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Parkersburg Catholic cruises in Mary ‘O’ semi

Parkersburg Catholic’s Leslie Huffman swats the ball away from Magnolia’s Jenna Blain in the opening quarter of the Crusaderettes’ 74-32 win over the Blue Eagles. Huffman led all scorers with 28 points. (Photo by Joe Albright)

PARKERSBURG — Parkersburg Catholic head coach Marty Vierheller knew Magnolia’s height could cause problems for his Crusaderettes.

Sure enough, the Blue Eagles’ Mady Winters scored 25 points with 18 rebounds, while teammate Holland Estep added 10 points and seven boards in their opening game of the season.

However, they were outdone by the Crusaderettes’ main duo of Leslie Huffman and Aaliyah Brunny, who combined for 46 points.

And on a night where Magnolia was down two starting guards, the Crusaderettes also received more contributions from everyone on the roster and moved to 2-0 on the season with a 74-42 victory.

“I was elated with the effort the girls put in tonight, I know cliche, but everyone helped us and they helped us in our only practice day leading up today. It is one thing to have size, but it is another thing to be able to use it. When you have that soft touch inside like Mady does she can finish. It all goes back to a team defensive effort and I thought we gave that tonight,” Vierheller said.

Not only did they give it, but they made sure it lasted well into the fourth quarter when their visitors tallied just a single-digit.

It was particularly deflating after Magnolia appeared to find its offense with a 23-point third quarter.

“I think we just wore down and got tired and our losses affected our substitutions,” Magnolia head coach Meredith Pilant said. “We got ourselves in a hole and it took us a while to calm down and get into the speed of the game, but I thought they fought hard. The kids who came in stepped up for us,” Pilant said.

Catholic started the pressure immediately in the opening minutes. Winters’ two points was the only score the Blue Eagles could muster as their host jumped out to a 14-2 lead before Winter sunk a pair of freebies. By the time the first quarter ended, it was 24-9 in favor of the Crusaderettes.

More of the same defensive energy highlighted the second quarter as Winters’ two free throws were the Eagles’ only points in the first six minutes of the quarter. Estep finally stopped the bleeding with 2:08 left until halftime, but Catholic had already raced ahead 35-13 by then.

Huffman added seven points, while Madison Ross tallied four of her eight markers as the lead was built.

After halftime, Brunny made sure the Eagles last gasp effort fell by the wayside. She went off for 10 points as their guests never got closer than 18 points the rest of the evening.

Vierheller praised Brunny’s effort after she left the first quarter with two fouls.

“I thought she did a remarkable job of not forcing anything. I am not saying she didn’t just let the game come to her because she did and it wasn’t just I will wait for my moment. But I thought she did so very much under control.

He also complimented his team for not being rattled by their taller competition.

“It was important we didn’t take ourselves out of our own game plan by doing something silly by trying to make every play every time and they took that to heart,” Vierheller said. ” We told our kids that we wanted to pressure the ball, but they didn’t have to be the player to both pressure and steal the ball. I would give our defensive effort an A-plus tonight and I don’t give out that grade very often.”

Magnolia now moves on to face Herbert Hoover in the consolation game at noon, while Parkersburg Catholic battles Robert C. Byrd for the title shortly after.

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