The South Webster Lady Jeeps believe this year is their year to finally overtake the Waterford Lady Wildcats. The two teams have created a sort of postseason rivalry in the past three years, and will once again face-off in tournament play, where everything is on the line.
Both teams have had great success over the last three years, and have eventually met up in the postseason, where the Waterford Lady Wildcats have an unblemished record, 3-0, over the South Webster Lady Jeeps.
The South Webster seniors are perhaps the most motivated of all players among the two teams. Every season has ended at the hands of the Lady Wildcats, for the senior Lady Jeeps. This year, they’re determined to not meet the same fate as the last three seasons.
“Waterford has beat them out all three years they’ve (seniors) have been in high school,” South Webster coach Kristie Johnson said. “Their freshman year was the District Finals at the Convo. Their sophomore year was the District Finals, by one point, at Jackson, and of course last year was the Regional Semi-finals. I think our seniors want to go in with the attitude of not this time. This time it’s our turn.”
As the Lady Jeeps’ seniors realize this will be their final opportunity to take down the Lady Wildcats in their high school careers, Thursday night’s Regional Semi-finals game becomes more and more important.
“They are the thorn in our flesh,” Johnson said. “They’ve been the one that has stopped us every year, and every year we’ve gone into that locker room and we always had our season talk there in the locker room. Every year, they’ve been the ones that have brought those tears. I think, for the senior class especially, this is the big one for them. Hopefully we can go in and play well.”
As long as South Webster plays well, Johnson believes her squad has a good shot at getting that elusive win over Waterford.
“Last year we didn’t play well,” Johnson said. “We didn’t do the little things that we always do. I think we had a little bit of shock to our system. A couple girls did their jobs, while a couple didn’t. We played scared in the first quarter.”
Johnson hopes her team doesn’t enter Thursday night’s contest with the same attitude as last year, but she understands the possibility of a loss to Waterford.
“To me, if we play well, and do the best we can do, and we lose, then we lost to a great team, and I can handle that,” Johnson said. “They’re a great team. They have to be. They were State Runner-ups last year. They’re obviously a powerhouse in the Southeast District.”
The Lady Jeeps know the game against Waterford will not be an easy game, and have been preparing for what they feel will be one of the most competitive games to date, of their high school careers.
“We’re going to have to come out and play,” Johnson said. “Hopefully we can pull out a W.”
South Webster has been working on several different issues to prepare for Waterford.
“We know they are very quick in transition, so we’ve been working on ways to take away their transition game a little bit,” Johnson said.
Rebounding will be a pivotal point for South Webster if they want to defeat their postseason rival.
“They’re long and athletic, so we’ve got to make sure we rebound well,” Johnson said. “Those are the big two things that we’re focusing on this week and looking at all their individual tendencies.”
The South Webster coaches were able to watch Waterford play Notre Dame in the District Final round last week in Jackson. From that game, they were able to find a few things that might be beneficial to the Lady Jeeps.
“We know their defensive pressure is going to be intense,” Johnson said. “They have one of the best defenses around and you know, that was evident in the game against Notre Dame. We know they’re going to come ready to play.”
This year’s match-up reflects last year’s match-up between the teams. The two postseason rivals will meet in the Regional Semi-final round, and will once again play at Jackson High School.
While Waterford is a very athletic team, South Webster matches their athleticism, by way of Kacie Hall and Ellie Jo Johnson.
“Kacie Hall is just so quick with the ball,” Johnson said. “She has that quick pull-up jump shot, and is our team leader. I think that is a big advantage for us.
“I think Ellie Jo is a also a big advantage for us. Her athleticism, and her ability to get to the rim is an advantage.”
Johnson knows Waterford has offensive threats like Dani Drayer.
“She is able to score,” Johnson said. “I think if we can attack the basket and attack them a little on defense, and make them play one-on-one on defense instead of getting in the passing lanes, then that will be an advantage to us.”
The Lady Jeeps must out-rebound the Lady Wildcats if they wish to avenge the last three postseason losses.
“We have to rebound,” Johnson said. “To me, that’s the most important stat of the game. We’ve got to out-rebound them. Of course we need to take care of the ball, and make sure our turnovers are not out of hand. They’re a great team, and they’re going to get their runs, and we’re going to hope we get ours, but the big thing is rebounding. We’ve got to make sure to keep them off the glass, and don’t let them have second shots, then we’ve got to get to the glass and get second shots for ourselves.”
South Webster and Waterford will tip at 7:00 p.m. Thursday evening, March 3rd, in the Jackson High School gymnasium. The winner will advance to play on Saturday evening against a yet to be determined opponent, as well as location.
Reach Michael Hamilton at 740-353-3101, ext 1931, or on Twitter @MikeHamilton82.