Waterford falls to Coal Grove Dawson-Bryant in district final

RON JOHNSTON The Marietta Times Waterford’s Peyten Stephens (24) goes up for a basket as teammate Russ Young (13) looks on during Thursday’s Division IV district final basketball game against Dawson-Bryant at the Convo in Athens.

ATHENS — Waterford High’s bid for a Sweet 16 berth was denied.

The third-seeded Wildcats played their hearts out but ultimately dropped a 61-56 decision to top-seeded Coal Grove Dawson-Bryant High Thursday night in an OHSAA Division IV boys’ basketball Southeast District final at the Ohio University Convocation Center.

“It was a great game,” said WHS head coach Tom Simms. “They’re (Hornets) putting up 70-80 points on people, and going into the fourth quarter, it was in the low 50s, and we had them where we needed to be.

“All along, people didn’t think our guys would be here. I’m so proud of them.”

Non-starter Zane Heiss paced Waterford with 18 points on five triples and three freebies. Senior Russ Young added 12 points while Holden Dailey and Nick Fouss netted 11 and eight, respectively.

Peyten Stephens, Wes Jenkins, and Young played in their last Wildcat varsity hoops game.

“It’s a great bunch of kids, and they all did what I asked of them,” Simms said.

Senior Aaron Music led the Hornets (19-6) with a game-high 20 points and eight rebounds.

“I said all along that Music was going to get his points,” Simms said. “He was going in with that left-handed drive with that right roll-in — and we couldn’t get it stopped. We tried to make some adjustments, and they (Hornets) worked for it.”

Evan Gannon and Nate Harmon chipped in with 10 points apiece, and Cory Borders had eight for Coal Grove.

Sparked by two Heiss triples, Waterford staked itself to a 16-10 first-quarter advantage. Music kept CGDB in the hunt with five points. During the first eight minutes of play, there were five lead changes and two ties.

At the start of the second period, Dailey knocked down a jumper to give the Cats an eight-point lead.

But after a timeout, the Hornets scored 11 unanswered points and led 21-18 at the 3:33 mark. During the surge, Harmon and Smith each had two buckets, and Harmon a 3.

Regrouping, Waterford had an 11-5 run, and led 29-26 at the intermission.

“We were real hot there in the first half,” said Simms whose Cats were 11 of 22 from the field during the first 16 minutes of action.

The Wildcats led for most of the third quarter, but the Hornets hung tough, and took the lead 45-44 on Jaylen McKenzie’s buzzer-beating deuce at the end of the stanza.

Early in the final period, Stephens converted a couple of freebies to knot the score. But then Music took over and helped Coal Grove regain the advantage. The Cats never led in the fourth quarter but did cut it to one, 54-53, on Heiss’ fifth 3 of the contest. Down the stretch, the Hornets made enough free-throw to keep Waterford at bay.

“In the second half, we needed a couple of shots to fall,” Simms said. “And they (Hornets) got a little momentum .”

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