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State Tournament: Catholic goes big to edge Central in semis

CHARLESTON, W.VA. - Charleston Catholic standout point guard Garret McCarty picked the wrong time to be under the weather.

Fortunately for McCarty and the rest of the Irish, the inside combination of Zach Casto and Nick George was more than enough to help guide Catholic earn a 61-55 victory over Wheeling Central at the Charleston Civic Center. With the victory, Catholic (24-3) advances to the title game at noon Saturday afternoon, when the Irish will look to repeat at state champions. They will play the winner of the Tug Valley-Tucker County semifinal game played Friday afternoon.

"It was our goal all year to be playing on the last Saturday," George said. "It's a great feeling. We have been here before and there is no better feeling. It feels great but we still have 32 minutes left, so we can't celebrate yet."

The Irish junior felt sick the night before the day of Catholic's Class A semifinal matchup in the state tournament against Wheeling Central Friday morning and to make matters worse, McCarty struggled just as much on the court as off it, especially in a first half that saw him play only six minutes after picking up two fouls in the first quarter. He was also 0-for-3 from the floor, and all his shots were rushed.

Casto registered a double double for the third straight game, scoring 16 points and grabbing 15 rebounds. Meanwhile, George tallied a game-high 24 points, including going 13-for-18 from the free throw line.

"Zach is playing like a monster, he really is," Catholic coach Bill McClanahan said. "To his credit, he plays defense, and rebounds and is seeing the fruits of his labor. I have nothing but great compliments and pleasure in seeing Zach's success."

Casto said he's energized by the Irish's postseason run.

"I'm so excited and happy," said Casto, a senior. "I just want to play hard and tough because my time is limited. I'm going to leave it all out on the court. "

McCarty was limited due to his sickness, playing just a total of 20 minutes. He finished with seven points, all in the fourth quarter, and was 2-for-9 from the floor. McCarty's first point didn't come until a layup with 7:31 left in the game.

McClanahan indicated his standout point guard was hardly at full strength.

"Garret got sick yesterday evening and spent most of the evening throwing up," McClanahan said. "Between being sick to his stomach and dehydrated, he wasn't at full strength. To be honest, I would say he was about 60 percent."

McCarty was still feeling the effects of his illness after the game.

"I was having stomach issues last night," McCarty said. "I woke up this morning and wasn't feeling any better. I was dehydrated. Right now I'm a little weak and loopy but I'll be OK for tomorrow.

"Zach and Nick are monsters," McCarty said. "Zach has improved tremendously over the year and Nick has always been a stud. For them to be playing really well at the same time at the state tournament, that's what it's all about."


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