Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
ATHENS — For the first time in 42 years, the Waverly Tigers are headed to the Elite 8.
Waverly earned that right with a 50-44 overtime win over McClain on Thursday at Ohio University’s Convocation Center.
While it took extra time, seniors Trey Robertson and Will Futhey powered their Tigers to one the most important wins the program has ever seen.
“Defensively, I thought we were pretty good and, defensively, I thought they were pretty good,” Waverly coach Travis Robertson said. “We weren’t very efficient on the offensive end and we missed some shots we normally make. But we’ve got a special group of kids. We talked about fighting in the moment to get another moment. These guys have earned every moment that they’ve gotten.”
While Trey Robertson may have ended the game with a team-high 24 points, it was his younger brother Braylon Robertson who kept the Tigers (22-4) in the game early on.
The freshman hit back-to-back 3’s early to grace the scoring column but what he did on the defensive end was more impressive, limiting scoring chances for McClain’s Kendyll Toney and forcing contested shots.
“He’s probably the most physical kid we have,” Travis Robertson said of Braylon. “If you watch him on the football field, he’s an animal out there. He welcomes the contact. I think if you look at him body wise, you don’t realize that his hands and feet are as good as they are. But he can sit down and guard you. He holds his spot and he makes it difficult for opponents.”
Tale of the tape
McClain senior Bryson Badgley started the night’s scoring with a triple at the 7:41 mark in the first quarter. After Will Futhey answered on the other end with a put back, Toney and Preston Saunders added to McClain’s lead with back-to-back buckets, making it 7-2.
Toney made it a 9-2 edge with 4:45 to go before Braden Wright made it 11-2 with two free throws at the 3:57 mark, forcing a Waverly timeout. Out of the break, Waverly’s Trey Robertson then ended the 8-0 run with a triple at the 3:35 mark, which was followed by a 3 from Braylon Robertson with 1:57 left, cutting the deficit to 11-8.
McClain’s Wesley Potts and Waverly’s Will Futhey then traded buckets for a 13-10 count before Braylon Robertson dialed long distance again with 39.3 seconds remaining for a 13-13 tally, which remained intact heading into the second.
Toney started the second quarter with a 3, putting McClain (17-4) back on top at 16-13. That was the game’s lone score until the 4:03 mark when Trey Robertson made it a 16-15 score with a mid-range jumper. Potts answered with a wide-open lay-in to make it 18-15 before Trey Robertson again hit from mid-range, making it 18-17 with 3:04 to go.
Seth Wise then dialed long distance to give McClain a 21-17 advantage before Trey Roberston whittled the lead to two at 21-19. Will Futhey’s bucket at the 2.9 second mark made it a 21-21 contest heading into the locker rooms.
Futhey scored again to begin the third, giving Waverly its first lead of the game, before the Tigers went ahead 27-24. McClain’s Preston Saunders then tied the game again, this time at 27-27, with a 3-ball just inside the four-minute mark.
The two then traded buckets for a 29-29 count at the end of the third quarter.
McClain took a 32-29 lead with 7:38 left, thanks to an old-fashioned three-point play from Toney. The senior scored again with 6:49 left, making it 34-31. Trey Robertson scored with 5:44 left in regulation, bringing the deficit to 34-33, before Futhey forced a 34-34 tie with a free throw.
Waverly took a 38-37 lead with 2:25 left but Saunders gave McClain a 39-38 edge with 2:11 remaining. However, Trey Robertson made it a 41-39 game before Toney forced a 41-41 tie with 27.3 seconds left, which was the eventual score heading into the extra time frame.
“We talked about holding the rope,” Travis Robertson said. “Our district championship shirts say, ‘Hold the rope.’ Tonight was the time where these guys really had to hold the rope. So I told them they needed to stick together, play for each other, enjoy the moment and kick [McClain’s] rear ends.”
Trey Robertson gave his Tigers a 43-41 to begin overtime before hitting two free throws at the 2:03 mark to make it a four-point lead. From there, Waverly created distance and just enough from the foul line to put ice on a 50-44 victory.
“Once we took the lead, I felt confident enough in our guard play that we were going to be able to spread them out, hold it and get to the foul line,” Travis Robertson said. “We made enough free throws. We didn’t make them all. But we made enough to get by.”
Trey Robertson ended the night with 24 points to lead all scorers while Futhey added a double-double of 17 points and 15 rebounds.
Toney led McClain with 14 points and three assists while Badgley had 10 points in a foul-shortened contest.
What’s on tap
While McClain’s tournament ride comes to an end, Waverly advances to a Division II regional final against Heath. That contest is scheduled for 4 p.m., Saturday at Ohio University.
“First of all, this has been our goal the entire year, to get to the regional championship,” Travis Robertson said. “From here, it’s about letting it all hang out and see what happens. Heath is a different beast. They have tons of length, they have athleticism and we need to play extremely well to be able to move on. We’ll come back here Saturday expecting to win. But we’re going to have to be efficent.”