Waterford Wins Playoff Clash of Top Teams

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Thursday’s meeting between No. 1 Waterford and No. 3 Notre Dame was bound to be telling. Both have great talents and top coaches, but only one had the advantage in big game experience. Waterford’s played this late before which helped them earn the 49-30 win at Jackson High School.

With a combined record of 49-1, the Lady ‘Cats and the Lady Titans knew how to win big games. Evenly matched, the first quarter was tied 2-2 for several minutes, before Waterford took the edge.

Waterford (25-1) had an 11-6 lead after the first quarter, but took over the second quarter and had a 25-11 lead at the half. Alli Kern and Morgan Lang hit three-point shots in the first quarter to get the ball rolling. Hannah Duff hit one of her own in the second quarter.

Katie Dettwiller, the 6-4 Notre Dame (25-1) junior, stuck under the boards and gave Waterford some early fits. Dettwiller could grab boards and put them back up for easy shots.

Hayley Duff, listed as 5-9 for Waterford, started the attack on Dettwiller. Duff crashed the boards and won rebound battles. Once Duff started, Kern and Megan Ball had an easier time shutting down Dettwiller.

“I was intimidated, but I just couldn’t let it get to me,” Duff said. “My job is to get in front of them and just trust from there. I trust everyone to hope people are behind to help if they get over me.”

Waterford doubled the Lady Titans’ score and led 34-17 at the end of the third quarter. Notre Dame had a run at the end of the quarter that carried into the fourth.

Notre Dame started to fight back until Rachael Adams hit her only three of the night with 4:25 left in the game for a 41-26 lead. Ball followed right after with a three of her own to shut down Notre Dame and all but seal the win.

Near the end of the game, Notre Dame had to get outside shooters the ball rather than get it into the post. Dettwiller moved from the post to the outside to set screens which only made Waterford’s job on defense easier.

“It made it a lot easier in the sense that we didn’t have to worry about two of them down there,” Waterford head coach Jerry Close said postgame. “That was another big key. We knew they were going to try that high-low game. I thought our kids did a nice job of pushing them out of what they normally do.”

Ball led all scorers with 13 points and had six rebounds. Adams had 11 points. For Notre Dame Dettwiller had 10 points and 15 rebounds while Ali Smith also had 10 points. The Lady Titans had just one converted three-point shot in the game.

Waterford advances to the regional final for the fourth consecutive year and will face Fairfield Christian Academy on Saturday at Pickerington North High School. The Lady Wildcats defeated Fairfield Christian Academy in the regional finals in the 2016 State Championship year.