Waterford Defeats Belpre for Hocking Crown

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With seven minutes remaining in the game, Waterford Head Coach Jerry Close pulled Megan Ball and Alli Kern. Already ahead 56-17, the two players walked off the court to loud cheers applauding their performance that helped the Wildcats clinch their third straight TVC-Hocking title with a win against Belpre.

The two players have been the focal point of the Wildcat team all year that remains undefeated in the Hocking. With only one more divisional game left—against Wahama—Waterford will attempt to keep its conference unbeaten streak for three straight years.

Although the streak nor the divisional title is currently occupying Close’s focus.

“We’re striving to get better every game out and that is what we are looking for,” he said. “I thought we played a nice team game tonight.”

A “nice game” may be a bit of an understatement.

Playing the third ranked team in the division at their gym and coming away with a forty-point victory is simply impressive.

From tip-off until the final buzzer, a Wildcat victory was never in doubt, especially following a 21-4 run in the opening quarter. Waterford did not allow more than seven points in any quarter as the Wildcats won over the Golden Eagles, 63-23.

The dominating performance can be directly traced back to the two junior forwards.

“[Kern and Ball] are starting to understand and starting to do stuff on the floor without having me tell them to and that is what you really look forward,” Close said. “Come tournament time that’s really important.”

Ball had a game-high 18 points to go with an eight rebound performance while Kern added 11 points, seven boards, and four assists. Hayley Duff also contributed with 10 points while Rachel Adams had nine points.

But an issue with this team has been adding value outside of Kern and Ball. Following the benching of the two, Close had nearly a full quarter to evaluate his team’s depth.

“I thought they did a nice job,” Close said in regards to how he thought his team responded after pulling Kern and Ball. “We ask them when they go in that you can’t replace them on the floor but we still have a lot of players that can contribute. I thought Hayley Duff played well and stepped up when they were not on the floor.”

With three remaining games in the regular season, Waterford has found themselves in an all too familiar spot at the top of the TVC-Hocking but still with something greater in mind: a state title.