Wildcats claim senior night win
WATERFORD — Waterford’s Zane Heiss may have been a bit disappointed in his first half performance after scoring just two points in Tuesday nights Tri-Valley Conference tussle between visiting Wahama and the host Wildcats.
The Wildcat senior made up for his slow start and then some as he scored 14 of his game-high 16 points in the third quarter as Waterford pulled away to a 47-30 win.
“Honestly I only shot the ball like twice in the first half and I was thinking I need to shoot when I get back out there,”said Heiss. “We were able to push the ball up the court and I got a lot of those points off of fast breaks.”
Prior to the game, Heiss, Nick Fouss, Brooks Suprano, Jimmie Hitt and Christian Schwendeman were honored by the large crowd on Senior Night at Waterford Elementary and all five seniors started the game for the very first time.
“I think we all worked well and played pretty well together as a group,” said Suprano. “We were able to start it and then were able to come back in late and finish it.”
The Wildcats jumped out to an 8-7 lead at the end of the first quarter only to see the White Falcons score the first six points of the second quarter to open up a 13-8 lead.
Falcon big man Harrison Panko-Shields proved to be a tough matchup for the ‘Cats as he scored eight points in the first half including six in the second quarter as the visitors claimed a 20-18 lead at the break.
Waterford head coach Tom Simms felt that the anxiety of Senior night may have played a role in the slow first half start by his team.
“We were excited about our seniors and wanted to take care of our seniors and we came out sluggish,” said Simms. “We needed to pick it up in the second half and we made some little adjustments and played much better.”
The Wildcats were anything but sluggish in the third quarter as they completely dominated the Falcons by scoring the first 20 points of the second half to turn the two-point deficit into a commanding 38-20 lead.
Heiss scored the first three field goals of the period with assists from sophomore Holden Dailey on a pair of them before the white and green got field goals from Dailey, Wade Smith and Jude Huffman to take their first double-digit lead of the game.
The Wildcats continued to add to their lead as Heiss continued his torrid third quarter with a pair of buckets before splashing a triple to cap a third period that saw the home team out-point Wahama 20-2.
Heiss also led Waterford in rebounds with nine while coming up with four steals while Dailey finished with 12 points, seven rebounds and six steals to go along with three assists.
Ten different Wildcat players scored at least one point in the game including all five seniors with Hitt’s coming on a late triple in the final quarter with his fellow seniors looking to find him an open shot.
“It was great that all of the seniors got to play at the same time and we all scored too which is exciting,” said Hitt, who came up empty on his first two tries before connecting. “I guess the third time was the charm.”
The Falcons, who slipped to 3-15 with the loss, were led by Panko-Shields with 12 points while Brayden Davenport, Ethan Gray and Adam Groves added five points apiece.
The win was the second in a row for the Wildcats who improved to 6-14 on the season with a game at Trimble scheduled for Friday night.
“This is as healthy as these guys have been all year and they are just starting to come together as a group,” said Simms. “They have had a pretty nice four-year career and it’s just nice to finally get things moving in the right direction at the right time,”
With a somewhat disappointing regular season coming to a rapid close, Heiss feels that the ‘Cats are capable of making a bit of noise in tournament play.
“Right after we play Trimble this Friday the regular season is over and we can start the tournament with a clean slate,” said Fouss. “We’re zero and zero and it’s like a brand new season.”