MORRISON: No Better Tandem Than Park and Harler
WHEELING – To say that Wheeling Central’s David Park is an unknown in the state of West Virginia is not exactly the truth.
Many will remember it was Park who had 29 points in Wheeling Central’s first-round victory against No. 2 seed Magnolia (a team it lost to three times in the regular season) in the first round of the state tournament a year ago.
He had five 3s in the games first 10 minutes.
Yes, fans and opponents in the Ohio Valley know all to well what he is capable of doing on a nightly basis.
He isn’t exactly a household name in the state either, a la George Washington’s Jon Elmore, who Park once played against in the AAU ranks.
Elmore, who had 12 3s in the second half of a recent sectional game, is the odds-on favorite to win the Evans Award as the state’s top player.
Hard to fathom Park not being mentioned in a short list of players, especially on the Class A level.
He is that good and might not be the best known player on his team. That is likely sensational sophomore Chase Harler, who leads the Maroon Knights in scoring.
Not that it matters to either. It’s apples and oranges to the duo, and speaks to the level at which Central is playing.
“The beauty of it is that those two complement each other very well,” coach Mel Stephens said. “They help each other out.”
They work in tandem as a well-oiled machine. Look no further than last Wednesday’s 87-49 victory against Paden City in the Region One co-championship. Park, on the Paden City end, got a steal, fed the ball immediately to Harler who tipped the pass to himself in the frontcourt and went in for a two-handed slam.
It was a bang-bang play.
That is called chemistry.
It is the reason Central is the No. 1 seed in the state tournament.
“We work well because we understand that it isn’t just about points and averages but about what is best for the team to help us win games,” Park said. “We enjoy playing together and honestly, points don’t matter, as long as we have more points than who we are playing that night.
“I think Chase said it before. Two guys can’t beat a whole team. It takes all these guys we have to get it done.”
Winning they have done.
Park and the Central boys will hit Charleston Thursday with a 22-3 record, the top seed in Class A and a 14-game win streak, and a season that has included impressive victories against the likes of Martins Ferry (twice), Magnolia, Bishop Donahue (twice) Steubenville Catholic, Linsly, and Wellsville, Ohio in the OVAC Class 2-A Championship game.
The Maroon Knights will face Parkersburg Catholic, the team Wheeling Central started its win streak against with a 59-45 victory January 29.
When the dynamic Knights duo of Park and Harler are playing well, and in a groove, there is not a better tandem in Class A.
Park has averaged 18 points and 11 rebounds and the numbers are a tad higher during the Maroon Knights current streak.
He had 29 points and nine rebounds in the Knights’ victory against Paden City Wednesday.
Park is a bit of a walking, or running, paradox.
Exactly what position Park depends on who you talk too.
Most say guard, or, more precisely, wing.
He can lead the break, is probably the best passer on the team and he can hit the 3 pointer with a quick release and good form..
Park isn’t necessarily a post-type player at 6-foot-4. Still, he leads the team in rebounds.
“I’d say I am more of a guard, but I will do whatever I have to do to help the team win,” Park said. “There are times on defense when I play the post.”
“If you look at his rebounds, I’d say that of the 11, generally he has about seven on the defensive end,” Stephens said. “The nights when we are playing really well are the nights when he has seven on the offensive end and seven on the defensive end.”
He is a classic tweener, a classic gym rat who can do it all.
E-mail Dave Morrison at dmorrison
@theintelligencer.net or follow on