MORGANTOWN - When it gets to tournament time in high school basketball, good teams usually have all the kinks worked out and are playing their best.
For Morgantown that has been the recipe for success late in the campaign, but unfortunately for Wheeling Park missed opportunities and mistakes led to a second consecutive tournament loss Tuesday night.
Senior Scottie Core scored eight of his team-high 15 points during a 10-0 Mohigans spurt in the second quarter and the Patriots never recovered, dropping a 67-59 decision in a West Virginia Class AAA Region One co-championship game at Morgantown High School.
Photo by BOB GAY/DOMINION POST
Wheeling Park’s Trenton Smith (3) tries to get to the basket around the defense of Morgantown’s Shaun Carden during Tuesday night’s game at the Rowdy Center.
While coach Tom Yester will take his 15-10 club to Charleston for next week's state tournament, Michael Jebbia watched his team finish the season at 17-8.
The two teams split their season series 2-2, however, the Mohigans' two victories came in the OVAC championship game and the regional final.
"We have played a very good schedule hoping that we would be decent at the end of the season and it paid off for us," Yester said. "But we aren't finished yet. Hopefully we can good a decent seed and continue on.
"I am very happy right now. I think we were fortunate to get a home game against a very good Wheeling Park team. Give them credit, they kept coming and never quit."
Actually, while not playing one of their better games the Patriots had the ball down seven points with a little more than 30 seconds to play and missed three consecutive shots that could have cut the margin to just four or five.
But all three shots were off the mark and Morgantown went to the other end and did what Park had trouble doing all night long, making free throws. While the Mohigans finished 20 of 25 from the stripe, the Patriots were 17 of 29.
"We normally shoot close to 70 percent from the line, but we struggled," Jebbia said. "In the first half we hit 8 of 15 and if we just make a few more we are right there. But the kids fought the whole way and you just have to give Morgantown so much credit."
With Ryan Reinbeau scoring Park's initial seven points it jumped to a 7-3 lead, which eventually turned into a 17-15 Morgantown advantage after a quarter.
Down six early in the second it was Wheeling Park using a quick spurt to knot the count at 21-21 before Core hit a pair of 3s and a two to highlight a 10-0 blast and the Mohigans, who led 31-25 at the break, never trailed again.
While the Patriots managed to stay within striking distance, they were hit with a major blow when Reinbeau, who finished with a game-high 23 points, picked up three fouls in the initial 2:03 of the third quarter and went to the bench with four personals.
The Patriots, who trailed by as many as 13 in the fourth, were also as close as seven down the stretch.
"Things got really tough for us when Ryan picked up that fourth foul," Jebbia said. "But we still had opportunities and a lot of fight left in us. Morgantown had a strong shooting night and topped it off by making free throws.
"We have a lot of underclassmen that are pretty upset right now, but it will be all right and we will be back. I have great respect for Tom (Yester) and I wish Morgantown all the luck heading down state."
Thomas Selby came off the bench to add 13 for the winners while Steven Soloman added 12. Toddy Goodwin-Rowe was Park's only other double-figure scorer with 13. Sophomore standout Phil Bledsoe was limited to four points on just six attempts, but did have a game-high eight rebounds.
"Our defense played very well and we just did an outstanding job rebounding the ball," Yester added. "Bledsoe is a great rebounder and they have a couple others that do a very good job.
"I think our depth was a big key as well. It seemed like we got something from everyone that went onto the court. We hit some big free throws, but as a coach you always worry to the end."