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Kari Carney lifts Waterford past Eastern, 22-21

Waterford’s Jennessa Lang, right, guards Eastern’s Kennadi Rockhold during a high school girls basketball game Thursday at the Harry Cooper Annex. Waterford won, 22-21.

WATERFORD — Waterford High prevailed with blood, sweat, and tears — and not necessarily in that order.

Freshman Kari Carney’s two pressure-packed free-throw conversions with six seconds left enabled the Wildcats to earn a 22-21 come-from-behind triumph over Eastern Thursday night in a Tri-Valley Conference-Hocking Division girls’ basketball game at the Harry W. Cooper Annex.

“She’s going to be a good one,” said WHS head coach Jerry Close of Carney, whose undefeated Wildcats (3-0) only led one time in the contest — at the end. “And, an ugly win is better than a pretty loss any day.

“What an effort in the second by that group. I’m out four varsity players, two starters, and this group just fought back. Kari and Madi (Heiner) are freshmen, and they did a heckuva job. The team played their butts off in the second half and came to play.”

Sophomore sharpshooter Jennessa Lang kept the Cats in the hunt with a game-high 11 points. Riley Schweikert and Carney each added four while Cara Taylor chipped in with three before she was injured and had to leave the game in the second quarter.

“We’re going to be OK if we can just stay healthy,” Close said. “We need to get healthy. We’re missing (Mackenzie) Suprano, (Brianna) Offenberger, (Lilly) Franchino, and Cara got hurt in this game.”

Until Carney’s made freebies, Eastern (1-4) led the entire way. The Eagles had no players tally double digits, but seven of them got in the scorebook. Olivia Barber had a team-high five markers while Erica Durst chipped in with four. Whitney Durst and Kennadi Rockhold each finished with three. And, Jaymie Basham, Sydney Reynolds, and Jen Parker had two apiece.

“We just lost our composure,” said Eagles boss Chuck Robinson. “Our young kids got in a hurry and our juniors didn’t take over. The whole team lost.”

Waterford trailed 8-2 averted a shutout in the opening period when Taylor scored with 1:16 left.

In the second quarter, Eastern stretched its advantage to double digits, 13-3, when Rockhold made a pair at the line at the 4:36 mark.

On the return trip down the court, Taylor drove the lane, and fell hard to the floor on a trip-foul. The talented sophomore was helped off court by the Wildcat trainer, and did not return to the action.

“I don’t know how (Cara) is, but I’m going to try to find that out,” Close said. “She messed up her nose pretty good and went to the hospital.”

At halftime, Eastern led 13-6.

The southpaw-shooting Lang had the hot hand in the third quarter, scoring seven points and helping Waterford reduce the deficit to 17-15 at the end of three.

About midway through the fourth stanza, Lang knotted the score at 17-all with a jumper. But Eastern regained the advantage on Erica Durst’s bucket. Barber’s deuce then gave the Eagles a 21-17 lead.

After Schweikert convert 1 of 2, the Wildcats trailed by three.

Then, with a little over a minute remaining in the contest, Waterford got a break when after Eastern inbounded the ball, the Eagle cager shot at the wrong basket — but missed.

Getting the rebound was Karney, who made the putback, cutting it to one, 21-20.

“You create your own luck sometimes,” Close said. “We were playing hard and putting a lot of pressure on them — and crazy things happen when you’re under pressure.”

Then, with time running out, Eastern misfired on a 1-and-1, and on the return trip down the court, Karney attacked the basket and was fouled.

“These girls deserve this win after the way they played,” Close said.

Ron Johnston can be reached at rjohnston@mariettatimes.com

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