TUPPERS PLAINS, Ohio — Everything you expect from a rivalry like this.
The Waterford and Eastern girls basketball teams — who combined have two of the last three OHSAA Division IV state championships — battled through seven lead changes in the middle quarters, but ultimately it was the Lady Wildcats who claimed the 55-48 victory, on Saturday evening in Meigs County.
Eastern (7-1, 4-1 TVC Hocking) scored the first five points of the game and never trailed in the opening stanza, claiming a 15-11 lead, eight minutes into play.
EHS pushed its lead to seven points, 20-13, midway through the second period, but the Lady Wildcats (5-0, 4-0) used an 8-0 run to take their first lead of the game, with 1:27 left in the first half. Four more lead changes occurred in the remainder of the half, and WHS took a 25-24 advantage into the locker room.
The Lady Eagles took a one-point lead on the opening basket of the second half, but WHS regained the lead with 5:44 left in the third, and never trailed again.
Waterford ended the third quarter with a 41-35 lead and pushed its lead to double-digits, 49-39, with 1:55 remaining in the game. EHS cut the lead to six points with 1:21 left, but never came closer, as Waterford claimed the 55-48 victory.
“We knew what we were getting with Waterford, we preached about it in practice, but I think seeing it opened the girls’ eyes just a little bit,” said EHS head coach Jacob Parker. “Yes, it is a loss on the scoreboard, and I don’t like losing, but it’s only a loss if you don’t learn from it. We’re just going to break down the film, learn from it, and get better.”
Waterford has now won 41 straight TVC Hocking decisions, with the 2013-14 Lady Eagles being the last league team to defeat the Lady Wildcats.
For the game, WHS claimed a 24-to-17 rebounding advantage, including a 13-to-4 edge on the offensive glass. The Lady Wildcats also won the turnover battle by a 15-to-22 clip.
“The girls played their hearts out, I can never question their effort,” Coach Parker said. “I think the thing that separated us a little bit was just being fundamental. We just need to be a little more fundamental, like they are.”
Eastern shot 8-of-10 (80 percent) from the free throw line and 16-of-34 (47.1 percent) from the field, including 8-of-16 (50 percent) from beyond the arc. Meanwhile, WHS was 11-of-20 (55 percent) from the stripe and 21-of-48 (43.8 percent) from the field, including 2-of-12 (16.7 percent) from beyond the arc.
EHS senior Laura Pullins — the newest member of the Lady Eagles’ 1,000-point club — led the hosts with 21 points. Alyson Bailey was next with nine points, Madison Williams and Jess Parker both scored eight points, while Elizabeth Collins finished with two markers.
Williams led EHS on the glass with seven rebounds, while Parker marked a team-high four assists. Laura Pullins also led EHS on defense with two steals and a blocked shot.
Alli Kern paced the guests with 18 points and eight rebounds, followed by Megan Ball with 17 points. Jillian McCutcheon and Rachel Adams both scored six points in the win, while Hannah Duff and Hayley Duff added four points apiece.
Hannan Duff led WHS in assists, with three, while Hayley Duff paced the WHS defense with three steals.
These teams — who’ve finished as the top-two teams in the league for seven straight seasons — are scheduled to meet again on January 30, in Washington County.
After visiting Wahama on Monday, Eastern will return to the court on Thursday, at Belpre.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.