Lady Wildcats Advance to State Final with a Buzzer Beater

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Hayley Duff saved Waterford’s season in the District Final against South Webster.  On a bigger stage in the State Semi-Finals, she played savior again.

Tied 35-35, and the clock ticking below 10 seconds, Megan Ball passed to Alli Kern.  Kern threw across her body to Duff who drove to the basket.  Duff put up a shot with less than two seconds left.  The ball fell right through the net, the buzzer sounded and Waterford advanced with a 37-35 victory over Jackson Center.

Jackson Center took quick control, making its first three three-pointers of the game.  Waterford switched up defenses and the Lady Tigers started to struggle.  Waterford seemingly had the game won in the third quarter.

Big plays let Waterford outscore Jackson Center 12-3 in the third quarter.  Kern was comfortable all night behind the arc going 4-8 from three.  Kern nailed one three and followed with another bucket on the next possession.  When Jackson Center tried to respond, Ball blocked the shot under the basket, which led to a Rachael Adams layup before the third quarter buzzer.

Waterford led 32-18 and looked like an easy win was on the way.  The Jackson Center side of the Schottenstein Center was silent.  The atmosphere felt like half the gym had vanished after the quarter.  Basketball, though, is a four quarter game.

Waterford’s offense came to a complete halt.  The Lady Wildcats played keep away and Jackson Center started to win the battles and force turnovers.

Waterford’s lead started to slip.  The lead started at 10 points.  Then it slipped to six and with 2:30 left in the game, the Lady Tigers sat five points behind, 32-27.

Cassie Meyer bounced a pass to an open Kamryn Elchert for a three.  Waterford’s lead fell to 32-30.  The Jackson Center crowd that seemingly vanished earlier, was back better and louder than ever.

Kern went to the line and made the first, but missed the bonus.  The Lady Tigers responded with a basket.  Waterford’s lead was then just one, but Kern went back to the line.  She made both.  Waterford led 35-32 with 39.9 seconds to hold the lead.

Elchert and Meyer reversed roles.  Elchert to Meyer for three.  Meyer swished it, her tenth points on the night.  With 18.3 seconds left, the game was tied at 35, but Waterford was out.

The Lady Wildcats scored three points in the fourth at that point, all from Kern’s free throws.  They had no field goals, but with seconds dwindling, Duff came through.  Again.

Duff scored 10 points, none more important than the last two.  Kern’s three free throws added to a 17 point and 10 rebound effort.  Ball also had 10 rebounds to go with her eight points.

Winning advanced Waterford (25-3) to its third straight State Championship game.  The last Division IV team to accomplish that was Berlin Hiland.  Berlin Hiland (28-1) will be Waterford’s opponent on Saturday.