Cade Ullman’s 44 helps Catholic take down Tug

Cade Ullman’s 44 helps Catholic take down Tug

Photo by Josh Hughes Parkersburg Catholic’s Pat Copen (24) handles the ball as Tug Valley’s Easton Davis (32) defends during a high school boys regional co-final Thursday.

PARKERSBURG — A career-high 44 points from Cade Ullman lifted the Parkersburg Catholic Crusaders to a 59-53 win over the Tug Valley Panthers in Thursday night’s Class A, Region IV co-final.

In what was a game of runs, the Crusaders had to rely on their playmakers down the stretch. The Panthers (13-13) were within striking distance, and they even had a late lead.

With 2:41 left in the contest, Ian Reed splashed in a 3-ball off an assist from Caleb May to trim the PC lead down to 46-45. On the ensuing possession, Reed continued his late-game heroics and stole the ball as the Crusaders were trying to get it past halfcourt. Reed cashed in the scoring opportunity with an and-1 layup as a result of the steal. Unfortunately for Catholic, Reed was fouled by Jeb Boice.

That foul was Boice’s last, as he fouled out with only 2:34 left and having scored seven points. On a night where a majority of the Columbia Blue and White scoring opportunities were presented to Ullman, he did not disappoint. On the following possession, he knocked down a mid-range jumper to help his team retake the lead with 2:12 to go.

However, Tug Valley would not go away. Easton Davis hit a layup off a May assist to have a 50-49 lead with inside two minutes left in the game. Speaking of May, he led all Panther scorers with 17, and that awareness kept his team alive.

However, that momentum was short-lived.

Ullman raced down the court and hit a go-ahead baseline jumper to account for the 11th and final lead change of the night. After a lot of frustration and free throws from Ullman and Ty Sturm, the Crusaders put away Tug Valley and punched their ticket to next week’s Class A state tournament.

“It’s an incredible feeling,” Catholic head coach Rob Strcula said following the win. “Our guys just willed themselves to an incredible win. They flat-out refused to quit, and they stayed out there. They didn’t panic, and they got the defensive stops they needed to.”

Now, Strcula’s six-seed Crusaders (17-7) must shift their efforts toward the three-seed Notre Dame Fighting Irish in a first round bout. That game makes its way to the Charleston Civic Center at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday.

The Irish are no strangers to PC, as they have claimed victory in two previous meetings. On Dec. 11, ND went into the Parkersburg Catholic High School gymnasium and toppled the home team, 76-59. About a month later, the Crusaders looked for revenge and came up just short in a 70-69 road loss.

Shortly after this win, PC was unaware of its upcoming opponent, but Strucla’s message still rang true for his team’s impending battle against the Irish.

“Cade played a tremendous game. Jeb played well, but we’ve got to execute a little bit better in crunch time,” Strcula said. “It just came down to the fact that we made one or two more plays than they did and hit a few more shots.”