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Catholic cruises over Wirt

Murray, Hart duel for 27 points apiece, Crusaders down Tigers

Photo by Jay W. Bennett Wirt County’s Nathan Murray denies Parkersburg Catholic’s Will Hart as teammate Blake Lewis looks to pass during the Crusaders’ 71-54 victory Tuesday night. Murray and Hart tied for game-high scoring honors with 27 points.

PARKERSBURG — Ethan Lang scored eight of his 18 points during a 10-0 spurt to end the first half and host Parkersburg Catholic never trailed again here Tuesday evening as the Crusaders won their home opener for first-year head coach Daniel Collie by besting Wirt County, 71-54.

Wirt County, which led 16-13 after one thanks to a deep buzzer-beating 3 from DeShawn Middleton, shot 48% (12 of 25) in the opening half and appeared to be in solid shape up 32-24 with 2:12 left in the second.

The 1-2 Tigers, who play Thursday at Wahama, went ahead 20-15 early in the second on a Connor Hoover jumper, which was countered by a Will Hart 3. Hart tied Tiger Nathan Murray for game-high scoring honors with 27 apiece. Murray’s three-point play put the hosts behind by eight, but Lang had his personal run and then Hart assisted on a Carter McMinn deuce to give PCHS a 34-32 edge at the break.

“We wanted to play physical and we wanted physical offensive play,” noted coach Collie.

“We called one and Lang got two buckets in a row, same play back-to-back, and that’s kind of what turned the tide for us.

“First home game, came out a little slower than I want and I expect, but it shows a lot of toughness for our team right now with not a ton of varsity experience all around.”

Parkersburg Catholic, which improved to 2-1 and welcomes in Ravenswood for a 7 p.m. varsity only affair Thursday, opened the third quarter scoring with a baseline floater from Charley Sumney. At the 5:22 mark, Drew Gill grabbed a defensive board following a missed Tiger 3 and Xavier Collie scored on a baseline lay-in for part of his 14 counters to make it 38-32.

Dylan Lowe’s triple with 1:35 left closed the deficit to 44-40, but the Crusaders pushed ahead 51-41 entering the final eight minutes thanks to a buzzer-beating trey by Hart.

An inside basket by Dylan Toler to open the fourth cut it to eight with 6:37 to go, but PCHS used a 12-4 spurt that featured a pair of wide open Blake Lewis 3s to forge ahead 63-47 with 4:10 remaining.

Hart, who scored a baker’s dozen in the first half, closed out the scoring for the hosts with 22 seconds remaining by hitting a 3 that was sandwiched between two made foul shots apiece by the Tigers’ Brandon Richards and Aiden Cheuvront.

“Pace, physicality and talk out on the floor. Three things, right away, that’s most important and takes no skill,” added coach Collie, whose squad shot 56.3% (27 of 48) and held the orange and black to 25.9% (7 of 27) after intermission, of what he expects from his team on a nightly basis.

“Every day is a new day. We play three games a week for six weeks. We got to think like goldfish. If we have a bad night individually, as a team, we got to forget about it, learn from it and move on to the next one.”

Middleton, whose four-point play put the Tigers ahead 24-18 in the second, finished with 13 markers.

McMinn, who joined Murray and fellow Tiger Donovan Roberts with a game-high three steals, also pulled down a game-high nine rebounds. Collie finished with a game-high four assists.

Contact Jay Bennett at jbennett@newsandsentinel.com

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