MERCERVILLE, Ohio — In the end, the league title trail is still protected by Lady Wildcats.
Visiting Waterford shot 50 percent from the field and used a pivotal 11-0 run over a 4:22 span of the second quarter to ultimately secure a 56-41 victory over the South Gallia girls basketball team in a Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division matchup of unbeatens in Gallia County.
The Lady Rebels (4-1, 2-1 TVC Hocking) were more than ready for the challenge at hand as the hosts hit five of their first nine shot attempts while establishing early leads of 4-0, 6-1 and 10-7.
The Lady Wildcats (6-0, 5-0) committed four turnovers before mustering their first field goal attempt of the game, yet still managed to sneak away from the first quarter with a 14-12 edge as Cara Taylor canned a trifecta with 34 seconds left in the opener.
SGHS never led again, but did manage to knot things up at 14-all following a Lindsey Wells basket 35 seconds into the second canto. The Red and Gold also went the next 6:14 without points as WHS made that monumental 11-point push that increased the deficit out to 25-14.
An Emma Clary basket with 1:10 remaining pushed the contest to a 25-16 margin headed into the break.
South Gallia committed 12 of the 22 turnovers in the first half, with six of those coming in each stanza. The guests also owned an 11-7 advantage on the boards at halftime.
The Lady Rebels managed to get as close as six points (25-19) after a Tori Triplett 3-pointer went down 31 seconds into the second half, but WHS went 8-of-12 from the field in the third quarter and built its largest lead at 44-25 with 1:05 remaining.
Both teams traded a basket apiece the rest of the way, capping a 21-12 Waterford third quarter push that extended the lead out to 46-28 headed into the finale.
The Red and Gold closed to within 54-41 following a Macie Sanders basket with 25 seconds left and ultimately won the fourth period by a 13-10 count to complete the 15-point outcome.
Waterford — which has accounted for at least a share of 15 of the last 17 TVC Hocking titles — outrebounded the hosts by a sizable 30-19 overall margin, including an 11-7 edge on the offensive glass. WHS also committed 17 of the 37 turnovers in the contest.
The Lady Rebels made 17-of-43 field goal attempts for 40 percent, including a 4-of-17 effort from behind the arc for 24 percent. The hosts also sank 3-of-7 free throw attempts for 43 percent.
Clary and Triplett paced SGHS with 10 points apiece, followed by Sanders with nine points and Wells with five markers.
Jessie Rutt was next with four points to go along with a team-best seven rebounds, while Ryleigh Halley completed the scoring with three points. Clary and Wells also hauled in five and four caroms, respectively.
Waterford netted 20-of-40 field goal attempts overall and went 5-of-11 from 3-point range for 45 percent. The guests also made 11-of-23 charity tosses for 48 percent.
Taylor paced the Lady Cats with a game-high 13 points, followed by Mackenzie Suprano with 12 points and a team-best seven rebounds. Taylor also grabbed six boards for the victors.
Kendall Sury chipped in nine markers, while Laykin Jones and Avery Wagner respectively added six and five points. Lily Franchino and Brianna Offenberger were next with four markers each, while Madi Heiner completed the tally with three points.
South Gallia was at South Webster on Saturday and returns to the hardwood Monday when it hosts Belpre in a TVC Hocking contest at 6:30 p.m.
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Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.