Redwomen beat defending D4 state champs Waterford, 42-37

Published 9:32 pm Sunday, December 11, 2022

Rock Hill Redwomen guard Hazley Matthews (13) drives for a basket as Waterford Lady Wildcats’ 6-foot-4 center Avery Wagner goes for the block. Rock Hill beat the defending Division 4 state championship 42-37 on Saturday. (Photo Submitted)

By Jim Walker

ALBANY — That’s one small step for the Redwomen, one giant leap for the Rock Hill program.

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The Rock Hill Redwomen pick up one of the biggest wins ever for their program as they beat the Division 4 defending state champion Waterford Lady Wildcats 42-37 in the Alley Classic on Saturday at Alexander High School.

Waterford has been to the Final Four six times including the past two seasons. The Lady Wildcats also won the state title in 2016 and were runners-up in 2015 and 2017.

“It was a great win for our girls. We only shot 20 percent in the first half and we came back and played really well in the second half,” said Rock Hill coach Eric Bailey. “Rock Hill has never had a team that has beaten a defending state champion.”

Hazley Matthews led Rock Hill (6-1) with a game-high 18 points. J’lynn Risner scored 7 and both Haleigh Risner and Hadyn Bailey got 6 each.

Waterford (1-3) was led by 6-foot-4 Avery Wagner and Avery Smithberger with 7 points each. Kendal Sury and Laykyn Jones added 6 points each.

“I truly understand why the Waterford girls’ basketball program is at the top. The head coach (Jerry Close) is first class and they are a very well-coached team. Their players all play hard,” said Bailey.

“It was a special opportunity for me to coach against a defending state champion team.”

Each team was whistled for 18 fouls. Although no one fouled out, each team had two players who finished with four fouls.

Three different players had a basket as Waterford took a 6-3 first quarter lead.

Matthews scored all 3 Rock Hill points in the first quarter on a 3-point play.

The Lady Wildcats led 18-14 at the half as Jones hit a 3-pointer and scored 5 points and both Madi Heiner and Wagner got 3 points.

Hadyn Bailey and Haleigh Risner drained 3-pointers as five different players scored in the second quarter for the Redwomen.

The game shifted in the third quarter as Rock Hill outscored Waterford 15-7 and took a 29-25 lead.

Waterford kept putting the Redwomen at the foul line in the quarter and they responded by converting 11-of-12 shots.

Matthews was 6-of-6, Lola Hankins 3-for-4 and J’lynn Risner 2-2 as she and Haleigh Risner had the only two baskets in the quarter for Rock Hill.

Hadyn Bailey and Matthews each knocked down treys in the fourth quarter, J’lynn Risner scored inside, Haleigh Risner sank a free throw and Matthews was clutch at the foul line by making 4-of-4 attempts as Rock Hill outscored the Lady Wildcats 13-12.

Smithberger scored all 7 of her points including a 3-pointer for Waterford.

Rock Hill 3 11 15 13 = 42

Waterford 6 12 7 12 = 37

ROCK HILL (6-1): Hadyn Bailey 0 2 0-0 6, Hope Easterling 0 0 0-0 0, Hazley Matthews 2 1 11-11 18, Lola Hankins 1 0 3-8 5, Haleigh Risner 1 1 1-2 6, Josie Kidd 0 0 0-0 0, J’lynn Risner 2 0 3-4 7. Totals: 6 4 18-25 42. Fouls: 18. Fouled out: None.

WATERFORD (1-3): Elsie Malec 0 0 0-0 0, Ali Franchino 0 0 0-0 0, Kendall Sury 1 0 4-8 6, Laykyn Jones 0 1 3-4 6, Madi Heiner 2 0 2-4 6, Avery Smithberger 1 1 2-2 7, Avery Wagner 2 3-4 7, Kari Carney 1 0 1-1 3, Leah Ryan 1 0 0-0 2. Totals: 8 2 15-23 37. Fouls: 18. Fouled out: None.