The Paden City Wildcats lost 45-40 Saturday to Meadow Bridge in the Division II championship of the Hometown Invitational Tournament played at Midland Trail High School in Fayette County.
For the Green and White, it was a rematch and an re-enactment of last year's championship.
Playing four games in the prior five days, Paden City seemed poised to bring home the gold. But the Wildcats of Meadow Bridge had a different plan.
After controlling the tip, Meadow Bridge quickly established a 6-0 lead on back-to-back buckets down low and a short jumper off a steal. Kennedy Cain then scored on a lay in off a pass from freshman Hayden Hizer to cut the deficit to four. But Meadow Bridge hit a three to up the lead to seven.
Cain hit a long three, but another bucket by the visitors near the end of the quarter left the home team Wildcats behind 11-5 after one.
Paden City outscored the visitors 7-3 in the second quarter to pull to within two at halftime. Although Paden City never led in the game, the 'Cats continued to battle back until they were down by only four to end the quarter.
With Cain doing most of the scoring for Paden City, the 'Cats needed someone to step up in the fourth and final period. As the frame got underway, Zach Heasley knocked down a long three to pull the home team to within one. However, Meadow Bridge quickly answered with a three of its own to again go ahead by four and then scored with a lay in to increase their lead to six points.
Heasley then drilled another one from downtown and Hizer hit two free throws to cut the gap to two. Meadow Bridge would not be denied, however, as they traded basket for basket with Paden City.
Cain hit two more buckets and Heasley dropped in a lay up and another long bomb to keep the game close. But, Paden City missed crucial foul shots down the stretch to bring them up short at the final buzzer.
Luke Cooper played a good floor game with three blocks and eight rebounds to go along with a bucket in the second and another in the third.
Heasley finished the night with 11 points and nine rebounds, while Cain led the charge with 20 points and 10 boards. Hizer dropped in five points and was 3-3 at the line and also played a solid floor game with seven assists and three steals.
Foul shooting plagued Paden City, who ended the game with a 7-15 free throw record.
Head Coach Fred King is working hard to get his troops ready for the upcoming sectionals. The 'Cats played Weirton Madonna at home on Monday in the consolation game of the OVAC tournament and they will travel to Williamstown today for the regular season final.
Paden City 76, St. John 65
Paden City used a 39-25 first half advantage and held on for a 76-65 victory over Bellaire St. John Feb. 19 at Bob Burton Gymnasium.
Cain led three double-digit Wildcat scorers with a double-double, 25 points and 10 rebounds, to pace Paden City. Heasley also had a huge night for the Green and White, scoring 21 points that included three three-pointers. He also grabbed five rebounds, made four assists, four steals, and blocked four St. John shots. Cooper followed with 17 points, six rebounds and two blocks, while Allen chipped in with six markers, Hizer four points, and Price a deuce.
Wheeling Central 69,
Paden City 51
After defeating Goliath Magnolia earlier in the month, the Paden City Wildcats had a chance to slay another giant, Wheeling Central, Feb. 18 in hostile territory. And, for the biggest part of three quarters, the 'Cats were on their way.
But, a 21-8 Maroon Knight run in the fourth quarter ended the 'Cats' hopes with a 69-51 defeat.
Opening the first quarter on fire, Heasley scored 11 of his 16 points, while Cain dropped in six of his team-high 18 markers in the second stanza to help build a 29-26 advantage at the break.
Central's Chase Harter became engaged in the third period, scoring 13 of his game-high 26 points, including two slams to help the Maroon Knights start to pull away.
The young Wildcats came to within six points with seven minutes remaining in the game, but a Central 18-6 spurt kept the 'Cats from climbing back into the contest.
"I think we forced a couple shots in the third period and turned the ball over a couple of times," said PCHS Head Basketball Coach Fred King. "And all of a sudden a three-point became a 10-point deficit.
"But, I give all the praise to my kids. They are very upset right now about this loss and it shows that they care about this. Central is a good team, but my kids didn't come to worship them. This is a tough venue," said King.
"They have had more banners in this place over the last 10 years than we have kids at Paden City. Right now I am just a very proud coach."
Cooper followed Cain and Heasley with 11 markers, while Hizer swished 4-4 from the charity stripe, while Allen netted a deuce.
Paden City will finish the regular season on the road tonight at 7 p.m. against Williamstown before sectional play starts.
Weirton Madonna 62,
Paden City 44
Weirton Madonna used a 19-11 second period run and held off a determined Paden City squad to claim a 62-44 victory to finish third in the OVAC Class-A game held at Bob Burton Gymnasium Monday.
Cain led three Wildcat double-digit scorers with 17 points, that included three baskets from beyond the arc and hauled in six rebounds.
Heasley followed with 14 points that included four triples, grabbed eight rebounds, and dished out three assists. Cooper tacked on 11 points, including one from long range.
Hizer, the only other Wildcat that scored, had a deuce,