It’s not often that two teams are left crying in the postgame press conference.
Then again, Thursday at the Charleston Coliseum will go down as a day the likes of which no one had seen before.
In what will be the final game of the girls basketball state tournament for the knowable future, Class A No. 2 Parkersburg Catholic jumped on No. 7 Tucker County early, shot 56.3 percent from the floor and steamrolled to an 85-47 quarterfinal win.
The win should have set up a semifinal matchup with No. 3 Gilmer County at 11:15 a.m. on Friday, but that and everything else was put into limbo while the Crusaderettes and Mountain Lions were doing battle.
During the first half of the game, a decision was sent down by Gov. Jim Justice to the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission that the tournament would be postponed indefinitely due to concerns about the coronavirus.
It should’ve been a triumphant moment for Parkersburg Catholic, which ran its record to 26-0 and would have been a step closer to the state title game, where it fell by 25 points to No. 1 St. Joseph last year. But instead, the Crusaderettes were left to wonder if they’d played the last basketball of their season.
For senior point guard Madeline Huffman — who set a Class A single-game record for assists in a game with 15 on Thursday, besting a mark of 14 set by St. Joseph’s Mychal Johnson in 2013 — she was left to wonder if it would be the last minutes on the floor in her high school career.
“Obviously I want to seal the deal, so I’m holding onto that and I hope to do that,” Huffman said, holding back tears. “But being behind the scenes and seeing how hard everyone works, you just can’t help but hope that everyone watching us feels the same way.”
“I looked around and just saw some blank stares,” Catholic coach Marty Vierheller said. “We heard the announcement and you instantly go into shock mode, and then as a coach you go into crisis-management mode. I just told the kids, ‘We’re going to go out and we have X number of minutes left and we’re going to make the most of the minutes we have.’ ”
It made for an odd scene as Parkersburg Catholic and Tucker continued to battle it as word spread throughout the arena. Tucker coach Dave Helmick said he wasn’t aware of the situation until the end of the game.
“I’m coaching, I’m not really listening to the public-address announcer,” Helmick said. “Maybe it’s my mistake, but I’m trying to coach my team. Some of the kids said something to me that were on the bench there at the end. I’ll be honest, I was thinking, ‘I hope that’s why he left his starters in when they were up 40.’ ”
Aaliyah Brunny poured in 30 points with Leslie Huffman adding 23 for the Crusaderettes. Madeline Huffman scored nine points to go with her 15 assists. In all, Catholic handed out 24 helpers and shot a blistering 56.3 percent from the floor.
Terra Kuhn led Tucker with 19 points with London Hood scoring 10.