Crusaderettes roll past Ritchie County, 69-40

JOE ALBRIGHT The Marietta Times Parkersburg Catholic’s Aaliyah Brunny takes a shot during the Crusaderettes’ 69-40 victory Thursday night against Ritchie County as Rebel Aleya Stanley defends.

PARKERSBURG — Unbeaten Parkersburg Catholic got a good scare from visiting Ritchie County for a while in the third quarter Thursday night,

But the Crusaderettes, No. 4 in Class A, scored seven of the last nine points in the third, then limited the Rebels to just three free throws in the fourth quarter en route to a 69-40 girls basketball win that improved their record to 11-0.

In fact, it looked like PCHS was going to run away from Ritchie early on as it connected for treys on its first three shots of the game — two by Aaliyah Brunny and one by Olivia Ullman — for a quick 9-2 lead. A Mikayla Alkire rebound bucket at the six-minute mark increased that to 11-2 and Catholic went on to take a 25-8 advantage to the second stanza.

A 14-14 second-period draw made it a 39-22 game at halftime before Ritchie began to make inroads into its deficit in the third quarter behind sparkplug point guard Cassie Tallman.

She had a pair of three-point plays, the second at 1:29, to slice the gap down to only eight at 43-35. But Catholic was able to finish the third quarter with five points, the last three on an Ullman trey at 3.7 seconds, to push out to a 13-point, 50-37, lead entering period No. 4.

And PCHS, after weathering the scare, ran away in the last eight minutes by a 19-3 margin to preserve its unblemished mark so far this season.

Madeline Huffman paced PCHS with 28 points, with 10 each from Brunny and Ullman, while Tallman led Ritchie, now 5-6, with 12 points, followed by by Abi Haught with nine.

“We got down big, then had to try and cut it down,” said Ritchie head coach Dave McCullough.

“But it’s tough to do when you’re playing a good team like Catholic. We, though, have to keep getting better, and we still have half the season to do just that.”

For PCHS head coach Marty Vierheller, who seemed to remain quite calm on the sideline in the third quarter with Ritchie rallying, “we chose to force this into a grind-out game,” he said. “I was extremely pleased with the way we played defense in the fourth quarter. That was the biggest thing I’m going to take out of this game. Fourth-quarter defense when it’s crunch time, you’ve got to go all out and that was huge for us tonight.”