Irish hold off Tucker to win title

ELKINS – Tucker County’s path to a 12th straight state tournament appearance took a detour on Thursday night as Notre Dame claimed the Class A, Region II, Section 1 title with a 37-35 victory in front of a capacity crowd at Richard P. Simmons Memorial Gymnasium.

In a tightly-played defensive battle, which neither team led by more than five points the entire night, the Irish (19-4) withstood a late Mountain Lion charge to escape with the sectional banner.

Freshman Jarrod West’s trey gave Notre Dame a 35-31 cushion in the final quarter before four straight points by Ian Nichols tied the game.

A pair of free throws from 6-foot-4 Irish senior forward Cal Cistaro with 4:09 left proved to be the difference.

After Cistaro missed a foul shot with 12 seconds left, Tucker County had a chance to tie the game but a shot attempt by Nichols before the buzzer was off the mark.

Nichols had a game-high 18 points to pace the Mountain Lions, who dominated the boards, 35-14.

Cistaro tallied 13 for Notre Dame, which trailed 17-15 at halftime before using a pair of key 3-pointers by Alex Demary to grab a 30-29 advantage entering the final frame.

The Mountain Lions (16-6) will now have to travel to the Section 2 champion Wednesday in a regional finale. The semifinals of that section will be held today as Pendleton County will host East Hardy and Pocahontas County visits Moorefield.

The title game is set for 7 p.m. Saturday at Petersburg High School.

Notre Dame, meanwhile, will host the runner-up.