The younger Vikings came out on top in the battle of unbeatens in district semifinal.
ROOTSTOWN -- The Waterloo High girls basketball starting five features a pair of sophomores, two juniors and one senior, while Girard starts five seniors.
Both teams were 22-0 headed into a Division III district semifinal matchup at Rootstown High School Thursday. The Indians were ranked No. 4 in the state and the Vikings were No. 9.
Another fact weighing on the minds of Waterloo players, coaches and fans was that the Indians had eliminated the Vikings from the tournament the last two times they met.
All things considered, it looked as if the Indians had the advantage heading into the contest. It was, however, the younger Vikings who came away with a hard-fought 58-52 victory.
Waterloo coach Todd Wise told his team before the game it had to believe it could win the game.
"I think they were a little too jacked up early in the game, but I think this group mentally believes that every time they go out, they are supposed to win," said Wise. "I don't know if it's in spite of their youth, or because of it. Maybe they don't know any better. Maybe they don't know they're not supposed to go out and beat people."
For Girard (22-1) it was a frustrating night from the floor as everyone had a hard time finding a rhythm. The Indians made just 18-of-56 field goal attempts and turned the ball over 16 times, many at crucial times with an opportunity to cut into the Vikings' lead.
Waterloo, which normally plays man-to-man defense, played a 1-2-2 zone in an effort to contain Cachet Murray.
"She [Murray] is so athletic and we have had a hard time taking matching up with her that she ends up getting the rest of the kids involved," said Wise. "The last two years, we kept saying that we were going to stop Murray and then the rest of the kids kill us. So we came in thinking that they hadn't seen us play any zone so we were going to start out in zone and see how they react. It worked fairly well and when we got into a little foul trouble we decided to stay with it."
Murray finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds. Jessica Bowser added 16 points.
The beginning of the second quarter was just as frustrating for the Indians as they again missed their first five shots from the floor.
A bucket by Waterloo sophomore Cara Bedard put the Vikings back in front 17-15 with 4:58 to play before the half.
Bedard, a 6-foot sophomore, netted 17 points and grabbed 14 rebounds for Waterloo.
Sophomore guard Laura Schiele led all scorers with 21 points.
Extending the lead
Waterloo's 31-24 halftime lead ballooned to 53-41 at the end of the third, despite back-to-back-to-back 3-pointers by the Indians.
The Vikings worked the ball inside, scoring 14 of their 22 points in the quarter from inside the paint.
"For two quarters we couldn't put the ball in the hoop," said Girard coach Andrew Saxon.
"The ball wouldn't fall and then we panicked a little. They [Vikings] were able to get the ball inside and they shot the 3s. Those are the two things they do very well."
The Indians cut the lead to 56-50 with 2:04 to play, but Murray went to the bench with five fouls and the Vikings were able to keep the game out of reach at the free throw line.
"We forced some outside shots that we don't normally take but when you get into a situation when you're behind and you're not used to it you panic a little bit," added Saxon.
"But I think the girls played hard and we had a chance there in the last four or five minutes, but when Cachet fouled out that made it even more difficult."