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Waterford pulls away from Frontier in second half

Photo by Patricia Miller Waterford’s Jacob Huffman, left, goes up for a basket as Frontier’s Brenden Buck defends during a high school boys basketball game Friday at the Harry Cooper Annex.

WATERFORD –Adjustments were made from the first time Waterford and Frontier played each other, but the Wildcats pulled away due to timely shooting and key defensive play for a 50-35 win on Friday night from the Harry Cooper Annex.

Waterford took some time to find its groove, as Frontier, behind Tanner Bills (six points and an assist), nursed a 12-10 lead after the first. A big moment occurred midway through the second when Holden Dailey picked up quick fouls, as Dylan Hartline came in to relieve him. Hartline and the ‘Cats didn’t budge, however. Both sides struggled to get anything going for the next couple minutes until Bills ended the Cougs’ drought with a score to make it a 19-16 deficit with 1:27 before the break.

Waterford responded, as Jarrett Armstrong recorded a layup off a steal with 54 seconds to go. One Bills free throw cut into the WHS lead, which was now 21-17, but the ‘Cats (9-3) weathered the storm for more than four minutes. Armstrong’s hot hand got the green and white cooking in the second half (as he scored a team-high 16), but it was a full team effort to keep head coach Roger Kirkpatrick’s Cougars at bay.

“They’re better. There’s a great coach down there,” WHS head coach Tom Simms said of Kirkpatrick and what made this contest tougher than the first time (in a 69-49 win on Dec. 3 in New Matamoras). “I knew they’d be better, and they want to win. (Kirkpatrick) prepares them, and we’ve just got to get settled in and adjust to what they did.”

Joining Armstrong in double figures was Dailey with 14 and Jacob Huffman with 12, as the home side finally warmed up after the half. Simms talked about how multiple guys can step up, even when Dailey picked up those fouls in the second quarter.

Photo by Josh Hughes Waterford’s Holden Dailey, right, looks to pass as Frontier’s Walker Hendershot defends during a high school boys basketball game Friday at the Harry Cooper Annex.

“We talk about it almost every day in practice. We try to avoid those situations, but at the same time, (Dailey) is aggressive, he’s athletic, he’s physical. And I won’t take him out of it,” Simms said. “At the same time, we’ve just got to learn. The rest of them have to step up and handle the situation. So, we just have to learn and grow from it.”

That’s exactly what they did in the second half.

Armstrong took care of the bulk of third-quarter scoring, and the entire WHS defense held Bills and Walker Hendershot to the only Frontier points in the frame. When the dust cleared, Waterford held a 35-21 advantage with eight minutes on the clock. A 6-0 run by Bills wasn’t enough to get his team jumpstarted, as makes from Dailey, Huffman and Peyton Powers kept FHS at an arm’s length. Frontier is back in action at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday at Monroe Central while Waterford plays again on Tuesday night and welcomes Fort Frye to the Annex. It begins a crucial stretch for Simms and company.

“This bunch is unselfish. They know when people start locking down Holden or Jarrett to start looking for others, and they start attacking. That’s what we continue to work on, because we have to,” Simms said. “We just want to take these games one at a time and get better. We’ve got to get ready for the next game, and we’ve got a big week coming up. We’ve got three games, because we had to do some rescheduling.”

Contact Josh Hughes at jhughes@newsandsentinel.com

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