Waterford Wins Its First State Title

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With the score tied at 27, and only heart playing at 18 seconds left in the OHSAA Division IV State Title game, Waterford’s Allie Kern gets the steal and dishes it to Megan Ball. Ball goes coast-to-coast and makes the go ahead basket to earn the Waterford Lady Wildcats first state title in program history 29-27 over the St. Wendelin Lady Mohawks.

Last year, the Lady Wildcats goal was to get to the Schottenstein Center. After doing that and losing in the state final, they decided to get their goal up another notch, a state title. Coach Jerry Close was excited to see his girls keep that mindset all year long.

“They (Lady Wildcats) stayed strong,” Close said. “They never quit. I can never fall for this group of kids for not playing hard enough.”

St. Wendelin coach Aaron Smith had nothing but praise for his opponents, and also was rather surprised to be able to keep up with them.

“That’s a good basketball team,” Smith added. “When you win your regional game by 42… That’s a pretty good team.”

In the state semifinal game, St. Wendelin forward Kamryn Troike, who stands at 6’4, finished with 24 points, 17 rebounds and eight blocks. Waterford made sure it was in its gameplan to contain her, sometimes leaving the ball handler to double cover Troike. The Lady Wildcats limited her to only seven points and 10 rebounds.

Waterford’s defense has been a huge key to getting to the title. The pressure they kept up in the game forced 27 turnovers from the Lady Mohawks. The Lady Wildcats displayed a man-to-man defense until the Lady Mohawks reached half-court, then jumped on guard Allie Rutter right before she stepped over the line. The strategy caused countless backcourt violations and 10-second violations.

Defensively, the Lady Wildcats got it done. Offensively, Waterford couldn’t find a shot. With Troike manning the paint, the Lady Wildcats weren’t able to drive the ball to the basket, something they’re accustomed to. They only shot 19% from the field.

Depth played another big role in the Lady Wildcats win with every bench player having at least one minute. St. Wendelin, however only had one player come off the bench… for only one minute. The Lady Mohawks were still able to stay in it. St. Wendelin coach Aaron Smith commended his team for being able to play back-to-back.

“We don’t sub, I don’t know how they (Lady Mohawks) had legs at all tonight,” Smith said.

With the total score ending up at 56 set the record for fewest points scoring in the OHSAA State Final.

With the Lady Wildcats being one of four teams to end their season with a win, they will look forward to trying to come back again next year. With only four of the 14 players graduating, the Lady Wildcats will have a slight challenge to get all the way back, but with Close returning, it’ll make the journey a little easier.