Prep boys basketball: Wildcats down Tomcats

WATERFORD – For three quarters Waterford seemed to have things well in hand against the Tri-Valley Conference foe Trimble Tomcats Friday night at the Harry Cooper Annex.

Things about got away from the Wildcats in the final eight minutes however as they were forced to withstand a furious Trimble rally before claiming a 72-63 victory.

Waterford took what appeared to be a comfortable 17-point lead into the final period before seeing that lead dwindle all the way down to four points thanks to a 22-9 run by the Tomcats.

“We kind of relaxed and let our guard down a little bit in that fourth quarter,” said Waterford head coach Tom Simms. “All but two of those (Trimble) kids played on that state football team so you knew they were not going to lay down.”

The Wildcats came out of the gate strong as they outscored Trimble by a 19-10 count in the opening quarter.

The white and green kept the pressure on in the second quarter as Tanner Pottmeyer drained an early triple and after Trimble’s Konner Standley converted on one-of-two free throws, back-to-back runners by Wyatt Porter and Pottmeyer made it a 26-12 game with six minutes to play in the half.

Trimble got a pair of three-pointers from Wyatt Bragg late in the quarter but Waterford finished the half on a 11-6 run to stake claim to a commanding 40-21 lead at the break.

The Tomcats threatened to make things interesting in the third quarter as big man Micah Couch scored 10 points but each time the Wildcats seemed to have an answer as they held a 58-41 lead at the end of three quarters.

Couch scored nine of Trimble’s first 11 points to start the fourth quarter, sparking a 11-2 run to cut the Wildcat lead to 60-52 with just under five minutes to go.

“Couch just did an outstanding job in the paint,” said Simms of the Trimble post player who tallied 32 points in the game. “We just needed to play better defense in that situation.”

A pair of free throws by Pottmeyer increased the lead back to double digits but a pair of free throws by Jake Kish and a rebound and put back by Couch cut the lead to just six with 1:07 to play.

Trimble drew even closer when after Pottmeyer made one-of-two from the charity stripe, Jacob Koons connected from long range to cut the lead to 67-63 with 49 seconds to play.

That would be as close as Trimble (2-2) would get as Tryston Crawford and Pottmeyer both took care of business at the free throw line and Pottmeyer’s basket in transition put the exclamation point on Waterford’s seventh victory of the season. “We kind of let down on our defense and stopped bringing the intensity that we had in the first three quarters,” said Pottmeyer, who led the Wildcats with 23 points. “We let them get back in it but it was great to come out with a win.”

Pottmeyer finished with a double-double as the junior yanked down a game-high 12 rebounds while going 7-for-7 from the field.

Porter added 19 points for the Wildcats while Eli Strahler chipped in with nine points and six assists.

“We played three really good quarters and then things went kind of down hill,” said Porter. “We were able to pull off the win and that is all we can ask for.”

Couch made 14-of-16 shots from the field as the junior scored more than half of his teams points while also collecting a team-high eight rebounds.

The Wildcats (7-1) will have little time to savor their victory as they prepare to host the rival Fort Frye Cadets Saturday night.

“We know what they (Fort Frye) are going to do and we know what we have to do,” said Strahler of the back yard brawl.

Simms looks forward to a packed gym and the emotion that follows each time the two schools get together.

“There will be a lot of emotion. They are a very good team and they are playing tremendous ball,” said Simms of the Cadets. “We are going to have to play solid defense and go out and make some things happen in our favor.”