By DAVE MORRISON
WHEELING – Wheeling Park’s Richard Cummings could be a case study in patience and perseverance.
At the beginning of the year Cummings was strictly a junior varsity player, which, for a sophomore at the Class AAA level, isn’t surprising.
Cummings, however, had loftier goals in mind and his play at the JV level, along with his patience and perseverance, has paid off.
Cummings had a career-best eight points, and was a couple of missed free throws from his first career double-figure game, in the Patriots 82-38 victory against struggling John Marshall Tuesday night at Wheeling Park.
His play over the last two games (14 points) has helped Cummings go from watching the varsity game in Wheeling Park warmups to what could be a significant role coming down the stretch.
With Toddy Goodwin-Rowe out with the flu, and the teams lone senior, Luke Saseen celebrating Senior Night in warmups after season-ending shoulder surgery, Cummings got more run against the Monarchs and he made the most of it.
“Richard is earning himself more minutes,” coach Michael Jebbia said. “Let’s face it. On this (Class AAA) level you are going to need at least eight guys. From what he has done in the last two games, I think he has earned a chance to be that eighth guy.”
Everything else you need to know about the game can be summed up in two sequences: The beginning of the first half and the beginning of the second half.
Park started the game with a 16-0 run and the second half with a 13-0 run.
Everything around those two quick starts amounted to a 51-38 game.
For Park, it was all about keeping focus, and the Patriots did just that.
“We challenged the kids to have three or fewer turnovers in the second half and we had zero,” Jebbia said. “If this game had been played two months ago we would have been sloppy with the ball. That showed that we kept our focus. Moving ahead, that is a good sign.”
Park (13-5) had just three turnovers in the game.
Ryan Reinbeau led Park with 25 points and eight rebounds and Phillip Bledsoe had 19 points and 10 rebounds, and, more importantly, seemed to find some confidence with his mid-range jump shot. Elijah Bell, in his second career-start, had 12 points, five assists and five steals.
“Solid effort all the way around,” Jebbia said. “With Toddy out, we got to see a little bit more from some guys and that was a positive. We’re hoping Toddy is able to play some for us (at Brooke Wednesday). We saw some good things tonight. Savion (Johnson, who finished with eight) played well and Trenton Smith did a good job running the team (and finished with six points and seven assists).”
For John Marshall, a team struggling to find positives, coach Bill Storm saw some good.
Down 20-5 after one, he went to his younger players and they responded with 16 points.
“It was a total mismatch. We’re basically a junior varsity team playing a varsity schedule,” Storm said. “In the second quarter, I went with my JV kids and I thought they did a pretty good job against a very strong, very athletic team and held their own. We just don’t have enough talent right now to compete with a Park.”
Tanner Filben, who is going to Kentucky on a full academic scholarship next fall, had a big game for the Monarchs, with 17 points, including five 3 pointers.
“He is a kid who gets out every ounce of ability he has,” Storm said. “He works hard, and he is one kid who has improved his game because he works so hard.
“We have to keep pushing on, and get ready for Senior Night (Thursday, vs. Oak Glen) and try to send those guys out on a high note.”