South Patriots take out Park

WHEELING – It’s not much of a secret Parkersbug South likes to shoot the 3-pointer.

Wheeling Park learned that first hand as the Wood County Patriots hit for 11 3s in their previous meeting in early February, a 65-63 Park victory at the Palace on the Hill.

Park’s goal this time around was to make sure South didn’t come anywhere close to hitting 11 3s.

It didn’t happen.

South shot 55 percent (12 of 22) from 3 and never trailed as they routed Park, 87-73, to claim the Class AAA Region One, Section One title.

South (18-6) will host Preston Tuesday night, while Park (17-7) will travel to Morgantown to take on the Mohigans in a rematch of the OVAC 5A championship game.

”After we watched the film the last time with them, we knew, after watching the fourth quarter, how we wanted to attack them,” South coach Mike Fallon said. ”We wanted to put them on their heels right from the get-go. We knew they were quicker then us, but we still knew we could do some things and adjust. Coach (Michael) Jebbia and those guys are class acts. I love competing against those guys.”

South, who started the season 11-0, came out firing and quickly took a 9-2 lead before Park even knew what hit it. By the end of the first, South led 23-12 and was 6 of 8 from 3, with Logan Lawrentz hitting three of the six. The 6-foot-6 senior finished with a career-high 34 points behind 12 of 16 shooting, including 6 of 7 from 3. He entered the game averaging 12 points per contest.

”Logan played like a man,” Fallon said. ”He played well like that earlier in the year and then kinda went through a little funk, but the past three games, he’s stepped up and played. We kinda challenged him at practice a couple weeks ago and it’s really paid off.”

South took an 11-point lead at halftime as it connected on 64 percent of its shots in the first half. Park, on the other hand, was 13 of 28 at half and 0 of 7 from 3.

”That played a role early,” Jebbia said of South’s high shooting percentage. ”They made more hustle plays then us. We missed some easy baskets in the first half. We could have had them within six or seven instead of 11 at the half.”

Lawrentz, along with senior Dylan Rippeto and junior Cody Monore, connected on their first 3-point attempts of the third as South extended the lead to 52-37. Junior Ty Dobson connected on a layin with 2.8 second left in the period as the Wood County Patriots led 61-47 entering the fourth.

”We tried to come out and go into an extended zone,” Jebbia said, ”but when your in a situation like that, you have limited options when they’re shooting that well. They’re shooting with confidence and they’re a tough match because our big guys have to go out on the perimeter and defend.

”We have some guys that are really fragile mentally on our team. We’re trying to work through that. We’re like a million bucks when things go our way, but sometimes when things don’t go our way, we have a breakdown.”

Nothing seemed to go Park’s way.

Sophomore Phil Bledsoe, a double-double machine, was held to six points and grabbed only eight rebounds as South made it a point to box him out on the offensive end.

For the game, South outrebounded Park 32-27, making it only the second time this season Park has been outrebounded in a game.

Park finished 46 percent shooting and was 2 of 15 from 3, the first coming with 1:02 remaining in the game.

”I thought we kept fighting for a little while, but the fourth quarter, we never got it down under 10,” Jebbia said. ”There’s no doubt the better team won. They moved the ball better, shot the ball better. They deserve to win. Logan Lawrentz was phenomenal. We just weren’t as crisp.”

Monroe backed Lawrentz’s performance with 13 points, while sophomore Garrett Gilkeson added 11.

Junior Trent Smith, who hit both of Park’s 3s, finished with a team-high 22 points, while junior Ryan Reinbeau added 15 and junior Toddy Goodwin-Rowe had 14. Sophomore Elijah Bell came off the bench to chip in 11.

”We just have to bounce back and have two good practices and get ready for Tuesday,” Jebbia said. ”That’s all we can do, I guess.”