Crusaders advance to sectional title game

PARKERSBURG –The Crusaders are moving on.

Parkersburg Catholic controlled the tempo and the outcome of their Class A Region IV, Section I victory on Tuesday. The visiting Ravenswood Red Devils fell in a 65-41 final, where Catholic took advantage of a slow Red Devil start. The first RHS basket came with 4:35 left in the first from Matthew Carte, and that broke a 9-0 run from PCHS. Big games from Jeb Boice (15 points) and Patrick Copen (a game-high 20 points) kept the contest at an arm’s length.

The duo combined for 25 of the team’s 31 first-half points en route to a 31-13 advantage at the break. In another big night for those two, Catholic head coach Rob Strcula talked about the impact they made in the win.

“I thought Pat was very patient on the offensive end, tonight. Early on, it was very clear that (Ravenswood) was just trying to switch screens,” he said. “Jeb came out and set the tone early on, and he had a big second quarter. Xavier Collie had a great third and fourth quarter, and he ended up with 14. All three of those guys really stepped up when we needed them.”

Even though the contest was out of reach, Ravenswood (11-13) still fought in the second half. Trey Mandrake and Carte opened up RHS scoring in the second half, as Jaycob Creel (who led the team with 12 points and six rebounds) joined in to cap off the third. It was a premature end to the Ravenswood boys’ season, and head coach Mick Price talked about the end of this year while looking forward to the next one.

“It has been an up-and-down year, and a lot of it has to do with our inexperience,” he said. “We weren’t as good of a basketball team as we needed to be. Tonight, we ran up against a very good team. Boice and Copen are definitely first-team all-state kids. We really wanted to get out and control the first quarter, but they got out in front of us, and we couldn’t make a shot. We got nailed by them in the first quarter, and it set the pace for the whole game. I take nothing away from Rob (Strcula). He gets his boys ready to play, and I think he’s about as good of a competitor we’ve faced in this conference for all these years. Copen has raised his game this year, and he’s averaging 25 a game through the past several weeks. They both elevate their team. We’ve grown a lot throughout the year, because we’ve got a lot of young kids on this team. We only had three seniors this year. I was trying to get our younger guys some more experience, and hopefully they gained that experience.”

Now, the 15-8 Crusaders continue their quest to Charleston. By making it to the sectional title game on Friday with a 7 p.m. tip at Williamstown, they guaranteed themselves a regional co-final appearance. However, they need to win that matchup on Friday to secure a home game in the regional co-final. There is so much hanging in the balance for Friday, and Strcula looks for his team to lock down and get a chance at knocking off the Yellowjackets for the first time this year.

“We’re going to enjoy this win until about midnight. Then, we’ve got to start thinking about Williamstown,” he said.

“We’ve got to play better defense. We can’t be giving up as many points as we did in the first two games (after being outscored 128-94 in the first two meetings), and we’ve got to defend the 3-point line better. I know it’s easier said than done because of the amount of shooters they have on the floor. We’ve got to make sure our shots are the best shots we can possibly take. We can’t waste possessions on the offensive end.”

Contact Josh Hughes at jhughes@newsandsentinel.com


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