A special basketball season

In my world, the basketball season ended with the men’s Final Four. There were plenty of memories created, especially at the high school level.

I watched as Parkersburg Catholic and Parkersburg South nearly pulled off upsets in consecutive games in their boys state tournament openers at the Charleston Civic Center. As the top seed, Wheeling Central’s overtime thriller against the Crusaders had a ‘Hoosiers’ feel as Parkersburg Catholic players were faced with a significant height differential.

In the following game, the South Psychos arrived in force and were up to their old antics, but I have to give their opponent’s student section some kudos for their creativity. When the Patriot players shot free throws with the Hedgesville student body in the backdrop, several students duplicated the Pac-Man theme as a method of interference.

The individuals involved used a vacated row and sprinted back-and-forth holding cut-outs of Pac-Man characters.

The previous week involved another pair of schools from the Mid-Ohio Valley as St. Marys and Parkersburg South both finished runner-up. The Patriots have the potential to return to their championship form from a year ago as they return the entire roster next season.

After reporting on multiple games from both the boys and girls state tournament, perhaps the best line was given by St. Marys coach Howard Meeks. And it had nothing to do with the public vs. private sector.

The focus was on one of his two freshmen who played a pivotal role for the Blue Devils. Trailing 34-33 in their semifinal against Tucker County, Jordan Fox knocked down a 3-pointer to give St. Marys the lead for good with just under five minutes remaining in regulation.

“In practice, the girls get into a habit of hearing me say, ‘Hit it, hit it’ – I love that kid (Fox), but she doesn’t listen to nothing,” Meeks laughed. “I’m glad she did hit it against Tucker County because once she started shooting, everybody on my team was inside the paint.

“It was a special shot.”

In that same game, the one stat which struck me was Tucker County’s Steph Betler taking 32 shot attempts and making just four. At some point, you would think one of her teammates would tell Betler “enough!”

On the subject of number-crunching, how about Parkersburg South’s 73-21 win against Brooke in its fifth game of the regular season. The Patriots pitched a shutout for nearly two quarters while ripping off 42 unanswered points. During a 19 1/2-minute span, the Bruins managed just two free throws and did not make a single field goal.

If any one game stands out among the dozens I covered for the 2013-14 campaign, Parkersburg Catholic at Williamstown boys on the first day of February ranks No. 1 for pure drama.

With the Yellowjackets leading 51-49 and time winding down, Crusaders’ Joe Padden passed up a game-winning opportunity along the baseline and found point guard Payton Sturm open at the top of the circle. Padden found nothing but the bottom of the net for the 3-pointer as time expired.

Bedlam ensued with players and the respective student sections on the court. Fortunately, cool heads prevailed.

Contact Kerry Patrick at kpatrick@newsandsentinel.com