It wasn't always the prettiest display, but the Waterloo Vikings are moving on.
Waterloo held on as St. Thomas Aquinas nearly closed a 15-point deficit down the stretch for a 40-32 Barberton Division III Sectional final victory.
With the win, Waterloo will take on Mogadore in a district semifinal game next Tuesday at Barberton. The Wildcats defeated Garfield 50-25 in the second game of Wednesday evening's doubleheader.
"It was ugly basketball today, but it's still a win," Waterloo head coach Dave Hamilton said. "We'll take it because it means we're still moving on."
Waterloo jumped out hot with an 11-2 first quarter. Senior forward Megan Forney and senior guard Jamie Willis each scored four points in the quarter, while the Vikings' defense forced nine Aquinas turnovers.
Willis and Forney were the difference for the Vikings as the duo combined for 31 of the Vikings' 40 points.
Forney pulled down 13 rebounds for a double-double, while Willis added four assists and one 3-pointer.
"Megan and Jamie definitely helped us a lot tonight," Hamilton said. "We're going to need them to keep playing well (to be successful)."
Waterloo maintained a steady double-digit lead until the closing minutes of the third quarter as the Knights began to rally.
Trailing 33-18 with three minutes remaining, Aquinas' Nicole Newman knocked down a bucket to cut the deficit to 13 points. After Forney sunk a pair of foul shots, Newman and teammate Sydney Film combined for six straight points to end the quarter and get Aquinas to within nine points.
Aquinas remained hot during the fourth quarter, stringing together a 6-0 run to pull within three points of the Vikings. Newman (3 points), Rachel Hiestand, Maria Lombardi and Clarissa Jovingo all scored as the Knights rallied to put a scare in the favored Vikings.
Newman finished with 10 points to lead Aquinas. The forward also led her team in rebounds with seven boards.
That would be it for Aquinas, however, as the Knights failed to score over the final 3:50 of regulation. Forney, Willis and Julie Podnar all found the net down the stretch to extend Waterloo's lead back out to a comfortable margin.
Waterloo could have made things easier for itself with more success at the foul line as the Vikings shot just 11-of-21 from the stripe -- and 3-of-8 during the fourth quarter. Waterloo also missed a number of jumpers and layups that must be made if the Vikings hope to stay alive next week.
"We missed way too many bunnies tonight," Hamilton said. "All in all tonight, our effort was too (inconsistent) at times."