Waterford Avoids Symmes Valley Upset Bid In Overtime

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Waterford Guard Bryce Hilverding laid out on the hardwood with his face tucked into his folded arms as the Wildcats game-winning layup attempt rimmed out of the basket. After a few moments, he rose to his feet, wiped the sweat from his face and walked over to his bench to get ready for overtime.

While listening to coach Tom Simms instructions, Hilverding, with seconds before the tip-off, had yet to understand how the Wildcats had surrendered an 18-point halftime lead and the momentum that came with it.

Overcoming turnovers, questionable calls and a second half rally, the Waterford Wildcats survived Symmes Valley in overtime 68-61 in the Ohio Division IV sectional championship Wednesday night behind 42 combined points from Hilverding and Travis Pottmeyer.

“We knew that game shouldn’t have been that close,” Hilverding said. “It felt good to finally push away a little bit.”

With the win, Waterford (15-6) captures its fourth-straight sectional championship. The Wildcats will play number-two ranked Peebles on March 4. at the Convocation Center in Athens.

Waterford’s fourth-straight sectional title looked like it would be a cakewalk early against the Vikings. The Wildcats caused 12 first half turnovers, and Travis Pottmeyer couldn’t be stopped dropping 19 of his 21 points in the first half.

At halftime the Wildcats led Symmes Valley 44-26.

“At halftime we talked about, don’t look at the scoreboard they are gonna come after you,” Simms said.

The Wildcats did not heed Simms warning and the Vikings came out after the half with adjustments and a determined attitude.

Symmes Valley outscored the Wildcats 15-3 in the third quarter behind Lakyn Gallard and Jack Leith who finished with 17 and 12 points respectively.

“We couldn’t buy a bucket,” Simms said.

Waterford entered the fourth quarter with a third of its halftime lead and none of the momentum.

Symmes Valley started the quarter with a quick lay-up from Gallard. With every Viking possession Waterford’s stranglehold on the lead seemed to weaken.

The Wildcats gripped finally gave out after Viking forward Nick Klaiber hit a three pointer at the top of the arc giving Symmes Valley its first lead of the game with 2:17 left in the fourth quarter.

Klaiber looked at the Waterford crowd then shot an imaginary arrow through the basket signifying the heart-ache Wildcats fans must of felt.

After a pair of Symmes Valley free throws, Waterford found itself down three with 47 seconds to go. Waterford couldn’t buy a basket but Hilverding must of found some spare change when with 38 seconds left he threw up a prayer from 30 feet out tying the game up at 58.

“I was grateful,” Pottmeyer said. “I’m really thankful that went in.”

Luck was able to get the Wildcats in a position to win in overtime, but skill would secure the victory. Pottmeyer made his first bucket since the first half and the Vikings were unable to compete offensively.

Gallard, who got injured early in overtime, was forced to watch the Wildcats knock down game-sealing free throws and the score of Symmes Valley fans who left early.

Symmes Valley season ends at 12-10.