Boys basketball: McCarty, No. 1 Irish cruise at home
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Charleston Catholic junior Garret McCarty drove the lane, lost his balance mid-air and adjusted to convert a second-quarter layup before crashing to the court, giving the Irish a 15-point lead over Parkersburg Catholic on Tuesday.
It was one of those nights for the top-ranked Class A basketball team in West Virginia, one where little - if anything - went wrong at the Charleston Catholic Athletic Complex.
The Irish (14-1), who had beaten No. 4 Parkersburg Catholic (14-3) by five points Dec. 6 in Parkersburg, left nothing to doubt in the teams' second meeting.
Coach Bill McClanahan's team shot better than 60 percent from the floor, had 18 assists on 29 total field goals, turned the ball over just five times and ran the Crusaders out of the gym to the tune of a 78-48 final.
"Credit goes to the players. They're starting to understand what they're capable of, what they're being pushed to (do) and they're starting to understand why," McClanahan said of the defending state champions.
"Now that they see it in themselves and they see their improvement they want to keep getting better," he said. "They're practicing better, they're preparing better, and they're understanding how good they can be."
The Irish never trailed, and led 11-1 after quick 3-point goals from McCarty, Zach Casto and Keifer Hovorka, each shot freed up by extra passes made by a lethally efficient Irish offense.
By the end of the first quarter, Parkersburg Catholic Coach Rob Strcula was left in the unenviable position of having to breathe life back into his lineup, which trailed 24-11.
"It was all about their level of energy," said Strcula, who starred at Parkersburg Catholic under Coach Jeff Mennillo from 1994-97 and led the Crusaders to a Class A runner-up finish his senior season.
"Charleston Catholic brought their energy, and we didn't match it," he said. "They play at a very high level always, but today it was just a little higher than we've seen. They had a little hop in their step, and we couldn't match their energy or their intensity. We couldn't keep up."
The Irish had four steals in the first quarter, and turned each into field goals. Although the defending champs committed four of their five turnovers in the second quarter, they nevertheless led 41-22 by halftime thanks to their ability to sink 16-of-24 attempts (66.7 percent) in the first two quarters.
Casto led the scoring assault, finishing with a game-high 23 points on 8-of-10 shooting to go with seven rebounds, three assists and two steals. McCarty, who had 19 points, seven boards, a co-team high five assists and a team-leading three steals, said the showing was a side effect of the team's current level of cohesion.
"We're a competitive team, and we can all play basketball. We're all friends and I think that's a major part of it," McCarty said. "We like each other. We want to pass each other the ball, and we want 'us' to be successful.
"I think where most of this is coming from."
The Irish have won 12 in a row since a 2-1 start. McClanahan said that while the team started slow even while it was winning games, he believes it to be hitting its stride at the right time.
"It's that time of year. We've talked about it. If we're still teaching fundamentals right now, we're behind the 8-ball," McClanahan said. "This is the time of year when you need to put the polish on your engine and let it run some, and that's what we're starting to do, and these guys are driving it pretty well now."
Parkersburg Catholic had three players score in double figures, led by junior Joe Padden's 14 points. Juniors Jake Ullman and Ben Collie each had 11, and junior point guard Payton Sturm had a game-high seven assists.
It was the Crusaders' seventh game in the last 11 days.
Contact Preps Editor Derek Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-5170. Follow him on Twitter @ItsreallyDT.