Central Scores Repeat Victory Against Tigers

SHADYSIDE — Wheeling Central struggled with its inside game for the majority of the first half Tuesday night at Shadyside, but with All-West Virginia senior Brent Price on the floor most of the fans probably didn’t even notice.

Price scored 15 of his team-high 23 points in the opening quarter and the Maroon Knights used their speed to run the floor, get some transition points in the second half and cruise to a repeat 77-58 victory over the Tigers, who were celebrating Senior Night at the Tigers Den.

The triumph moves Coach Mel Stephens’ W.Va. Class A top-ranked club to 16-1 heading into a big showdown with Clarksburg Notre Dame on Thursday. Meanwhile, veteran coach Ed Andes watched his club drop to 5-14.

“We have a big game with Notre Dame on Thursday that could go a long way towards seeding when the tournament rolls around,” Stephens said. “But we are going to have to get better on defense.

“There are things we definitely need to work on. We put a new press in for this game, but it didn’t work very well.”

After putting the Tigers away before halftime earlier this season in East Wheeling, senior Josh Zandron did everything in his power to try and keep Shadyside within striking distance early.

While Price finished the first half with 21 of his 23 points, Zandron knocked down four 3s and had 16 at the break, on his way to a game-high 34.

Central coasted out to 16-3 lead, punctuated by a steal and two-handed slam by Price with 3:05 showing in the first. However, the Tigers were able to score 12 points in the final 2:38 to stay within 24-15 after one.

The Maroon Knights scored the initial seven of the second to extend the lead to 16, which they hit once again with 1:20 to go before Kelly Hendershot’s hoop sent the game to the half at 41-27. Zandron and Hendershot, who combined for all but eight of Shadyside’s points, combined for 22 at the break.

After taking a 63-41 lead into the final quarter, Wheeling Central took its biggest lead at 65-41 on Price’s only basket of the second half to begin the fourth.

“We missed a lot of shots inside early on, and Owen (Gainer) has been shooting the ball very well for us lately, but that didn’t happen (Tuesday),” Stephens said. “Overall, we did a lot of good things and there are a lot of things to leave here happy about.”

Gainer did score 10 points in the third quarter to finish with 16 for the game while Anthony Robbins added 10 and Bray Price pulled down eight rebounds while not scoring. The Knights grabbed a 36-28 edge off the glass while turning the ball over 11 times, six more than their hosts.

While Zandron led all scorers, Hendershot finished with a double-double with 17 points and a game-high 13 rebounds.

“Their press killed us over there and we were out of the game at the half,” Andes said. “We were able to get down court a lot better (Tuesday) and that was a big plus. They are a very good, fast team that handles the ball very well.

“I though we played better than the first time, didn’t dig the early hole that we had last time we played and managed to stay close for a while. We also took a lot better care of the basketball and rebounded better in the second half.”