WELLSBURG - With everything slipping away for Wheeling Central in its Class A, Region One, Section One championship game against Bishop Donahue, including a 13-point 27-14 halftine lead, one thought kept going through Bryan Campbell's head.
"Work hard," Campbell said. "When we work hard, good things usually happen."
It did. Campbell, a sophomore backup to Alonzo Manns, had a big rebound and putback that helped stem the tide and Central (21-3) then began a parade to the free throw line in a 52-46 victory against the Bishops Friday at Brooke High School.
Photo by Dave Morrison
Wheeling Central’s David Park (left) tries to dribble past the defense of Bishop Donahue’s Lavonte Hampton.
While he won't fill up the stat sheet like better known teammates David Park, Chase Harler or Manns, there was little doubt that two of his numbers were big. After frittering away a double digit lead that saw Bishop actually take a 39-37 lead on a drive by Bryce Jones, Central got it back when Harler made 1 of 2 free throws and then scored on a drive to the basket on the next possession.
On Central's next possession, Campbell got perfect position on a missed shot, grabbed the rebound and put it back in for a 42-39 lead.
He also had a key rebound that led to Harler making a pair of free throws to make it a five-point, 44-39 lead.
"That was a huge play," Wheeling Central coach Mel Stephens said of Campbell's stickback. "After that, we were able to get Chase and David to the line. I think they probably expended a lot of energy when they made their comeback. That was a big basket to get us going a little bit after they had taken the lead."
"There was a lot of stuff going on at that time," Campbell said. "Usually, when we are working hard, when we keep working hard, good stuff happens. It was no harder than when I have to deal with Alonzo in practice every day. He's one of the best post players in the state, and that has made me a better player."
From there, the Bishops (17-7) were only able to get within three just once.
David Park made four straight free throws to push the lead to 48-41 inside the last minute and the Maroon Knights held on for the section crown.
"That was a big play by (Campbell)," Bishop coach Tom Wise said. "It stopped out run a little bit when they got back-to-back baskets and then we were in a situation where we had to foul their two guys, Harler and Park. When you have to do that, you don't like your chances that they are going to miss."
They didn't miss enough for Bishop, making 8 of 12 free throws in the final 1:13.
Bishop led after a slow first quarter, 8-7, but the wheels then came off, when Central opened the quarter with a 7-0 run, and outscored the Bishops (17-7) 20-6 to lead 27-14 at the half.
"Fourteen points. Fourteen," Wise said, noting his team's point total at the half. "The tempo wasn't where we wanted it at all. We jacked up some bad shots in the second quarter. The bottom line is we are a lot tougher than we played in that second quarter. We were soft."
Central on the other hand, was hot. Harler, who finished with a game-high 20 points, had nine in the second period and Park, who finished with 13 points, had five, along with seven of his 10 rebounds.
Meanwhile, the Bishops could not get Chaice Truex untracked. He was held to one point at the half and finished with 10 points, 14 boards and two blocked shots.
"We did a pretty good job of taking him out of the game," Stephens said. "And that was Alonzo and Bryan. We wanted to limit his touches. He is hard to stop when he gets the ball on the block. How do you stop it? Don't let him get the ball on the block. I thought we did a real nice job of that, especially in the second quarter."
Bishop didn't go away quietly.
Truex had two old-fashioned three-point plays, his first two field goals of the game, late in the third and early in the fourth, and Bryce Jones started to assert himself by driving to the basket. He had nine straight points at one point - including four free throws, a three-point play and finally, a drive that made it 39-37.
"Attack the rim," Wise said of part of his halftime message. "Be tough. We got into a hole because we didn't do the things that got us to this position."
"We seem to have lulls like that at times, and give them credit for doing a great job in the second half," Stephens said. "Fortunately, we were able to make the plays we needed at the end of the game."
Jones finished with 18 points, 11 in the fourth quarter.
Thomas Stanley added seven points and Manns finished with six points and 11 rebounds for Central.
Wheeling Central will now host Paden City, who fell to Clay-Battelle 79-48 Friday. Bishop will travel to Clay-Battelle.