Youth Shows for Park

Wheeling Park’s Donovan Goddard (22) drives to the basket while behind defended by Morgantown’s Deon Agnew (4) and Garrett Haines. Photo by Josh Strope

WHEELING — Wheeling Park coach Michael Jebbia knows that his team is going to experience some growing pains this year.

During some of Tuesday night’s game against Morgantown, the youth showed. After hanging around in the first quarter, the Patriots were behind, 18-13.

The Mohigans then were able to get some second-chance opportunities and force turnovers and ran away with a 63-34 victory.

“It’s going to be a theme for us all year,” Jebbia said. “We’re struggling to score. Teams are going to try to take that away and it’s going to leave a burden on our younger kids.

“18-13 at the end of the first quarter and three and a half minutes in the second quarter it was the same score.

“We tried the best we could on (Nicky) Solomon and (Torin) Hanson. They got some key putbacks. I thought we forced them into some tough shots at times, then they got an offensive rebound. Our kids played hard. We were able to stay in it for most of the first half. We had to spend a lot of energy to defend and a lot of energy to get the ball up the court because their full-court pressure is relentless.”

Morgantown took a lead that would not be relinquished early in the first quarter after a Solomon bucket. It sparked a small run to put the score at 10-4. But a Rhett Schodzinski 3-pointer made it a one-possession game. A pair of Jack Stakem free throws got the Patriots within one, 12-11, but it was as close as Wheeling Park (2-4) would get.

In the second quarter, the Morgantown defense stepped up and held the Patriots to six points while scoring 16 points as seven different players tallied a bucket.

“That’s a good sign because that hasn’t been the case,” Morgantown (6-1) coach Dave Tallman said. “Nicky and Torin have been definitely leading us. Michael did a good job taking them away early for the most part. I told my guys at halftime that guys are going to have to step up. ‘You can’t win a state title with two guys. Right now, offensively, we are playing 2-on-5, That’s not going to be good enough.'”

The Mohigans defense kept doing the job in the second half as it held the Patriots to single digits again in each quarter limiting them to eight points in the third quarter and seven in the fourth.

Sophomore Keondre’ King led the way for Wheeling Park with 11 points while junior Brian Goodwin netted 10.

“The nice thing about it is these kids are coachable,” Jebbia said. “They listen, they soak everything up, they play hard and play to compete. We just struggle to score. That’ll get better as the season progresses. It’s gotten better in the first five or six games.”

For the Mohigans, Solomon and Hanson both tallied 12 points to lead the way while Adam Hill compiled 10.

“We play a good Parkersburg South team Friday night at home,” Tallman said. “I think our defense is always there. We play hard, not as hard as we have been (Tuesday). Our offense has to get a lot better and that’s on the coach.”

Wheeling Park will travel to Brooke on Thursday before playing in the Cancer Research Classic against Pine-Richland, the top team in Western Pennsylvania.

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