LUCASVILLE – Despite playing through a few key injuries, and facing a team that simply refused to quit going for the win, the Waverly Lady Tigers defeated the Valley Lady Indians Thursday evening by a final score of 64-59. The Lady Tigers were pressured throughout the second half by the Lady Indians, who simply refused to give up hope.
“We were a little short handed tonight with some injuries, but you know everybody kind of goes through that,” Lady Tigers coach John Bonifield said. “It happens in basketball.”
Normally a starter, Rose Remington sat out Thursday evening’s contest due to a knee injury. Bonifield said Remington tweaked her knee Monday night against Northwest.
Dawndra Newland was inactive as well. She was out due to a bone bruise on her knee.
“Everybody is going through it,” Bonifield said. “We just said, ‘next person up,’ and that live that mentality. They did a really good job tonight.”
Both teams played a very physical game Thursday, battling for every point. By the end of the first quarter, Waverly held a slim lead 17-15, which only expanded to a five point margin, 32-27, by halftime.
Neither team was able to maintain an extended measure of momentum in the third quarter until the final few minutes. In that time, Waverly took advantage of a string of missed baskets and a few forced turnovers to jump up to an 11 point lead over Valley, 53-42 at the end of three quarters of play.
The fourth quarter was a beautiful showing of heart and determination, along with some clutch shooting from both teams.
Two minutes into the fourth quarter, Waverly held a nine point lead. By the halfway mark in the quarter, Valley successfully cut that lead to six points.
Soon after, it was Valley taking advantage of a few Waverly turnovers, which allowed the Lady Indians to stay within a few strikes of the Lady Tigers.
With time running out, Valley coach Mark Merritt called for his Lady Indians to press Waverly. His tactic would briefly cause some confusion for Waverly.
After being fouled, Megan Duduit was sent to the line for Valley shooting 1-for-1. Duduit hit the first free throw, but missed her second. However, Duduit hustled down to the rim, getting her own rebound and laying the ball up, making a three point play.
Her score made a close game even closer, as the Lady Tigers lead was cut, 60-56 with only 1:08 left in the game.
Duduit would strike again, hitting a clutch three pointer to bring Valley within a single score of tying the game, 62-59. Duduit was incredible throughout the fourth quarter, scoring 11 of Valley’s 16 points in the quarter.
Only nine seconds remained in the game, and Valley needed to foul if they were going to make a play to tie, or potentially win the game.
Waverly in-bounded the ball to Laken Smith, who was promptly fouled, which sent her to the free throw line. With only a handful of seconds remaining on the clock and grasping to only a three point lead, Smith secured the win for Waverly as she hit two free throws to give her team a five point lead, and elevated them out of the single score range to tie the game.
Smith ended the night with a double-double, scoring 16 points, and bringing down 13 rebounds for Waverly. She also accumulated four steals and two assists.
Time simply ran out for Valley, but their determination and desire to win did not. Despite the loss, the Lady Indians showed they have a will to battle for a victory.
“Our performance tonight was much improved,” Merritt said. “We had a lot of good team play tonight. Overall it was a great improvement from how we had been playing.”
Merritt said his team will build off the loss, and will grow stronger as a unit.
“We give Waverly a lot of credit,” Merritt said. “They did what they needed to do down the stretch, and a few turnovers here and there and it might have been a different game.”
Valley will take a short journey down Lucasville-Minford Road to take on the Minford Lady Falcons Monday evening. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Waverly will take the court Saturday afternoon in Wellston, Ohio. That game will tip at noon.
Valley – Duduit 6-5-19, Conaway 9-1-19, Conley 3-4-10, Hickerson 3-1-7, Howard 2-0-4
Waverly – Perdue 10-2-22, Smith 6-2-16, Wiseman 3-2-10, Prall 2-0-4, McAllister 1-0-2
3-point field goals – Valley 2 (Duduit 2) Waverly 4 (Wiseman 2, Smith 2)
Reach Michael Hamilton at 740-353-3101, ext 1931 or on Twitter @MikeHamilton82.