Waterford tops Golden Eagles for 16th straight win

Photo by Mike Morrison Waterford’s Brianna Hart, left, attacks the basket as Belpre’s Sydney Spencer defends during a high school girls basketball game Thursday at the Harry Cooper Annex.

WATERFORD — The beat goes on for the Waterford Wildcats against Washington County opponents.

One night after a big win over the Warren Warriors, Waterford celebrated “Senior Night” Thursday in a big way as it rolled to a 58-21 win to complete a season sweep over the Belpre Golden Eagles.

Prior to the game the Waterford faithful honored the most successful class in school history and the seven seniors on the Wildcat roster responded by totaling 48 points as the green and white notched their 16th consecutive victory.

“I don’t think we’ve ever had quite this big of a class and they are a pretty special group of kids,” said Waterford head coach Jerry Close. “It’s a special class and it’s incredible what they have been able to accomplish.”

Close kept his All-Ohio duo of Alli Kern and Megan Ball on the bench for most of the first half of the opening quarter, allowing fellow seniors Hannah and Hayley Duff, Kenzie Dietz, Morgan Lang and Brianna Hart to do battle against a Belpre team that was missing a pair of starters due to injury.

Defensively the Wildcats didn’t skip a beat as they limited Belpre to a lone point in the first quarter and pulled out to an 8-1 lead.

Waterford forced Belpre into nine turnovers in the first quarter alone and continued to pressure the Golden Eagles in the second quarter with Ball and Kern on the court as they forced eight more turnovers and extended their lead to 35-9 at the break.

“That’s the thing with this group is every single one of them is capable of playing pretty good defense,” said Close. “They can all take care of the ball and handle things and I thought they did a very nice job.”

A pair of Hayley Duff buckets opened the second half for the ‘Cats followed by a Kern field goal to push the lead to 41-9 and quickly ruin any thoughts Belpre had of climbing back into the ballgame.

Waterford completely dominated the game on the glass as they totaled 37 rebounds compared to just 15 for Belpre led by Kern and Ball with seven apiece.

“I thought we played hard but we need to rebound better and we need to up our execution on the defensive end,” said Belpre head coach Chris Murray. “If you get them to miss you have got to limit them to one possession and you can’t give them two or three.”

Kern led all scorers with 12 points while Ball reached double figures in limited playing time with 10.

Hayley Duff and Hart added eight markers apiece for the Wildcats while Deitz added five points and six rebounds.

Murray was quite complimentary of his opponent after starting his four-year run as Belpre head coach at the same time the Wildcat senior class were freshmen.

“Waterford has a great senior class and they do things the right way,” said Murray, whose team slipped to 11-7 with the loss. “For 32 minutes every night they play basketball the right way and they do a great job.”

Waterford is in the middle of a stretch where they will play five times in eight days including a pair of games against arch-rival Fort Frye, Saturday at home and Wednesday across the river in Beverly.

“We’re playing a lot right now and I think it’s helping us. We had a little bit of a drought there where we weren’t getting to play,” said Close, whose team improved to 16-1 with the win. “We are looking forward to these two games with Fort Frye … those are the type of games that will get us prepared for the tournament.”

Belpre will host Paint Valley on Saturday.