Crusaders reach sectional finals

PARKERSBURG – Eighty seconds.

That was difference Tuesday as Parkersburg Catholic zoomed from a narrow one-point edge into a 10-point lead in the third quarter and never was up by less than six the rest of the way in downing visiting Williamstown 57-48 in a Class A Region IV, Section 1 semifinal Tuesday night.

In an intense, tight game most of the way – except for the decisive 9-0 PC run in the third – the Crusaders prevailed to advance to Friday’s 7 p.m. sectional final matchup at Gilmer County versus the Titans. PCHS is 0-2 against Gilmer so far this season.

Catholic, now 14-8, led 3-0 and extended its advantage to 9-3 by the 2:19 mark of the opening period. But the Yellowjackets rallied to tie the count at 9 and trailed only 12-11 at the quarter break. The second stanza saw Williamstown take its first lead of the night, 13-12, at 7:25. The lead changed hands six times with the score tied twice in the last 6:21 of the first half, which ended in a 26-all deadlock.

And the third quarter was no different than the second for almost the first five minutes of the second half – until the 9-0 Catholic burst. The Crusaders were up by no more than two three times and there were two ties. But with PC ahead 32-31, the Crusaders’ Joe Padden – who went over 1,000 career points Tuesday night – drove down the lane for a basket at 3:05, Nick Roedersheimer took a long pass for a layup at 2:34, and Jake Ullman had a midcourt steal and drove in for a layup and three-point play at 2:23 before driving into the lane for a banker at 1:45 to complete the 9-0 tear to enable Catholic to expand the lead to 10 at 41-31.

Ullman finished with 16 points on the night for PC, which also got 12 from Padden and 10 from Brady Kurucz.

For Williamstown, finishing its season at 17-7, Hunter Neely and Landon Travis netted 13 points each, followed by 12 from Gage Wix.

“We just locked down (defensively) in the third quarter, which was the big quarter for us, to get the win,” said Crusader head coach Rob Strcula. “It was a game of defense tonight and there was only one run to be made, and we made it. After the game, Joe (Padden) said that’s the best game we ever closed out – and it really was – because this team has not been very good at closing out games. But our guys were engaged tonight and, most importantly, they played like seniors.”

For Williamstown head coach Scott Sauro, the outcome was a matter of that “80-second stretch, where they ballooned (the lead) to 10 points. It was a very physical 80 seconds, and it seemed like the ball kind of bounced their way during that stretch, so it didn’t take them very long to get 10 points up. That stretch just killed us.

“But our kids battled; they played hard, but it wasn’t enough tonight. We won 17 games, though, fighting injuries all the way along this year. But our kids persevered, so I’m proud of my guys.”