Lady Wildcats claim sectional championship

RON JOHNSTON The Marietta Times Trimble’s Sydney Hardy, left, looks to pass as Waterford’s Emily Kern, right, and Megan Ball defend during a high school girls sectional basketball game Thursday in Pomeroy. Waterford won, 51-24.

POMEROY — Waterford High tipped off tournament play in championship fashion.

The defending Ohio IV champion Wildcats never trailed en route to a 51-24 triumph over Trimble High in a sectional girls basketball final at Meigs High Thursday night.

“Any tournament win is good,” said WHS head coach Jerry Close. “So, I’m just happy we got the win tonight. We got a lot of kids in, who got a lot of playing time. Hopefully, we get better every game like you’re supposed to.”

Waterford, fourth ranked in D4 with a 20-3 record, advances to play fourth-seeded Fairfield in a Feb. 25 noon district semifinal at Jackson High. The top-seeded Wildcats also defeated the Tomcats (9-15), a Tri-Valley Conference opponent, twice during the regular season.

“We should beat that team (Trimble) three times,” Close said. “But they’re a much improved team. We beat them 63-9 the first time we played them this season. They’ve improved a ton.”

Added Ball, “I agree that it is hard to beat a team three times, because they get better as the season goes on — and they have gotten a lot better.”

Said Hannah Duff, “We came ready to play tonight.”

Waterford was paced by Kern, who tallied 15 points. Ball added 12, while Duff and Rachael Adams had seven and six, respectively. Duff got all of her points in the third quarter.

“Hannah was open tonight and she made good on some shots,” Close said. “That was nice to see Hannah hit some shots. And, that’s what we have to have, somebody else scoring besides Alli (Kern) and Megan. That’s what we’ve been trying to get and hopefully we’ve got on to something tonight.”

Said Ball, “We tell Hannah that she needs to shoot more all the time. She needs to become more of a threat, so they (opponents) know that she’s a shooter, too.”

The Tomcats were led by Sydney Hardy’s eight points. Emily Ward chipped in with six.

Sparked by Kern’s nine first-quarter points, Waterford staked itself to a 17-4 advantage. Trimble didn’t get on the scoreboard until Kaitlyn Spears’ bucket at the 4-minute mark.

Thanks to the Wildcats’ fullcourt pressure, the Tomcats had more turnovers (7) than points in the opening stanza.

“We actually switched to a diamond (press), because we’re a little bit better and quicker than that,” Kern said. “We just switched it up and it helped us.”

In the second quarter, Ball scored six points and Kern four as Waterford stretched its lead to 27-11 at halftime.

Duff had the hot hand in the third quarter, taking and making her first three attempts from the field, including one triple, to give the Wildcats a 34-12 advantage.

“I realized that I needed to step up my game for the team,” Duff said, “and be a leader.”

Said Kern, “Hannah’s such a good, pull-up shooter,” Kern said. “And, we definitely need her.”

Waterford led 39-16 going into the final period. With Close subbing freely in the stanza, the Wildcats coasted home with the victory.

“We’ve got a week of tough practices now to get ready (for district),” Duff said.