Patriots Turn Up Heat In Third, Top Bruins

WELLSBURG — After a slow first half of basketball, Wheeling Park, the 10th-ranked boys’ basketball team in West Virginia, got its offense going and cruised to a 56-36 win over Brooke on Tuesday night inside the Brooke Wellness Center.

The Bruins (5-9), who have lost four of their last five, slowed the game down in the first half. After a low-scoring first quarter (6-5), they were down seven at the half.

Patriots coach Michael Jebbia made some adjustments at the break, and his team was able to get the game to more of the tempo he wanted in the second half.

“Our defense was solid in the first half we just shot ourselves in the foot a little bit with some miscues on fast breaks and shooting a couple quick jump shots,” said Jebbia, whose club is 9-2 with a red-letter date Friday at top-ranked Parkersburg South. “I thought without those offensive mistakes we could have been up by 10 or 12 at the half instead of seven, but that’s a credit to Brooke for battling us the first half.

“We made some adjustments like spreading out a little more and getting some drives to the hoop. Then Keondre’ (King) hit a couple of 3s that I thought broke the game open.”

King hit four from 3-point land in the game, all in the second half from the baseline area, and he finished with a game-high 17 points.

“It’s frustrating because at halftime and even into the third quarter, we were right there ready to make a move, but we just never capitalized on it,” said Bruins coach Cam Koehler, whose team lost to Park by nine points, 66-57, on Jan. 18. “Keondre’ is a nice player. We knew that coming in. He had a sloppy game against us the first time and didn’t shoot the ball real well. His knocking those shots down boosted Park’s team morale and they began playing faster and more aggressive.”

With King hitting two from behind the arc in the third quarter, Park expanded the lead to 39-26 going into the fourth. Then, with 5:43 left in the game, King knocked down another 3 and was fouled on the shot. He canned the free throw for a four-point play then came right back on Park’s next possession with his fourth 3 to give the Patriots a commanding 48-28 lead.

“It’s a nice win, and it’s never an easy game up here,” Jebbia said. “Jack Stakem should get more credit for our success because he guards the other team’s point guard, he distributes the basketball and takes care of it. He has really been a key for us all year.”

Stakem, a 5-foot-9 junior, finished with four points, but he had 10 assists and four steals. Alex Vargo worked hard inside and flashed outside for a couple of 3s to finish with 16 points. Travis Zimmerman had12.

“We executed our game plan defensively pretty well in the first half,” Koehler said. “We knew who their scorers are. They do what they do pretty well. Michael (Jebbia) has done a good job with them this year executing some offensive stuff to get those guys open.”

Justin Shelton led the Bruins with nine points.