ELLENBORO -In order to slow down the St. Marys juggernaut at tonight's Class A, Region I, Section 2 championship at Ritchie County High School, Parkersburg Catholic head coach Rob Strcula figures his Crusaders need to duplicate the defensive intensity from their victory over Williamstown three days ago.
PCHS had a hand in forcing the Yellowjackets to miss their first 15 shots from the floor. Normally a lethal-shooting team from 3-point range, Williamstown connected on just 4 of 19 attempts from beyond the arc.
"We've seen Williamstown twice and they can shoot the ball lights out - Parkersburg Catholic did a very good job defending them (on Tuesday)," St. Marys head coach Mark Barnhart said.
Photo by Jeff Baughan
St. Marys’ Derek Renner looks downcourt for a teammate as Parkersburg Catholic’s Tony Allowatt defends.
The top-ranked Blue Devils (21-1) met ninth-ranked PCHS (16-7) twice during the regular season and won by double digits both times (84-54 and 62-47).
"Parkersburg Catholic has gotten better and a lot of things have changed since early in the year," Barnhart continued. "This will be a dogfight Friday night."
In the Class AA, Region I, Section 2 championship at Ripley High School tonight, Ravenswood (13-10) and Point Pleasant (14-9) hook up for a third time this season. Dating back to last season, the Big Blacks have defeated the Red Devils four straight games.
"Point Pleasant is extremely physical," Ravenswood head coach Mick Price said. "They love driving to the basket and we actually have to stop some people. This game will be won with defense."
In tonight's Class AA, Region I, Section 1 title tilt, Magnolia plays host to Weir in New Martinsville.
Game time at all three sites is 7 p.m.
Class A sectional
A full week had passed since their last game, but the Blue Devils made a statement in the first 12 minutes in their sectional semifinal contest with Wirt County, hitting 15 of their first 20 shots from the floor while building a 37-8 lead. The end result was a 83-42 St. Marys' victory.
"I thought we came out and played with a lot of energy from end to end," Barnhart said. "After a week, everybody was excited to get back out there and play, and it showed in the first quarter."
St. Marys point guard Derek Renner sank all but two his 12 attempts from the field and finished with a game-high 22 points to go with seven assists and three steals. The 5-foot-9 senior, who picked up his only foul in the opening moments of the game, did not play in the fourth quarter.
"Derek got that foul early, then he defended more with his feet and made the adjustment - and still created a lot of havoc," Barnhart said. "Normally, he always ends up playing the other point guard. But one thing about him, he always goes out and plays as hard as he can."
Filling up the stat line for the Crusaders in their 49-37 win against Williamstown was 6-5 senior Brett Wright, who finished with 21 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks.
"Brett was a nice safety blanket there in the second half," Strcula said. "Especially in the first half, my players were saying he was in beast mode and it showed the way he went after some of those rebounds."
Ravenswood advanced to the sectional final by defeating Ritchie County 91-64 Wednesday. The Red Devils shot much better at the Ripley High gym than their first encounter earlier in the season against a Ripley squad, which held them to 22 percent from the floor.
"We shot the ball better against Ritchie County than we have all year," Price said. "We've struggled throughout the season. We've been up and down, and lot of it has been our inefficiency on offense."
Price figures his four seniors (Jeremy Lawrence, Zack Martin, Ben Pannell and Jonathon Schiefer) don't want tonight to be the final game in their high school careers."
"Those four seniors have been in this game and know what it is all about," Price said. "It's extremely intense and the game is played at a very high level."
Magnolia, meanwhile, advanced to the sectional title game by virtue of its 40-23 victory over Tyler Consolidated Wednesday. The Blue Eagles own two victories in as many tries against Weir - first in New Martinsville (38-37) on Jan. 6 and again on the road (59-42) 19 days later.