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Belpre girls survive Tornadoes

Photo by Josh Hughes Belpre’s Abbey LaFatch defends Southern’s Sara Kaposzta during the Golden Eagles’ 44-37 win over the Tornadoes.

BELPRE –A late surge from the Southern Tornadoes wasn’t enough, as the Belpre Golden Eagles held on to win in a 44-37 Tri-Valley Conference battle on Monday evening from home.

The contest was in-hand for the Golden Eagles at halftime, as they took a 26-10 lead into the locker room off a buzzer beating-layup from Kyna Waderker. Speaking of Waderker, she came into the game needing 37 points to break 1,000 on her high-school career. After her 19 points in this win, she’s only 18 points away from joining an elite club. She continued having a good time down low, and the Golden Eagles (10-3) took a 32-17 lead into the last eight minutes. However, Southern battled back and made made this contest go down to the wire.

After a couple quick Southern free throws, Curstin Giffin nailed her only field goal of the game to keep Belpre in control. Then, the comeback was on.

A 16-5 Southern run was capped off with 1:41 to go due to a triple from Jordan Hardwick. That timely 3-ball cut the Belpre lead down to 39-35.

That’s when BHS responded with one last knockout punch. Consistent free throw shooting down the stretch helped out, and Abbey LaFatch hit those freebies when they counted most. LaFatch sank both shots from the charity stripe with 1:21 left, and a made foul shot from Waderker bumped the lead back up to 42-35 just 11 seconds later.

On the other end, Southern kept missing from close range. The inability to score after gaining multiple offensive rebounds did the visitors no favors, and Giffin made them pay. She battled on the inside to corral key rebounds all game, but her last board put the final nail in Southern’s coffin. After she was swarmed by SHS defenders, Giffin launched a pass fit for Ralph Holder Stadium to Waderker from underneath the basket. Landing right in front of her, Waderker took the outlet pass and made a layup with little time remaining.

Golden Eagles’ head coach Chris Murray thought his team made too many mistakes that allowed Southern to fight back into the game, but he says it’s chance for them to get better for a pivot group of conference clashes on the horizon. That starts with a Thursday night affair on the road against Wahama.

“I thought we really lacked some intensity tonight,” Murray said. “For a league game, we just didn’t match that intensity. I just attribute it to a lot of factors: a 6 o’clock start (despite the game initially being slated to start an hour later), no JV, our national anthem didn’t even work. We had to sing it.”

Murray did note positives in the win, as these next few games mean a lot for how this season wish shake out for his Golden Eagle girls.

“To win a game when you don’t really play your best is always a nice thing to do. It’s especially important (to keep winning in the TVC), because we’re in a super-sectional. They seed you 1-20, and we’re in that 4-6 spot. We’re third in our league right now. Two teams we lost to earlier in the season (Wahama and Miller), we play on Thursday and Saturday. It’s a really important week for us.”

Contact Josh Hughes at jhughes@newsandsentinel.com

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