Crusaders hold on to beat Williamstown

Photo by Steve Hemmelgarn Williamstown’s Trent Lynch, right, brings the ball up the court as Parkersburg Catholic’s Jeb Boice chases him in Tuesday’s Class A, Region IV, Section 1 semifinal.

PARKERSBURG — It was one of those ding-dong dillys of a donnybrook Tuesday night as Williamstown and host Parkersburg Catholic battled in the Class A, Region IV Section 1 boys basketball semifinal.

In the end, the No. 10 Crusaders staved off the No. 14 Yellowjackets in a physical contest to claim a 56-52 victory and a berth in the sectional finals at top-ranked Ravenswood at 7 p.m. Friday.

PCHS, now 14-9, is 0-2 versus the Red Devils this season, dropping a 71-54 decision at Ravenswood on Dec. 29 and a narrow 63-61 setback at home on Feb. 9.

For Catholic, Peyton Amrine led with five treys for 15 points, followed by Cade Ullman with 14, Patrick Copen and Jeb Boice both with nine, and Ty Strurm with eight.

Williamstown, finishing its season at 18-6, got 21 points from Cullen Cutright, 14 from Eli Inman and nine from Boston Caruthers.

Defense was the story in the first quarter for both teams in the high-intensive, high-action game all the way through until the last second elapsed. The biggest lead was two points for each, with Catholic scoring the last four points on an Amrine trey and Aidan Stotts’ free throw for a 6-4 lead after initial eight minutes.

The second stanza saw the hosts forge a 13-7 lead, only to see the ‘Jackets come right back behind Cutright to surge ahead 16-15 at the 3:14 mark. Then back and forth the lead went until Inman’s foul shot shot at 44.3 seconds knotted the count at 22-all at halftime.

Again, neither team was able to manage much of a lead in the third quarter without the other coming right back to narrow the small gap.

But finally Boice converted a three-point play and an Amrine trey followed to stretch PC’s advantage to 42-34. An Inman rebound bucket made it 42-36 heading into the fourth quarter.

Immediately, Cutright’s three-point play and another basket sank the deficit to a mere point at 42-41, only to have two Amrine treys and a Sturm rebound bucket with 3:56 to go push the Crusaders back ahead at 50-44.

The margin remained three to five for the next three minutes before Inman made two foul shots with just 53 seconds left for a 52-50 game, still though in Catholic’s favor.

At 24.8 seconds, Ullman sank two free throws to double the lead to 54-50, but Cutright tallied inside at 10.2 seconds to divide the lead in half at 54-52.

Williamstown fouled at 8.9 seconds, but Sturm missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with the Jackets corraling the rebound. However at 0.5 second, the visitors were whistled for traveling as they manuvered to get a shot off, but then were called for a foul before Catholic put the ball inbounds with Copen tacking on two points for the final score.

“It was a great game between two good teams,” said Catholic head coach Rob Strcula, “We talked before the game about how all we had to do was make one more play than Williamstown to win the game. I think that’s what we did, even though there were a lot of good plays out there tonight.

“I thought Williamstown outplayed us in the first half. They got every offensive rebound and were getting loose balls that we weren’t getting. But once we got comfortable, we played a good second half.

“But we’ve got to play a little smarter. We didn’t do that for four quarters, but we did at crunch time with the game on the line.”

Yellowjacket head coach Scott Sauro thought his team “played good enough to win. But we had a lot of things not go our way. I’m proud of our guys; they played hard.

Down 42-34 with a quarter to go, “we played hard down the stretch, but just not very well when we got down to the end,” said Sauro.