Ullman, Huffman lead Catholic past ’Jackets

JOE ALBRIGHT The Marietta Times Williamstown's Bethany Wager, right, fights her way through traffic in the lane on the way to the hoop during the Yellowjackets' 83-66 Friday night loss to Parkersburg Catholic. Catholic’s Madeline Huffman, left, looks on.

WILLIAMSTOWN — The final score wasn’t quite indicative of the hard-nosed action in visiting Parkersburg Catholic’s 83-66 win over Williamstown Friday night.

The real numbers to look on why the Crusaderettes improved to 9-0 on the season was a 19-4 edge in turnovers forced in the first 16 minutes.

“I give a lot of credit to our hustle,” said Catholic head man Marty Vierheller, who was unaware of the takeaway advantage. “I give credit to the girls and the hard work they put in preparing for this. You create turnovers by doing your job, not hacking and slashing, and they did that.”

Six of those coming on consecutive second-quarter possessions for Fred Sauro’s Yellowjackets, which Catholic used to turn a 20-15 advantage into a 12-point cushion and largely never looked back on the evening.

“Our defense had been a really good part of our game,” said Aaliyah Brunny. “It is what speeds us up and gets us points.”

The Crusaderette freshman, who finished with 17 points, set the defensive tone early with two blocks in the opening quarter of the game. Eight of the Yellowjackets’ turnovers also came during the period.

Catholic used those giveaways to build a 19-12 lead after the opening stanza. Madeline Huffman was busy on the offensive end. She scored 10 of her 20 points in the first eight minutes.

A Keely Alsup trey brought the home team within five points just 30 seconds into the second quarter. But the bucket would be the last Williamstown would score for roughly the next three minutes.

Olivia Ullman kicked off a 9-1 run for the Crusaderettes with an and-one play assisted by Huffman at the 6:32 mark. Coincidentally, the scoring opportunity was created by a Huffman steal seconds early.

Ullman lead all scorers with 25 points. Blue and white players continued to build on their advantage until the scoreboard read 43-26 at halftime.

Williamstown cut down on the turnovers in the second half and started playing better. Alsup’s three-points with 5:50 left in the fourth period kicked off a 6-0 run for the Yellowjackets, which got the deficit down to 10 at 73-63.

“This is one of the best teams in the state right there,” said Sauro. “I thought our younger guys responded well after we got into some pretty good foul trouble in the first half. They played hard, but had a tough time scoring. When we got out of foul trouble in the second half, we made it a good game.”

Not only did they make it a good game, but the Yellowjackets dominated on the boards. Bethany Arnold led the team with 16 collected caroms and Williamstown won the rebounding battle, 45-32.

“We are going to work on that at 8 a.m. tomorrow morning,” said Vierheller, who literally banged his head against a wall when asked about being outrebounded. “You can take it to the bank.”

Unfortunately for the home team, their guests answered back with a run of their own. A Brunny basket off an Ullman assist powered a 10-3 run to end the game.

“Honestly, I am proud of our girls,” said Vierheller. “Even with the lead, there were times where we could have let things slip away. But when they answered, we answered their answer and that is what you have to do when playing excellent teams.

“The thing we tried to do was downplay the rivalry aspect and emphasize the importance of this as a game in the LKC. It is really, really hard to make it to the Night of Champions and you don’t get nights off. It was a nice opportunity for us and I am glad we took care of that.”