By Dennis Glade
The Washington Times-Herald
WASHINGTON — The Washington Catholic boys basketball team saw two double digit leads evaporate, but they made the plays needed for the victory.
The Cardinals (2-6) defeated Cannelton 50-45 Saturday night at the Bird Cage behind 13 points from AJ Sellers and nine points and 10 rebounds from Armando Ramirez.
After Cannelton outscored Washington Catholic 17-9 in the third quarter, the Cardinals watched a 30-18 lead go by the way side. A Tristan Simmons three-point play with 1:55 to go in the quarter gave the Bulldogs a 35-34 lead, the first lead of the night for Cannelton. Jon Mitchell answered with a 3-pointer to give the Cardinals a two-point lead heading into the final quarter.
When the fourth quarter began, the Cardinals got some important points from the bench. Zack Taylor's basket pushed the lead to five and Eric Zipperle hit two 3-pointers to push the lead to 46-35 with 5:10 to play in regulation.
"Since Christmas we have not had a lot of good practices, but one kid that has been having some very good practices has been (Eric) Zipperle," said Washington Catholic coach John Howell. "I've been very proud of what he's been doing. He played 26 minutes tonight, played very well and rebounded (7 rebounds) very well and hit two big shots. We've been on him all year to be ready to shoot the basketball, because when he's left wide open like that he can shoot the basketball. Tonight he didn't hesitate."
Cannelton slowly chipped away at the 11-point deficit, and with Jayden Morris' lone basket of the night pulled within three points, 46-43 with 2:13 to play. After a Bulldogs timeout, Brandon Strange and Sellers both split a pair of free throws to keep the lead at three with 1:08 to play. A Cannelton turnover with 59 seconds to play sealed its fate. Sellers and Strange each added one more free throw to close out the victory.
"We had a lot of ups and downs tonight," Howell said. "There were periods where we did things really well and we executed and built a 10-point lead and the next thing you know, we're either turning the ball over or taking a bad shots against the press. There are a lot of things we can learn from this game. Towards the end of the game is a situation we hadn't been in this season, except for the one other game and that was the first game of the season. For us to let them back in it from 11 to one, there are a lot of things we can learn from that."
Washington Catholic ran out to a 6-0 lead to start the game on a 3-pointer from Strange and a three-point play from Ramirez and the Cardinals were able to take a 13-11 lead in the second quarter. Washington Catholic was able to win the second quarter 15-7 and the Cardinals used a 6-0 run to end the quarter to take a 28-18 lead into halftime.
Simmons led all scorers with 15 points, and Sellers led Washington Catholic with 13 points, followed by Ramirez with nine, Jon Mitchell with seven, Zipperle with six, Ethan Wichman, Zack Taylor and Strange with five points a piece.
The Cardinals visit Shoals (1-5) Friday night in hopes of winning their second game in a row. Howell said the team will be able to learn a lot from their second victory of the season. Focusing on the game plan will go a long way towards determining how many more wins Washington Catholic will earn the rest of the season.
"There are some things we have to learn," Howell said. "We ended up turning the ball over, because of our own bonehead mistakes and it wasn't their pressure. At times we took some bad shots and we need to learn to pull it back out and when we did that we did a little better in the half court. Us coming out and actually having a lead pretty much the whole game was good. We need to learn to execute in the half court better to make sure we settle for some tough shots, but that's something we can go back and look at on tape and correct in the future."