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Catholic girls open with Tucker at state

Parkersburg Catholic’s Paige Stotts (2) makes a move with the ball during a high school girls basketball game against Parkersburg South earlier this season. Photo by Joe Albright

PARKERSBURG — Returning to the Charleston Coliseum & Convention Center for the third year in a row, No. 2 Parkersburg Catholic will be facing off against a familiar foe in No. 7 Tucker County in the Class A state girls quarterfinal at 1 p.m. today.

Coming into the state tournament undefeated at 25-0, the Crusaderettes and head coach Marty Vierheller will be looking for similar success versus the Mountain Lions as the first matchup between the teams ended in a 57-34 Catholic away win.

No stranger to the Convention Center, this will be the 16th straight year the Mountain Lions have made it to states. Vierheller expects Tucker County to play to its strengths by slowing down the game and trying to outrebound Parkersburg Catholic.

“Tucker is a perennial power and speaking of power, their strength really comes from the inside out. I know they are going to try to control the tempo and try to control the glass,” Vierheller said. “We have been working hard over the last number of months to try and deal with that because everyone is going to try to do the same thing. Coach (Carr) does a great job with them and they are going to be ready for sure. We need Madison Ross, Lainie Ross, and Aaliyah Brunny to step up down low on the boards.”

Outscoring teams 72.1 to 32.4 and winning every single game by double-digits, Parkersburg Catholic is led by the three-headed attack of lone senior Madeline Huffman, junior Brunny and sophomore Leslie Huffman to give opposing teams a handful for a full 32 minutes. At point guard is Madeline Huffman, who is one of the best perimeter players in single-A. Leading the entire Mid-Ohio Valley with 6.9 assists per game, the senior is also a threat to score as well, averaging 13.6 points per game and 32 made 3s. Guard Leslie Huffman leads the team with 18.8 PPG, 4.8 steals and will make other teams pay from behind the arc with 49 made 3s. Brunny is second on the team with 17.4 PPG and leads with 7.5 RPG and 44 blocks.

Also contributing for Vierheller and Catholic are juniors Jenna Boice (6.6 PPG), Madison Ross (3.9 PPG) and sophomores Paige Stotts (5.2 PPG, 2.8 SPG) and Lainie Ross (6.4 PPG, 4.6 RPG). Boice (12) and Madison Ross (15) proved that they could be counted on when the two combined for 27 points in Parkersburg Catholic’s 67-29 win over Gilmer County in the LKC Night of Champions in February.

“We pride ourselves in being unselfish, pride ourselves in being balanced. Go back to the LKC Championship game and we played a strong Gilmer team (No. 3 seed in the Class A tournament) and Madeline Huffman had one point,” Vierheller said. “Testament to her and to her teammates any given night anyone can step up and do their job. So proud of the way the girls have handled the entire season and continued to make efforts to get better.”

Currently on a six-game winning streak, the Mountain Lions field a young team featuring only one senior, similar to Catholic. Senior forward (6-1) Terra Kuhn has been averaging a team-high 19.1 PPG and has surpassed 1,2000 total points scored in her career. Sophomore point guard London Hood (5-5) is second on the team with 14 PPG and is the best defender on Tucker County and freshman Kadie Coleband (6-0) rounds out the double-figure scorers with 10.1 PPG. Seeing playing time is junior Gracie Rapp (5-8) and sophomores Nevaeh Nichols (5-9) and Jessi Daniels (5-5).

Learning what worked and what didn’t earlier in the season, Tucker County head coach Dave Helmick is looking forward to playing Parkersburg Catholic for the second time.

“We are young, probably the youngest we have been in years but they have gotten better throughout the season and won six straight coming into the playoffs,” Helmick said. “Played them earlier in the year before Christmas. They are ranked where they should be. It is going to take a good effort for us to knock them off. We played them fairly even at times. We are going to compete and that is all you can ask for from a young team.”

The winner will face the victor of No. 3 Gilmer County/No. 6 Wheeling Central tomorrow at 11:15 a.m. in the semifinals.

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