Prep girls basketball: Warren tops Waterford 58-55

WATERFORD – Warren girls head coach Amy Colgrove has been looking for her team to come up with that one big win that might help get them over the hump this season.

The second-year head coach may have gotten just that Wednesday night as the visiting Warriors came up with a big 58-55 win over the Waterford Wildcats in a non-conference battle.

“We were able to do some things down the stretch tonight that we haven’t been able to do all season,” said Colgrove of her Lady Warriors. “That’s a great team that we beat and a very big step for us in the right direction.”

The Warriors used a big first quarter from Emma Ryan to jump out to an early 14-6 lead.

The senior post player connected on all four of her first quarter field goal attempts to score nine of those first 14 Warrior points.

The Wildcats got a pair of free throws from Brooke Drayer and an old fashioned three-point play by Dani Drayer to close the lead to 14-11 at the end of one quarter of action.

Warren managed to keep the Wildcats at arms length throughout much of the second quarter and an inside score by Ryan on a beautiful pass from Josey Riffle with three minutes to play gave the Lady Warriors a 26-19 lead.

Waterford got a late three-ball by Dani Drayer and a runner by Brooke Drayer closed the lead to four before Warren’s Victoria Buzzard closed out the first half with a jumper to send the blue and white to the locker room with a 30-24 lead.

Both teams struggled to take care of the basketball as each squad coughed up 13 turnovers in the opening half and combined for 54 in the game.

“We made a lot of mistakes tonight due to their pressure,” said Waterford head coach Jerry Close. “They were able to do some things to us that other teams haven’t been able to.”

Despite the high amount of turnovers, the Lady Warriors ball movement was outstanding at the offensive end, as Warren tallied assists on 11-of-13 field goals made in the first half.

The third quarter would be split right down the middle as the Wildcats dominated the opening half before the Warriors came charging back in the second four minutes.

The green and white went on a 12-0 run, including four points each by Brooke Drayer and non-starter Regan Porter, to claim its biggest lead of the game at 36-30.

Warren answered quickly however as they scored the final 11 points of the quarter with back-to-back treys from Jordanna Rauch and Buzzard closing the quarter out with the Lady Warriors in front by five at 41-36.

“Victoria (Buzzard) has been playing great basketball for us lately,’ said Colgrove. “She has been improving every game.”

The Warriors continued their surge by scoring eight of the first ten points in the final quarter and found themselves with a double-digit lead at 48-38 with six minutes to play.

Waterford was not quite ready to pack it up quite yet and a 10-0 run over the next 3-1/2 minutes tied things up once more at 48-48.

Rauch sent Warren back in front with her third trey of the game and after Brooke Drayer answered with a beautiful drive to the bucket with the left hand, Ryan and Rauch scored a pair of points apiece to push the lead to 55-50 with less than a minute to go. The Wildcats got a huge three-ball by freshman Dani Drayer to get the game back to one possession.

Kendra Lynch made a pair of clutch free throws to keep the Warrior lead at three with ten seconds to play and when a long pass attempt by Dani Drayer was picked off by Ryan, the Lady Warriors had secured their seventh win of the season.

Ryan led all scorers with 20 points and 11 rebounds, while Buzzard and Rauch reached double figures for the Warriors with 15 and 14 points respectively.

“Emma (Ryan) played great offensively and defensively tonight,” said Colgrove. “She was patient on offense and finished strong down low.”

Brooke Drayer’s 19 points paced the Cats while sister Dani Drayer added 15 and Taylor Hilverding finished with 10.

“No excuses, we just got outplayed tonight,” said Close of his squad that was coming off of a physical win over Marietta Saturday and a road win at Federal Hocking Monday. “Our effort was great, we just made a few too many mistakes.”

Waterford dropped to 11-3 on the season with the loss, while the Warriors climbed over the .500 mark at 7-6.

The Lady Warriors will next host Portsmouth on Saturday, while the Lady Cats are right back in action tonight as they host Wahama.