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Boys' Basketball: Park Eyes Short Memory After Loss

Patriots unable to find answer for Morgantown

February 8, 2012
By RICK THORP ( , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

WHEELING - Wheeling Park coach Michael Jebbia quietly stood outside his office Tuesday night looking down at stat sheets to see if there was anything good on them.

''Not a whole lot,'' he said, after watching his squad fall to Morgantown, 60-44, in a boys' basketball showdown at "The Palace" that wasn't as close as the score indicated.

''We were outplayed 100 percent, outhustled and outcoached.''

Article Photos

Morgantown’s Nathan Adrian (33) works in the post against Wheeling Park’s Luke Saseen (10) as the Patriots Boo Lathon looks on.

Meanwhile, in the visitors' locker room, Mohigans coach Tom Yester found plenty to crow about on his stat sheets.

''I'm just thrilled,'' he said. ''You don't win too many games here.''

Tuesday's game had all the makings of a thriller. Both teams came in state ranked - Morgantown No. 2 in West Virginia Class AAA and Park No. 7 - and the last time the rivals played (Dec. 22) the Mohigans claimed a 67-56 victory on their home court.

But thanks to a 21-4 that stretched over two quarters, the contest was all Morgantown. The Mohigans led by as many as 22 in the second half.

''It seemed like we were ready to play, but then things started to go in their favor,'' Jebbia said. ''We're so fragile mentally when things don't go our way and, hopefully, that can change.

''We lost this game, but we can't let it affect the weekend.''

Tuesday's game was the first of three home games for Park (11-5) against opponents that defeated them earlier this season. The week will conclude with visits by Parkersburg South (winners of 10 straight) on Friday night and Logan - in the school's Hall of Fame game - Saturday night.

Then comes a rematch in Morgantown against the Mohigans next week in the semifinals of the Wheeling Hospital OVAC Tournament's 5A division.

''They're as athletic as anyone in the state and their 'Triple Bs' (Errin Baynes, Vondel Bell, Boo Lathon) are quite a combo,'' Yester said. ''I thought our zone bothered them and we rebounded pretty well.

''The pressure might have been on us a little more psychologically, though I didn't look at it that way. It was just another game we had to play.''

Morgantown (13-3) held an 18-15 lead early in the second quarter before the Mohigans upped the advantage to seven thanks to buckets by Christian Allen and Nick Colasante.

After a Lathon layin trimmed the lead to 22-17, Morgantown scored 11 unanswered points, including five by Nathan Adrian (22 points).

The final four points of the spurt - fast-break layups by Austin Agnew and Mark Johnson (11 points) - came at the start of the second half.

''They beat us to a lot of loose balls,'' Jebbia said. ''I thought one of the big things was coming out of halftime they scored some easy baskets.''

With Morgantown leading 39-19, Lathon scored seven straight points to cut the deficit to 13. But Morgantown scored nine of the next 11 points to take control for good.

Lathon finished with a team-high 15 points, but no one else reached double figures for Park. Baynes, returning from a knee injury, and Bell were held to two points each.

''That was a result of a bit of good fortune and some pretty good play,'' Yester said. ''We were trying to be smart and make who we wanted to shoot the ball shoot it where we wanted them to and get the rebounds. For the most part we did that.''

The Patriots struggled in almost every phase of the game.

''There are two things we usually do well,'' Jebbia said. ''We usually shoot free throws well and we were 7 of 22. And we only average 11 turnovers per game and we had 19.

''They had 19, too. But the bottom line is they beat us on the boards and took better shots.''

Marshall added 12 points for Morgantown.

''We know we play them again next Tuesday and I hope our effort and energy's a little bit better,'' Jebbia said.


Prior to the start of the game, a moment of silence was conducted in memory of Lee West, the Steubenville High School freshman who died in a fire at his home last week. During the game, donations were taken to benefit West's family. A grand total of $1,430 was given ... Former West Virginia University head football coach Bill Stewart sat at the scorer's table helping broadcast the game for a Morgantown radio station. The New Martinsville native chatted with friends before and after the contest.

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