Waterford Ices Federal Hocking in Second Half for TVC Win

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Pressing, zone defense, and a fast break was the name of the game on Friday night as the Waterford Wildcats took on the Federal Hocking Lancers in Stewart.

From tip-off, both the Lancers and Wildcats pressed each other, which resulted in a back-and-forth game throughout the first half. But the Wildcats were able to break open the lead in the third quarter. Waterford would never look back, as they held off Federal Hocking 59-51.

Throughout the first half, the Lancers caused a Wildcat turnover and in the following possession, Waterford returned the favor. No team was able to pull away.

Just before the halftime buzzer, Federal Hocking’s Adam Douglas dribbled down court and knocked down a three to give the Lancers a 28-27 lead. The one-point gap at the half would be the Lancers final lead, as Waterford came out firing on all cylinders as they started the second half on an 8-0 run that took the life out of the Lancers.

“We came out in the third quarter and got blindsided by their pressure,” Lancers’ head coach Jonathan Thompson said. “The run that they made broke our back and we wouldn’t be able to retain the lead.”

As Waterford’s pressure and lead grew, the Lancers fell into a troubling deficit. Brad Russell, a significant part of the squad, found himself in foul trouble. That led to sophomore Hunter Smith stepping up.

“Tonight, he was hitting every time we drew something up for him. I’m really proud of the kid for how he stepped up, he’s a big role on this team,” Thompson said. “He’s only a sophomore, and if he continues to grow at the rate he’s grown this year, he’s going to be a nice player in the upcoming years.”

Smith did prove tonight that he’s a force to be reckoned with. Hitting a healthy dosage of clutch threes in the fourth quarter, Smith finished with 23 points, four rebounds, and two steals.

The superb play of Smith wasn’t quite enough for Federal Hocking. With just under a minute left in the game, the Lancers lost the ball twice, which sealed the win for the Wildcats.

The game was a tough loss for Federal Hocking, but all losses have lessons. This time, those lessons will lead to a bright future for the Lancers.

“I want them to stay hungry. They’re growing in their mentality and team chemistry,” Thompson said. “It’s baby steps and I told them this was going to be a process.”