PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — Listening to veteran Notre Dame coach Jarrod West throughout the second half of Tuesday’s contest at Parkersburg Catholic, one may have been led to believe the Irish were playing from behind.
Yet Notre Dame maintained a double digit advantage over the game’s final 20-plus minutes, utilizing a 32-point second quarter to separate itself from the Crusaders in a 76-59 victory at PCHS.
“It felt like we won by single digits, but I look up and we won by 17 so I had to apologize to my team a little bit,” West said.
After the Irish took a 51-31 lead into halftime, West was hard on his team over the final two quarters as the Crusaders cut the deficit to 10 points on separate occasions in the fourth quarter, but they could never get closer.
“I’ve been on the end of too many games in Charleston where we had the lead and lost and unforced turnovers lose you state tournament games,” West said. “So we have to get better at that. I’ve prided myself the last four or five years on trying to get my team prepared to finish games better.”
A back-and-forth first quarter ended with Tyler Hardesty making his second of five 3-pointers to give ND (2-0) a 19-16 lead despite Cade Ullman scoring the Crusaders’ final 13 points of the quarter.
The Irish started the second quarter with five points from Hardesty and four more from Nate Helm to spark an 11-2 run over the first 1:54 of the period.
A Ty Sturm layup brought Parkersburg Catholic (2-1) to within 30-21, but Hardesty answered with a 3 and Notre Dame led by double digits from that point forward.
With ND in front 35-25, Hardesty made his fourth 3, followed by a Gabe Zummo trey that stretched the advantage to 16.
Irish freshman guard Jaidyn West accounted for a pair of 3s late in the first half, including one with 2 seconds on the clock that allowed ND to take the 20-point advantage into halftime.
“We knew coming in here we had to not let Cade beat us,” West said following his second high school game. “We locked in on defense and our offense came from our defense.”
Hardesty scored 19 of his team-high 26 points in the first two quarters, while West had 12 points and five assists without a turnover at the break. Add in the contributions of Zummo (11 points) and Helm (7 points, 5 rebounds) and four of ND’s starting five combined for 49 of the 51 points.
“That first half was probably the best first half that I’ve had with my team playing a high quality opponent,” coach West said. “We’ve had some quarters like that, but not against a team that’s probably going to be in Charleston. That was a very, very good half for our kids.”
The Irish shot 63 percent (17-of-27) and made eight 3s over the first two quarters.
“I thought we handled their press pretty well,” PC coach Rob Strcula said. “We just self imploded once we broke the press. We felt like we had to put up a quick shot and that’s just like a turnover … go down, you get one bad shot, it comes back the other way and they get easy layups.”
Zummo opened the second-half scoring with a layup on West’s sixth assist, but PC followed with a 7-0 run to cut the deficit to 15.
Leading 57-42, Hardesty connected on his fifth 3 and the Irish’s only trey of the second half at the 3:30 mark of the third quarter. PC responded with a 7-1 run to draw to within 61-49 on Ullman’s conventional three-point play 58 seconds before the fourth quarter, but West answered with a conventional three-point play of his own to send the Irish into the fourth leading by 15.
A pair of free throws by Ullman trimmed the ND lead to 66-55 and gave Ullman 27 points with 5:53 remaining, but he never scored again.
Instead, the Irish held PC to only one field goal over the remainder of the contest, and Hardesty and West combined to make 5-of-6 free throws down the stretch that allowed the Irish to pull away.
“If we control ourselves and control the tempo in that second quarter, it would have been a closer game,” Strcula said. “We did a good job of controlling the tempo in the second half.”
Notre Dame made 24-of-38 field-goal attempts for 63 percent shooting in the win, while also connecting on 19-of-25 free throws.
Three of Hardesty’s teammates joined him in double figure scoring as West finished with 17 points, Zummo added 13 and Helm contributed 11.
Patrick Copen finished with 15 points and nine rebounds in defeat.
PC shot just 33 percent (8-of-24) in the second half, although it did force 10 Irish turnovers while committing only four.