Catholic boys basketball staying busy

JAY W. BENNETT The Marietta Times Parkersburg Catholic’s Ty Sturm, left, and Cade Ullman look on during a 2017-18 high school basketball game. Both players return next season for the Crusaders.

PARKERSBURG — A sectional overtime loss at Ravenswood and then a road setback to Tug Valley in a Class A regional co-final closed out Parkersburg Catholic’s 2017-18 basketball campaign.

Crusader head coach Rob Strcula is going to have almost the exact team back as senior Brice Ferrell was the only graduation loss.

“I think we used as much time as we possibly could,” Strcula said of the open summer period. “A lot of our guys are playing two and three sports. We try to split our time up with football and we got some guys who play baseball.

“We couldn’t afford to practice every day and run our kids ragged. I think we got the most out of our time together. We worked on some new drills and those kinds of things. Overall, I was pretty pleased.”

The coach also is more than stoked to have returning first team all-stater Cade Ullman back for his senior year. The sharp-shooting guard is joined by classmates Ty Sturm and Aidan Stotts, both of whom play football along with Jeb Boice, Jalen Brunny, Braedon Ayers, Logan Ayers, Josh Cowan and Xavier Collie.

Patrick Copen, the Crusaders’ big man at 6-foot-5 who can run the floor, is coming off an honorable mention all-state sophomore season. PCHS also will return guard Peyton Amrine.

The Crusaders had a pretty successful Williamstown summer league season, but the squad didn’t compete in the tournament.

“We’ve had a few guys who play a lot of AAU ball,” noted Strcula, who added of not being able to play in the tournament “it’s a double-edged sword. We want to get better and keep working hard, but we want guys to enjoy their summer and still be kids and that’s hard to do right now.”

Without any expected incoming freshmen, the coach also admitted “we are going to be really top heavy with juniors and seniors next year. We’ve got a lot of points and a lot of rebounds and a lot of played minutes from guys who were sophomores and juniors last year, and one freshman (Collie).

“(This summer) we tried to maintain what we do as a team and get back to fundamentals. We’ll have our weight lifting program and we got guys who are still working hard. They are still getting in the gym and working hard.

“Some guys are going to get better no matter what. The guys who want to get better are going to find a way to get better.”

Another player who should be back for the bulk of this season is Cowan, a 6-foot-2 forward who suffered an ACL injury last year.

“The expectations will be high for us this season,” Strcula added. “At the same time, we want them to have success in football and let that success carry over to basketball.”

As far as Ullman goes, the coach said “there are a handful of schools interested in Cade and hopefully he’ll land someplace that will be beneficial for him.”

Fans and opponents of the Crusaders also should keep an eye on Copen, who will look to make some big strides going into his junior campaign.

“He’s gotten stronger,” Strcula said. “A little more meat on his bones. He’s got the drive. He’ll be a little more of a power player and play a little more inside.

“He’s had a good summer on the mound (pitching) and Ty is having a good baseball summer as well.”