Rebels prepare, eye first round upset of Irish
ELLENBORO — Don’t expect Ritchie County to try and get up and down the court and create an up-tempo style game against Charleston Catholic when the sixth-seeded Rebels take on the third-seeded Irish in a Class AA state tournament quarterfinal contest slated for 11:15 a.m. Wednesday.
“We have to slow the game down because here’s what I look at when you start scouting somebody, you look to see who is athletic and can score,” admitted Rebel boss Rick Haught. “Very rarely do they give up more than 40 points. Everybody talks about their offensive player in (Aiden) Satterfield and people like that, but they do a great job on defense.
“They are so long and athletic and make it difficult to get to the rim. They also like to press. They don’t press all the time. They’ll do straight up man. They can get into a 2-2-1 (press) to force you to be careful with the ball and you make one soft pass, and they are off to the races and getting easy baskets and before you know it you look up and your down 10.”
Charleston Catholic, which allowed the fewest points per game in double-A, is led by the 6-foot-7 senior wing Satterfield, who along with 15 dunks is averaging 20.9 points, 8.0 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game.
The Irish, who are 11-2 and winners of 10 straight, also feature senior guard Zion Suddeth, the team’s top defensive player who is putting up nearly 10 points a game.
Charleston Catholic also boasts freshman forward Jayallen Turner and his 9.5 points per game average.
“He’s about 6-3. He’s been playing more as the season goes,” Haught said of Turner. “Suddeth, I think, is battling an ankle injury. In the regional (co-)final game he didn’t even play.
“On film I haven’t seen him as much because it seems like on the film he hasn’t played. I hear he is their best defensive guy and I’ve seen that. Because of that, their depth is better because they’ve had to play other kids.”
Senior Graden McKinney leads the way for the Rebels with team-bests of 18.8 points, 6.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game. He also averages 3.6 steals an outing, but that trails behind the 3.8 thefts a contest by sophomore Ethan Haught, who also averages 14.9 points, 5.9 boards, three dimes and one stuff per game.
Ritchie County senior Blaine Bowie (6.9 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 2.4 apg, 1.0 spg) will return to practice today and is expected to be a full go for Charleston.
The Rebels’ also will start senior Isaac Slater (4.9 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 1.3 apg, 1.2 spg) and junior Kolton DePinho (5 ppg, 4.2 rpg) with senior Aiden Murphy (4.6 ppg) and junior Wyatt Flesher (3.1 ppg) coming off the bench.
Although this is Ritchie County High School’s first time in the state tournament, prior to consolidation the county had been to the big show. Even though the Harrisville Gators never made it, the Cairo Pharoes, who merged with Harrisville in the early 1970s, made one state tournament appearance.
Also, the Pennsboro Cardinals qualified for the state tournament twice and reached the semifinals once.
Coach Haught asked his players at Monday’s practice if any of them had even watched a state tournament game in person and said he had two or three raise their hand.
The 11-6 Rebels, victors of six straight, are going to have an 11 a.m. practice today for about two hours, which will allow Bowie to get back in the fold. They will stay tonight and plan to take in the 5:30 p.m. Man versus Tucker County game and likely part of the Williamstown/Moorefield contest.
“We have to be extremely focused, extremely composed, really deliberate,” added the coach. “I told our guys we have to have a St. Marys type performance where we had a 39-37 game where we have a chance to win. Whether we can do that, I don’t know. Our kids in that game, I was really proud of them. They stayed focused the whole game and never let St. Marys make a run.
“This group has been a good group to know when to stay focused. I thought Graden was really, really in the mood to do some good work today, and hopefully he’s going to need to, and Ethan had a good practice and the rest of them. I haven’t had Blaine Bowie since before last Monday. He’ll get some practice in before we get down there. It is what it is. We’re going to go and do the best job we can. We’ll put the best plan out there and see what happens.”
Contact Jay Bennett at firstname.lastname@example.org