Waterford plays Hiland Saturday in state final

Photo courtesy of Patti Miller Waterford’s Alli Kern, right, goes up for a block during a high school girls basketball game against Eastern earlier this season.

COLUMBUS — For the third time in as many years, the Waterford girls basketball team finds itself in the Division IV state championship game.

The No. 4-ranked Lady Wildcats (25-3) will take on No. 1 Berlin Hiland (28-1) at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Jerome Schottenstein Center in Columbus with the ultimate prize on the line — a state title.

“It’s awesome,” said Waterford junior Megan Ball after Thursday’s semifinal win over Jackson Center. “This is what we’ve worked for all season. Losing four seniors last year was really hard, but this was our goal again, and it’s great to be back.”

Waterford and Hiland each won on buzzer-beaters Thursday to advance to the finals. Hayley Duff’s basket as time expired lifted Waterford to a 37-35 win. Now, the ‘Cats turn their attention to Hiland, which features a talented roster.

The Hawks are led by first team All-Ohioan and D-IV Player of the Year Angela Troyer, who averages 19 points per game. She is complemented by second team all-stater Kennedy Schlabach (16 points per game) and third-teamer Morgan McMillen (19 ppg).

Waterford has a pair of All-Ohio honorees of its own. Ball (13.5 ppg) and classmate Alli Kern (12.4 ppg) both were named to the first team and have been head coach Jerry Close’s one-two punch all year long.

Hiland’s only loss this season was to Gilmour Academy, 60-49, on Jan. 16. Through seven tournament games, the Hawks are averaging 74.8 points a contest while allowing 26.8. On the other side, Waterford is scoring 45.8 points per game and surrendering 30.6.

Last year, the ‘Cats became the first team in Washington County history to win a girls basketball state title. Find out Saturday if they can make it two in a row.