COLUMBUS (AP) — After losing in the championship game last season in its first state appearance, Waterford coach Jerry Close saw a resolve in his team the second time around.
He was rewarded when Megan Ball’s layup with 13 seconds to play gave Waterford its first title with a 29-27 victory over Fostoria St. Wendelin in the girls Division IV final Saturday.
“They were determined to win the game,” Close said. “It didn’t matter if it was 2-1.”
At times, the game seemed headed to a single-digit winner because of missed shots for Waterford (28-1) and miscues by St. Wendelin, which committed 27 turnovers and was unable to avenge a semifinal loss to the Wildcats last season.
“Last year when in I came (into the interview room), I was the most depressed man on Earth,” St. Wendelin coach Aaron Smith said. “This year, I’m the proudest person in this stadium.
“We had a team that came from nowhere, absolutely nowhere, 0-2, and we were one basket away from being the best team in the state of Ohio … and we’re not that good. We played with more heart than any team that ever put a uniform on at St. Wendelin.”
Waterford’s Ali Kern forced a turnover with 20 seconds left and got the ball up court to Ball for the win.
“I was like ‘We don’t really have a lot of time left,’” Ball said. “The coaches said take the ball down the court. No one came up, I guess, so I said ‘I’ll go for it.’ So I went.”
St. Wendelin (26-4) had a final try but Kamryn Troike, surrounded by three Waterford defenders, was unable to make a short shot at the buzzer despite pleas from her teammates for a foul.
“It’s how it went,” Troike said. “You can’t change it.”
Ball led Waterford with 10 points and had six rebounds. The Wildcats won despite shooting 18.9 percent (10-for-53) from the floor. Allie Rutter had 11 points for St. Wendelin.