’Jackets pull away in third to beat Crusaders

Photo by Josh Hughes Parkersburg Catholic’s Jeb Boice (10) brings the ball up the court as Williamstown’s Peyton Amrine (3) defends during a high school boys basketball game Thursday. Williamstown’s Colten Luther (44) and Catholic’s Pat Copen look on.

PARKERSBURG — A big second half was what the undefeated Williamstown Yellowjackets needed to claim victory against Parkersburg Catholic during Thursday night’s game at the PCHS gymnasium. Specifically, it was a 20-9 third quarter dooming Crusader efforts. Xavier Caruthers tallied 11 of his game-high 23 in the frame, as he hardly missed from deep as Williamstown won 63-50. Another key contributor for the ‘Jackets (13-0) was Colten Luther. The big guy bullied his way through the paint for 17 points of his own. He was also two rebounds shy of a double-double in the victory.

The highly-productive third quarter put Williamstown up 44-30 going into the final eight minutes, and Parkersburg Catholic couldn’t find a late answer. In the first half, the Crusaders (8-4) had to rally from the start. After Peyton Amrine (in his first game back at Parkersburg Catholic since transferring to Williamstown) hit back-to-back 3s to start his team’s first-quarter scoring, a basket from Sam Cremeans and a triple from Caruthers forced PC to take a timeout down 11-1 with 4:19 left. Coming out of the timeout, a comeback was in order.

Jeb Boice led the Crusaders with 17 points, and he helped them get out of a near-four minute scoring drought with a bucket at 2:38. Then, Patrick Copen and Nick Stricker joined in on the effort to close out the first only down six. Defensively, the Yellowjackets faced a lot of pressure in the second. After they were held to eight points as a team, PCHS got close to taking its first lead since being up 1-0 to start the contest Copen opened this up for his team with his first made shot of the quarter at 7:22, and he wasn’t done there. Following shots from Xavier Collie and Boice, Copen found Jalen Brunny on the perimeter to help assist him on a made shot. Copen finished the work he started in the beginning of the quarter with a bucket at 3:59. Then, he hit one free throw with a minute remaining to bring Williamstown’s lead down to 22-21. The only reprieve WHS had was a layup from Luther off an Amrine assist to close out the half.

Big shots from beyond the arc by Caruthers and Baylor Haught buried PC, and Williamstown built a lead it didn’t come close to losing. For head coach Scott Sauro, this rivalry win was a good test. It also prepares the squad for their biggest test of the season coming up. They play No. 2 Wheeling Central Catholic Saturday afternoon on the road, and these No. 1 ‘Jackets want to be ready for anything.

“It’s a 1 vs. 2 game,” Sauro said. “It’ll be a fun one. It’s 4:45 on Saturday at Magnolia High School as a part of the Rotary Challenge. It’ll be a tough game, but we’re looking forward to playing them. We have a lot off respect for them, and they’re well coached with great players. It’ll be a great challenge for us.”

In the loss, PCHS head coach Rob Strcula noted his team fell off during the lopsided third quarter, as they look to bounce back on Tuesday with LKC foe St. Marys coming to town.

“We can’t start the game off against the No. 1 team in the state down 11-1. We also made mistakes in the second half,” he said. “We put ourselves in a hole and missed easy baskets. We’ve got to play better on the offensive end, and we’ve got to get a better shot selection. It’s what we do on the offensive end that makes the difference right now.”

Contact Josh Hughes at jhughes@newsandsentinel.com