Burgess, Davis lead Ritchie over Crusaders

PARKERSBURG – For nearly 28 minutes of their rematch with Little Kanawha Conference North Division rival Ritchie County, host Parkersburg Catholic appeared as though it would make the Rebels its 13th win of the season and maintain their unbeaten mark in divisional play.

Then, back-to-back field goals by Ritchie’s Nathan Sipe and D.J. Burgess propelled the visitors to their first lead of the game, 51-50, and they never looked back in registering a 66-60 come-from-behind victory at the Crusaders’ gymnasium Tuesday night.

“It’s huge,” said Ritchie County head coach Rick Haught. “Any time you can come into this gym and win a game like this, it’s huge. Add to that the way we started and that makes it even bigger.”

The win improved the Rebels’ mark to 8-5 overall and 4-3 in the North with a home contest against Ravenswood on Thursday while the No. 4 Crusaders (Class A) slipped to 12-2 and 8-1 in division play.

“The key for us was that we remained patient after that first quarter,” continued the coach. “We were able to slice the margin to eight at the half, then cut that in half after three quarters.

“In the fourth quarter we came up with some key steals and shots and made our free throws.”

That wasn’t the case in the opening eight minutes of action as Parkersburg Catholic raced out to a 17-5 advantage as Ritchie County made good on only 2-of-13 shots from the field (15 percent) and committed six turnovers.

“Even with the team they (Catholic) had on the court, they are still a solid, well-coached team and they played like that in the first quarter,” said Haught. “The fact that they played on Monday meant they had tired legs in that fourth quarter and our kids were able to keep the pressure on them and force some turnovers.”

After a Sipe inside deuce staked the visitors to a 2-0 lead, PC ran off the next 17 points and forged a 15-point lead on a triple by Carson Weyer with 53 seconds left in the frame. Ritchie sliced the margin by three on a Burgess triple with 19 ticks left on the clock.

The visitors continued to chip away at the Crusaders’ lead as Burgess poured in seven of his game-high 24 points to send the teams to the locker rooms at the intermission with PC leading by a 33-25 score.

Ritchie continued to cut into the Parkersburg Catholic lead after the half as Andrew Davis swished three shots from the field and went one-for-one at the free throw line to score seven of his 19 points as the Rebels entered the final eight minutes of play trailing by four, 45-41.

The Crusaders continued to stay on top, 50-47, on buckets by Payton Sturm and Brady Kurucz and a one-for-two effort by Kurucz at the charity stripe. But, Sipe’s inside hoop with 4:30 left in the contest ignited a 12-2 run by the Rebels over the next three minutes.

A triple by Sturm, who finished with 12, brought the Columbia blue and white back to within six, 61-55, with one minute left. And, a three-point play by John Padden, who finished with 21 points, sliced that margin in half, 61-58, 30 seconds later.

But, that would be as close as the Crusaders would get.