PARKERSBURG - Huntington St. Joseph displayed the polish, athleticism and ball skills Tuesday night that has made the Irish a four-time defending Class A girls state basketball champion as the top-ranked visitors triumphed over No. 5 Parkersburg Catholic 73-48.
Mychal Johnson scored a game-high 27 points, surpsassing the 1.000-point plateau in her prep cage career in the second quarter as St. Joe built a 32-23 lead at the half.
The now 9-1 Irish started the game strong with a pair of treys, and led 9-2 and then 13-8 before the Crusaderettes (6-4) rallied back in the last 1:24 to pull within 13-11 at the quarter break.
PCHS was still down just 18-15 in the second stanza before St. Joe went on a 11-0 blitz with Johnson notching the final nine points in the surge to propel the Irish ahead by 14, 29-15, at 3:42. That's when Johnson drilled a 3-ball with the game being stopped at that point to honor her 1,000-point feat by presenting her the game ball.
And when St. Joe began the second half on fire again, the Irish jumped out to a 17-point spread in the initial 1:44 that expanded to 22 at 50-28 at 4:01 of the third period,. But PC's Alex Schaffer ignited a 14-6 Crusaderette push in the last 3:45 of the quarter with two straight hoops, followed by two treys by Leah Hughes along with baskets by Maddie and Ellen Roedersheimer to narrow the gap to only 14, 56-42, hesding to the fourth quarter
However, St. Joe opened the final eight minutes with another point splurge while Catholic managed just six points in the period to 17 for the Irish, eventually falling behind by 25, which was the final margin.
After Mychal Johnson for St. Joe, which plays at Fort Frye Saturday night, came Asia Petitte with 13 points, Rachel Lee with 12, and Mychelle Johnson with 10, while for Catholic, Hughes led with 14 points, followed by Schaffer with 12 and Maddie Roedersheimer with 10.
''They're just so athletic and have such good ball skills,'' said PC head coach Marty Vierheler of his Tuesday foe. ''They're a poilshed basketball team with a lot of weapons. But we can learn from this. I'd rather go 6-4 against the tough competition we play and learn things from it than go 10-0 with an easy schedule and not get any anything out of it.''