GLEN DALE - Wheeling Central Catholic's three-year standouts Colleen McCormick and Emily Bucon combined for 43 points Wednesday night as the Maroon Knights knocked off previously undefeated John Marshall 77-63 during a heated in-your-face hacka-thon type battle at the Monarchs' gymnasium.
Fifty-nine fouls were called and the two teams took a total of 87 free throws with five players fouling out in the fourth quarter of a game the visitors led from start to finish. John Marshall was whistled for 35 fouls and had Kylie Howard, Bailey Filben, Morgan Watson, and Sissy George foul out.
The Maroon Knights were whistled for 24 personals and played the final 4:07 without Bucon. The West Liberty University recruit departed after scoring 18 of her 20 points during the first three quarters.
McCormick, able to stay on the floor through the stretch run despite also being saddled with four fouls, led the Central scoring with 23 points. Her leadership and court skills were sorely needed at the end, and she also drained five clutch free throws to blunt any hopes John Marshall had of a comeback.
At the free-throw stripe, Central (6-1) converted 32 of 54 attempts. John Marshall, desperately trying to catch up, put the Knights on the line 32 times in just the fourth quarter, and they managed to net 18 of those opportunities.
The Monarchs, meanwhile, struggled from both the field and the free-throw line, cashing just 21 of 69 field goal attempts and only 16 of 33 bonus shots.
Wheeling Central Coach Penn Kurtz wasn't surprised about the way the game was officiated.
''Actually this is how John Marshall games are played," he pointed out. ''They are always pretty physical and sometimes it depends on who runs out of players first.
''I was pleased with the way our kids held up, especially after Emily left the game. We had some young people out there and they missed some free throws but we finally made enough at the end to maintain our lead."
''Shocked'' was the word John Marshall Coach Mark McCormick used when asked about the hack-a-lot style of both teams.
''We have been aggressive from Day 1, and we never were called for that many fouls," McCormick said. ''But, they were calling them both ways.
''First and foremost, Central shot the lights out in the first quarter and we really got in a hole. I thought we played well and played hard. We are an up-tempo fast-paced team and at times we got a little haywire.
''Overall, we had good shots on the block that did not fall. Central did take away some of our dribble penetration and forced us to take some outside shots that we are accustomed to making. It just didn't happen (Wednesday night)."
Adding somewhat to the pain for the Monarchs' coach was watching his cousin, Colleen McCormick, do most of the damage.
McCormick, displaying her usual smooth moves in the post despite being heavily guarded by John Marshall senior standout Kylie Howard, scored eight points in the opening quarter.
Beth Stayduhar, draining her only field goal of the night, cashed a 3-pointer from the top of the key to open the scoring, followed by a McCormick turnaround shot that put Central in front 5-0. Following a Bucon free throw, John Marshall ended an 0-for-7 shooting drought at the outset with a nice stop and 3-point pop by Howard. Unfortunately for the Monarchs' Howard would hit only one more bucket attempt the rest of the night, going 2-for-14 from the floor and scoring nine points.
JM's scintillating freshman Tori Derrow picked up the slack and started off a 22-point outing for herself with a steal and driving layup that pulled the Monarchs to within 6-5. McCormick then would score six of the next eight Central points to start a run that put the visitors in front 20-10 after an opening quarter that saw the Knights connect on 9 of 13 shots.
Filben, another JM freshman, fired in a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 22-13 early in the second quarter but Central, behind seven points from sophomore Regan Blaha and six by Bucon extended its lead to 39-26 at the half.
Derrow had a huge third quarter, scoring 11 points, including firing in a couple of treys. However, the Monarchs were still down by 57-45 heading into the final eight minutes.
Emily Winters, who scored 13 for John Marshall, got a steal and layup starting the fourth quarter to cut the deficit to 10. The Monarchs got no closer the rest of the way.
Kurtz answered affirmatively when asked if he thought the 5-foot-11 McCormick was the best post player in the valley.
''I haven't seen one any better," he said. ''Indian Creek has a good kid but she is 6-5. Colleen is both smooth and smart. You saw that (Wednesday night) when she had four fouls and didn't foul out. After losing Emily, Colleen had to stay in the game.
''There was a lot to like despite all the fouls. When somebody like Emily Bucon fouls out, you still have players that were able to step in and maintain the lead for us.''
Joining McCormick and Bucon in double figures for Central was Lindsey Baker with 12 points.
JM's Mark McCormick also maintained his positive feelings after the game.
''We lost to an excellent team,'' he said. ''Our bench did a great job when we got in foul trouble. The bottom line is that we are 5-1 and heading in the right direction. We'll go back to work and get ready to play Union Local here Saturday afternoon."