West Liberty Athletics

WEST LIBERTY, W.Va. – The No. 1 West Liberty Hilltoppers swished five 3-point shots in the first four minutes to take a double-digit lead and kept right on rolling to a 100-66 victory against Pitt-Johnstown, which entered the game holding third place in the WVIAC standings.

“It always helps when you come out and make your first four or five 3-pointers,” said West Liberty head coach Jim Crutchfield after his Hilltoppers (22-0, 18-0) put the finishing touches on their school-record-tying 22nd consecutive victory.

“We shared the ball very well tonight and got a lot of clean looks, which is a big key for us. We have a lot of guys on this team who are capable of shooting the 3. When they have time to catch the ball and square up, they should shoot a pretty high percentage.”

That was certainly the case Thursday night as West Liberty – which leads the nation in 3-point field goals and 3-point field goal percentage – got 3-point field goals from four different players in the first 3:46 to grab a 15-4 lead. The Mountain Cats (13-8, 10-7) never recovered.

Barry Shetzer’s fourth 3-pointer of the first half opened a 20-point lead at 31-11 as the clock ticked past the 10-minute mark. The hosts coasted into intermission with a 51-28 lead.

Pitt-Johnstown never got the gap under 20 points the rest of the night and West Liberty led by as many as 36 points down the stretch before settling for the 34-point final margin.

“I thought our defense and rebounding was a big part of that fast start,” Crutchfield said. “John Wolosinczuk and Chris Morrow did a very good job on the big (Patrick) Grubbs kid in the post and even though we didn’t miss a lot of shots, we ran down a lot of offensive rebounds to give ourselves second and third chances.

“Beating people to loose balls and running down those long rebounds is a lot more important than having a good shooting night. Everyone has ‘off’ shooting nights from time to time over the course of the season but hustle is something you can control.”

Shetzer led West Liberty with 24 points, nine rebounds and five assists while Corey Pelle added 14 points. Morrow had a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds in just 14 minutes off the bench while Wolosinczuk and Alex Falk rounded out the double-figure scorers with 12 points each.

Nick Novak had 17 points to pace Pitt-Johnstown, which shot just 37 percent (25 of 66) from the floor and 27 percent (6 of 22) from the 3-point arc. The Mountain Cats also had just seven assists to go with 20 turnovers.

The Hilltoppers posted a 52-34 rebounding advantage and posted 24 assists and 12 steals to balance 15 turnovers.