PARKERSBURG -Poise can't be measured as a statistic in a boxscore, but it turned out to be the equalizer for a poor shooting performance in the second half as Parkersburg Catholic defeated St. Marys, 71-57, Friday night on the Crusaders' home floor.
Behind 26 points from Jake Ullman and another 22 points from Joe Padden, PCHS improved to 5-1 and remained unbeaten in the Little Kanawha Conference's North Division at 3-0. In addition to keeping their turnovers at a minimum with eight for the game, the Crusaders extended what was once a four-point lead late in the fourth quarter by converting 8-of-8 free throws in the final 2:17.
PCHS was just 6-of-27 (22.2 percent) from the floor after the halftime break.
Photo by Jeff Baughan
St. Marys' Colby Brode passes to a teammate over Parkersburg Catholic's Ben Collie, left, and Joe Padden Friday. The Crusaders won, 71-57.
"The kids didn't panic and didn't worry," PCHS coach Rob Strcula said. "St. Marys worked so hard, but our guys had so much poise and so much focus that they didn't get rattled."
A forgettable three-minute stretch for St. Marys to end the first half put PCHS in front, 42-24. The Blue Devils (4-1, 2-1 LKC North) managed to slice the deficit to 52-50 with just less than six minutes left in regulation, but could never close the gap any further.
Before fouling out with 6 1/2 minutes still remaining in the fourth quarter, St. Marys post player John Bayless poured in a team-high 17 points. Also scoring in double figures for the Blue Devils were Connor Lancaster with 12 points to go with a game-high 12 rebounds, and Jordan Whitehair with 10 points.
"I was very proud at how our team responded at halftime," St. Marys coach Mark Barnhart said following his team's lowest offensive output of the season. "I thought they scrapped in that third quarter and set a good tone defensively, and that's what got us back in the game.
"I was concerned about the third quarter with the way the second quarter ended up, but we answered the bell pretty well."
St. Marys never led in the contest. With PCHS protecting a 27-22 advantage midway in the second quarter, Strcula shouted out instructions to Ullman to attack the basket and the junior obliged by with a layup followed by a 3-pointer to cushion the difference to 10 at 32-22.
Following a bucket by Lancaster, Padden took charge by scoring eight points and assisting on an Austin Luther field goal as the Crusaders closed out the first half with a 15-2 run.
St. Marys showed new life after intermission when Bayless made the team's first 3-pointer of the contest to ignite a 7-2 run. The resurgence continued as Whitehair's sixth point of the quarter pulled the Blue Devils within 50-45 with 35 seconds still showing on the clock.
"St. Marys played hard, stepped it up a level and we didn't," Strcula said.
A heart-to-heart talk from Strcula to his players followed during the quarter break with PCHS nursing a 52-47 lead.
The discussion didn't take an immediate effect as St. Marys closed to within 52-50 on an Andrew Cosper 3-pointer at the 5:49 mark of the fourth quarter. On the ensuing possession, Jake Boice answered with a trey of his own then drew a charge which fouled out Bayless. The Crusaders continued the momentum swing with Ullman's baseline driving layup which left the Blue Devils trailing 57-50.
A three-point play the old fashioned way by Colby Brode kept St. Marys within striking distance at 57-55 with 3:38 remaining in the contest, but the Blue Devils could draw no closer as PCHS scored eight straight points and handed their guests their first loss of the young season - the same number of losses St. Marys suffered during the regular season in 2011-12.
St. Marys looks to rebound tonight when it hosts Ravenswood.
"That will be a nice gut-check for us to see what we are made of because everybody knows what (Ravenswood coach) Mick Price has every year," Barnhart said.