Waterford, Fort Frye renew rivalry Saturday night

Fort Frye’s Kelsey Adkins, right, handles the ball as Belpre’s Sydney Spencer defends during a high school girls basketball game earlier this season in Beverly. Times file photos

WATERFORD — Jerry Close says the Waterford-Fort Frye rivalry has brought people together but probably has pushed more friends and family to pick a side over the years.

“They’re playing against their cousins and their friends, so it has been a fun rivalry over the years,” said the Waterford girls basketball coach. “It’s one of those things, where over the years you have arguably had the two best programs in the area. This game can bring people together and drive them apart.”

Another chapter in this heated rivalry will be written at 7:30 p.m. Saturday when the Wildcats host the Cadets in a girls basketball game.

“They’re a powerful team,” Liedtke said. “They have that two-headed monster (Megan Ball and Alli Kern), and they are two of the better players around here. But they also make the players around them better.”

Ball, who is going to Walsh University in the fall, recently had a career-high 29 points against one of the region’s other top teams — Parkersburg. Kern, who has committed to play at Ohio Dominican next year, also had a huge night in the 63-49 victory over the Big Reds with 20 points.

Waterford’s Hayley Duff (32) and Hannah Duff (3) guard Parkersurg’s Madi Mace during high school girls basketball game earlier this season at PHS Memorial Fieldhouse. Times file photos

Both seniors have been key components of a Waterford program that has reached the Division IV state finals three straight seasons, which includes a state title in 2015-16. Close said their unselfish play is what makes Ball and Kern two of the area’s best players.

“They have been very good and fortunate to have good teammates,” Close said. “You are not as successful as you can be unless you make your teammates better. They are unselfish players. They don’t try to do everything themselves.”

Liedtke said the entire Waterford team, which is ranked second in Division IV, is unselfish.

“The surrounding players fill in nicely for them,” he said. “There is not a weak link. They go pretty deep, and we’ll have to play our best to have a chance to beat them.”

Liedtke said he has enjoyed coaching against Ball and Kern, but he won’t be upset to see them graduate.

“Yes, I’ll be glad, but let me also add that I’m sure there are some players at Fort Frye they’ve been happy to see graduate as well,” Liedtke said.

Close said that is what has made this one of the best and most-anticipated rivalry games for years.

“It’s always kind of been that way. Very few of the games are lopsided,” he said.

“These games are the ones that are fun to play in. Whichever team makes the least amount of mistakes usually wins this game. You get these kids who start for four years, and it’s fun to play against them. But sometimes it gets old trying to stop them. We’ve had kids that way, and they’ve had kids that way.”

The Cadets have some solid experience in senior Kelsey Adkins and junior Morgan Borich, but Liedtke is stocked with young talent, and the future is bright.

“They are a very structured team and very disciplined,” Close said. “They are going to give you a hard-fought game. We’re going to play as hard as we can. They are young this year, but we have scouted them a few times, and we think we have our matchups.”

Both teams play tonight — Fort Frye at Linsley and Eastern at Waterford — but both programs will enter the game with winning records. The Cadets are 8-3 and the Wildcats are 8-1.