McMECHEN - Moving a step closer to nailing down a berth in the upcoming Ohio Valley Athletic Conference boys' basketball tournament, Class 1A-leading Bishop Donahue jumped in front early and never looked back while rolling past Paden City 76-36 Tuesday night at the Father Raymond Jablinske Memorial Gymnasium.
Junior sharpshooter Bryce Jones had another big night for the Bishops, draining five three-pointers on the way to scoring 21 points. Three of Jones's trifectas came during the first quarter as the hosts opened an 18-11 lead. He was joined in double figures by Jessie Padlow and Jared Yates with 11 points each.
''Bryce is playing well," Donahue coach Tom Wise said. ''He can shoot it from behind the arc but he also can put the ball on the ground and attack too."
Another key to last night's romp was the Bishops' half-court defense that forced the Wildcats into 18 turnovers.
''We're still a work in progress but our defense was very good," Wise continued.
On the other end of the floor, Bishop Donahue made very few mistakes, turning the ball over just seven times.
Paden City Coach Fred King, while disappointed with the outcome, gave most of the credit to the Bishops.
''We played a very physical, aggressive basketball team," King pointed out. ''They may not be all that skilled in some areas but they make up for it in quickness, savvy and toughness.
''Our guard play was suspect, but that was because Bishop Donahue would not let us get into anything."
Both teams exited the contest with 9-4 records as the hosts knocked off Paden City for the second time this season. The Wildcats entered the week third in the OVAC standings and also carrying high hopes of capturing one of the four tournament spots.
However, they were without one of their key inside performers as 6-2 freshman center Luke Cooper was absent due to a death in the family.
The score was tied once at the beginning. After Lavonte Hampton took the opening tip and drove in for a layup, Zach Heasley knotted the score for the Wildcats. Paden City's first of seven turnovers in the opening quarter led to Josh Miller's transition hoop that gave Bishop Donahue a lead it would never relinquish.
The visitors were within 7-4 when Jones drained his first trifecta. His second three-ball of the first quarter put the lead out to 13-8 and he followed that up with a layup in transition. Kennedy Cain's triple cut the Wildcats' deficit to 15-11. However with time running down, Jones rubbed off a screen and nailed a buzzer-beating trifecta.
Donahue's defense and Paden City's mistakes dominated the second quarter that saw the halftime lead grow to 38-16. Chaice Truex, the Bishops' sophomore pivot, scored four points in the quarter but pulled down six rebounds that led to several run outs for easy baskets. Truex finished the game with seven points and nine rebounds. Miler pulled down seven missed shots as Donahue was able to limit the Wildcats to one shot most of the night.
Jones added to his 13-point total at halftime with two more triples and eight points during the third quarter that helped extend the lead to 56-27 entering the final eight minutes.
Paden City, hitting just 13 of 41 field goal attempts, was led by Cain and Heasley with 14 and 12 points, respectively. Heasley also led the Wildcats underneath the glass by collecting seven missed shots.