Sizzling Cardinals Top State

WHEELING – There is hot, and then there was Wheeling Jesuit Saturday afternoon against West Virginia State at the Alma Grace McDonough Center.

The Cardinals shot 65.6-percent (40 for 61) from the floor, 55 percent from 3-point range (11 for 20) and dished out 29 assists in a 103-84 victory against the Yellow Jackets.

Not much went wrong on Senior Night, when the Cardinals recognized their only senior, Andre Harris.

“We got off to a very good start, and we took great shots all night,” Wheeling Jesuit coach Danny Sancomb said. “Our guys made really great decisions. That was good to see.”

It was also good for Sancomb to see Justin Fritts end a modest two-game slump.

The sophomore scored a game-high 28 points – 21 in the first half – and dished out nine assists with no turnovers. Fritts was a lights-out 10 of 14 from the floor, including 6 of 8 from 3-point range.

“That is a game,” Sancomb said. “He had been struggling. He came out aggressive and got hot early.”

“About time,” Fritts said. “I had been struggling. We played well. I had good shots. The guys found me and I had some wide open looks. We really shared the ball. It felt good to see some fall early in the game.”

Sancomb was also happy to see a big night from Harris on his night. The Zanesville product had 23 points, six rebounds and four assists.

“Andre is very talented and when he is getting to the basket, he is hard to guard,” Sancomb said. “It was good to see him going to the basket. He was in attack mode. When he is hitting that jumper, he’s just really hard to defend. He’s dad got to come in for the game. I was really happy for him.”

Well, except for one moment in the first half.

He briefly took Harris out of the game.

“Coach got on me a little bit,” Harris said. “He told me to just keep playing hard.”

Harris took Sancomb’s words to heart and he returned after a short respite with the message on his mind.

With Jesuit up 38-30 with five minutes left in the half, the Cardinals went on an 11-0 run, with nine points coming from their senior leader.

“He took over the game there at a crucial time,” State coach Bryan Poore said. “We didn’t have an answer. They are a good team, and they did a lot of things right. They don’t make mistakes and when you make a mistake, they make you pay for it. We made some mistakes at that point and we paid for it.”

Harris finished off the run with a 3, the Cardinals’ ninth of the opening half, and gave Wheeling Jesuit (9-8 overall, 7-7 MEC) a 50-30 lead with 1:50 remaining.

The Cardinals led 52-35 at the half.

By the time State found its footing in the second half, Jesuit was even hotter.

The Cards shot 76 percent in the second half (19 of 25) to close out the game.

“Exactly what we needed,” Harris said. “I think we are starting to come together and play good basketball.”

“February is the time to be playing your best basketball,” Fritts added.

Eric Siefert added 17 points and 10 assists for the Cardinals.

For State, Bo King had 23, Dominic Phillips 17, Juan Johnson 11 and Stephen Thompson and Angelo Siriani 10 each.

“We are a team in disarray right now,” Poore said. “When you run into a buzz-saw like that, it’s going to be a long night.”

Jesuit is a team on the rise.

“We’ve talked about it, you have to be focused in on becoming a better team,” Sancomb said. “It starts in practice. Since last (week) we have become a better team.”