Wildcats fend off Tornadoes for sectional title

RON JOHNSTON The Marietta Times Waterford’s Russ Young (13) handles the ball as Southern’s Austin Baker (20) defends during a high school boys basketball sectional final game Wednesday at Meigs High School in Pomeroy.

POMEROY — Waterford High reduced the Southern Tornadoes to a gentle breeze.

Playing in-your-face, winning defense, the third-seeded Wildcats limited SHS to three single-digit quarters en route to a 52-28 triumph Wednesday night in an OHSAA Division IV sectional final at Meigs High.

With the victory, Waterford 16-6) is scheduled to play seventh-seeded Mowrystown Whiteoak in a district semi Sunday night at 7:15 p.m. at the Ohio University Convocation Center.

“We’re going back to the Convo,” said WHS head coach Tom Simms. “I’m happy as I can be for this bunch here. Everybody was like okay Waterford graduated seven seniors and was going to be down. But here they are. They’re 16-6. They’re sectional champs, and they’re going to the Convo. I mean, what more can I ask of them. I’m just thrilled and tickled for them, and it’s all the hard work they’ve put in.”

Russ Young had a double-double with a game-high 16 points and 11 rebounds. The senior standout also blocked four shots.

“My teammates helped me,” Young said. “In practice, they helped me improve.”

Added Simms, “Russell’s been consistent all along.”

Junior Zane Heiss added 14 points, and senior Peyten Stephens was one point shy of a double-double with 9 markers and a game-high 13 boards. Freshman Holden Dailey finished with six caroms and three steals.

“We were getting the rebounds and putbacks on offense,” Young said. “Everybody was doing their part, and we were getting it done.

“The crowd helped us out. Our bench was a crucial part, and everybody was contributing.”

Southern (12-10) was paced by Jensen Anderson’s eight points. Senior Weston Thorla made only two field goals after scoring a career high 25 points against the Wildcats at the Harry Cooper Annex in January.

“Everytime we play Southern, it’s a tough game,” said junior point guard Nick Fouss, who shadowed Thorla for most of the time. “I think we did a pretty good job of defending them (Tornadoes).

“Defense is our number one priority. Offense is when we rest, and defense is where we hit it.”

During regular-season Tri-Valley Conference-Hocking Division play, Waterford beat SHS, 52-50 and 68-57.

“I don’t care what anybody says, it’s tough to beat a team three times, because they (Tornadoes) know what you’re doing,” Simms said. “I’m calling offenses, and he (Southern coach) is making all the adjustments. So, you’ve got to be prepared.”

Waterford got off to a slow start, and trailed Southern 10-7 at the end of one. But at the start of the second quarter, Wes Jenkis buried a 3; Heiss followed with a deuce; and Young scored on a putback to make it 14-10 Cats. After that, WHS never looked back.

In the second stanza, Young had six points and Heiss five as the Wildcats took a 23-14 halftime lead into the locker room.

After the break, Waterford maintained the upper hand led 33-20 going into the final period.

In the fourth quarter, the Cats were 13 of 16 from the charity stripe and won going away.

“We hit our foul shots,” Young said. “I don’t know what it was, but it was pretty good.”

at Meigs High School

Division IV Sectional Final

Waterford 52, Southern 28

SHS 10 4 6 8 — 52

WHS 7 16 10 19 — 28

SOUTHERN (12-10)

Cole Steele 1 0-0 2; Chase Bailey 0 0-0 0; Weston Thorla 2 0-2 4; Trey McNickle 2 0-0 4; Austin Baker 1 1-2 3; Jensen Anderson 3 0-0 8; Brayden Cunningham 0 3-4 3; Arrow Drummer 2 0-0 4; TOTALS: 11 4-8 28; 3-point goals: Anderson 2

WATERFORD (16-6)

Holden Dailey 2 0-0 4; Russ Young 6 4-4 16; Nick Fouss 1 4-7 6; Wes Jenkins 1 0-0 3; Zane Heiss 5 2-2 14; Peyten Stephens 2 5-6 9; Jacob Huffman 0 0-0 0, Luke Teeters 0 0-0 0, Grant McCutcheon 0 0-0 0, Jude Huffman 0 0-0 0, Wade Smith 0 0-0 0, Christian Schwendeman 0 0-0 0, Joseph Zimmer 0 0-0 0; TOTALS: 17 15-19 52; 3-point goals: Jenkins 1, Heiss 2

Waterford: Shooting: 17-48 (35.4%); Rebounds: 39 (Stephens 13, Young 11, Dailey 6); Assists: 6; Steals: 6 (Dailey 3); Blocks: 5 (Young 4); Turnovers: 16

Next game: Waterford vs. Whiteoak in district semifinal, 7:15 p.m. Sunday at Convo

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