CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- With three Class A state titles in seven years, Charleston Catholic is used to winning games. But not many of those victories were as agonizing as Saturday's 42-39 conquest of Logan at Catholic's Athletic Complex.Before a paid crowd of 750, the Irish improved to 5-1 despite making several uncharacteristic mistakes, many of them down the stretch after holding an eight-point lead with 51/2 minutes left. Junior Nick George provided some steadiness for Catholic with 13 points and eight rebounds.That helped soothe the sting of shortcomings like five fourth-quarter turnovers, errant free-throw shooting (5 of 12 in the final period) and poor judgment, like hoisting a 3-pointer with less than two minutes left after running a minute off the clock with a one-point edge."There are things right now that we're not doing that we have always done in this program - our decision-making and our execution,'' said Irish coach Bill McClanahan. "Making free throws, who we pass to, shots we take. Our basketball IQ is not like we want it - not what I expect it to be."We just had a conversation about trying to put those pieces together because if we don't, we're not going to be tournament ready. We have to understand that all of these little pieces make the big picture, and right now we're not seeing that very clearly.''Class AAA Logan (2-5) was able to gamely stay in contention even though it trailed the entire way.Zach Minnick's layup with 1:12 left brought the Wildcats within 40-39, but those proved to be his team's final points. The next three possessions brought a five-second closely guarded call on A.J. Reynolds, a player-control foul under the basket on Minnick and a driving layup try by Reynolds that rolled tantalizingly around the rim and out.Catholic, however, failed to close the door in proper fashion in that stretch.Garret McCarty missed the front end of a pair of 1-and-1s and Nelson McKown failed to connect on either end of a two-shot foul, the latter with 25 seconds to go. McCarty and David Godwin, however, each hit 1 of 2 at the line to bump the lead to 42-39 with 10 seconds left.
The Wildcats, though, never really got a chance to hit the tying 3. Zak Miller wound up with the ball in his hands about 30 feet from the basket as time ran out, and his rushed attempt was well wide of the basket."At the end of the game, we always try to have two options,'' said Logan coach Mark Hatcher, "especially when you only have 10 seconds to work with. Nick George did a really good job of popping out and leaving the layup open and guarding the first 3-point shot. We should have had a second 3-point shot, but the screener didn't do what he was supposed to, and I don't know if the ball ever got there anyway.''Hatcher said he knew Saturday's game was going to be low scoring, especially with his squad trying to find its offensive rhythm."We've played Catholic four times now, and it's always a low score,'' Hatcher said. "I thought we did a great job of defending them and not giving them a lot of layups. They only had a couple of easy shots."I was really proud of our guys for battling back, but we have yet to find the guy on our team that can get me 15, 12, 10 points every night."C.J. Williams scored all 11 of his points in the final 10 minutes for Logan. Worm Street added nine points, six rebounds and three steals and Reynolds led the Wildcats' 30-26 edge off the boards by grabbing nine rebounds.
For Catholic, Zach Casto had eight rebounds and George chipped in a pair of nice assists, turning down open 8-foot jumpers to drop the ball to a teammate for a layup."It's definitely better to learn when you're winning as opposed to when you're losing,'' George said. "It's all there for us - it's just in pieces. We'll have lapses where we'll do things like make a long pass that's unnecessary. We have to start working harder in practice and realize we can do this, and just go at it even harder.'' Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or email@example.com.