The Irish have quite a history with Wheeling Central after squaring off in title games in 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2009, in addition to playing each regular season.
"You just have to keep playing hard, playing smart, play together and things will start to roll and start to click,'' Catholic senior Nick George said of facing Central. "We just had to keep pushing and keep enduring. There's no better feeling. It was our goal from the beginning of the season to be playing on the last Saturday [of the season].''
Central shot just 38.8 percent, including 3 of 15 on 3-pointers, and made 16 fewer trips to the foul line than the Irish, who hit 14 of 19 from there.
"Their ability to get to the foul line early gave them opportunities to score points and kept them in the game,'' Central coach Mel Stephens said of Catholic. "It seems like toward the end every loose ball they were able to come up with somehow. We played from behind the whole time, but give my kids credit, they never quit. They battled to the end.''
Catholic's George finished with a game-high 24 points behind a 13-of-18 effort at the foul line while Casto continued his stellar play at states with his second consecutive double-double, turning in 16 points and 15 rebounds, including six offensive boards. Irish senior David Godwin picked up the slack at guard with nine points, three assists and three steals while a slowed McCarty contributed seven points and four steals.
"We had guys step up that we don't normally see play those roles,'' McClanahan said. "I thought David Godwin did an absolutely phenomenal job of stepping in and running the point and trying to take control of the floor and manage the game. I thought that was huge for us. Andy Hoyer and Nelson McKown off the bench gave us good minutes.''
Park scored 18 points and grabbed nine rebounds for Central. Harler contributed 15 points, 10 boards and three blocks and senior Brandon Wallace pitched in 12 points and 10 caroms.
"They should be proud of the accomplishment,'' Stephens said of his players. "There weren't very many people that gave us a chance to get out of our section or region. To be able to get down here, get a win and get to the semis is just a tribute to these 12 guys in the locker room.''
Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at tatkin...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4811.