WHEELING - Freshman point guard Chase Harler came off the Wheeling Central bench and scored 11 of his game-high 23 points in the third quarter as the Maroon Knights rallied past Bishop Donahue 59-53 during semifinal play in the Upper Ohio Valley Basketball Tournament Friday night at Wheeling Jesuit University's McDonough Center.
The victory improved Wheeling Central's record to 2-3 and put Coach Mel Stephens' club into today's championship game against Cincinnati Archbishop McNicholas with tipoff time set for 8:30 p.m.
Bishop Donahue, now 4-2, meets Steubenville Catholic in the third-place game at 5:30 p.m. It will be a rematch between the Bishops and the Crusaders, the only other team owning a victory against Coach Tom Wise's team this season.
Wheeling Central’s Thomas Stanley (12) dribbles by the guard of Bishop Donahue’s Jesse Padlow (15).
''We played much better in the second half as far as recognizing their shooters and getting back on transition," pointed out Stephens after his team limited the Bishops to just 20 points in the second half. ''It had me wondering where was all the good defense in the first half."
The Maroon Knights had a trio of double-figure scorers as supporting Harler were Brandon Wallace with 12 points on six of seven shooting from the floor and David Park, who had a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds.
Donahue played most of the second half without sharpshooting guard Bryce Jones after the 5-foot-10 junior guard sustained an apparent knee injury. Jones was on fire in the first half, draining four 3-pointers, including buzzer-beaters to close both the opening quarter and the second period helping the Bishops build a 33-26 lead.
Jones scored just one point in the second half, finishing with 15 overall, matching junior classmate Lavonte Hampton.
''I thought Jones sprained his knee," Wise explained. ''The trainer said he was good to go but I was leery about how hard he could play. We'll get it evaluated tomorrow (Saturday) and see what happens.
''It was a real tough game for us to lose," Wise continued. ''We were up nine and did a bunch of stuff we really weren't supposed to be doing. There were so many things I could point out but we have a bunch of young kids and this was a learning experience for them."