ELLENBORO -Parkersburg Catholic showed flashes of brilliance, and at other times displayed tendencies which are still a work in progress during its 49-41 season-opening win Thursday night against Ritchie County.
The Crusaderettes led by as many as 14 points in the first half, but turned around and nearly laid an egg in a three-point third quarter.
Even after the Rebels closed to within three points in the early stages of the fourth quarter, PCHS worked the ball around the perimeter against Ritchie County's pressure and took valuable time off the clock for the eight-point victory.
"There is a lot of promise with this team," PCHS coach Marty Vierheller said. "It's a process and we're taking baby steps with them. There are going to be times when it doesn't look too pretty and we all understand that.
"For the first game out and playing on the road against a good conference foe, we're very pleased."
PCHS, which has just one senior on its roster, received 16 points from Reily Sturm on 9-of-13 shooting from the free-throw line and another 15 points from Alex Schaffer. All of Schaffer's scoring output took place in the first half as the Crusaderettes recovered from a 7-1 deficit and built a 29-17 advantage by halftime.
The junior also pulled down six rebounds.
"Alex is such a capable scorer," Vierheller said. "You have to come out and guard her from shooting the three, but she is also very capable of putting the ball on the floor and going to the rack."
Sturm, meanwhile, put together a solid floor game with seven steals and five rebounds. The sophomore scored seven points during a pivotal second quarter that saw PCHS snap a 10-10 tie by going on a 14-2 run during the opening four minutes of the frame . The Crusaderettes never trailed again.
"I thought Reily Sturm played an excellent game," Vierheller said. "She was glue out there for us and a calming presence. I'm so proud of Reily for how much she has grown up on the court."
Ritchie County didn't go away quietly. Becca Sullivan's 3-pointer followed by a putback and free throw from Kylie Gump sliced the deficit to 34-31 at the 6:16 mark of the fourth quarter.
But the ball happened to find the Crusaderettes at the right time - first, when Marijka Lynch-Pastoor retrieved an air ball and converted the putback to build the gap back to 38-31, and again when Alexis Saunders hauled in a 3-point miss from a teammate and scored on the offensive rebound as part of a 7-2 spurt that left the Rebels trailing 45-32.
"It was a good team win and a great growing opportunity for us," Vierheller said.
Ritchie County slipped to 1-1 despite 11 points from Vanessa Tallman and 10 points by Sullivan.
Abby Witucky scored four points for PCHS, but more importantly came up with a team-high seven rebounds to go with three steals. Next in line for the sixth-ranked Crusaderettes is five-time defending state champion Huntington St. Joe on the road Monday night.
"The idea is that we are not going to run and hide from anybody," Vierheller said. "Our job is to get better every single day and that is what our schedule is set up to make us do."