’s drive and score gave Waterford a double-digit lead, 55-45. After that, PHS resorted to fouling, and the ‘Cats were dead-eyes at the line.

“Down the stretch, it was a four- or five-point game, and we made the worst possible decisions on trying to throw the ball inside,” Cozzens said. “I don’t know. They panicked or something. We’ve been practicing like this, so I knew it was coming.”

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