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Waterford girls earn split of league title with win over Trimble

Waterford’s Cara Taylor drives past a Tomcat defender. (Photo by Josh Hughes)

WATERFORD — Ownership of the 2021 Tri-Valley Conference title hung in the balance, and Waterford exacted its revenge to become co-champs with Trimble, following a 56-49 victory on Wednesday night inside the Harry Cooper Annex.

Winning the TVC is no new feat for the Wildcats, but this year saw Trimble knock them off in a thriller. That meant head coach Jerry Close’s ‘Cats had work to do to split the championship. Waterford (15-6) went perfect in conference play the rest of the way to set up the clash with the visiting Tomcats. Close praised his team’s effort down the stretch of this contest, as Trimble kept hanging around throughout.

“It’s been a rough year for everybody,” Close admitted. “Every team playing basketball has had rough spots. This team has done a nice job coming together, and we’ve done a good job playing two full games. We played Alexander a week ago on Monday, and then tonight. I’m really proud of the progress of this team.”

This contest started with points at a premium, then the offenses came to life as the game settled in. Waterford held the advantage through the majority of the contest, but Trimble would not back down. Despite not having a lead since they were up 5-4 midway through the opening frame, Trimble took advantage of late Wildcat turnovers to grab a 46-45 lead with 3:05 remaining.

The duo of Cara Taylor and Mackenzie Suprano led the way for the home team, as Taylor tallied a game-high 24 points. Suprano chipped in 15 of her own, and that propped up the rest of the offense when needed. Following the go-ahead basket from Trimble’s Jayne Six (12 points), Riley Schweikert responded with a baseline drive and layup to reclaim the lead with 2:51 left. Schweikert went scoreless in the first three quarters, only to emerge in the last one. She scored eight points that loomed large, as her last made field goal spelled the end for the visitors from Glouster. In fact, the Tomcats went nearly the rest of the way without scoring. The closest opportunity they had came when Six collected three-consecutive rebounds under the basket before she was fouled and sent to the line. That came with 1:35 left on the clock with the score a 49-46 deficit. Six lined up and missed the ensuing free throws. A Suprano rebound on the second miss helped Waterford’s winning effort, and it was up to Taylor and Schweikert to put the game on ice from there. Taylor was fouled two possessions in a row and was sent to the free throw line for a pair of 1-and 1s and drained them with less than a minute to go. Schweikert was the next one up, and she hit both her freebies to essentially end it.

Taylor spoke of her big night and those pivotal free throws down the stretch. It comes with a Saturday sectional tilt against Western Latham on the horizon.

“That’s been big, this season,” Taylor said of her team’s shooting at the charity stripe. “Last year, we would really struggle with our foul shots. One of the biggest things we worked on were foul shots, this season. Coach told us he’s never had a team that’s gotten so much better throughout the season, so this is just the start for us. We’ve come off two great wins, and we’re more confident now than ever before.”

Contact Josh Hughes at jhughes@newsandsentinel.com

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