PC, Gilmer County advance in sectional play

ELLENBORO – Williamstown and Wirt County came in Wednesday night to the Class A, Region IV, Section 1 semifinals hoping for an upset, but it wasn’t to be as the Yellowjackets and Tigers both had their season come to an end with identical 8-16 records.

In the early game at Ritchie County, No. 5 Parkersburg Catholic recorded 11 steals in the first quarter and cruised past the orange and black, 81-41. The late game was more of a deliberate halfcourt style affair, but the ‘Jackets shot just 25 percent from the floor after intermission as Gilmer County pulled away in the fourth quarter to post a 44-29 triumph.

The Titans, who improved to 13-9, will take on the Crusaders for the sectional crown at 7 p.m. Saturday back at Ritchie County. By that time, the two teams will know their respective opponents for the regional contests as both Charleston Catholic and Buffalo advanced on Wednesday evening in the Section 2 semifinals. The Irish and Bison are scheduled to play Friday in Mason at Wahama High School.

Parkersburg Catholic’s 20th win against just three losses was never in doubt. Jake Ullman got a steal and layup a mere 20 seconds into the game as the Crusaders led for good at 2-0. Ullman finished with a game-high 22 points and added four assists and as many steals.

Jake Boice, who came off the bench to tally 14 points, canned two treys – via assists from Brady Kurucz and Joe Padden – in the final 62 seconds to give PCHS a 28-11 bulge after one.

Wirt County, which was led by an ill Kalob Bell’s 12 points and three steals, trailed 44-18 at halftime. Despite closing the gap to 19 at 44-25 after JT Stephens canned his second 3 of the third from an Austin McVey dish with 6:20 to go, the Crusaders ended the period on a 21-6 to run.

Payton Sturm stuffed the stat sheet with 14 points, seven boards, six steals and four assists. Fellow Crusader Austin Luther chipped in 10 points, Kurucz snared a game-high 10 boards while Ben Collie had six assists and five thefts.

Mark Cunningham joined Stephens with eight points in the setback. Padden also had eight markers.

A deuce by Josh DeBolt gave WHS a quick 2-0 cushion and two Hunter Neely foul shots had the Yellowjackets ahead 4-3 at 6:26 of the first, but 70 seconds later the Titans took the lead for good when Austin Cunningham scored from one of Austin Ratliff’s game-high five assists.

Mitchell Hickman (eight points) had a steal and easy lay-in to close out the first quarter as the Titans led 13-8. Williamstown was down 20-10 with 1:27 left before intermission when Nathan Allison tallied two of his game-high 11 counters, but a Dakota Watson bucket and a Jarric Hoskins trey helped WHS make it 22-15 at the break.

The deficit was still seven after both teams had eight points in the third quarter. Titan Anthony Aviles, who was in foul trouble for much of the game, collected four of his 10 points in the stanza.

Aviles opened the fourth with a wide open triple to make it 33-23 and Williamstown never got closer than eight points the rest of the way on a night when the Titans hit 16 of 27 (59.3 percent) from the field.