MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Two high school basketball teams in West Virginia are still carrying perfect records as we enter the third week of March. Those teams could remain perfect but end without state championships.
The Parkersburg Catholic girls team stands two victories away from a state title. The Pendleton County boys team is in the midst of their best season in school history. The Wildcats qualified for states for the first time in school history last Wednesday.
“It is a life lesson that sometimes things are out of your control,” said Pendleton County head coach Ryan Lambert. “You have to control what you can control. Everything we have asked our kids to do, they have done. We are 23-0. We did not have a schedule that was extremely tough, we will admit that. But we did get a monstrous win over Trinity.”
In the Class A, Region II co-final, the Wildcats erased a nine-point fourth quarter deficit against the Warriors, to secure their first regional championship.
“We have preached defense in our program for the last four or five years. It has been our identity, it has been our DNA,” Lambert said. “We limited them to one tough shot in that entire fourth quarter. I don’t think we gave up an offensive rebound or a second chance opportunity. That defense led to our offense. When you see a few shots go through the hole, the bucket gets a little bigger.”
“Our county consolidated in 1998 and we have not made it to the state tournament once in our history. Would we have loved the opportunity to come to Charleston and to play that No. 3 vs. No. 6 game against Greater Beckley Christian? Of course. We still hold just a little bit of hope for that.”
The boys high school postseason was suspended Thursday afternoon and all extracurricular activities statewide are on hold until at least April 10th.
“Can we go three weeks and not practice and then get things rolling again and possibility a month or a month and a half from now get things rolling? I think so and I would be a hundred percent for that. If you say end of May, I think it would be a tough situation to put our athletes in.”
Even if the Wildcats’ season is unable to resume, Lambert is hopeful that this season sets a standard for future teams in Franklin to follow.
“Our community has bought into the program. And ultimately, that is how programs take small steps and become mainstays in Charleston by doing the things little by little that we are doing.”
“I feel for a school like Pendleton County, who was undefeated and doesn’t get the chance to go their first state tournament,” said Notre Dame head coach Jarrod West. “There are so many layers to this.”
Crusaderettes hope to return to Charleston
Just like the Wildcats, the Parkersburg Catholic girls basketball team is hoping to continue their postseason journey. PCHS played in the final game prior to Thursday’s suspension of the state tournament. They defeated Tucker County 85-47 in the quarterfinals, setting up a matchup with Gilmer County in the semifinals. The announcement of the tournament’s suspension was made prior to the start of the fourth quarter.
“I told the young ladies that we have ‘x’ numbers of minutes left and we are going to make the most of the minutes we have,” said Parkersburg Catholic head coach Marty Vierheller following Thursday’s win. “We have talked about how blessed we are and how fortunate we feel. We don’t know how the script is going to end. I don’t want to talk about it being the end right now. In a situation nobody is used to, I think the young ladies handled themselves very well.”
Parkersburg Catholic (26-0) advanced to the Class A state championship game last year and hasn’t lost since, defeating all of their opponents by double digits.
“I would just like this team to be remembered as one of Parkersburg Catholic’s greatest. Obviously I want to seal the deal so I am hanging on to the last thread of hope to do that. Being behind the scenes and seeing how hard everyone works, you just hope that everyone feels the same way,” Vierheller said.