PARKERSBURG - For the first five minutes, Ravenswood threw down the hammer on Parkersburg Catholic.
The constant pounding, however, didn't take enough of a toll and the Crusaders rallied from a 16-point deficit to defeat the Red Devils, 67-63. In the process, the 12-7 Crusaders clinched the outright title of the Little Kanawha Conference's North Division with a 10-0 record and at least one league game remaining on the docket.
PCHS plays host to Ritchie County tonight and has one game outstanding with St. Marys, which may or may not be made up.
Photo by Jeff Baughan
Ravenswood's Issac Crow, left, grabs a rebound in front of teammate Jacob Martin and Parkersburg Catholic's Nick Roedersheimer. Catholic scored a 67-63 come-from-behind victory. Additional photos of this event can be found at CU.newsandsentinel.com
"We have the one game remaining with Ritchie County, and we told the guys we want to do something no other Parkersburg Catholic team has ever done and that's finish undefeated in the North," PCHS coach Rob Strcula said. "We have had a number of LKC championships, but we have never gone undefeated in the North - which is hard to do."
Winners of six in a row, Ravenswood (12-6, 9-3 LKC North) came out firing and knocked down its first eight shots from the field. The Red Devils scored the first 14 points of the game and expanded the gap to 20-4 with three minutes remaining in the first quarter. Jake Martin did the most damage with a pair of 3-pointers and a total of 10 points.
"It was just a lack of effort and lack of a energy, and they came out and smacked us in the mouth," Strcula said. "Ravenswood was the aggressor."
The Crusaders began to show resiliency by scoring the final seven points of the opening period, including a four-point play from Joe Padden who accounted for nine Crusader points in the first eight minutes.
"Ravenswood just came out hot and we weren't really prepared," said Padden, who finished with 18 points and nine rebounds. "We showed a sense of urgency and we fought hard to get back in it."
The difference was 11 points when Jake Ullman knocked down a 3-pointer to ignite a 9-3 PCHS spurt and cut the gap to 29-24. Ullman was seeing his first action since Jan. 10 when he fractured a vertebrae in a game against Williamstown. The senior scored a team-high 22 points against Ravenswood.
PCHS crept to within 33-29 before Ravenswood's Isaac Crow made both ends of a two-shot foul just before the end of the first half. Crow finished the game with 14 points and 12 rebounds.
Ravenswood managed to stay in front until Padden's putback at the 2:42 mark of the third quarter gave PCHS its first lead at 42-41. The Red Devils pulled back in front at 45-43 on Martin's bucket - one of only two field goals for the senior in the second half. He eventually led all scorers with 27 points.
A string of seven straight PCHS points ended the third quarter and the margin reached seven for the Crusaders at 52-45 in the opening stages of the final period.
Ravenswood tied the game at 52, but PCHS reeled off 11 of the next 14 points and never let the gap get fewer than four points. Also scoring in double figures for the Red Devils were Heath Burgess with 13 points and Riley Heatherington with 12 points. For the first time in seven games, a Ravenswood opponent scored more than 59 points.
"To be down 20-4, that takes a lot of mettle to come back," Strcula said. "At the same time, I do have confidence in my guys but I didn't think we would come back as quick as we did."