Lady Wildcats Clinch Third Straight Trip to States

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When Jerry Close took over the reins of the Waterford Lady Wildcats basketball team 12 years ago, he did not believe he could he could win consecutive Regional Championships.  On Saturday night, he did it for a third time in as many years.

Waterford defeated Danville 50-35 and clinched a spot in the State Semi-finals for the third straight year.  It wasn’t Waterford’s cleanest game, but the hardware will ease that pain a bit.

Danville scored only three points in the second quarter and it looked like the third quarter would be similar.  The Blue Devils could barely hold on to the ball, let alone get shots to fall.  Jordan Elliot hit a three for Danville with 4:06 in the third quarter for its first points.

The Blue Devils went on a 7-2 run after Elliot’s three.  Waterford leading 32-25, Megan Ball pulled the game back in Waterford’s favor.

Ball threw a pass into the Waterford bench.  It was the second time Waterford had a turnover while attempting the one-shot to end the quarter.  Ball brushed it off and bounced back.  She stole possession right back and drove for the layup before the buzzer.

Waterford took a 34-25 lead, but maybe more importantly the momentum went back to Waterford before the final quarter.

What Waterford did wrong in the first three quarters went right in the last.  Waterford held on to the ball and had many open shots right under the basket.

The Lady Wildcats could have cemented the win earlier, but turnovers were a major issue.  Luckily for Waterford, the Blue Devils were just as bad.  Four times Elliot tried a long pass under that basket that went to no one.  Passes through the lanes were intercepted and travels and walks were constantly called.

Four players had three or more turnovers for Waterford, but some players made up for it.  Alli Kern had four steals and Ball had two steals and three blocks.

All 50 of Waterford’s points came from the starting five.  The rest of the bench went 0-5 shooting.

Kern had a team-high with 15 points, 10 rebounds and four steals.  Ball followed with 14 points, eight rebounds, three blocks and two steals.  Hayley Duff had 10 points.

One of the biggest impacts in not only the game, but the season, was not in the stat books.

When the Regional Championship trophy was handed off to Waterford’s captains, Ball and Kern handed it off to Jillian McCutcheon.  McCutcheon, the team’s lone senior, hasn’t played since December, but sits on the bench every game and supports the team.

Coach Close, McCutcheon and the rest of the Lady Wildcats will battle Jackson Center on Thursday for the right to the State Championship game.  They would be the first Division IV team to make the finals in three consecutive seasons since Berlin Hiland did it from 2008-10.