Small Town Waterford Has Big Night
WATERFORD DEFEATS WESTERN SIERRA 55-36 FOR SCHOOLS FIRST BASKETBALL PLAYOFF WIN
“Havoc” Defense Dominates Game
The defensive philosophy of Coach Josh Whitfield paid off in a big way Friday night for the Lady Cats. The defensive philosophy is called “Havoc” and it is the identity Coach Whitfield wants his team to have. A student of NCAA Division-I coach Shaka Smart, Whitfield has worked this year to scale down the former VCU Ram coaches’ style to apply to the small high school level. With the help of his fellow Coach Lauren Sword, it finally fired on all cylinders Friday night to the tune of 50 Rebounds and 24 steals. The Lady Cats held the undefeated Northern Pacific League champions (Western Sierra Academy) to 1 total point in the first quarter. That’s right just 1 point. It was the first time all season Whitfield elected to use his press through out an entire quarter all season.
“Our game plan was to shock-and-awe them right out of the gate. They had a long 2-hour ride down here, we believed we are the more physical team and we counted on having a large crowd at home tonight. With all those factors we wanted to put them on their heels right away, while getting the jitters of our team as well,” said Coach Whitfield.
The plan worked to perfection. The crowd was loud from start to finish, relishing what everyone knew from the first few minutes of the game would be a history-making win for the school.
Whitfield backed off the press in the second half when the game was well in hand.
Western Sierra tried a press of their own without much success. The Lady Cats often made the Wolves pay on fast breaks and quick attacks on the basket. Western Sierra started to get some offense rolling in the second half but it was a deficit to hard to overcome. The Lady Cats coasted to a very satisfying 55-34 victory.
SILVA & RIDGE SHINE IN PLAYOFF WIN
Waterford’s sophomore sensation Alyssa Silva delivered in her playoff debut. She scored the games first 3 points off a picture perfect swish from the side. She had her third triple-double on the year, with 17 points, 11 rebounds and 11 steals. She was a career high 63% shooting on the night. She was 100% from the 3-Point Line, 5/6 from the free throw line and 50% for 2-Pointers. There can be no doubt that she has placed herself among the elite players in Division V. The best part is Waterford will have two more years from this young and growing star.
I was a fitting final home game for senior Abby Ridge. Rebounds have been her story all season long and she dominated with 20 on the night. Adding her 12th Double-Double with 19 Points and 20 Rebounds. She got to have an iconic moment at the end of the game where she was hoisted up to cut down the net in front of the hometown crowd. Surrounded by her teammates she hoisted the net in a triumphant poise that signified the importance of the victory for the small town of Waterford. To highlight the moment a parent could be overheard saying, “We need more of this (Winning) to keep our athletes from going outside of town. This is a very good night for the school. Waterford has a lot of talent”
MONSTER MATCH-UP TUESDAY
Waterford’s victory may be short lived. The reward for their victory is a trip to Sacramento to face top seeded Capital Christian, the defending Division V Section Champions. Capital Christian is a basketball powerhouse, lead by Coach Baker who has more then 300 wins in over a decade of dominance in this division. It is already being called a David vs. Goliath match-up. The predictors have it anywhere from 15 points – 35 points advantage for the defending champions.
“We are not concerned about anything but the game. It’s a privilege to play against the best, but we also believe we have earned the right to play the best this year. We do not mind being the underdog and you can expect that we are going to go up there and give the Champs a fight. We wont roll over for them; we don’t roll over for anyone. If we go down we will go down our way: swinging till the clock hits zero,” said Coach Whitfield.
Waterford will play the heavily favored Capital Christian, at Capital Christian High School on February 23rd at 7:00PM.
FUTURE IS BRIGHT
Regardless of how Tuesday turns out for these Lady Cats, the season has already been wildly successful. Coach Whitfield and Sword have turned a losing program around in just one year.
They hosted the first home playoff game in school history, won the first playoff game in school history and have broken numerous individual and team records along the way. Along side a 7-3 J.V. squad and a freshmen team behind that shows great signs of life that the program can be competitive over the next couple of years.
“It’s imperative we don’t become an abbreviation. We must continue to grow this program for our players and the players of the future. It is those 6th, 7th and 8th graders that can look at these high school athletes and say, I want to do that, I can do that, I want to do even better, that is the formula for long term success in any program,” said Whitfield.
Waterford remains in a competitive league. The Southern League’s co-champions are not going away. Orestimba and Mariposa will continue to be strong next year. A resurgent Denair program was nipping at the heels of the Lady Cats all season long. As they say in high school sports, every year is a new year. Waterford is going to have to work hard to maintain and surpass the success they have had this season and they look like they have just the quality of young athletes to do it.