Waterford tops Vikings in OT for sectional title

RON JOHNSTON The Marietta Times Waterford’s Bryce Hilverding drives the lane during Wednesday’s Division IV sectional final game against Symmes Valley at Meigs High School in Pomeroy.

POMEROY — Waterford High needed an extra 4-minute session.

The third-seeded Wildcats overcame a three-point third quarter to defeat sixth-seeded Symmes Valley High, 68-61, in overtime Wednesday night in a Division IV sectional boys’ basketball final at Meigs High.

“That third quarter, we went cold and couldn’t make a shot,” said WHS head coach Tom Simms. “It’s a ‘W’ I agree. The kids worked hard and never laid down. But we’ve got to do things better. We’ve got to take care of the ball a little better.”

With the win, Waterford (15-7) clinched its fourth straight sectional title and fifth of its last six. The Cats will now face second-seeded Peebles, a 68-50 winner against Whiteoak, in a district semifinal at the Ohio University Convocation Center at 7:15 p.m. Sunday.

“We’ve got to get back to knocking shots down,” Simms said. “And, we can’t go cold there at the Convo.”

Against Chad Coffman-coached Symmes Valley (12-10), Waterford’s Bryce Hilverding and Travis Pottmeyer each had 21 points. Noah Huffman added 11 and Austin Piatt seven.

The Vikings were led by Layken Gothard’s 20 points. Jack Leith chipped in with 14 while Nick Klaiber and Hunter Adams netted nine and eight, respectively.

“Symmes Valley played hard, and they got into it,” Simms said. “I warned our kids that they were going to be into it, that they were going to cheat the passing lanes, because they wanted the basketball. And they did exactly that.”

With Hilverding (8) and Pottmeyer (7) combining for 15 first-quarter points, Waterford staked itself to a 21-13 advantage. Keeping the Vikes close were Adams and Gothard, who combined for 11 points.

In the second period, the 6-foot-4 Pottmeyer continued to have the hot hand, scoring 12 points, as the Wildcats stretched their lead to 44-26 at the break.

Waterford’s 18-point halftime cushion vanished rapidly in the third quarter when Symmes Valley outpointed the Cats, 15-3, and trailed by only six going into the final eight minutes of regulation time.

Pyatt had Waterford’s lone field goal in the period.

“They (Vikings) got momentum, and we started getting a little nervous,” Simms said.

Symmes Valley kept chipping aways and cut it to one (54-53) on Gothard’s three — but then not long afterwards, he fouled out.

With under 3 minutes to play in the contest, the Vikes took their first lead, 56-55, on a Klaiber triple. Adams then followed that up with a bucket to give the Vikings a three-point advantage.

But with under 2 minutes remaining in the contest, Hilverding drained a three to tie the score at 58-all.

With time winding down, Symmes Valley was in the one-and-one and had a golden opportunity to take the lead at the charity stripe, but Derik Brace, who came in after Gothard fouled out, misfired on the front end.

In the overtime session, Waterford never trailed. Pottmeyer scored on a putback, and Peyten Stephens also had a score in the paint. The Wildcats then benefitted from some clutch free-throw shooting by Huffman and Hilverding. Huffman’s four straight freebies gave the Cats a 66-59 lead.

“We’ve been shooting a lot of foul shots (in practice),” Simms said. “And we’re going to shoot a lot more foul shots tomorrow.

“We just have to continue to get better and stronger. And, we have to play better defense.”