Catholic’s Madeline Huffman sets assists record at state tourney

The Associated Press Parkersburg Catholic's Lainie Ross shoots over Tucker County's Kadie Colebank during Thursday’s state quarterfinal in Charleston, W.Va.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Charleston Coliseum & Convention Center rarely cozies up to any team when it comes to hitting baskets during the state tournament. The rims are unforgiving and more than one deserving has been sent home after an off shooting day or night.

Yet, Parkersburg Catholic solved this dilemma during a Class A quarterfinal against Tucker County Thursday afternoon.

Aaliyah Brunny scored 30 points, Leslie Huffman poured in 23 more, as the Crusaderettes shot 56% from the field in an 85-47 victory. The feat including a 62% effort in the last 16 minutes.

Results forcing Catholic head coach Marty Vierheller to compare his current group to past Catholic state-championship winning teams.

“I have been fortunate enough to coach in state championship games and as an assistant won four of them. But I don’t know if I have ever been around a group that shot as well as we shot in this game and we played pretty good defense, too,” said Vierheller.

His group was assisted by a record-setting afternoon from lone senior Madeline Huffman. Fifteen of Parkersburg Catholic’s were generated off her assists. The mark broke the previous record held by Huntington St. Joe’s Mychal Johnson (13).

“It could not happen to a finer young lady. You talk about heart and soul, she’s got it,” said Parkersburg Catholic coach Marty Vierheller.

His group took command immediate behind its leader. PC led 21-5 after one period of play, then punched it up to 41-16 as the teams headed into the locker room. The Crusaderettes built this advantage by beating the Mountain Lions at their own game.

“We had some break downs especially in offensive rebounds. We had outrebounded every team we played this year and it is something we do very well. If we limit them to one shot, I think the game is different,” said Tucker County head coach Dave Helmick, who watched as his team was outrebounded 18-12 in the opening half.

The Crusaderette advantage evening out (13-10) in the second half didn’t lead to a closer game.

Catholic’s lead never fell below 22 the rest of the game.

“We knew we were going to have to have a monumental effort today against a great Parkersburg Catholic team and we showed some fight a few times. We were fighting some youth and inexperience and I was hoping to make it through that,” added coach Helmick.

The somber tone didn’t escape the Mountain Lions’ press conference. W.Va. Governor Jim Justice’s announcement of suspending the state tournament due to coronavirus shared over the public address system in the third quarter hit home hard for the victorious team.

Parkersburg Catholic, which planned to play in the Class A title game Saturday one year after losing to St. Joe, now waits in anticipation.

“I wanted to seal the deal and I am holding out hope we can still do that (play for a state championship),” said Madeline Huffman. “Being behind the scenes you can’t help but notice how hard everybody has worked.”

Vierheller commended his girls for keeping up the effort even in a difficult moment.

“We don’t know how the script is going to end, but being in a situation nobody is used to, these young ladies handle themselves extremely well,” said Vierheller.

Assuming the tournament resumes, the Crusaderettes face Gilmer County for the third time this season. The Crusaderettes defeated the Titans in both matchups this season, including in the Little Kanawha Conference championship game last month.


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