The Waverly Tigers traveled to the west side of Portsmouth on Friday night to take on the Portsmouth West Senators.
Waverly entered the contest looking to create some separation in the SOC II standings, and were able to do so by downing West, 53-35.
Several different Tigers were able to earn some tallies on the score column, with Easton Wolf posting 13 points to lead the way.
Ethan Adrian had 10, Clayton Howell scored nine, and both Cobe Marquez and Ethan Dunn totaled seven points each.
The Senators got 11 points out of Brandon Moore, and 10 from Dylan Bradford. Josh Berry and Jordan Frasure also added six points apiece.
Several statistics tell the story of what was at times an offensive struggle for West.
At the end of the night, the Senators wound up with 21 turnovers and were unable to hit a three-pointer in the game. West also grabbed only three offensive rebounds (Waverly had eight) and the Senators shot just seven free throws compared to 18 from the Tigers.
There appeared to be a bit of rust at times for the Senators, as could be expected for a team who hasn’t played in nearly two and a half weeks.
“We haven’t played for two weeks, a little over two weeks actually, and you could tell,” West head coach Bill Hafer said. “We had a really slow start, and I think that contributed to it.”
Waverly was able to get out and run early and often, showcasing a speed that has been hard to replicate for Hafer in practice.
“We can simulate it in practice, but it’s not quite the same,” Hafer said. “I think that hurt us.”
The Tigers put that transition game on display to start the game, beginning the affair on a 12-0 run. Frasure would score with 4:19 remaining in the first quarter to finally cease the stretch from Waverly.
Combined with the offense from the Tigers, Waverly was able to build an early lead with a defense that swarmed the Senators.
“Give credit to Waverly, they did their game plan,” Hafer said. “They did what they were supposed to do, they put pressure on us, and it seemed like they had us really well scouted.”
“We had them scouted pretty well too, but they have a lot of athletes on that side. They’re long, they’re athletic.”
After a quarter, West trailed the Tigers 17-4.
Free throws from Adrian gave Waverly a 19-4 lead early in the second, but the Senators would outscore the Tigers 10-5 in the remainder of the quarter.
“We still had chances,” Hafer said. “They gave us opportunities, we just didn’t capitalize.”
A major element of West’s game was missing with the absence of the three-pointer, and as a result the Senators were behind on the scoreboard 24-14 at halftime.
“Some of those were really good shots inside-out, they just didn’t fall,” Hafer said. “That’s a shame, because we really focused on that over break.”
As a result, West went to an offensive attack that was comprised of a lot of driving to the rim and trying to finish. The Senators would make due, but their height would limit them at times.
“We’re smaller, so sometimes we can’t get to the rim as much as we want,” Hafer said. “We try to, but that hurts us finishing in the paint.”
With their tallest player standing 6-foot-2, West was sometimes at a disadvantage against the height of Adrian and Dunn with their size and 6-foot-4 frames.
Still, though, the Senators were still very much alive in the battle.
In the third quarter, it looked like West was in a good position to mount a comeback.
With 2:33 to play in the third, Moore made a strong push to the basket and finished through contact for an old fashioned three-point play.
That score made the Waverly lead just 31-25, capping off a 7-2 run for the Senators.
From there, the Tigers took a 5-0 run of their own on several possessions of free throws to lead 36-25 at the end of three.
A huge component in the second half for Waverly was free throws, as the Tigers shot 12 (10-12 overall) in the last two quarters after shooting just six in the first.
“We had chances there to get back in the game, we just couldn’t overcome it,” Hafer said. “They got out in transition on us, and we didn’t get back. We didn’t finish shots.”
The final period saw West continue to fight, but the lead was just too much to top from Waverly.
Unable to knock down threes, the margin had stretched out of reach for the Senators. West saw Moore and Bradford able to attack on the drive, but the Senators couldn’t complete the inside-outside attack by hitting from deep.
As a result of that, as well as the transition game from the Tigers, Waverly outscored West 17-10 in the fourth to win the conference clash 53-35.
With the win, the Tigers (8-2, 6-1) have created a nice second place cushion in the conference standings. Waverly has already defeated Wheelersburg once this season, and will have a shot at first place Oak Hill on Tuesday.
The Tigers lost to the Oaks earlier in the year, but a win now could give Waverly a chance at tying for the regular season conference title if things fall in place.
As for the Senators (3-5, 3-4), they are now in need of a big week to make up some ground in the conference standings.
West is slated to meet Valley on Tuesday in a conference matchup, and have a date with Northwest on Friday.
Of course, Hafer is hoping his Senators will be ready for what’s ahead, and can knock off their SOC rivals for the second time.
“Hopefully we do what we did last time,” Hafer said. “We have three hopefully winnable games coming up. We were able to beat Valley last time, and we play Northwest on Friday.”
In this conference though, nothing is given.
“We’ve got to go to Valley this time and that’s not easy, they’re a good team,” Hafer said. “Despite what their record is, they’re still a very good team.”