Trimble shots don’t fall late as Belpre claims sectional title

Belpre’s Kaitlin Richards (21) battles Trimble’s Ashlynn Hardy (5) and Emily Young for a loose ball during Thursday’s sectional final game at Meigs High School in Pomeroy, Ohio. Belpre won, 40-37. Photo by Jordan Holland

POMEROY, Ohio — Defense wins championships, and in Belpre’s case, defense netted the Golden Eagles their third sectional championship in four years.

Belpre held on to beat Trimble, 40-37, in a Division IV sectional final Thursday at Meigs High School. Kyna Waderker accounted for half of the scoring for the Golden Eagles, finishing with 20 points to go along with a team-high nine rebounds. The Belpre junior had to watch the final two minutes and 58 seconds of the game from the bench after fouling out, but as it did all game, Belpre stepped up on defense the rest of the way.

“I thought we defended well,” said Belpre head coach Chris Murray, whose team improved to 16-7.

“We got out on the perimeter and we pressured their shooters. We weren’t great offensively tonight, but we pressured the shooters and got stops in big moments.”

Belpre trailed 15-11 after one quarter and was down 22-18 after Brianna Osborne’s basket with 3:50 left in the second quarter. However, Trimble didn’t score again until the 4:10 mark in the third quarter, nearly an eight-minute scoring drought which saw Belpre build a 10-point lead.

Kaitlin Richards opened the third quarter with back-to-back 3-pointers to make the score 32-22, Belpre’s largest lead of the game. Emily Young’s basket finally got Trimble past the 22-point mark and sparked an 11-2 run to end the quarter and get the Tomcats within a point, 34-33.

No points were scored in the fourth quarter until Abbey LaFatch’s drive and basket put Belpre up 36-33. Waderker added a basket at the 3:35 mark to make it 38-33, but was called for a foul on Trimble’s Jayne Six for her fifth of the game. Six hit both free-throws and later knocked down a basket with 1:20 to go to make it 38-37, Belpre.

Trimble then had two possessions to attempt to take the lead, but Belpre came up with stops both times.

Sydney Spencer’s layup with 10 seconds left put Belpre up three, and Six was off the mark on a game-tying 3-point attempt as Belpre secured a spot in the district semifinals. The Golden Eagles will play either Peebles or Green on Feb. 23 at Jackson High School.

“We’re gonna play hard, we’re gonna win and we’re gonna go all the way,” Waderker said. “I have confidence.”

Of Waderker, Murray said, “What Kyna gives you is just some great athleticism. We really made it an emphasis for a good chunk of the game to look for her inside. We like that advantage. I thought she did a great job. She played well. She was physical. It was unfortunate she fouled out, but to get that win, I was really proud.”

When Waderker fouled out, Murray called on Halee Williams to take her spot in the post. Williams played tough in the final minutes and helped keep Trimble from getting any good looks inside.

“We’ve kind of prepared Halee Williams for that moment,” Murray said. “She’s a freshman and she’s gotten gradually better and better through the season.”

“It was sad,” Waderker said of fouling out. “But I had my team’s back. They had my back and I had theirs.”

Trimble converted 11 field goals on 45 attempts (24 percent) in the game. A dangerous outside shooting team, the Tomcats were just 4 for 20 from 3 against Belpre.

“They run some down screens that give enough room to their shooters,” Murray said. “We kind of fronted their post and stayed locked in defensively. When you’re pressuring out like that, you’re giving up something. You have to be able to stay on the ball and not get beat off the ball. I was really proud of the defensive intensity.”

Spencer complemented Waderker with eight points while Richards added six. LaFatch contributed seven rebounds, six steals and three assists.

“I played well,” Waderker said. “Had a great mindset and had a great team to back me up. Great coaching. I was ready for this game.”