By JIM BUTTA
For The Intelligencer
PARKERSBURG - No. 10 Wheeling Park dominated play during the first eight minutes of its showdown at No. 6 Parkersburg South by taking a 22-11 lead to the benches at the Rod Oldham Athletic Center.
Wheeling Park’s Ryan Reinbeu takes a shot against Parkersburg South.
But, thanks primarily to the play of senior Tyler Berry and a 22-for-35 showing from the free-throw line, the hometown Patriots rallied for a 71-65 victory against their Northern Panhandle rivals.
Senior Dylon Rippeto got things rolling for South with a pair of 3-poimters to ignite a 16-0 run that erased a 26-13 Wheeling Park lead and gave the hosts a one-point, 29-28, advantage at halftime.
Rippeto began the rally with his outside touch, but it was the inside presence of Berry, who came off of the bench to tally a game-high 22 points, that proved most damaging to the visitors, who dropped to 6-3.
Trailing by seven, 28-22, following a pair of missed free throws by Park's Phillp Bledsoe, Berry scooped up a loose ball and laid the ball in for two. The 6-foot-7 post player followed that make with a short jumper and ended the half with back-to-back-to-back short range hook shots that sent the packed house into a frenzy.
Berry's hot hand continued into the second half as the senior knocked down a pair of free throws as South (10-0) opened the third quarter with a 14-4 run and finished it with a commanding 20-8 advantage to take a 49-36 lead into the final quarter of action.
The visitors claw back to within six, 67-61, only to have the Wood County Patriots make good on 5 of 12 free throws during the final minute to preserve the victory.
Joining Berry in double figures for Parkersburg South was Cody Monroe and J.K. Kerr with 14 and 13 points, respectively. Junior Ryan Reinbeau led the visiting Patriots with 20 points. Toddy Goodwin chipped in 11 points and Bledsoe led all rebounders with 13.
The game began as if Wheeling Park would run away with its first encounter with their Ohio Athletic/Three Rivers Athletic Conference rivals.
A rebound bucket by Luke Saseen was followed by a 3 by Reinbeau and a pair of free throws from Goodwin to give the visitors a 7-0 lead with 6:23 remaining in the quarter. Parkersburg South, which plays host to Morgantown on Thursday, finally got on the scoreboard on a loose-ball bucket by Kerr 16 seconds later.
Another triple, this one coming from Trenton Smith, and a layin by Saseen pushed Park's lead to 10, 12-2, before a short jumper and a free throw by Garrett Gilkeson sliced the deficit to seven, 12-5, with 2:50 left in the quarter.
That was as close as the hosts got in the period, however, as Reinbeau tallied Park's final 10 points of the quarter to give the visitors a 22-11 lead at the break.