"I saw that from everybody we put on the floor,'' he said. "As a coach, the scoreboard's important, but from a growth perspective and from a program perspective, I couldn't ask for anything else. My heart just grows to watch them play. My seniors have heard me say this for four years. We don't define success in our program by the scoreboard. We define it by the ability to get the most out of what we have under the circumstances we're faced with. That's all we ask. That's a life lesson. If they do that every day in practice, in every game and for the rest of their lives, they will be nothing but successful young men, and that's all I can hope for.''
Catholic, which defeated the Hillbillies 62-56 in a sectional game two weeks ago, controlled much of the first half and led 28-12 midway through the second quarter.
But the No. 7 Hillbillies (14-12), who were making their first state tournament appearance since 2005, cut the deficit to 32-21 at the half and 42-37 after three quarters, capped by Jordan Simpson's 35-footer at the buzzer.
With 52 seconds left in the game, Simpson, who finished with 29 points, scored on a follow-up to trim the deficit to 57-55.
From there, the Irish's Keaghan Ritchie converted 2-of-4 free throws and George hit 3-of-4.
"We never thought we were out of the ballgame,'' said Simpson. "We're a hot-shooting team, and if we get going we can put up points in a hurry. We never really thought it was over. You saw us at the end; we made a run at it.''
Catholic's Haston Gerencir added 13 points and six rebounds, and Ritchie had 10 points and 10 rebounds.
In addition to his 29 points, Simpson had 13 rebounds and four steals for Man, and Josh Booth had 10 points.
Reach Mike Whiteford at mikewhitef...@wvgazette.com.