’Cats on title quest

Waterford girls in state semi-final

Photo courtesy of Waterford Lady Cats Basketball The Waterford girls basketball team ahead of their regional championship win.

The excitement is palpable for the community of Waterford as they get ready to send their high school girls basketball team off to state … for the fourth year in a row.

Waterford High School Principal Suellen Coleman said she has been able to witness the journey for all four years that she has worked at Waterford High School.

“I’m so excited to be able to have been a part of this all along,” she said. “This is definitely a very humble group of girls who are also leaders in the school. You wouldn’t know that this group is about to go to the state championship.”

A public sendoff will be Thursday morning at Waterford Elementary School. Wolf Creek Local Schools will be closed for the day.

The fact that the team –and the community — is so close-knit is a big reason why they have so much support.

Photo courtesy of Waterford Lady Cats Basketball Fans converge on the court to congratulate the Lady Cats on their regional win.

“You see some of these bigger schools and they don’t have nearly the number of fans that Waterford does,” said Barry Stollar, 73, a former teacher and longtime Waterford basketball fan who went to state with his Fort Frye team back in 1962.

“It’s just always been a goal of mine to see a team from Washington County win the state championship,” he said. “And these girls are so deserving; they are top notch and you’ve never seen a group of girls so fond of each other.”

The Lady Wildcats won their way into the final four semifinals once again when they beat the Fairfield Christian Lady Knights on March 10. They will face off against fourth-ranked Minster, located in west central Ohio north of Dayton, whose last trip to state was in 2010. The game is Thursday at 3 p.m., at the Schottenstein Center. The winner of that game will face either New Washington Buckeye Central or Ottoville on Saturday for the state Division IV title.

“These girls have earned it and there really is a buzz in the community,” said Tyson Powers, owner of Jukebox Pizza on Main Street in Waterford, where the team will sometimes eat after practice and games.

Powers also coaches the sixth grade pee wee girls team at Waterford and said that his young players look up to the high school girls.

“They are just in love with these girls. They can’t wait to be on the team, to be able to put on that jersey. And all the girls are everything you would want your kid to be. They’ve put in the hard work and they’ve definitely earned this,” Powers said.

If you go

¯ What: Fans, family and friends can gather to send the Lady Wildcats basketball team off to Columbus.

¯ Where: Waterford Elementary School, 19701 Ohio 339, Waterford.

¯ When: Thursday; bus leaves at 9 a.m. sharp so plan to be early.

¯ The Lady Wildcats will play Minster High at 3 p.m. Thursday in Columbus.

State tournament pairings

Home Team Listed First. Rankings are From Associated Press Final State Poll.

All games played at the Jerome Schottenstein Center, Columbus, Ohio

Division IV

New Washington Buckeye Central (26-1) vs. No. 2 Ottoville (26-2), Thursday, 1 p.m.

No. 1 Waterford (26-1) vs. No. 4 Minster (24-3), Thursday, 3 p.m.

State Final: Saturday, 10:45 a.m.

Division III

No. 1 Versailles (27-1) vs. Elyria Catholic (22-5), Thursday, 6 p.m.

No. 9 Ottawa-Glandorf (25-2) vs. No. 6 Columbus Africentric (25-3), Thursday, 8 p.m.

State Final: Saturday, 2 p.m.

Division II

Bellbrook (20-8) vs. No. 3 Gates Mills Gilmour Academy (24-3), Friday, 1 p.m.

New Philadelphia (25-2) vs. No. 6 Toledo Rogers (25-3), Friday, 3 p.m.

State Final: Saturday, 5:15 p.m.

Division I

No. 9 Wadsworth (24-3) vs. No. 6 Solon (25-2), Friday, 6 p.m.

Mason (24-3) vs. No. 1 Pickerington Central (26-2), Friday, 8 p.m.

State Final: Saturday, 8:30 p.m.

Source: ohsaa.org