Waterford girls roll past Belpre, 64-18

JORDAN HOLLAND The Marietta Times Waterford’s Alli Kern, left, steals the ball from Belpre’s Curstin Giffin during a high school girls basketball game Thursday. Belpre’s Kyna Waderker (22) and Waterford’s Megan Ball, right, look on.

BELPRE — Waterford’s girls basketball team has been the best in Washington County for four years now.

Others might say they’ve been the best in the Mid-Ohio Valley, but the Wildcats coach Jerry Close isn’t so sure that’s true this year.

“I like the way this team is maturing. We didn’t start out the season with the discipline that we are playing with right now,” he said. “But right now, I’d say Parkersburg is the best team in the area.”

Even after a convincing 64-18 victory over an improving Belpre squad Thursday night on the road, Close has a point about the Big Reds. PHS defeated the Wildcats 56-52 in the season opener. Waterford will get another shot at Parkersburg next Thursday in front of the home crowd at the Harry Cooper Annex.

“All of our league games are important, but we intentionally schedule teams that we know can beat us,” Close said. “We are trying to challenge ourselves every night, so we are better prepared come tournament time. PHS is going to be a big challenge.”

The Wildcats have stepped up to almost every challenge the past four seasons, which resulted in three consecutive appearances in the state tournament. Waterford won the Division IV state championship in 2015-16.

On Thursday, you could see a team that could easily make another deep run in the postseason as Waterford’s press caused Belpre to turn the ball over 16 times in the first quarter of the Tri-Valley Conference game. The Wildcats (6-1, 6-0) were able to jump out to a 16-4 lead in the first quarter and never look back.

“I think in the first couple of league games, I think we may have been going through the motions, but not any more,” Close said. “I think they are a little more hungry and every one of the players are coming in and working hard every day. I like what I’m seeing from the leaders on this team.”

Those leaders include seniors Alli Kern and Megan Ball, as well as junior Rachael Adams.

Adams led all scorers with 16 points, while Kern added 14 points and nine rebounds, while Ball had 13 points and six rebounds. Adams also had four steals in the win.

“Those three are nice players,” Close said. “This whole team is great to be around and they are fun to coach.”

Waterford made it clear in the second quarter that it wasn’t going to be Belpre’s night by outscoring the Golden Eagles (5-3, 4-2) 22-7 for a 38-11 halftime lead.

Kyna Waderker paced Belpre with six points and three rebounds, while Lakin Hupp and Curstin Giffin added three points each in the loss.

Belpre will try to rebound against Oak Hill at 11:45 a.m. in Alexander’s Spartan Holiday Tournament.