PARKERSBURG - Host Parkersburg Catholic made up two-thirds of a 15-point halftime deficit in a fast and furious start to the second half, but could never get any closer than four in the fourth quarter and fell 73-68 to defending Class A state boys basketball champion Charleston Catholic Thursday night.
The Irish, now 1-0, zoomed out to a 27-14 lead after just one quarter, going on a 12-4 run to end the opening period with the burst sparked by Garrett McCarty with nine first-quarter points.
The second-stanza pace was slower than the first, but still the Irish were able to extend their advantage to as much as 18 at 34-16 and led 34-19 at halftime.
Parkersburg Catholic's Jake Ullman cuts off Charleston Catholic's David Godwin from forward progress during their game Thursday. Charleston Catholic scored a 73-68 victory. (Photo by Jeff Baughan)
But beginning the second half, the Crusaders looked like another team than the one that played the first half. PC scored the initial 10 points of the third quarter to immediately reduce its big halftime deficit to just five at 34-29 in a two-minute scoring blitz led by Joe Padden and Jake Ullman.
Padden, who finished with a game-high 26 points, netted the first seven points in the spurt with a trey from the corner, an 8-foot banker on a break and a basket in the lane, and Ullman, who tallied 22 total points, then added a fast-break hoop and finally a free throw at the 6:02 mark to dramatically bring down the margin.
But try as PC might after that surge, the Irish upped the lead to 12 at 48-36 before an Ullman 3-ball made it 48-39 heading into the fourth quarter.
The Crusaders' big push in the last eight minutes of play came midway through the fourth with Charleston having forged a 54-41 lead. A 13-4 run triggered by Payton Sturm, Austin Luther, Padden and Ullman again cut the spread down to four at 58-54 with 2:50 to play.
But Crusader head coach Rob Strcula decided to foul to keep the Irish from just running time off the clock before taking a shot. However, Charleston sank 13 free throws in the final two minutes to hold off the Crusaders, now 1-1.
Sturm notched 12 points and Luther collected eight for PC, which next plays at Tyler Consolidated Friday, Dec. 14.
Charleston Catholic was led by McCarty with 24 points, Zach Casto with 13 and Nick George with 12.
''When you play a team of this caliber, you can't come out and have eight turnovers in the first quarter,'' said Strcula. ''We can't shoot ourselves in the foot right from the start, but that's what we did in the first quarter.
''And bad as we played in the first half, we fought just as hard in the second half and were right there. We hung with them - as I think we can with any team in Class A - but we need to play four quarters.''