Prep girls basketball: Lady Tigers defeat ’Cats

An early third-quarter run and some clutch foul shooting late in the fourth enabled Marietta High to defeat Waterford 57-52 in girls’ basketball action at Ban Johnson Arena Saturday.

“Lauren (Martin) making these four free-throws (in the last minute of play) was big,” said MHS head coach Mark Hannuksela, whose Lady Tiger team evened its record at 1-1. “Everyone who played contributed. This was as close as a team win that you can possibly get.”

Lain Weppler paced the orange and black with 12 points. Martin netted nine, and Alle Moore and Taylor Smith each chipped in with eight. Non-starters’ Madison Miller and Starr Johnson added seven markers apiece.

“When you score 57 points with only one girl in double figures, and six girls score seven points or more, that’s putting five threats on the floor,” Hannuksela said.

Dani Drayer led Waterford (0-1), which was playing its season opener, with a game-high 16 points, including two triples. Taylor Hilverding added 13 points, and Regan Porter had 10.

“We got ourselves into foul trouble early, just like we did in the Foundation Game, and that completely changed things.” said Lady Wildcats boss Jerry Close. “We’re capable of playing pretty well. It’s early yet, and we’ll get better.”

With Drayer, Hilverding and Porter combining for eight field goals, Waterford staked itself to an 18-14 first-quarter advantage. Both Drayer and Porter, though, got into foul trouble.

Keeping the Lady Tigers within striking distance was Miller, who came off the pine to score four points in the opening stanza.

Early in the second period, Miller scored on a drive to cut it to two.

“Madison had a great first half,” Hannuksela said. “You need someone like that coming off the bench.”

After Smith tied the score with a bucket, Marietta took its first lead of the contest, 19-18, when Johnson converted one of two freebies.

Waterford then regained the lead, 22-19, on two foul shots by Randee Seevers, who followed that up with a steal and layup.

MHS came back, though, and tied it a second time on Johnson’s free-throw and a Smith drive.

Hilverding put the Lady Cats back in the lead, 24-22, with a bucket. But Weppler’s jumper knotted it a third time.

Late in the second, Johnson’s field goal made it 26-24, and after that deuce, Marietta never looked back.

At the half, the Lady Tigers led 29-28.

Early in the third quarter, Marietta stretched its advantage to double digits (39-28) when it scored 10 unanswered points on two deuces apiece from Weppler and Smith, and one basket by Moore.

Waterford didn’t get its first points of the period until Porter’s bucket at the 3:07 mark

Going into the final quarter, MHS owned a 43-37 lead.

Waterford stayed close in the final eight minutes, and cut it to one, 53-52, on Drayer’s three with under a minute to play.

But Martin proved to be a deadeye at the charity stripe in the closing seconds, converting four of four, to keep the Lady Wildcats at bay.

“The girls wanted this win so badly,” Hannuksela said. “And looking up at the scoreboard and seeing they had more points than (Waterford), they felt good about that. I’m happy for them and how hard they played.”

Marietta is scheduled to play at Amy Colgrove-coached Warren (2-0) Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., while Waterford (0-1) visits Federal Hocking Monday at 7:30 p.m.

“It’s never easy going to Warren’s place,” Hannuksela said.