PDT Sports Writer
ATHENS — When a tournament progresses, the stakes as well as the physicality are taken up a notch.
In the case of Sunday’s Division IV Southeast District Final at Ohio University’s Convocation Center, No. 2 Waterford stepped up to those tasks and gave No. 5 South Webster a season-ending 56-37 defeat. The Wildcats had as many offensive rebounds (16) as the Jeeps had total rebounds.
“The game got a little physical and our young girls aren’t just used to that,” South Webster coach Kristie Johnson said. “They have strong players, anyone who could score on any given night and we knew that.
“We were just trying to contain (Brooke) Drayer and we did a nice job in the first half of containing her but other people stepped up and did what they exactly needed to do.”
The biggest thorn in the Jeeps’ side was freshman Regan Porter, who scored 10 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, five of them offensive.
“We knew she came off the bench and she was strong,” Johnson said. “We knew that she was capable of putting points up.
“Even in the first quarter, they had a ton of offensive boards. We just said (to the team) you’ve got to box them out and you’ve got to hold your ground, you can’t let them push you in the back and push you out of it. (Waterford) did, Porter’s a strong girl and she was able to out-muscle us.”
The night started off promising for South Webster as the Jeeps forced the Wildcats into nine first quarter turnovers. The largest lead for the lower-seeded team in the game was at three when freshman Kacie Hall scored off a Kaci Messer pass to make it an 8-5 game.
Waterford then rattled off the final five points in the frame and the next two to start the ensuing quarter to take a 12-8 lead and not look back. After taking their largest lead of the game at 27-16 into the locker room, the Wildcats continued to build with a 4-0 spurt to start the third quarter.
The closest South Webster would get in the second half was a nine-point margin with 2:28 to go in the third when Messer connected on a 3-pointer and was fouled after the shot. Waterford responded with a 6-0 run that expanded into the fourth to put the game out of reach.
Drayer and Chelsey Paxton led all scorers with 15 points each in the win while freshman Dani Drayer chipped in with a dozen. Hall led the Jeeps with 12 and Messer capped off her high school career with 10.
Messer was the last remaining player from the 2009 team, led by current University of Cincinnati guard Kayla Cook, to make it into the regionals. Johnson was pleased to have her leadership and experience guide the team into this year’s tournament run.
“Cookie took her under her wing when she was a freshman and Messer has done that,” Johnson said. “(She’s) taken Kacie Hall, Courtney (Blanton) and the guards that have come up behind her and taken them under her wing.”
Along with Messer, South Webster will also lose Lexi Witter to graduation.
“It’s hard to tell them that you’re sorry,” Johnson said. “You’re sorry that this is their last game and we weren’t able to pull it out for them.”
Cody Leist can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 294, or email@example.com.
Waterford — Hilverding 1-0-2, Paxton 6-3-15, B. Drayer 5-5-15, D. Drayer 4-2-12, Porter 4-2-10, Totals 20-12-56.
South Webster — Blanton 2-2-7, Messer 4-0-10, Hall 5-2-12, Potters 3-0-6, Giles 0-2-2, Totals 14-6-37.
3-Point Goals — Waterford 2 (D. Drayer 2); South Webster 3 (Messer 2, Blanton).
Records — Waterford 19-6; South Webster 12-11.