Prep boys basketball: Ullman’s 18 leads Catholic to 54-31 win over Gilmer

ELLENBORO, W.Va. – No. 5 Parkersburg Catholic held Gilmer County to its lowest point total of the season here Saturday night at Ritchie County High School as the Crusaders cruised past the Titans, 54-31, to capture the Class A, Region IV, Section 1 championship game.

Jake Boice came off the bench and finished with 10 points, including a trio of key first-half 3s, while Crusader teammate Jake Ullman bucketed a game-high 18 points and PCHS point guard Payton Sturm handed out an evening-best eight assists.

While both teams struggled early to get things going offensively, the Crusader defense ended up being the story of the night. Gilmer County, which lost 62-48 on Jan. 2 at Parkersburg Catholic, never got into any sort of offensive flow and finished the contest shooting less than 30 percent (11 of 37) from the floor. The Crusaders also registered a dozen steals as part of the now 13-10 Titans’ 25 turnovers.

Gilmer County, which plays in a regional contest on Thursday at Charleston Catholic, only had one lead and that was at 2-0 when Anthony Aviles tallied two of his eight markers on a pair of charity-stripe tosses 3:01 into the game.

The two Little Kanawha Conference members combined to miss 12 of 13 field-goal attempts to start the game and had nine turnovers, six by the Titans, in the first six minutes.

A foul shot by Brady Kurucz, who tallied nine points, actually gave the Crusaders the lead for good at 3-2 with 1:43 left in the first quarter. Boice connected from downtown for the first time at the 1:25 mark for a 6-2 edge and the Titans, who had eight turnovers in the period, made their only deuce of the quarter when Nathan Allison (seven points) swished in a 16-footer at the buzzer.

After an Allison lay-in via an Austin Cunningham dish made it 12-9 with 5:07 left in the first half, the Titans appeared to have momentum going their way when Mitchell Hickman stuffed an Ullman lay-in after Ullman had stepped in front of an errant pass by Aviles. However, the opposite turned out to be true as PCHS (21-3) proceeded to score 10 unanswered points and take control of the game.

Kurucz got the run started when he scored in the paint on an inbounds play. Boice followed with a trey and after Kurucz had a blocked shot at the other end, he was rewarded for his hustle by scoring inside on a feed from Boice. Ullman, who dribbled the length of the baseline and then decided to shoot from the corner when his Titan defender left him, capped the spurt with a 3-point swish and gave the Crusaders a 13-point cushion with 72 seconds left in the half. Boice’s final trifecta with 38 ticks left before intermission put the Titans in a 25-11 halftime hole they never recovered from.

The Crusaders, who got five points apiece from Joe Padden and Austin Luther, will play host to Buffalo at 7 p.m. Thursday in a regional affair with a state tournament berth on the line.Cunningham paced the Titans with a team-high 11 points and added six boards and two assists.