Parkersburg Catholic girls heading to the capital

Crusaderettes bound for the Civic Center

Photo by Steve Hemmelgarn Parkersburg Catholic celebrates with a Class A Region IV championship trophy after its 84-35 win over Sherman Wednesday night. The Crusaderettes now advance to next week’s state touranment at the Charleston Civic Center.

PARKERSBURG — Host Parkersburg Catholic swept its way into the state tournament Wednesday night, almost matching its 35-point first half with a 34-point third quarter alone to turn a Class A co-Region IV game into a rout over Sherman to post an 84-35 win, the 24th straight this season for the Crusaderettes.

No. 2 Catholic was led by freshman Aaliyah Brunny with 23 points, followed by 16 from Olivia Ullman and 14 by Jenna Boice, and Madeline Huffman with eight.

For No. 11 Sherman, finishing at 17-7, Dejah Busby netted 18 points, while Caraline Nelson tallied seven.

After an 18-10 first quarter in Catholic’s favor, there was not much suspense as the Crusaderettes forged a 35-18 lead by halftime.

But the totally-dominant third quarter by PCHS propelled the hosts into an insurmountable advantage as Brunny scored 16 points in the period and Huffman added eight to push the Crusaderettes out to a 69-28 lead with just the last eight minutes to play yet.

For Huffman, Catholic’s sophomore point guard, “I’m super excited and really glad that our hard work paid off,” she said after clinching a state berth next week in Charleston with Wednesday’s win. “I can’t wait to see what we can do down there.”

Huffman added the difference this season for the Crusaderettes was “a lot of new energy coming in with our freshmen. We just started working a lot harder too, and our mentality was a lot different, so everything’s working out really well for us.”

She “had high hopes we’d get where we are now, but really had to work to do it.”

For PCHS senior Mikayla Alkire, who tore her ACL halfway through last season to miss half of her junior year, but came back to play again, “this absolutely feels so amazing, since basically my whole basketball career, like all my four years of high school, we’ve been working for a chance to go to states and now it’s kind of surreal that we made it this far. And now we have the opportunity, but are not just satisfied to go down there, but we’re looking to make some noise too.”

She noted that “I think we have more depth than in the past, so our goal is to get to Saturday down there.”

PC head coach Marty Vierheller knew before this season even began that this might be “a special season” for his team. “It felt real and felt possible in the offseason, but for sure when practice began, we saw how focused these girls were. As time went on, it seemed more possible, but the road got tougher, but so did the girls with staying so laser focused.”

On Wednesday’s game, Vierheller thought “our nerves showed early honestly. But our girls were smart; they knew what was on the line. But they wanted this so badly and I think they came out and played a lot more relaxed in the second half.

“I thought we were sometimes trying to make a little too much happen too soon, but that kind of goes with the territory.”