Charleston Catholic's Nick George (center) is surrounded by Poca's Cameron Morrison (left) and Adam Sigman during Friday's game.
POCA - Since Bill McClanahan arrived at Charleston Catholic 12 years ago, the Irish have parlayed a gritty, grinding style into a lot of victories and three Class A state championships.But nobody's been at that sort of game longer than Poca coach Allen Osborne, and it showed Friday night.The Dots worked their way to a big lead by halftime and held on through some rough patches for a 45-41 victory. Matt Chandler scored 13 points and Noah Frampton 12 to pace Poca (3-1).The closest the Irish could come in the final 21/2 quarters was at 43-41 when Nick George made 1 of 2 free throws with 15 seconds remaining. Frampton sank a pair at the line with 11 seconds left, however, to bump the lead back to four.The Dots held Catholic to 41 percent shooting and forced many of the 16 turnovers by the Irish."On the positive side, I thought we played well defensively,'' Osborne said. "We got back in the second half and took away some of the baskets they got in the first half. But we've got to work on our inbound plays and get the ball inbounded. We struggled there, and that's my fault. Those hurt us.''A 6-foot-4 junior all-stater, George (22 points, six rebounds) beat the Dots downfloor four times for layups during the game until Osborne made a defensive change.Poca also committed six of its 11 turnovers in the final period as the Irish kept chipping away at deficits as high as 12 points. Two of those miscues were back-to-back five-second inbound violations with less than two minutes left as each team took turns clamping down defensively and forcing mistakes.The Dots, though, have been playing that way for a lot longer than the Irish.
"I don't know about that,'' Osborne said, "but our kids played hard and we're real proud of them. We didn't play well and didn't shoot well against Tolsia [in a Tuesday loss] but we had a good effort coming back against a really good team."We got to a lot of loose balls and we guarded really well, especially in the second quarter. We ran our offense and got some good shots. I'm pleased with the way we played the middle two quarters.''Poca held Catholic (2-1) without a point for nearly eight minutes - an entire quarter - in flipping a 15-11 deficit early in the second period into a 26-15 lead early in the third.The Dots hit 6 of 11 shots in the second quarter, capped by a 3-pointer from the left corner by Hayden Bailey at the buzzer off a Frampton feed.Their shooting touch went awry a bit in the second half, however, as they made just 7 of 19 field goal tries and 4 of 7 at the foul line to close the game, allowing the Irish to creep back into it.But Catholic couldn't get anyone besides George and guard Garret McCarty (16 points) into the offensive flow. David Godwin, who sank a 3 late in the game, was the only other Irish player to score.
"Coach Osborne's teams have always played hard and always get after it,'' McClanahan said. "They're always going to be physical. They've played that basketball for 30 years, so from a preparation standpoint, everybody who comes in here knows what to expect."From our perspective, we didn't play at the level of intensity we needed to, and I was disappointed in our effort and our intensity in the second and most of the third quarter. We'll have to fix that. It's something we'll have to adjust in practice. In all fairness, this is how we practice - we practice in spurts, hard for 4 or 5 minutes, then take 3 or 4 minutes off. Tonight, we took two quarters off. Poca is patient and is going to execute and keeps coming at you, so that's not going to get it done.''Frampton added six rebounds and three steals for Poca. Cameron Cottrill swiped the ball four times for the Dots.Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or email@example.com.