WHEELING - Huntington St. Joseph's senior playmaker Josh Pierson put on a two-day show that will not soon be forgotten at the Undo's Ohio Valley Catholic Tournament, helping the Irish claim the boys' championship Wednesday night.
Pierson gunned in a game-high 38 points while sophomore Payne Meadows scored 10 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter as St. Joe's overcame an early deficit to hold off Braxton Nolte and Wheeling Central in an exciting 72-69 victory at the Alma Grace McDonough Center.
The title for Coach Ross Scaggs' 5-3 record squad comes on the heels of a three-point overtime victory against previously unbeaten Bishop Donahue on Tuesday night. Pierson, who scored 16 points in the second frame last night, had 29 tallies in that victory.
Coach Mel Stephens' Maroon Knights, who have lost three heartbreakers in beginning the season 1-4, had chances late. Central led 62-61 with 3:24 to play and had the lead down to one on three occasions in the final minute. However, Pierson was 4 of 4 from the line in the final 24 ticks while Meadows nailed a pair with 3 seconds to play.
Nolte had an outstanding night for the Knights, scoring 10 in the opening chapter and 15 in the fourth while finishing with 30 in the contest, helping Central stay within striking distance.
The Maroon Knights took advantage of St. Joe's cold shooting in the first quarter, darting to a 17-9 lead before a conventional three by junior Brandon Wallace put Central up 20-9 at 7:40 of the second.
From there Pierson began putting on a show, scoring 16 points in the second stanza alone to help Huntington St. Joseph go on a 23-12 rally and take a 32-29 advantage into the break.
The irish managed to force Central into nine turnovers in the quarter, most of which led to points.
Pierson, Meadows and Michael Mayes, who finished with nine points, were joined on the all-tournament team by Nolte and Wallace, who had an outstanding game off the bench with 14 points and eight rebounds.