By JAY W. BENNETT
For The Intelligencer
PARKERSBURG - Wheeling Park provided little challenge during Parkersburg South's home opener on Thursday night inside the Rod Oldham Athletic Center as the Class AAA defending state champion Patriots of coach Scott Stephens rolled to a 75-42 triumph.
The visiting Patriots, now 2-1 with a road game Saturday at Steubenville Catholic Central, never led and are playing the campaign without veteran senior starting point guard Marissa Tucker, who suffered a preseason knee injury.
Katelyn Byrd led all scorers with 15 points for preseason No. 1 Parkersburg South, which will try and improve to 3-0 when it travels Tuesday to No. 5 University.
"We did some good things and put a lot of pressure on the ball and that caused them some problems," Stephens stated.
Parkersburg South received the game's lone double-double from Carlie Wilson with 14 points and a dozen boards. Although the hosts played sloppy at times and finished with 20 turnovers while forcing 22, PSHS proved to be too deep and too talented.
Anna Hayton tossed in 12 points and had seven rebounds. Keya Bartlett, who was in foul trouble all game, added nine markers and Michigan State verbal commitment Taryn McCutcheon flirted with a triple-double. McCutcheon scored six of her eight points in the first quarter, had nine caroms, dished out a game-high nine assists and joined Wilson in getting a trio of steals.
Byrd's deuce off the opening tip gave PSHS the lead for good just six ticks into the affair. The hosts took their first double figure lead at 15-4 with 2:25 left in the opening stanza when Wilson used a skip pass to find an open Katelyn Enoch, who drained a 3. Kendra Johnson's trey from one of teammate Chloe Robb's five assists allowed the Patriots of head coach Deedra Davis to trail just 15-7 after one.
Kelsi Johnson's putback for part of her team-high 14 points cut the deficit to 15-9, but Parkersburg South went on a 15-3 run and never looked back. During the spurt, Wilson blocked a shot and it looked like Enoch would go coast-to-cost for an easy lay-in after grabbing the rebound. However, she opted to feed McCutcheon, who grabbed the pass with one hand and immediately flung it back to Enoch for the easy bucket.
Robb, who finished with nine points while teammate Skylar Carrington had eight tallies, connected on a triple from a Kendra Johnson assist to make it 38-22 at intermission.
Bartlett actually scored seven of her points in a span of less than a minute on three consecutive possessions in the third. Wheeling Park found itself down 55-27 with 1:41 left in the third when Byrd fed Mykalyn Fallon for a lay-in.
Kambrea O'Neal, who led the visitors with eight rebounds, made three foul shots to close out the third, but Wheeling Park still trailed 55-30.
Parkersburg South had its biggest advantage with 2:40 remaining at 75-34 when Breaunna Haynes made a 3-pointer.