Crusaders come up short against Buffalo

PARKERSBURG – Turnovers.

They killed any Parkersburg Catholic rally down the stretch as the Crusaders, despite 31 points from Jake Ullman, dropped a 65-61 Class A Region IV decision to visiting Buffalo Thursday night, falling a win short of making it to the state boys basketball tournament this season.

Fifth-ranked PC concluded its campaign at 21-4 while with the win, the No. 8 Bison, also 21-4, advanced to the state tournament in Charleston next week

Thursday’s outcome came down to the final 1:17 after Catholic battled back from seven and eight-point deficits in the fourth quarter. The Crusaders committed three turnovers in a span of 48 seconds, but still PC was only down by five at 62-57 with 23.3 seconds to play after Joe Padden’s trey try from the left wing went halfway down in the basket before coming back out.

Buffalo, though, wasn’t able to put the game away by missing on six of 13 free throws in the fourth quarter and Padden’s two foul shots with 15 seconds remaining narrowed the gap to just four at 63-59. But Catholic got no closer the rest of the way.

”We had five keys to the game and one of them was to take care of the basketball, to limit our turnovers,” said PC head coach Rob Strcula. ”But turnovers, whether in the first half or at the end of the game, were the back-breaker for us as we shot ourselves in the foot with them when when it seemed like it mattered the most.”

Ullman got Catholic going early with 12 first-quarter points. But Buffalo notched the final five points in the period to grab a 16-14 lead at the quarter break, only because Padden threw in an almost-halfcourt shot after intercepting an inbounds pass, but his shot came too late after the buzzer,

The second stanza saw the Crusaders move into the lead at 20-19 at the 4:44 mark, and were up 24-21 before a 12-1 Bison spurt in the final 2:21 of the half propelled Buffalo into a 33-25 advantage at intermission.

Down 10 a minute into the third quarter, Catholic rallied back to within one twice before Dylan Rich’s three-point play and a Levi Jordan hoop with a second left gave Buffalo a 47-41 lead going to the fourth quarter.

After Ullman’s 31 with five treys for PC – which loses no seniors off this year’s team -was Padden with 15 points, but no one else scored in double figures for the Crusaders.

Isaiah Robinson paced the Bison attack with 15 points, followed by Rich with 13, and Laythem Good and Jordan with 12 each.

”Jake Ullman played like Jake Ullman does as offensively, he’s pretty tough to stop,” said Strcula. ”Jake and Joe (Padden) played a really good game, but the fact was we needed other guys to step up tonight in a different way. Everybody knows how good Jake and Joe are, but we needed to get a couple other guys to play better tonight and we didn’t get that.”