PARKERSBURG - Establishing a lead against Williamstown is not the issue for Parkersburg Catholic. The point in question is how the Crusaderettes will handle the Yellowjackets' up-tempo style during tonight's Class A, Region IV, Section 1 semifinal.
Game time is set for 7 p.m. at Williamstown High School.
The two schools split the two meetings during the regular season. Both times, PCHS enjoyed leads of 20 points or more. On Jan. 3, Williamstown overcame a 30-8 deficit and defeated the Crusaderettes 91-75. Less than two weeks later, the Yellowjackets couldn't break down the methodical pace of PCHS and lost 65-59.
Times file photo
Parkersburg Catholic’s Reily Sturm (left) dribbles during a game against Williamstown earlier this season.
"We cannot get into a track meet with Williamstown," PCHS coach Marty Vierheller said. "The second key - we have the utmost respect for their point guard Ashley Morris. She is such a good player, especially as a freshman. It's impressive how she makes that team go.
"Another key is staying strong on the glass and taking care of the ball after we do rebound."
Despite opening the season with four straight losses, Williamstown enters the contest with a 14-7 record. The Yellowjackets, who have won seven of their last eight, will occasionally put five freshmen on the floor at the same time. Seven of their top 11 in the rotation are first-year players.
"I love our kids' enthusiasm," Williamstown coach Fred Sauro said. "At the beginning of the season, I told their moms and dads it would be really tough going. Then it evened out.
"Our kids are ready and excited, and I'm sure the Parkersburg Catholic kids are too. The girls from the two schools have a mutual respect for one another, but after the ball is thrown up they will get after it."
In terms of numbers, the advantage goes to Williamstown. Since point guard Reily Sturm suffered a partial tear of her PCL in a game against St. Marys on Jan. 30, PCHS has been limited to a seven-girl rotation.
Running full practices have been next to impossible, and every once in a while coach Vierheller will strap on the sneakers.
"It's about using an old teacher's philosophy, and that going whole-part-whole," Vierheller said. "We've taken the numbers and broken it down. We're teaching and re-teaching parts of our offense in small pieces."
Williamstown prepared for its sectional semifinal showdown by having a spaghetti dinner on Monday night.
"We would like to create a more up-tempo game," Sauro said. "And Marty will try to control the tempo and execute. They play a good defense at Parkersburg Catholic."
A three-game winning streak has left PCHS sitting at 8-15. Vierheller credits his three freshmen ((Marijka Lynch-Pastoor, Alexis Saunders and Abby Witucky) with filling in the hole created by the injury to Sturm.
"Together they are averaging about 30 points a game," Vierheller said. "Rachel Gammon also has come through. She had been very much under the radar during the course of the year, but she has contributed a ton of minutes."