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Parkersburg Catholic gears up for Mary ‘O’ Crusaderette Classic

Parkersburg Catholic’s Leslie Huffman scored a game-high 23 points during a 56-29 victory Wednesday night at Ravenswood. The annual Mary ‘O’ Crusaderette Classic begins tonight. (File Photo)

PARKERSBURG — Parkersburg Catholic head girls basketball coach Marty Vierheller might only have 11 players this year, but the Crusaderettes are more than ready for the season.

PCHS opened play Wednesday evening by registering a 56-29 victory at Ravenswood behind Leslie Huffman’s game-high 23 points.

Now, coach Vierheller’s squad is set to compete in the Mary ‘O’ Crusaderette Classic, which gets underway at 6 p.m. today with the first semifinal pitting Robert C. Byrd and Herbert Hoover.

“It’s clearly the strongest field we’ve had in a long, long time top to bottom,” admitted Vierheller, who noted PCHS has won 18 tournament titles and that it’s “the silver anniversary. We have hit 25 years.”

Around 7:30 p.m., PCHS will take on Magnolia in the other semifinal. The consolation game is scheduled for noon Saturday with the title game to follow.

“I’ve coached in them all. It was originally called just the Crusaderette Holiday Tournament for awhile,” Vierheller explained. “Coach (Dick) Wildt’s son, Tom, owned a photo lab here and he was the sponsor for a year or two — Wildt’s Photo Lab Invite.”

Vierheller started his head coaching career in 2006-07 and two years later they decided to name the tournament in honor of legendary Crusaderette Mary Ostrowski.

“There were a couple years we skipped,” Vierheller said of specifically not playing in 2002 or 2003 while noting the inaugural Crusaderette Invitational started in 1994. “It’s hard to believe this is the third set of dates we’ve had for this tournament this year.

“When we thought we were going to open in January we had a second set of dates and that fell through and it was only by the grace of the good Lord we were able to pull this one off.”

Robert C. Byrd is in the field for the first time ever and the PCHS head man noted “they have the Sturm sisters who transferred from Lincoln. Victoria was first team all-state Class AA last year.

“She must have some game and the other sister is Jaden. Victoria (a Davis & Elkins commit) is a 5-9 senior guard and Jaden is a 5-11 sophomore forward. Right away, RCB got a ton better than they were last year.”

Herbert Hoover, which won back-to-back titles at PCHS in 2013 and 2014, “is always a scrappy bunch,” Vierheller added. “They are very well coached and John Vencill does a really good job with his kids. They’ve been in our tournament a bunch. He loves coming up for this and we love having him.”

Magnolia’s first appearance in the tournament came back in 1999 and the Blue Eagles won it all in 2004.

“They are so excited to be together,” Vierheller added of his team finally getting the chance to play for the first time in almost a year. “We’ve been very blessed the last few years. We are excited with who we have coming back and super excited about the freshmen we have.

“We feel we have four freshmen who can jump in right now and get quality minutes. We really believe that’s going to happen. That’s very exciting for us as coaches. Number one they can play and number two it’s going to make us that much deeper. It’s exciting.”

Contact Jay Bennett at jbennett@newsandsentinel.com

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