BUFFALO - They've been playing basketball a long time in Buffalo High School's 60-year-old gym, affectionately known as "The Barn.'' And they hope it's a long time until they shoot like they did Tuesday night.Charleston Catholic's stifling defense held the Bison to 21 percent shooting and the state-ranked Irish coasted to a 60-32 boys basketball victory.Sophomore Nick George had 20 points and seven rebounds for Catholic (5-1), which broke it open by nearly holding Buffalo (5-3) scoreless in the second quarter. The Irish, ranked No. 2 in Class A, stretched an 11-10 lead to 26-12 as the Bison sank just 1-of-12 shots and committed four of their 18 turnovers in the second period.Even the one shot they made could have been better, as Laythen Good's toes tickled the 3-point line when he hit a long jumper.
"I thought tonight was without a doubt the best team defensive effort we've had all year,'' said Irish coach Bill McClanahan. "The young men really understood the game plan and understood what we were trying to emphasize. It's probably as good an effort carrying the game plan to the floor as we've had in a long, long time, especially on the defensive end.''Buffalo wound up 11-of-52 from the field and had no double-figure scorers. Levi Jordan, the team's top scorer and tied for the Kanawha Valley lead at 21 points per game, was held to nine points on 3-of-17 shooting. Catholic's Keaghan Ritchie guarded him much of the way."Everybody knows Levi Jordan is a solid single-A athlete, and a borderline great single-A athlete,'' McClanahan said, "and I thought from a defensive perspective, Keaghan Ritchie was our best athlete and best matchup and tonight, Keaghan won the battle.''
Jordan and the Bison also went 2-of-19 from 3-point range."I think one of the funnest things about basketball is playing defense,'' Ritchie said. "Honestly, I'm not a big scorer on this team, but I like to play defense and help my team to win."[Jordan's] a great 3-point shooter and he can drive, so I was trying not to bite on his pump fake and just stand my ground and keep with him. Coach always makes a scouting report and we always review each team a couple days before each game so we know what's coming. We've just got to perform what we learned in practice.''Catholic also led 38-32 in rebounds (Ritchie landed six) and had two fewer turnovers than Buffalo (16-18). Jordan grabbed a dozen rebounds and Dylan Rich six for the Bison."We shot very poorly,'' said Bison coach Chuck Elkins. "Levi had the night to forget. He's been our leading scorer, he's done everything for us for seven games and tonight, he just had a bad game. We'll forget about it and move on."I'll give [Catholic] credit. They played very good defense, and very good help-side defense, but we missed layup after layup after layup, and then it got contagious and they started missing layups. We just had a bad shooting night.''Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or firstname.lastname@example.org