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Girls basketball: Irish continues to have edge over Bison

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- No matter the record or situation, sometimes a particular team just seems to have another team's number.

For the Charleston Catholic girls basketball program, that team is Buffalo.

Catholic lost its last three games of the regular season and entered the postseason against Buffalo with an 8-14 record, while the Bison had won 13 straight games and had set a school-record for victories this season.

Despite the numbers, the Irish continued its dominance over Buffalo, earning a 57-48 victory in the Class A Region 4, Section 2 semifinals at the Charleston Catholic Athletic Complex.

Catholic (9-14) advances to play St. Joseph at Buffalo at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the sectional final.

The Irish haven't lost to Buffalo (18-5) in at least eight years now. Catholic Athletic Director Bill Gillespie guessed that the streak could be between 10-15 years and Buffalo Coach Jamie Ball anticipated it could be even longer.

"I'm real proud of the girls but this is by far the most disappointing loss in the history of my coaching career," said Ball, who has also coached baseball at Buffalo and softball for George Washington.

"It looked like we came out nervous tonight. Obviously we are a whole lot better team than that. I'll take the blame, though. I feel like I let them down somehow."

Catholic Coach Paul Sutherland didn't think that his Irish are in the heads of Buffalo, but indicated that it has happened before with other teams he has been involved with.

"When I first started coaching at Winfield, Sissonville was in our heads," Sutherland said. "Once we turned the corner, then we were in theirs.

"There are certain schools that you feel you might be in their heads. It happens. But Buffalo has a great team with a ton of talent, and have mostly everybody back (next year)."

Sutherland and the Irish were ecstatic to advance in the postseason especially considering what Catholic has been through this season.

The Irish have been without three of its best players in Hannah Gallian, Catherine Bandak and Peri Bailey, who all have been lost to season-ending knee injuries.

"This means everything," Sutherland said. "I have never had a year like this. All of my high school coaching career, I had one starter miss half a season. For what the girls have done, I'm very impressed with them."

Samantha Fletcher led the Irish with 21 points, four rebounds, four assists and five steals while Anna Whelan added 16 points. Catholic forced Buffalo into 29 turnovers.

"It's been ups and downs but I've learned to just roll with it and move on," Fletcher said. "We have come together as a team and hopefully we can make it to the State Tournament."

Buffalo was led as usual by Chelsey Parkins, who had 21 points and 15 rebounds. The junior averaged 18.7 points and 18.2 rebounds on the season for the Bison.

"She set the school record for most points and rebounds in a single season, and most points in a single game," Ball said "She did it all for us. She is one of the better players in the state. We have a lot to build around."


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