WHEELING - The Wheeling Park Patriots hit the snooze button on the 5 p.m. wake-up call a couple of times Wednesday against East Liverpool, then bypassed the Gatorade in favor of Red Bull in an 83-33 buzzing of the Potters in an OVAC Class AAAA Tournament semifinal.
The score was an innocent-enough looking 15-14 Patriots after 8 minutes.
''We were a little flat to start,'' Wheeling Park coach Michael Jebbia noticed.
Wheeling Park’s Richard Hall (2) puts up a shot as East Liverpool’s Michael Blankenship (35) defends during action of their OVAC Class AAAA Tournament semifinal Wednesday. View additional photos at cu.theintelligencer.net
Photo by Jim Elliott
It was all downhill for the Potters (7-9) from there. Wheeling Park (14-2) rattled off 42 of the next 47 points, as a lunch-type crowd of family and close friends watched the game effectively end after 20 minutes. It was 57-19 Pats with 12 minutes still to salt away.
''In that second quarter, we lost our confidence, lost our will,'' East Liverpool coach Matt Cashdollar said.
The Potters lost the ball, too. Eleven times in the quarter, 29 in the game.
''We wanted to keep their possessions down,'' Cashdollar said. ''They were stripping us pretty good off the dribble. I think our guys are sometimes guilty of looking at the name on the uniform and determining if we can play or not, rather than just playing to the best of our ability.''
On defense, Wheeling Park isn't the type to let up. Jebbia jumped in and out of a full-court press most of the way, not to make things look worse for East Liverpool, but he was efforting to keep his guys sharp.
In a winter where your county is nearly 3 feet of snow ahead of the norm and school-related activities are little more than memories, that's not always easy. Don't forget, these guys are looking to do something no other team in WPHS boys' basketball history has - win back-to-back OVAC titles.
''We have a lot of good athletes and they need to get up and down,'' Jebbia said. ''Our guys thrive in open court.''
Marqez O'Neal added another breakaway dunk. Vondel Bell might have too, had he not been on the business end of an intentional foul that sent him into the base of a concrete wall. Bubby Goodwin spun inside for 10 of his points, then stepped beyond the arc for nine more.
O'Neal (10), who banged heads with teammate Shaun Black during the second quarter and sported a Band-Aid above his left eye in the second half, wound up with 10 inside. Bell had 11. Boo Lathon was 3 of 3 from the field and wound up scoring eight of Wheeling Park's final 10 points. Errin Baynes had 12.
Jason Dickey's 3-pointer from the wing was the only thing that kept East Liverpool from being shut out in the second quarter, where it was outscored by 24.
''We had some turnovers,'' Cashdollar said. ''It's very frustrating we didn't put up a better fight, that we didn't fight back.''
Michael Blankenship's night was typical of the Potters, who were 16 of 52 from the field (31 percent). He had six points in the first quarter, and four the rest of the way, as he finished with a team-beast 10 points.
Wheeling Park was 33 of 63 (52 percent) from the field.
Division II Sectionals
Buckeye Local 32
ST.CLAIRSVILLE - Kayla Prokopakis dropped in 18 points and Savannah Snyder added 18 as Edison eliminated Buckeye Local.
Ashley Domyan paced the Panthers with eight points.
East Liverpool 35
ST.CLAIRSVILLE - Molly Ritz led Cambridge with 16 points as the Bobcats advanced with a victory against East Liverpool.
Candace Bumgardner netted 15 points for Cambridge.
Alexis Harrison's 19 points led the Potters.