PARKERSBURG - Parkersburg Catholic's defensive tenacity canceled out a good first impression by St. Marys Monday night at Parkersburg Catholic High School.
Joe Padden scored more than 20 points for the second consecutive night and finished with a double-double with 24 points and 10 rebounds as the Crusaders remained unbeaten in the Little Kanawha Conference's North Division after defeating the Blue Devils 55-47.
"Joe is shooting the ball extremely well - he doesn't take too many bad shots," Parkersburg Catholic coach Rob Strcula said. "He is more aggressive going to the hoop. By us playing faster, it's creating driving lanes for him and he is getting a lot more open looks.
Parkersburg Catholic's Payton Sturm passes to a teammate as he drives to the basket between St. Marys' Coleman Lamp, left, and Jessy Moore Wednesday during their game at Parkersburg Catholic. (Photo by Jeff Baughan)
"He is just playing solid right now."
St. Marys (6-8, 3-5 LKC North) had PCHS (11-7, 9-0 LKC North) on the ropes after hitting 80 percent (8-of-10) from the field in the first quarter and built a 29-25 lead by intermission.
"In the second half, we preached defense - St. Marys only had three field goals and that was a big difference," Strcula said.
As well as St. Marys' offense generated points in the opening period, that's how hard baskets were able to come by in a four-point third quarter. The Crusaders opened up their first double-digit lead in the early stages of the fourth quarter and never allowed the Blue Devils to close the gap to fewer than four points.
"We looked at our shooting chart at halftime and everything was where a coach would be glad to have it," St. Marys coach Mark Barnhart said. "To Parkersburg Catholic's credit, we had a harder time getting those shots in the second half. And we struggled scoring in the second half."
Hitting the first two shots from the floor was an aberration for the Blue Devils in the first quarter. Four starters each went 2-of-2 from the field as the Blue Devils opened a 17-13 lead at the quarter break.
Padden's spinning layup completed a five-point spurt to begin the second quarter and put PCHS in front 18-17. The senior accounted for three consecutive PCHS buckets as his ballclub maintained a 23-21 edge.
In the final four minutes leading up to intermission, St. Marys gained momentum by outscoring PCHS 8-2.
The third quarter was basically a nightmare for St. Marys after being limited to one field goal. The Crusaders outscored the Blue Devils 17-4 behind point guard Payton Sturm's all-around floor game which consisted of five points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals in those eight minutes.
Sturm, who added 12 points for the Crusaders, knocked down a 3-pointer to give PCHS their first double-digit lead at 45-34 with barely two minutes gone in the fourth quarter.
St. Marys made several pushes, including five straight points capped by Jessy Moore's three-point play which cut the deficit to 45-41 with under five minutes left in regulation. Moore finished with 11 points and 15 rebounds.
The gap was extended to 11 once again before Moore made four free throws as part of a six-point run that narrowed the difference to 52-47 with 35 seconds showing.
PCHS iced the game by making 3-of-4 free throws.
Joining Moore in double figures was teammate Coleman Lamp with 11 points.
"We went on the road and played a very good Parkersburg Catholic basketball team," Barnhart said. "Obviously, they are missing a very good player (in Jake Ullman), but they also a very good team when he is not there.
"Joe Padden is an excellent player and the other guys know their roles extremely well. They are well-schooled."