Wheeling Central makes return trip to Charleston

WHEELING – Everything was going according to plan for Paden City and coach Fred King in the first six minutes of the Class A, Region One championship co-final matchup at Wheeling Central Wednesday night.

After Zach Heasley converted a 3-point play, the Wildcats, massive underdogs against the state’s top-ranked team, led 11-10.

Then, things escalated, and escalated quickly.

A pair of 3s by Wheeling Central’s Chase Harler started it.

It didn’t stop there. More Harler, more David Park and more Alonzo Manns, as the Central threesome combined for the first 32 points of the game.

The Maroon Knights used a 14-1 run spanning parts of the first and second quarters and really never let up in an 87-49 victory against Paden City.

The victory, the 14th in a row for Central (22-3,) sets the Maroon Knights up as the likely No. 1 seed in next week’s state tournament at the Charleston Civic Center.

“We have been on quite a roll,” Central coach Mel Stephens said afterwards. “I think with what we have done we probably should be the No. 1 seed but stranger things have happened. Well wait and see. It’s just nice to see these kids earn their way back to Charleston. I know last year we were probably just happy to be there. These kids came back determined to get back to Charleston and finish business this time.”

They took care of it in a big way, using a combination of outside shooting (nine 3 pointers) and a slick transition game that led to several easy baskets in ousting the outmanned Wildcats and their eight-man roster.

Central played 10 players in the first half and all 11 by the early part of the third quarter. Nine of the 11 who dressed scored in the game.

“We knew they had a short bench and we feel like we can run 10 or 11 guys out there and at some point it would have to wear them down,” Stephens said. “(King) has a nice team, but the best thing we could do was run guys out there and maybe wear them down and I think we did that in the second half.”

It all started with that second half run by the Knights, which included a slick play by Park and Harler. Park made a steal on the far end of the floor, lobbed the ball out in the front court to Harler, who tipped the ball way from a defender out in front, basically to himself, and finished it with a slam.

“That was just a great defensive play (by Park) and fortunately, I was able to end it with a dunk,” Harler said.

The dynamic duo of Park and Harler finished with a combined 51 points, 29 from Park (18 in the second half, including his own slam) and 22 by Harler, including four 3 pointers.

King saw enough to make at least one proclamation after the game.

“”They’ve got the best player (Harler) in the state in Class A,” King said. “In fact, he is the best player I have seen in Class A or AA this year. You have a point guard who can dunk the ball with two hands and shoot 3 pointers like that? I haven;t seen anyone better at this level.”

Harler was humbled by the remark.

“It’s all about my teammates who set screens and get me the ball,” Harler said. “David and I can drive to the basket like that because we have confidence we can kick the ball to teammates and they are going to hit shots, too. It’s all about this team. We aren’t one or two guys. We are about the team.”

Central led 26-18 at the half, and used a 32-point third quarter to lead by 40, 68-28, after three. Boyd Bibey had three 3s and had all 11 of his points By DAVE MORRISON

Staff Writer

WHEELING – Everything was going according to plan for Paden City and coach Fred King in the first six minutes of the Class A, Region One championship co-final matchup at Wheeling Central Wednesday night.

After Zach Heasley converted a 3-point play, the Wildcats, massive underdogs against the state’s top-ranked team, led 11-10.

Then, things escalated, and escalated quickly.

A pair of 3s by Wheeling Central’s Chase Harler started it.

It didn’t stop there. More Harler, more David Park and more Alonzo Manns, as the Central threesome combined for the first 32 points of the game.

The Maroon Knights used a 14-1 run spanning parts of the first and second quarters and really never let up in an 87-49 victory against Paden City.

The victory, the 14th in a row for Central (22-3,) sets the Maroon Knights up as the likely No. 1 seed in next week’s state tournament at the Charleston Civic Center.

“We have been on quite a roll,” Central coach Mel Stephens said afterwards. “I think with what we have done we probably should be the No. 1 seed but stranger things have happened. Well wait and see. It’s just nice to see these kids earn their way back to Charleston. I know last year we were probably just happy to be there. These kids came back determined to get back to Charleston and finish business this time.”

They took care of it in a big way, using a combination of outside shooting (nine 3 pointers) and a slick transition game that led to several easy baskets in ousting the outmanned Wildcats and their eight-man roster.

Central played 10 players in the first half and all 11 by the early part of the third quarter. Nine of the 11 who dressed scored in the game.

“We knew they had a short bench and we feel like we can run 10 or 11 guys out there and at some point it would have to wear them down,” Stephens said. “(King) has a nice team, but the best thing we could do was run guys out there and maybe wear them down and I think we did that in the second half.”

It all started with that second half run by the Knights, which included a slick play by Park and Harler. Park made a steal on the far end of the floor, lobbed the ball out in the front court to Harler, who tipped the ball way from a defender out in front, basically to himself, and finished it with a slam.

“That was just a great defensive play (by Park) and fortunately, I was able to end it with a dunk,” Harler said.

The dynamic duo of Park and Harler finished with a combined 51 points, 29 from Park (18 in the second half, including his own slam) and 22 by Harler, including four 3 pointers.

King saw enough to make at least one proclamation after the game.

“”They’ve got the best player (Harler) in the state in Class A,” King said. “In fact, he is the best player I have seen in Class A or AA this year. You have a point guard who can dunk the ball with two hands and shoot 3 pointers like that? I haven;t seen anyone better at this level.”

Harler was humbled by the remark.

“It’s all about my teammates who set screens and get me the ball,” Harler said. “David and I can drive to the basket like that because we have confidence we can kick the ball to teammates and they are going to hit shots, too. It’s all about this team. We aren’t one or two guys. We are about the team.”

Central led 26-18 at the half, and used a 32-point third quarter to lead by 40, 68-28, after three. Boyd Bibey had three 3s and had all 11 of his points in the third quarter.

And 11-3 run to start the third got the game tilted fully to the side of the home team.

“We knew that after they got a little blow at the half they were going to come back out ready to to go and we wanted to make a statement that it was hopefully

Park had eight straight points during the initial run and Central hit 5 3s during the quarter.

“When you don’t match the other team’s intensity or toughness, that is what’s going to happen,” King said. “We never got to one 50/50 ball all night. Not one. They smacked us in the mouth and we did not punch back. We have to learn to counterpunch when we are in that situation and we didn’t do that. We can’t be afraid to sit in there and fight back.”

Paden City (12-13) returns all five starters next season.

Kennedy Cain led the Wildcats with 18 points and nine rebounds and Heasley had 15 points and six rebounds.

For Wheeling Central it is on to Charleston.

in the third quarter.

And 11-3 run to start the third got the game tilted fully to the side of the home team.

“We knew that after they got a little blow at the half they were going to come back out ready to to go and we wanted to make a statement that it was hopefully

Park had eight straight points during the initial run and Central hit 5 3s during the quarter.

“When you don’t match the other team’s intensity or toughness, that is what’s going to happen,” King said. “We never got to one 50/50 ball all night. Not one. They smacked us in the mouth and we did not punch back. We have to learn to counterpunch when we are in that situation and we didn’t do that. We can’t be afraid to sit in there and fight back.”

Paden City (12-13) returns all five starters next season.

Kennedy Cain led the Wildcats with 18 points and nine rebounds and Heasley had 15 points and six rebounds.

For Wheeling Central it is on to Charleston.