ROCKSPRINGS, Ohio — Waterford ends the Lady Tornadoes remarkable year.
For the first time since 2004 the Southern girls basketball team marked 14 wins in a season. The standout season was ended Thursday night when Southern dropped a 68-34 contest to Waterford in the sectional final.
The Lady Wildcats (14-7) scored the opening six points of the game but Southern (14-8) answered with five consecutive points to pull within one point. Waterford finished the first quarter with a 19-to-2 run to take all the momentum and the 25-7 lead.
Waterford held the Lady Tornadoes without a field goal in the second quarter and stretched the lead to 40-12 at halftime. The Purple and Gold offense found its mark after halftime and scored 14 points in the third quarter. Waterford marked 18 in the third and led 58-26 with eight minutes to play.
The Lady Wildcats took care of the basketball and slowed the pace down, outscoring Southern 10-to-8 in the fourth quarter to seal the 68-34 triumph and their 11th straight sectional crown.
“I don’t think you ever take these for granted,” said ninth year Waterford head coach Jerry Close. “We’ve been fortunate in that we’ve had good kids and had good draws. We expect to win a district title and our goal every year is to go to the state tournament, some years it’s not realistic but every year that’s our goal.”
Southern was led by senior Celestia Hendrix with a double-double effort of 18 points and 12 rebounds. Cierra Turley and Jordan Huddleston both finished with seven points, while Jansen Wolfe added two, rounding out the SHS total.
The Lady Tornadoes shot 9-of-34 (26.4 percent) from the field, 3-of-16 (18.7 percent) from three-point range and 13-of-17 (76.5 percent) from the free throw line in the setback. Southern had 22 rebounds, four assists, 15 steals, and seven blocks in the game. SHS committed 46 turnovers on the night.
“We worked for the last week on our press breaker,”said Southern head coach Scott Cleland. “It’s just a mindset against Waterford from the game four years ago that we can’t forget about where they ran the score up.”
Hendrix led the rebounding for SHS with 12, while Haley Hill had a team-high two assists. Haley Hill also led the defense with six steals, while Teaford had a game-high four rejections.
Waterford was led by Dani Drayer with 26 points, despite not playing in the fourth quarter. Regan Porter had 10 points, Mariah Starkey and Hannah Dailey each had nine, while Taylor Hilverding had seven and Randee Seevers finished with six. Cassie Reed marked one point to round out the WHS total.
The Green and White shot 25-of-56 (44.6 percent) from the field, 4-of-9 (44.4 percent) from beyond the arc and 14-of-25 (56 percent) from beyond the arc. Waterford had 30 rebounds, led by Hilverding with eight, 16 assists, led by Starkey and Drayer with five each, 33 steals, led by Drayer with seven, two blocks and 27 turnovers.
Including the postseason Waterford has now defeated the Lady Tornadoes in 23 consecutive meetings, dating back to the 2004-05 season. Southern’s last victory over the Lady Cats came on January 29, 2004 by a 57-55 count in Charles W. Hayman Gymnasium. The 2003-04 season was also the last time Southern won a sectional title.
“This year the girls knew losing wasn’t an option,” said Cleland. “They played together, they worked hard together and they did everything we asked them to. The best thing is that we have a lot coming back.”
Southern seniors Celestia Hendrix, Jordan Huddleston and Darien Diddle wrapped up their basketball careers in the Purple and Gold.