Devils Hold Off ‘Cats, 54-50
After trailing for most of the game, the St. Marys Blue Devils took the lead late in the game to defeat the Paden City Wildcats, 54-50 in the opener of the West Virginia Class A sectionals in St. Marys Feb. 28.
The Devils scored the game’s first bucket before the Wildcats got rolling, scoring the next six points to force the Devils into a quick time out. When play resumed, Wildcat Ryan Thoburn stole a Devil pass and took it in for the score and was fouled doing so.
After he converted the charity toss, St. Marys tallied a second basket with 16.9 seconds remaining in the first quarter. The ‘Cats’ Wes Cosper went back door and found a driving Thoburn for the final two points of the period to give Paden City a 13-4 advantage over the heavy-favored Blue Devils.
The Devils struck first in the second period, but the Wildcats went back door to a wide open Malakai Anderson, who was fouled on the shot. However, Anderson netted only one of the two freebies. Shortly afterward, St. Marys drilled a basket from beyond the arc to pull to within five points at 14-9. Moments later, the Wildcats hit Anderson on another back door layup and this time nailed the snowbird.
However, the Devils scored on another trey to go within a basket with 3:30 left in period two. As the clock ticked, the ‘Cats’ Ricky Wright nailed the first of two triples to keep the ‘Cats in the lead. Both teams traded buckets to finish the half with the Wildcats clinging to a 28-25 lead.
After the break, the Devils scored inside, but Thoburn answered with a three pointer and the hosts retaliated with a three pointer of their own to push them to within one point.
Anderson drilled a basket from beyond the arc for a 34-30 Paden City lead. A few moments later, St. Marys was called for an offensive foul. Devil Head Coach Mark Barnhart showed his displeasure on the call, breaking his glasses while doing so and was given a technical foul. Wright was sent to the line and made both T-throws which pushed the visitors’ lead to six points.
However, at eight minutes remaining in the game, the Wildcat lead was trimmed down to three points, at 43-40.
The ‘Cats ran off a minute before Wright connected on a jumper in the paint for the opening points of the fourth frame, whereupon St. Marys called a time out and then connected on a three pointer.
The ‘Cats tried to use a North Carolina four corners, but a couple bad passes that ended in Blue Devil baskets gave the hosts only their second lead of the game, 50-49, with 4:41 left in regulation.
From this point St. Marys used a stall and forced the ‘Cats to claw their way back. Unfortunately for the ‘Cats, the Devils made enough points at the free throw line to come away with the victory.
“I’m was very satisfied when I went into the locker room after the game,” said Paden City Head Coach Fred King. “Our kids gave it everything they had and left it on the floor. We had several baskets go in and out and if only one of those stayed in, we win. The boys bought into our game plan and they executed it to the T.
“I’m going to miss the seniors. They have had quite a season. To make the OVAC Tournament and place third was an honor. The kids made Coach Jeff Bowers and I proud, but they made the high school and community proud also.
“We are the smallest high school in West Virginia and we played well against the 19-4 Devils on their turf. Our student body and fans were fantastic and I couldn’t have been any prouder of the them.”
Junior point guard Anderson paced the ‘Cats with 19 points, while Wright and Thoburn evenly split 24 markers. Cosper scored five points, while Josh Bennett added two points to finish the Wildcat scoring.
The shorter Wildcats pulled down four more boards than the Devils, with Cosper snatching eight, while Thoburn and Bennett teamed for 10. In addition, Cosper dished off seven assists, while Anderson and Thoburn each dished off three. The ‘Cats had four steals on the night with Anderson leading the way with two.
The Wildcats finished the 2008-09 season 13-10 and defeated Cameron for third place in the OVAC Class A playoffs.
They lose seniors Wright, Thoburn, Cosper, Ronnie Blatt, and Chris Loy to graduation in the fall, but will return Anderson, Bennett, and Zach Yost along with Geoffrey Bidwell, Peyton Minkley, and Taylor Still.