The Power Of Three

WHEELING – It has been one of the mantras of Wheeling Central coach Mel Stephens all season.

Find a third scorer. Preferably on a nightly basis.

He knew what he he was going to get from sensational senior standout David Park and super sophomore Chase Harler.

Mark one of the Dynamic Duo down for a cool 20 points and a hand full of rebounds and the other for a good 18 and another half-dozen rebounds and that is a pretty good impetus for winning basketball games.

On good nights, you get 20 -plus from the two and Wheeling Central is that much more ahead of the game.

Stephens has been around long enough to know that two guys can’t win basketball games.

Even Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen had a supporting cast.

So Stephens time and time again let it be known that he was looking for a third scorer, another big game from someone, to help put the Maroon Knights over the top.

It’s worked so far.

Wheeling Central (22-3 and on a 14-game win streak) will face Parkersburg Catholic in the first round of the Class A state tournament tonight at 5:30 p.m. at the Charleston Civic Center Coliseum.

That is where Alonzo Manns and Boyd Bibey factor into the equation.

More often than not, Manns or Bibey answered the call, to be that night’s Toni Kukoc or Steve Kerr.

“I accept my role and I do what I have to do,” said Manns, a 6-foot-2 block of granite starter in the post.

“On those night’s when I need to score I have confidence that I can do that. The more I score inside the more it is going to allow David and Chase to do what they do. They are two of the best players in the state. I know coach says we need to have a third scorer every game and I do what I have to do to help us win. I want to be that guy when we need it.”

Ditto for Bibey, a deadly-accurate shooter from 3-point range. In fact, he has more 3s this season than he has two-point field goals.

“I’ve heard coach say that before,” Bibey said. “I just want to come in and do my role. Whether it is to make that extra pass to David or Chase, or set a screen for someone, or knock down the 3 when I’m open. Playing in this offense, with David and Chase, teams are going to concentrate on them and you get a lot of open looks.”

Manns doesn’t exactly fit the bill as the prototypical big man.

“He’s not a very big kid, probably 6-2 if you stretch him, but he does have bulk,” Stephens said.

He gets the most of his athletic ability, averaging about 12 points and six rebounds per game. He was named the MVP in his team’s 58-45 victory against St. Josephs (Philadelphia) when he had 21 points and nine rebounds at the CRC in early January at Wheeling Jesuit.

Manns is, however, is most effective, in transition.

“The thing that has really helped us is his ability to get up and down the floor,” Stephens said. “Most of your typical true bigger posts have a hard time in the transition game. There are times when he gets out and we find him for easy baskets because he runs the floor so well. That is a real strength.”

“That’s something we have been able to do and I like to run the floor,” Manns said. “My teammates are really good at seeing that and getting me the ball in those situations.”

Bibey is a shooter.

“My dad played basketball in college (Lance Bibey played at West Virginia Wesleyan) so I was born with a ball in m,y hand,” Bibey said. “When I was a little kid I was kind of fat so I spent a lot of time standing at the foul line shooting. As I got a little older, I hit a growth spurt, but I kept working on shooting.”

It has paid off. He has several games with five 3s in a game, including a victory against Caldwell in the OVAC semifinals and one of the teams three loses, at home against Magnolia.

“Boyd gives us a guy who can shoot and stretch the defense,” Stephens said. “When we have him on the floor with Park and Harler it is hard for teams to concentrate on all three. When he is on it is a tough matchup situation.”