Hardwood Heroes

Waterford Junior Madi Hiener looks around the court against South Gallia

Waterford Lady Wildcats fall in heartbreaker to South Gallia, 48-46

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It was a game for the ages as the Titans of the TVC-Hocking, the South Gallia Rebels, and the Waterford Wildcats met for the third and final matchup of the season. These two teams split the regular season series as the Wildcats dropped the first meeting on the road However when the Rebels traveled to the Cooper, the Wildcats came out victorious At the neutral site of Piketon, these two juggernauts finally had an even area to settle the question of the best in the TVC-Hocking. Both sides of the court were filled with Rebel and Wildcat faithful, giving both teams the support and noise they needed to battle out a victory.


The first quarter featured the best defense that both these teams have to offer. Adrenaline was reeling as both teams struggled with their shooting, collecting more rebounds than shots taken. Waterford contained the South Gallia stars, but their own offense could not get off the ground. The Wildcat defense was, as always, spearheaded by Avery Wagner who finished the night with two blocks, a steal, and nine rebounds. Waterford and South Gallia were knotted up at nine heading into the second quarter.


The Wildcats started to find their groove on offense as Kendall Sury demonstrated her speed getting to the basket throughout the afternoon. The Rebels were able to stay in the contest by way of timely three-pointers and outstanding free-throw shooting. South Gallia finished the night shooting 15 of 19 from the line and every one of those points were crucial. Waterford went into the half holding a 23-18 advantage.


It was an offensive clinic for the Wildcats in the third quarter. Waterford jumped out on an 11-2 run to begin the half. A mixture of suffocating zone defense and lights-out shooting had the Rebels on the backfoot. The Wildcats rode the performances of Sury and Laykyn Jones to a commanding lead of 36-24 entering the final eight minutes, seemingly comfortable.


South Gallia had little room for error if they wanted to battle back, and they entered the fourth quarter on fire with a strict gameplan. The Rebels began the quarter on a 15-2 run which put South Gallia ahead one. This final quarter was defined by Morgan Lyon’s improbable 16 points. She finished the night with 21 points, six assists, and five rebounds. Waterford started to fall flat, but they were not out of the game. Kendall Sury and Avery Smithberger stepped to the charity stripe to tie the game at 46 with 18 seconds on the clock.


But Morgan Lyons saved her best for last. She got the rebound off a miss and banked it home to put the Rebels ahead by two. Waterford had one more chance as Sury was fouled on her final shot attempt. With zeroes on the clock, her free throw missed its target as South Gallia survived.


It was an emotional final game for Waterford, especially for seniors Madi Heiner and Kari Carney.


Speaking on their careers, Coach Jerry Close remarked, “They’ve been valuable to our program for four years. They’ve done a nice job filling in for the kids who’ve graduated, and now someone has to fill their spot. It’s never fun to watch your seniors go.”


Despite losing two starters, Waterford will return Laykyn Jones, Avery Wagner, and Kendall Sury. Next year, the Wildcats will look to continue their program’s current run of prominence in Southeast Ohio.