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Mackenzie Suprano, Cara Taylor lead Waterford to victory over Belpre

Photo by Jordan Holland Waterford’s Mackenzie Suprano (5) goes up for a jumper as Belpre’s Amber Amick (15) defends during a high school girls basketball game Thursday. Waterford won, 56-14.

BELPRE — Mackenzie Suprano and Cara Taylor provide Waterford with a dangerous dynamic duo on the basketball court, and that was on full display during Thursday’s 56-14 victory over Belpre.

Suprano scored a game-high 18 points to go along with five rebounds, four assists and two steals, while Taylor finished with 15 points, eight boards, five steals and four dimes. The two juniors both missed some time last season due to injuries and were rarely on the floor together, but this year has been a different story.

“Those two have been playing pretty well for the most part,” said Waterford head coach Jerry Close. “Cara, every night, you know what you’re getting with Cara. Mackenzie’s had a good year too. Those two are fun to coach. It’s nice to see them both on the floor at the same time. Hopefully they can continue that because last year it happened about six games.”

Taylor and Suprano combined to score 10 of the team’s 18 points in the first quarter to build an 18-3 lead, and the Wildcats (13-6) never looked back. Waterford shut out Belpre in the second quarter to lead 26-3 at halftime and held a 41-9 advantage going into the fourth.

These two teams played a much closer game earlier this season with Waterford holding on for a 50-47 win at home. However, Belpre’s starting lineup looked much different this time around.

“We had an opportunity where we could play some of our younger kids due to some issues we’re having with COVID and in general,” said Belpre head coach Chris Murray, whose team slipped to 9-10. “We just wanted to take that opportunity to see what we could do. Our (tournament) seed’s already determined. In terms of that, it was just a matter of trying to see what we could do and what we were capable of.”

Close, who had looked forward to another tough battle with the Golden Eagles, sympathized with Belpre’s situation.

“It’s just not good that they had a depleted roster tonight,” he said. “That doesn’t help anything. They’re a much better team than that.”

Waterford saw nine players reach the scoring column. Along with Suprano and Taylor’s production, the Wildcats got eight points from Lakyn Jones, four points and six boards from Riley Schweikert, three points form Alayna Jones and two points each from Lily Franchino, Madi Hiener, Brianna Offenberger and Leah Ryan.

The Wildcats entered Thursday a game behind Trimble in the TVC Hocking standings. Waterford lost to Trimble in the first meeting, but still gets to host the Tomcats on Feb. 17.

“We’ve just got to continue to improve every night,” Close said.

“I thought the kids executed a little bit better. We were a little bit more patient on offense which is one thing we’ve been trying to get a little bit better with because we’ve been rushing. Last time we played (Belpre) we were up 12 points with two minutes to go in the game, and we rushed and rushed and we didn’t take control of things. So, that’s one of the things we’ve been working on and I thought the kids did a much better job tonight.”

For Belpre, Curstin Giffin finished with a double-double, scoring 11 of the team’s 14 points and grabbing 14 rebounds. A Kaitlen Bush 3-pointer in the fourth quarter provided the Golden Eagles their only other points as they were held to 15% (5 for 33) from the floor.

“Curstin gave everything she’s got with whoever was on the floor,” Murray said. “I was really proud of her effort tonight.”

Murray added the most important thing for Belpre going forward is to get ready for tournament time.

“I want to get us healthy and I want us to play hard,’ he said. “We host a home playoff game. That’s a big deal and we need to act like we’re a team that should be a hosting a home playoff game.”

Jordan Holland can be reached at jholland@mariettatimes.com.

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