’Cats blowout: Waterford storms past Southern Tornadoes 75-42

WATERFORD – Holding on to the basketball wasn’t easy in Thursday night’s game between Waterford and Southern, as the two teams combined for over 40 turnovers.

It was the Lady Wildcats who came out on top, winning by a wide 75-42 margin. Waterford head coach Jerry Close was happy with the win, but not so happy with his team’s ball handling.

“We’re turning it over a little bit too much,” he said.

“If you’re gonna play fast, you’re gonna turn the ball over. But we’ve got to take a little bit better care of the ball. We got some steals and then threw it right out of bounds, or threw it back to them. We’ve got to clean that stuff up.”

Sometimes, Close admitted, a team can overcome turning it over some if it’s forcing turnovers on its end.

The Lady ‘Cats certainly did that, as they kicked the pressure into high gear early in the first quarter. Waterford’s full-court press forced the Lady Tornadoes into 14 opening period turnovers. Overall, the green and white jumped put to a 34-10 lead after the first eight minutes, shooting 12-of-20 (60 percent).

Hannah Dailey got things started with a layup, and one, followed by a mid-range jumper from Dani Drayer.

A minute later, Randee Seevers drilled a 3 before Jansen Wolfe hit two free throws to put Southern on the board.

With 3 minutes and 27 seconds remaining in the first period, Ali Deem hit a jumper to bring the Tornadoes within eight at 15-7. Waterford then put the game all but out of reach with a 19-0 run to go up 34-7.

Drayer and Regan Porter had five points apiece while Taylor Hilverding added four during the rally.

Waterford dialed back the pressure a bit in the second and third quarters, and Southern took advantage. The Tornadoes chipped away at Waterford’s lead, outscoring the Wildcats 24-22 in the middle two quarters. With 1:36 left in the third period, Haley Hill knocked down a couple foul shots to make it a 19-point game.

“We did take the foot off the gas … but we weren’t supposed to,” Close said. “We backed out of the press.

“That’s something we have to get ironed out. We need to play better half-court defense because you can’t press everybody.”

Waterford would let it get no closer, as a free throw and a jumper from Dailey in the final minute of the quarter made the score 56-34. The ‘Cats outscored Southern 19-8 in the final stanza to seal the deal.

“The second and third quarter we didn’t play as well,” Close acknowledged. “The fourth quarter we came back to life a little bit.”

Waterford made 29-of-70 (41.4 percent) shots in the contest. Drayer led the team with 22 points on 10-of-15 shooting. Hilverding and Sam Farley each reached double figures as well, scoring 10 points apiece. Hilverding and Porter both grabbed a team-high seven boards, while Mariah Starkey was tops in assists with six.

Wolfe and Celestia Hendrix led the Tornadoes with nine points each.

The Wildcats improved to 2-1 on the young season, 2-0 in the Tri-Valley Conference – Hocking Division. Waterford’s next game will be at home against Wahama on Monday.

NOTES: The game between Waterford and Fort Frye, originally scheduled for Saturday, has been moved to Dec. 8 with a scheduled start time of 6 p.m.