WELLSBURG - Make no mistake about it, Wheeling Park coach Michael Jebbia did everything in his power to help direct his club to victories against West Virginia big-school powers George Washington and South Charleston last week.
While the end result of both games were heart-breaking losses, Jebbia did not hesitate Wednesday night to point to those games as big factors in Park's Region One, Section One semifinal victory against a stunned Brooke squad.
Sophomore Ryan Reinbeau dropped in a game-high 25 points as the Patriots shot 68 percent from the field in the first half and 56 percent for the game, and when the shots did stop falling Park did it on the boards to the tune of a 35-16 margin as it advanced with a 60-47 victory against the Bruins at Brooke High School.
The victory moves Jebbia's club to 11-12 and sends it into Friday night's Section One final at 7 p.m. at Parkersburg South. The Wood County Patriots already own a pair of victories against Park. Wednesday night's victory also guarantees the local Patriots a berth in next week's regional tournament.
''I know we lost twice, but last week really prepared us for this,'' Jebbia said with a smile. ''The bottom line is that we play people, and that is not a knock on other schools' schedules.''
''It is a choice by us to get ready for the games that really matter and it paid off for us in this one.''
With a pair of free throws from sophomore standout Thomas Cole and a bucket from Eric Johnson, the Bruins (15-8) started with a 4-0 lead. Unfortunately for them after Wheeling Park ripped off the next seven points, five of them by Reinbeau, they never managed to get the lead back.
Reinbeau scored nine in the opening period as the Patriots led 16-12 and added a pair of 3s in the second as Park led by as many as eight before settling for a 31-26 advantage at the break. In all, the Patriots knocked down 13 of their initial 19 shots.
Things got worse for Coach Dave Reitter's Brooke squad as soon as the whistle blew to start the third. Four different Park players landed field goals for an 8-0 burst that made it 39-26 with 4:15 to go in the third.
The Bruins managed to get it back to 42-33 with eight minutes to play, and even pulled to within six at 46-40 with 3:50 showing, but the Patriots were 6 of 6 from the stripe down the stretch to ice the contest.
''We came out and attacked the basket very early on, and then we just quit doing it,'' a disappointed Reitter said. ''But give Park credit, they were up in our faces and pushing us away and we just never got back into the flow.
''I really feel bad for our seniors that they won't have the opportunity to play again, but I wish Coach Jebbia, his staff and his team the best of luck the rest of the way.''
While the 68 percent shooting performance was the story of the first half for the winners, a 26-7 rebounding edge in the final two quarters proved too much to overcome for Brooke.
''At the half I wrote the No. 8 on the board because that was how many offensive rebounds Brooke had in the first half,'' Jebbia said. ''Getting to the glass was something we emphasized in the second half and the kids did a great job.''
While Reinbeau exploded for 25, Zach Snedeker added 12 and Luke Saseen finished with eight. Cole led Brooke with 16 while Johnson shook off a poor shooting night to finish with 12.