‘Cats finish regular season with win
Fred King’s Wildcats may have felt things couldn’t get worse after losing five games in a row to nearly close out the season. However, things only got better as Paden City saw the light of day during a Friday night contest against the Cameron Dragons.
It was the third game between the former sectional rivals as a result of meeting in the OVAC Class A consolation game. The prior two times the teams got together, Cameron walked away with wins by three and four.
This was anything but a similar result. Paden City used a three-pointer barrage to overwhelm the Dragons, hitting 10 total in the game.
Nine of them came from seniors Ryan Thoburn and Ricky Wright, playing in their last game at Bob Burton Gymnasium, as the duo equaled Cameron’s entire point total.
They started early scoring the first eight points of the game. Thoburn opened the game up with a three followed by a basket with an assist from fellow senior Wes Cosper. Wright then hit a three-pointer from the right wing to make it 8-0.
Baskets by Malakai Anderson and Josh Bennett bumped up the lead even more to 12-0, forcing Cameron to call timeout. The Dragons would finally get some offense in, but Thoburn continued his excellence, scoring seven more points to end the quarter with 12 and giving his team a 19-8 advantage.
The second quarter was more favorable to Cameron, but it seemed as though every time they scored, Paden City would answer, eventually taking a 34-18 lead at the half.
In the third quarter, Paden City systematically controlled the ball before waiting for the perfect shot opportunity to arrive. They may have not scored as many field goals as the previous two quarters (four in the third, five in the second, eight in the first), but when they did, they made them count.
Bennett started things off with a three and Wright ended it, also with the bonus bomb. Thoburn was responsible for the middle with a two and three.
The fourth was easily controlled by the Wildcats as they put on one final show before the home crowd, scoring a total of 18 points.
The lead would go as high as 23 before King called off the dogs, taking his seniors out to the applause of the fans.
As the horn sounded, Paden City once again reached the win column with a 63-37 victory.
Thoburn finished with 20 points and nine rebounds while Wright contributed 17 respectively. Bennett also reached double figures with 10 and eight rebounds. Anderson tossed in eight, reached double-figures in assists with 11, and tallied four steals. Cosper and Ronnie Blatt both scored four.
Overall, it was one of Paden City’s better shooting nights of the season, and it couldn’t come at a better time as they shot 57.9 percent (22-38) from the field and 81.8 (9-11) from the charity stripe.
“Five guys walk out of this gym tonight with a lot of good memories. Four of them were here for four years,” said Head Coach Fred King.
“The first time they played in this gym they were 14 year olds scared to death playing 18 year olds and getting drove. This is the difference. It’s nice. I told them to go back there and look through those windows, look at that score and remember the last basket you scored and where it was from.
“That way they have a nice memory because for the first two years they took a few beatings, but the last two we gave out a few, so I’m happy.”
The Wildcats had two other games on the week, but those didn’t end like they had hoped as they fell to Bridgeport again and Williamstown. After splitting the season with wins coming on the home team’s court, the Bridgeport Bulldogs and the Paden City Wildcats were matched up in a quarterfinal OVAC Class A game in Bridgeport.
Just the week before the Bulldogs took a bite out of the Wildcats and helped claim the second seed in the OVAC tournament and got to host a first round game against Paden City.
The series history continued as Bridgeport won 52-43 to move on to the championship game against Bishop Donahue at Ohio University Eastern.
Bennett nailed down three triples in the first quarter to guide the Wildcats to a 13-12 lead after one period of play. But, the Bulldogs tallied the next eight points, six of which came by way of second chance shots.
Instead of heading into the locker room with the lead, the Wildcats fell behind five points at the break, 24-19 Bulldogs. Bridgeport then went on a 13-5 run, while the ‘Cats were licking their wounds hitting on only 2-10 shots, including 0-4 from beyond the arc.
The ‘Cats closed the gap to 48-41 on a Wright three, but a couple more easy buckets would hold off a late Wildcat rally and propel Bridgeport to the finals.
Wright paced the ‘Cats with 11 points, including three baskets from beyond the arc, and Anderson contributed 10 points, that also included a basket from beyond the arc. Thoburn and Bennett each netted six markers, while Cosper tallied five.
On Wednesday, the Wildcats welcomed Williamstown to Paden City. It was the ‘Cats’ only game against a team in their section for the season.
The Yellowjackets were recently voted by the coaches in the region as the No. 2 team in Section II and showed everyone in attendance why.
Matt Kiger and Daniel Spurgeon complimented each other nicely as inside and outside threats, giving the Wildcats fits all night.
Both players couldn’t be stopped all night as Kiger scored 21 and Spurgeon rang up 18. The ‘Jackets took home the 73-52 win.
After Williamstown took a double-digit lead in the first half, Paden City was able to tie the game at 18-18, but the ‘Jackets quickly responded with a three-pointer. From there they would nurse the lead until they were up 32-25 at the half.
The second half was proved to be the difference as Paden City couldn’t get the shots to fall. The Yellowjackets took advantage of the boards and were able to create a lot of fast break opportunities.
Wright and Anderson had impressive games with both players going over the 20-mark with 22 and 21 points. Bennett scored three, while Cosper, Thoburn and Blatt each scored two.
Next up for the Wildcats is the sectional game against St. Marys on Saturday. The ‘Cats go in as the No. 5 seed and the Blue Devils at the the No. 4 seed.
Once again, Paden City will have to overcome a height disadvantage if they want to win.
“Our tallest man is going to be the size of their point guard,” King said. “Now it doesn’t scare us because if we can execute like we did tonight and shoot well, they have to come play us.”