OVAC 1A Semi: Donahue Pressure Gives Wildcats Fits

MCMECHEN – Bishop Donahue coach Tom Wise didn’t really need any words of wisdom for his team, coming off a foul-plagued first quarter in which the Bishops had an 18-13 lead on Paden City in an OVAC 1A semifinal contest.

He had only two words.

“Go press.”

The Bishops did just that, turning up the intensity and in turn their transition game in a 79-50 victory against the Wildcats on Tuesday night.

With the victory Bishop Donahue advances to the championship game against Trinity at 8 on Saturday night at Ohio University Eastern in St. Clairsville.

“It’s not that we were playing poorly, we had some foul trouble,” Wise said. “We knew that Paden City didn’t have a lot of players (eight) and you figure that at some point, if you keep bringing the pressure, at some point, they are going to get tired. Go press. That is the words of wisdom that we use.”

It worked to perfection, and Paden City’s situation was exacerbated when freshman point guard Hayden Hizer was injured early in the second quarter.

Bishop Donahue, which saw Bryce Jones return to form from outside the arc (he had four 3s) kept bringing the pressure and slowly pulled away from the Wildcats.

The game offered a fresh view of things for both teams, after Bishop Donahue beat the Paden City 75-54 earlier in the season.

The Wildcats opened eyes Saturday with a surprising 89-82 victory against then Class A No.3 Magnolia.

“I’m not going to lie, I was a little worried about this game,” Wise said. “You don’t go to Magnolia and score 89 points and not get people’s attention. They have some outstanding players. The guy we were concerned with was (Kennedy) Cain. He scored some points but for the most part I thought Lavonte (Hampton) did a pretty good job on him.”

Cain finished with 21 points, 15 in the second half, and eight rebounds.

Paden City coach Fred King pointed to a stretch between the first and second quarters, where Paden City had a chance to remain in the game but missed nine free throws.

“And most of those were the front end of 1-and-1s or and-1s,” King said. “We are 4 of 13 and there was a potential for another eight or nine free throws. At that point it’s a five- or six-point game. Right there is the ball game.

“Look, you have to execute and we did not execute. When you have a bunch of great athletes, who are well coached, in a gym like this, you have to do everything you can to max out the opportunities you get and we were not able to do that.”

In addition to Jones’ big night, Chaice Truex reached his season averages with 18 points and 10 rebounds and Jesse Padlow and Hampton had 13 points and seven rebounds each.

“That is what we are looking for at this point in the season,” Wise said, “If we get four guys in double figures we are doing what we need to do. We had a couple of series where we had a good run. That’s what we were looking for.

“It was nice to see Bryce shoot the ball well again. He had a couple others I don’t know how they didn’t go in.”

King, who pulled Hizer out in the third quarter, is hopeful his freshman point guard will be able to go Friday night when the Wildcats meet Meadow Bridge in the West Virginia Hometown Invitational in Summersville.

“Everyone knows we are limited in numbers and having our freshman point guard go down hurt,” King said. “I thought Devon (Price), came in and played a pretty good game. We went back to Hayden in the third, just to see if he could go. We wanted to make sure he was OK, and I felt like I owed him that. But I didn’t want to mess around with it. We got him out and iced it. We’re just glad he is OK.”

Bishop (11-5) returns to the OVAC 1A Championship where it was 1-3, last winning the title in 2009.