Madonna girls hang with, fall to unbeaten Parkersburg Catholic

WEIRTON — The Madonna girls basketball team, fired up after winning the city championship Thursday, hung with the No. 3 Class A girls team in the state, unbeaten Parkersburg Catholic, until fouls and turnovers started mounting midway through the third quarter before bowing 50-41 on Saturday inside the Bill Barrett Gymnasium.

The Crusaderettes were clinging to a three-point lead, 27-24, when two Blue Don fouls put Parkersburg at the foul line, and they drained all four of the shots to extend the lead to 31-24. The Blue Dons never recovered but did reduce a 15-point Parkersburg Catholic lead down to seven with 31 seconds left in the game, but it was a case of too little too late.

“We came into the game shorthanded with varsity bodies (two Blue Don starters were on the bench with knee braces),” said Madonna coach Rodney Boniti, whose club now is 7-9. “We decided to play one guard that played four quarters in the jayvee game for one period, and it so happened that she injured a finger in the reserve game and re-injured it when playing in the varsity game, so we were limited to six full time varsity players.

“To start a game with six varsity players against a team that is No. 3 in the state of West Virginia is a big challenge. But I don’t think Parkersburg Catholic has had somebody push them that deep for a long time. They have been blowing teams out by 30 and 35 points, and for them to go two and a half minutes into the third quarter only up by four is a pretty good game for us.”

Perhaps the story of the game for the Blue Dons were the 30 turnovers they committed with many of them not being forced and passes that did not reach the intended target.

“I give Madonna a lot of credit,” said Parkersburg Catholic coach Marty Vierheller, whose club won it’s 15th game without a loss. “They were well prepared and they played 32 very hard, physical minutes.

“I was pleased with our composure. We found ourselves in a bit of an uncomfortable situation, especially with our foul trouble, but we withstood that with our players coming off the bench to help. The defensive pressure is what we tried to do, but at the same time it kind of jumped up and bit us as we were a little bit too aggressive at times.”

It was senior recognition for Madonna. Kasey Canei, a four-year starter, and Gianna Mascio were honored prior to the game.

“We’re extremely proud of the two seniors we have on this squad,” Boniti said. “As two leaders among the 16 girls on this team, they have stayed focused, stayed positive and have been great role models in the locker room, and on and off the basketball court.”

The two teams played even through the first half with the Crusaderettes going into the half with a two-point lead on the strength of a coast-to-coast layup by Madeline Huffman, the smallest girl on the floor. She grabbed a rebound off of a Madonna miss with time running out and dribbled the length of the floor only to find an open lane to the basket making the layup with 12 seconds left in the first half.

Parkersburg Catholic began stretching out the lead when senior Olivia Ullman went to the foul line with 4:34 on the third quarter clock and stroked two foul shots. Then, Aaliyah Brunny stole the Madonna inbound pass and was fouled going to the basket just four seconds later. Brunny drained both of her freebies.

Ullman scored three straight buckets in the last 2:12 of the third period to arm the Crusaderettes with their first double digit lead at 39-28 going into the final eight minutes. She scored 10 of her team-leading 18 points in the second half.

Blue Don forward Andrea Alimario scored on a jumper with 31 seconds remaining in the game to cut the lead to 48-41, but Ullman drained a couple of foul shots after that for the final margin.

Alimario’s goal was her only basket of the game. She added four more points from the foul line for six points, her lowest total of the season, but she led all rebounders with 10. Meanwhile, Canei led all scorers with 22 points including six of six free throws and she grabbed 9 rebounds.

Ullman finished with points to lead the Crusaderettes. Brunny scored 12.

The Blue Dons get right back into action Monday with a visit to Oak Glen.

Game notes:

¯ The Crusaderette jayvees made it a clean sweep with a 27-17 victory. Jenna Boice and Hannah Sprout each scored seven points for the Crusaderettes, while Carly Dowiak topped the Blue Dons with seven.

Parkersburg Catholic 50, Madonna 41

Parkersburg Catholic 10-12-17-11 — 50

Madonna 10-10-8-13 — 41

PARKERSBURG CATHOLIC (15-0): Brunny 4 4-12; Ullman 5 8-12 18; Ross 2 0-0 4; Boice 1 0-0 3; Huffman 3 1-4 7; Pfeiffer 1 0-0 3; Alkire 0 1-4 1; Gardner 1 0-0 2. TOTALS: 17 13-23 50. Three-pointers: 2 (Boice, Pfeiffer): Rebounds: 33 (Brunny, Ross, Alkire, 7 each): Turnovers: 14.

MADONNA (7-9): Riccadonna 1 1-2 3; Staffileno 2 1-2 5; Mascio 0 0-1 0; Martin 2 1-2 5; Alimario 1 4-6 6; Canei 8 6-6 22. TOTALS: 12 12-19 41. Rebounds: 33 (Alimario 10); Turnovers: 30.