Maroon Knights Get Past Cameron
Offense struggles but Central finds a way to win
WHEELING — Wheeling Central coach Mel Stephens knows that his team is not going to shoot lights out every game. Friday night was a perfect example.
On a night where both teams’ shooting percentage was as cold as the weather, the Maroon Knights’ defense did just enough against a tough Cameron team during the first day of the Undo’s Tournament in a 60-46 victory Friday night.
“We talk about that all the time,” Stephens said about a struggling offense. “There’s going to be nights where you don’t shoot the ball well. You have to be able to fall back on your defense. I thought we made enough stops when we needed to. We still got some things to work on defensively. But, we did make plays when we had to. Once we got the lead out there, we were able to keep it out there. I think (Cameron) cut it to six one time, but we were able to get it back out to 10 and it pretty much stayed that way.
“You can feel a little bit comfortable, but for us, we’re looking next game and we’re looking to improve every game. (Friday), I don’t think, defensively, even though we held them under 50, I don’t think we did everything we needed to do.”
Down 13-7 late in the first, the Maroon Knights scored nine of the final 11 points to take the lead at the end of the first quarter, 16-15. Owen Gainer was almost unstoppable as he tallied 13 in the opening quarter.
Cameron took its final lead in the opening minute of the second quarter after a Dillon Meintel bucket, but a field goal by Brent Price bucket put the score at 18-17 with 7:24 left in the half as the Maroon Knights would not give up the lead again.
The Dragons got the game within one on multiple occasions, however, Wheeling Central responded when it needed to. Wheeling Central went on a 7-0 run to get a comfortable lead at 31-23 after a Gainer bucket with 1:14 left in the half. Anthony Robbins had a stellar second quarter as he compiled 10 points.
“Owen got us off to a good start,” Stephens said. “I think Anthony, his ability to get in there and get offensive putbacks was huge because at that time we were really struggling and he was able to get in there and get three or four tip-ins that really kept the momentum in our favor a little bit.”
After Cameron was able to cut it to a six-point game, the Maroon Knights scored the first six points of the third quarter to go out to a 39-27 lead. Though the Dragons scored the next four points to cut the lead to eight, 39-31, it was the only points they put up in that quarter.
“We were pleased overall with our defensive efforts,” Cameron coach Tom Hart said. “I told the kids in the locker room after the game, ‘If we played as intense on the offensive end as defense, we probably see better results in our shooting.’ We got some looks that we wanted, particularly in the third quarter, we got some good looks inside, but we didn’t capitalize on that. We almost went five and a half minutes before we got our first basket. You can’t do that, especially against a team like Wheeling Central.”
The Dragons gave one final charge in the fourth as they cut it to eight after Aidan Lucey tallied his third bucket of the quarter to make it 49-41. But Price scored the next five points, including a conventional three-point play with 3:25, and the lead ballooned to 54-41.
Price tallied 16 points including a one-hand jam in the winding seconds to put a cap on a victory. Gainer had a game-high 20 points while Anthony Robbins tallied 13.
Travis Mickey led the way for the Dragons with 12 points while Robert Milliken and Lucey netted nine.
“When you play a team and a program like Wheeling Central, it will make you better. I’m proud of the effort our kids gave, but we got to come back out and we have to be focused and ready to play because we play Madonna (today). They’re well-coached, they’re very scrappy and they play very hard. We got to make sure we’re focused and ready to come out and play.”