Wheeling Central Boys Top Madonna
WEIRTON — Wheeling Central outscored Madonna by 18 points in the fourth quarter Thursday night and walked out of the Dube Dome with a 71-55 revenge victory.
The Blue Dons pinned the only loss of the season thus far on the Maroon Knights (9-1) a week ago while winning the Undo’s Tournament in Wheeling by a score of 73-68. The loss snapped a four-game winning streak. The Blue Dons are 4-3.
“We challenged them for this game because last week in the Undo’s they out-played us, out-hustled us and just played harder,” veteran Maroon Knights coach Mel Stephens said. “The challenge was that look, we’re going into their place. We cannot let them play harder than us.
“Madonna still battled and got some rebounds on us but we were able to make enough plays when we really needed to.”
Down 34-32 at the half, Madonna went on a 11-2 run to go into the final quarter with a 47-45 lead.
“We got out-worked and out-executed,” second-year Madonna coach Chris Blair said. “You have to make the easy shots especially when the pressure is on. We missed a ton of them in the fourth quarter.
“We have to get to the line. We had only five foul shots and missed them all. I can’t remember the last time we didn’t make a single foul shot. Maybe it shows we weren’t aggressive enough. Bottom line is they out-worked us.”
Before Madonna’s third-quarter run, the Maroon Knights had expanded the halftime lead to nine points at 41-32 but the momentum shifted when senior Chase DiBartolomeo hit a jumper with 4:03 left to cut Central’s lead to 43-38.
But the Blue Dons were outscored 26-8 in the fourth quarter.
Central junior Owen Gainer hit a jumper to open the fourth-quarter scoring, but Madonna senior Tavon Jeter responded with a goal to give the Blue Dons their final lead at 49-47.
Gainer started a game-ending 21-5 run with a 3-pointer. Once Madonna got behind, they began to foul and the Maroon Knights made 9 of 10 at the line in the final three minutes.
“We got ourselves some chances and we were able to spread the floor a little bit,” Stephens said of the fourth-quarter run. “We made a few plays and made some nice cuts off of some screens and we were able to get to the rim.”
The Maroon Knights guns were blazing from long range as they burned the cords for nine 3s. They also helped themselves at the foul line making 16 of 21.
Gabe Rohman came alive in the final quarter scoring 11 of his team-high 18 points with seven of them coming in eight trips to the charity stripe. Rohman came into the game making 15 of 15 free throws this season, according to Stephens. He made 11 of 13 foul shots in the game.
“We needed to get out on the perimeter quicker,” Blair said. “We worked hard, but we didn’t work hard enough and we didn’t work smart enough.”
Blair said a defensive switch by the Maroon Knights surprised the Blue Dons.
“They switched to a zone, which they don’t play very often,” he said. “When they did that, we got a little stagnant. We have to learn from this and get better.
“We have to turn the page and forget this game. The first game was competitive. We just have to be ready to execute down the stretch.
“The good thing about (it) is we get a chance to bounce back (today) as we go to Oak Glen to play a tough Oak Glen team, which will give us a chance to right the ship.”
Standout senior Joey Ewusiak, who fouled out at the 1:18 mark of the fourth quarter, led all scorers with 19 points. Jeter followed with 18.
The Maroon Knights had four players in double figures. After Rohman’s 18, Gainer scored 15, Adam Jarrett, who led all rebounders with eight, followed with 12 points and sophomore, Branden Price came off the bench to score 10.