GLENVILLE - Payton Sturm iced things at the end and Jake Ullman scored 11 straight fourth-quarter points here Friday night as visiting Parkersburg Catholic escaped Gilmer County with a 53-52 victory and the Class A, Region IV, Section 1 championship plaque.
"This was a great environment for high school basketball," said PCHS head coach Rob Strcula, who watched Ullman tally a game-high 23 points 18 after the break -while Joe Padden finished with 12 points and seven rebounds.
"Both teams battled so hard. It's the best high school game I've ever been a part of, win or lose."
In a contest that featured seven ties and 15 lead changes, a baker's dozen of which came in the second half, it was the Titans who hoped for one more as head coach Steve Shuff's squad was looking for a third straight win against the Crusaders (15-8).
Following's Ullman's final deuce of the fourth, a nifty lay-in with 2:02 to play, PCHS held a 49-48 cushion. The Titans, though, got a putback from Cory Grogg 16 ticks later and regained the lead for the final time.
With 1:04 remaining, Sturm was down low in the block area and got a soft turn-around jumper to fall. He later added two free throws with 31.5 to play for a 53-50 lead. With a little more than eight seconds left, Titan Noah Aviles scored in the paint and after a quick timeout by Shuff, the Crusaders were called for travelling on the ensuing inbound.
However, the Titans failed to score after having the ball on their end of the court and nearly seven seconds to play with. Austin Ratliff's driving lay-in came up just short and rolled off the iron. Grogg was there for the rebound, but his putback was off the mark and Aviles' last-ditch effort on the other block didn't fall.
"I'm not sure what happened," Sturm said of the travel he was assessed at the end. "As soon as I got it, I threw it up to Joe, but they called me for a walk. I'm not really sure.
"I think the crowd called it for them. Gilmer is a really good team. (Austin) Cunningham and Ratliff are great players. They got a great team all-around, but this is the one we wanted."
Cunningham had a team-high 16 points and added seven caroms, but fouled out with less than a minute to play after Ben Collie took a charge. Nathan Allison scored 10 points in the loss while Grogg tallied eight.
PCHS, which will play host in a regional game at 7 p.m. Wednesday to Huntington St. Joe while Gilmer County heads to Charleston Catholic, scored the first eight points of the affair and led 14-8 after one. The visitors, thanks to an Ullman 3, had the game squared at 25 apiece at intermission. Of note, Aviles rattled in a launched heave from nearly three-quarter court, but it came just after the halftime buzzer.
"I'm happy," said Ullman, who gave PCHS a 28-25 lead to start the second half following a three-point play as well as a 41-40 edge just 45 seconds into the fourth when he drained a trifecta after Sturm kept a possession alive with an offensive rebound.
"We've got to get back to the grind. It's a new game (Wednesday) and we can't really afford to celebrate this one for too long."
The Titans, who dropped to 18-6, went a span of 6:26 in the third quarter between field goals as a Zach Chapman putback closed the deficit late in the third to 38-34. Cunningham's triple, which came about after Collie blocked a shot and the ball went back toward halfcourt, made it 38-37 entering the final eight minutes.
PCHS canned 16 of 18 from the charity stripe and the Titans hit just 9 of 17 attempts.