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Weir Gets it Going, Sends Oak Glen Packing

Red Riders get a shot at state-ranked Eagles

February 29, 2012
By ED LOOMAN , Ogden Newspapers

WEIRTON - Weir didn't make any wholesale changes Tuesday despite trailing Oak Glen by four at the half. Instead, the Red Riders focused on doing things better.

Mike Granato's club scored eight in a row to open the third quarter, built a big lead and cruised to a 60-41 victory against the Golden Bears in Region One, Section One Class AA tournament action inside the Carl Hamill Field House.

The triumph earns Weir (8-14) a trip south Friday to battle Magnolia for the sectional title.

Oak Glen (3-20) played for the final time under Vince Gilliam. The veteran coach announced his plans to step down during post-game remarks.

''Our big emphasis at half wasn't about changing, it was simply about doing everything we do better,'' Granato said. ''We thought we could trap them with our 1-3-1 zone and we thought we could control the tempo. We just did it better in the second half.

''We made a couple of shots. Then one shot led to two, two to three and three to four. Our defense became our offense. Our traps were crisper and our backside help was outstanding.''

Harley Mills and Josh Groves were the Red Riders who made the first couple of shots, scoring four each. Groves' second bucket put the Red Riders up 25-21 and gave them the lead for the first time since the first quarter.

A Mike Drizake 3-pointer coupled with hoops from Mills and Groves capped a 15-1 Weir scoring spurt and increased the Red Riders advantage to 10 (32-22).

On the offensive end, Weir swished 9 of 16 field goal tries. Groves finished the stanza with 10 points and Mills eight. Defensively, the Riders forced eight Oak Glen turnovers.

''We really wanted to come out that way to start the game,'' Granato said. ''Josh (Groves) was deflecting passes and Anthony (Gurrera) was picking them up. We had great execution on the 1-3-1. We got some fast breaks and were able to get our feet moving.

''They went man-to-man, we were able to get the ball inside to Harley (Mills). We thought we had a good match up with him on the blocks and he was able to carry the load.''

The Red Riders knocked 6 of 11 attempts from the floor and were a perfect 10-for-10 from the free-throw line during the final minutes. Mills accounted for eight points at the hosts put the game on ice.

''I always tell my kids that at the beginning of the third quarter, they've got to come out ready,'' Gilliam said. ''We came out sleepwalking and they jumped on us. We were never able to correct our errors and they just kept putting it to us.''

Oak Glen, which split the regular-season series with its Hancock County rival, put together a solid opening 16 minutes. Powered by the play of Matt McLaughlin and Cody Howell, the Golden Bears grabbed an 11-7 lead after one.

Howell, Jeff Hissam and Dave McGraw keyed a second quarter scoring run that increased the advantage to seven (18-11). Weir closed the gap to four (21-17) at the intermission.

''In the first half, we got out and ran and were able to convert,'' Gilliam said. ''We were patient offensively and got some rebounds. When they got that run in the third quarter, we just couldn't answer.''

Mills finished with 21 points, to take game scoring honors. He also snared 13 rebounds and swatted away five Oak Glen shots. Drizake added 14, four assists and four steals. Groves finished with 12.

Hissam paced the Bears with 13.

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