CHARLESTON, W.Va. — So much for the Charleston Coliseum being a tough place to shoot.
During the opening half of Wednesday’s Class AA quarterfinal between No. 3 seed Charleston Catholic and sixth-seeded Ritchie County, missed shots were few and far between. Eventually, the Irish were able to generate more second-half stops, opening up a 13-point advantage through three quarters before settling for a 68-58 victory over the Rebels.
“That was a fun game to be a part of and I’m sure fun to watch,” Irish coach Hunter Moles said. “Surprising that both teams shot it very well from the start. I was proud of our guys for not losing their focus. When guys hit tough shots like that, sometimes it can get to you.”
The win sends Charleston Catholic (12-2) into a semifinal Friday against the winner of No. 2 Poca/No. 7 Bluefield.
The Irish and Rebels (11-7) combined to make 9-of-10 three-pointers in the opening quarter and 14 of 17 in the first half, with each team entering the break having drained seven triples.
“My biggest concern was we’d let the atmosphere overwhelm us,” Ritchie coach Rick Haught said. “Everybody says the rims look different down here — well you couldn’t prove it today, could you?”
Six-foot-7 Irish senior Aiden Satterfield threw down a pair of dunks within the first 2 minutes, then drained a trio of threes as part of his 15-point first quarter that helped CCHS hold a 25-21 lead.
“I’d asked a lot of people their take on how to shoot here and they basically just said shoot the ball regular, so that’s what I did,” Satterfield said.
That advantage would have been greater were it not for the Rebels making all four of their three-point attempts — two each from Graden McKinney and Ethan Haught.
Zion Suddeth made both of Catholic’s threes in the second quarter, while Haught also connected on a pair and teammate Wyatt Flesher added one. Haught’s final three of the half combined with Flesher’s enabled the Rebels to cut an 11-point deficit to 41-36 at halftime.
“We want to be up at halftime and our saying is win the third, finish the fourth,” Moles said. “We’ll take up five at half all day. We know if we go out and win that third quarter, we can finish the fourth.”
The Irish picked up their defensive play in the third quarter and 12 of their 16 points in the frame came in the paint to open up a double-digit advantage.
Along with holding Ritchie to 3-of-13 shooting for the period, CCHS got six points over the final 2:17 from freshman Jayallen Turner to hold a 57-44 lead.
“I was nervous at the start, but I was excited to get out there and try to help my team so we could get the win,” Turner said.
Five straight points from McKinney allowed the Rebels to make one last push, trimming a 62-51 deficit to six points with 2:53 to play.
But Satterfield’s tip-in, combined with a pair of buckets from Turner, allowed the Irish to move the lead back to double digits and advance.
Satterfield led all players with 27 points on 10-of-16 shooting and added six rebounds and three blocks.
Suddeth was 6-of-8 shooting with 14 points, a game-high 11 rebounds, seven steals and six assists.
“That’s not a traditional point guard,” Moles said of Suddeth. “He’s an absolute monster and he’s fun to coach. Eleven rebounds is what he’s supposed to do.”
Turner added 17 points and made 8-of-9 shots, as the Irish finished shooting 55 percent.
Haught was 10 of 14 and made all six of his two-point shots to lead Ritchie with 24 points. He added eight boards and five assists.
McKinney added 15 points in defeat.
“They have so much length and it was huge for us that we hit shots,” coach Haught said. “That’s what us allowed us to stay in the game. Kids stepped up in a big moment and hit shots.”