PARKERSBURG, W.Va. - Questions have dogged Buffalo's basketball team all season.
No traditional low-post offense. No signature wins. And nothing to lean on but streaky 3-point shooting and some quirky full-court pressure defense.
Well, all those questions were answered in a resounding way Thursday night.
The Bison got double-figure scoring from five different players and forced 21 turnovers to earn a 65-61 victory over No. 5 Parkersburg Catholic in a Class A Region 4 co-final, sending the Putnam County school back to the state tournament for the first time since 2008.
"We had faith. That's what we had,'' said senior guard Levi Jordan, the team's leading scorer. "We had each other's back. That's what won it for us.''
The Bison (21-4), which came into the game ranked No. 8 in Class A, used a 12-1 run to close the first half to gain a 33-25 halftime lead.
Buffalo stayed in front the rest of the way, stretching the lead as high as 10 points and seeing it cut back as close as one by the Crusaders (21-4).
The Bison survived some shaky free-throw shooting, as it missed its first four attempts after going into the 1-and-1 bonus with exactly a minute left. That turned a 10-point advantage with three minutes left into unsure footing.
PC narrowed it to 63-59 on a pair of Joe Padden foul shots with 15 seconds remaining, but Jordan virtually iced it two seconds later by swishing a pair of his own at the line.
Buffalo came into the game with four losses, three to defending state champion Charleston Catholic and the other a two-point loss at the buzzer to St. Marys in the championship game of the Hometown Invitational Tournament in Summersville.
"People said all year we don't play anybody,'' said Bison coach Chuck Elkins. "We've won 21 ballgames. We had to have something. We've lost three times to Charleston Catholic and to St. Marys on a lucky shot. So this proves we're legit. We might not be a championship contender, but I think we deserve to be there.''
Buffalo also weathered a 31-point explosion by Parkersburg Catholic's Jake Ullman, who hit 13 of 22 shots and knocked down five 3-pointers.
The Crusaders, who won a state title in 2010, couldn't keep from giving the ball back to the Bison, however. Buffalo had 14 steals, led by Laythen Good with six.