RACINE, Ohio — No upset, just a big scare.
The Waterford girls basketball team — which now holds a 33-game Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division winning streak and is tied for first in the OHSAA Division IV AP Poll — survived its biggest league scare of the season on Monday night, as host Southern fell to the Lady Cats by a 56-49 count.
Waterford (15-0, 12-0 TVC Hocking) — which never trailed in the contest — scored the game’s first six points, but Southern (12-5, 10-3) rallied to score five of the next eight points. However, WHS ended the first period with 7-2 run and the 16-7 lead.
The Lady Tornadoes, who committed eight turnovers in the opening period, only gave the ball away once in the second and rallied to within two points, 26-24, at halftime.
Southern was held scoreless for 3:30 to open the second half, but Waterford only managed to push it’s lead to six points. The Lady Tornadoes’ only third quarter field goal came at the 4:21 mark when junior Faith Teaford made a layup and was fouled. The and-1 attempt was missed and WHS closed the third quarter on a 7-3 run, pushing the lead to 36-29.
Waterford scored seven of the first eight points in the fourth quarter, expanding the advantage to 43-30 with 5:28 left in regulation. The Purple and Gold chipped away at the deficit and cut the Lady Cats’ lead to 48-43 with two minutes to play. In the final two minutes, the Green and White made 8-of-8 free throw attempts to seal the 56-49 victory and remain perfect on the year.
“I can’t say how proud I am, even though we lost and we don’t like losing,” SHS head coach Kent Wolfe said. “We weren’t afraid of (Waterford) and I think in the past we have been a little afraid of them at times. We didn’t play our A-game and I thought we left some things out on the floor, especially in the first half, but our defense was outstanding.”
Teaford led the Lady Tornadoes with 19 points and 12 rebounds, while Ali Deem marked 11 points and Haley Hill scored 10. Jansen Wolfe finished with nine points and a game-high 14 rebounds in the setback. Both Teaford and Wolfe blocked two shots and came away with a steal, while Hill led the Purple and Gold with four steals. Teaford, Deem and Wolfe each had two assists for Southern.
The Purple and Gold shot 20-of-27 (74.1 percent) from the free throw line and 14-of-38 (36.8 percent) from the field, including 1-of-7 (14.3 percent) from beyond the arc. As a team SHS had 23 defensive rebounds, nine offensive boards, eight assists, six steals, five blocks and 24 turnovers.
“Our girls were really gutty tonight,” Coach Wolfe said. “Once they felt they were in the game, they believed a little bit more and the important thing was that we didn’t give up that monster run that they’re used to getting. We shot our foul shots better tonight. This is a good start for us for a possible tournament run I think that if we play with that intensity then we’ll be competitive.”
Waterford was led the Dani Drayer with 19 points and six rebounds, followed by Alli Kern with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Mariah Starkey had 10 points, Regan Porter finished five, while Hayley Duff and Jillian McCutcheon both scored two. Erin Roush wrapped up the WHS scoring with one point, while Hannah Duff marked a game-best three assists. Waterford’s defense was led by Starkey with six steals, followed by Kern with five steals and a block.
For the game the Lady Cats shot 24-of-32 (75 percent) from the free throw line and 15-of-49 (30.6 percent) from the field, including 2-of-11 (18.2 percent) from the charity stripe. As a team the Green and White had 15 defensive rebounds, 10 offensive rebounds, 11 assists, 18 steals, three blocks and 11 turnovers.
Waterford has now defeated Southern in 27 consecutive matchups, including a 78-41 victory earlier this season at the Harry Cooper Annex on December 17. Still, the Lady Tornadoes join Fort Frye as the only teams to stay within 10 points of WHS this season.
SHS had won 5-of-6 games prior to Monday, and the Lady Tornadoes will look to get back to their winning ways on Thursday at Belpre. Southern topped the Lady Eagles by a 60-42 final tally on December 19, in Racine.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.