Catholic has no answer for Poca
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- In the first half, Charleston Catholic threw a zone defense against Poca. In the second half, the Irish tried man-to-man. At the very end, they started an all-out parade to the foul line.
None of it worked.
Junior Matt Chandler matched his career-high with 21 points to lead a balanced effort Tuesday night as the Dots dodged all of those obstacles on their way to a 69-59 victory in a battle of state-ranked teams at the Charleston Catholic Athletic Complex.
It marked just the seventh loss in 113 home games since Catholic opened its facility in the 2004-05 season.
"I was feeling it tonight,'' Chandler said, "but anybody on this team can take the role of being the scorer.''
Freshmen Elijah Cuffee (15 points, six rebounds) and Luke Frampton (10 points, five rebounds) also hit double figures in scoring for Poca (9-1, ranked No. 4 in Class AA).
The Dots showed they could win at any speed or strategy against the Irish (8-3, No. 3 in Class A).
Catholic played zone for the first 21/2 quarters, an interesting move against a team that features five 3-point shooters. Poca's first six attempts all came from behind the arc, and all five starters hoisted at least one.
After the Dots knocked down seven 3s to gain a 35-26 lead less than three minutes into the third quarter, Catholic played more man-to-man defense. But Poca foiled that strategy, too, with sharp bounce passes to cutters in the lane, sparking an offense that made 9 of 16 second-half shots.
When all else failed and the Dots' lead grew as large as 15 points, Catholic opted for the foul game, and Poca was up to the challenge, netting 17 of 22 at the line in the final period to protect its lead.
"That's one good thing about our team,'' said Poca coach Allen Osborne. "We've got some guys who can handle it and can shoot it. That's what makes us pretty hard to guard.
"It was pretty important to come up here tonight and get a lead because they've been four-cornering everybody and spreading them out. We were able to get a lead and make them play. Which is good, because they're got a pretty good team.''
While Poca was spreading the wealth on offense (other starters Cam Cottrill and Noah Frampton added nine and eight points, respectively), Catholic again looked to be a two-man attack.
Guard Garret McCarty (29 points, six assists, three steals) and forward Nick George (18 points, seven rebounds) combined to score 47 of the 59 Irish points.
It was the eighth straight game in which the senior tandem accounted for more than 60 percent of the team's scoring. In that stretch, they've tallied 69 percent of Catholic's points.
"We're growing as a team,'' said Irish coach Bill McClanahan, "and part of that maturity is to develop the role players. Nick and Garret are 1 and 2. They're our guns, but we need to have a couple of pistols on our hip and those role players need to develop that.
"This was another eye-opening experience for us, especially for those role players. Poca's a solid double-A basketball team. They're well coached, fundamentally sound and they have a lot of options. I am not disappointed with our effort. I am not disappointed with the game we tried to play. There are just little things, and we will grow into those and fix those . . . So I'm not discouraged at all.''
The closest Catholic could come in the final 14 minutes was six points, the last time at 65-59 with 24 seconds left. Four different Poca players made six free throws apiece as the Dots sank 24 of 31 at the line overall.
Chandler shot better than 50 percent from the floor (6 of 11), went 3 of 6 from 3-point range and made 6 of 10 foul shots.
"Matt Chandler's a hard guard,'' Osborne said. "They've got to use a post guy to guard him, and he can shoot it and he can drive it. He's a hard person to guard for a post guy.''
Neither side had much trouble with turnovers (each had eight) and Poca held a 25-21 edge in rebounding.
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or email@example.com.