WHEELING - It was hyped as a battle of OVAC Big School powers, and for the opening 12 minutes of Friday night's battle between Steubenville and Wheeling Park, it was everything anyone could have hoped for.
With Big Red leading 27-24, Patriots junior Ryan Reinbeau got hot and Steubenville's defense went ice cold for the remainder of the game as Wheeling Park turned the matchup into a rout.
Reinbeau dropped in 15 of his game-high 27 points in the second quarter and sophomore Phil Bledsoe added 17 points and 16 rebounds as the red hot-shooting Patriots did little wrong in an easier-than-expected 80-47 thrashing of Big Red at the Palace on the hill.
Wheeling Park (10-3) has a big week ahead with a trip to Region 1 rival Brooke on Tuesday before a pair of one-loss teams travel up the hill next weekend in Parkersburg South and Zanesville.
Friday night's victory came on the heels of a tougher-than-expected, four-point victory at Parkersburg on Thursday for the Patriots.
"I really think (Thursday's) game helped us," Jebbia said. "It gave us a little bit of a chance to work some bugs out. I think we were also a little energized because we have only played here a few times this season with a schedule back-loaded with home games."
Early on the two squads had fans sitting on the edge of their seats as Wheeling Park jumped to a 8-0 lead before watching Steubenville (13-3) cut the deficit to 18-16 after a quarter.
Trailing by three, Big Red used a quick 6-0 burst to take its only lead at 27-24 with 4:42 showing, leading Jebbia to call a timeout. From that point, the game belonged to the Patriots.
With Reinbeau hitting three bonus-bombs and scoring 13 points, Park closed the half on a 17-2 run to take a 41-29 advantage to the locker room.
"We have had horrendous second quarters our last two games so I honestly never envisioned getting off the court with a 12-point lead at the half," Jebbia said with a smile. "But when Ryan (Reinbeau) catches fire from behind the arc he is very hard to stop."
Nothing stopped for the Patriots coming back out as they scored the initial eight points of the third quarter and led 56-32 after a 15-3 rally. The lead grew to 29 at 64-35 after three quarters with Park hitting 11 of 14 field-goal attempts in the third while Steubenville was 1 of 12.
Overall, the Patriots were a sizzling 32 of 54 from the field for 59 percent, while Coach Mike Haney's club was 16 of 57 for 28 percent. Steubenville was 6 of 26 in the second half.
"I think a lot of that had to do with their defense," Haney said. "We usually shoot the ball pretty well, but even our layups were rolling out.
"They just made us take some bad shots and miss.
"We had the lead midway through the second and I told the kids this is a game of runs, then Reinbeau got hot and we never got another run going. We did fall behind 8-0 early and did a good job of making a run of our own then.
"As far as rebounding goes, No. 32 (Bledsoe) was a huge difference for them. He just totally took away any chance of us getting an offensive rebound. They were very tough inside."
With Bledsoe leading the way, Wheeling Park grabbed a 44-20 advantage off the glass, but did turn the ball over 17 times to 11 for Steubenville.
"We need to control what we can control and that is what we did," Jebbia added. "I was very happy about how well we shared the ball. All of these kids can score, but they know that they don't all need to. The only thing that matters in the end is a Wheeling Park win.
"That is a good Steubenville team and Coach Haney has done a heck of a job with them, they will be heard from when all is said and done in the OVAC.
"I think we did a good job defensively which made them take some quicker shots. Everyone contributed but Phil (Bledsoe), Chalmer (Moffett) and Ryan (Reinbeau) did an outstanding job on the glass (combining for 29)."
Sophomore Elijah Bell added 11 off the bench, including a monster slam for an exclamation point late. Junior Lucas Herrington was Steubenville's only double-figure scorer with 14, including two of his team's six second-half field goals.