Hawks Fly Past Patriots

Second-quarter dry spell costly

MORGANTOWN — After playing the No. 1 team in West Virginia Class AAA in Parkersburg South on Saturday, Wheeling Park had another challenge Tuesday night in an OVAC Class 5A semifinal against University.

The Hawks, ranked No. 2 in the Class AAA, started the second quarter by scoring the first 10 points en route to an 80-45 victory over the Patriots.

“We didn’t score for the first four minutes of the second quarter,” Wheeling Park coach Michael Jebbia said. “And even there I thought our guys were scrapping early in the third quarter. And then it felt like the flood gates opened late in the third.

“I know there’s not a better point guard in the state than Kaden Metheny. That’s a guarantee. And Ethan Ridgeway without a doubt is one of the top players in the state. Ridgeway is a four-year player and you can see why.”

Ridgeway led the way for the Hawks with a game-high 23 points while Metheny netted 18 points. University will face off against Parkersburg South in the OVAC championship game on Saturday at Ohio University Eastern.

“We wanted to make sure we came ready to play,” University coach Joe Schmidle said. “When we played at Wheeling Park back in December we sure didn’t. We weren’t going to overestimate our chances to win this game and we had a lot riding on this being a semifinal. We wanted to make sure we could close it out with a win and get another shot at Parkersburg South.”

Alex Vargo hit a 3-pointer right before the horn sounded in the first quarter to get the Patriots within three, 18-15. However, Ridgeway opened the second quarter with a 3 of his own to spark the 10-0 spurt. A pair of Rodney Bucklew free throws made it 28-15 to cap the run.

Ridgeway ended the half with a bucket giving the Hawks a 13-point advantage.

“Although we played them at home and led most of the game, it was a different animal (Tuesday),” Jebbia said. “Metheny got going early and Ridgeway, he can score in so many different ways. A lot of times the 3-point shot isn’t his game, but he had a couple of those. Give them credit, there’s no question they’re one of the top teams in AAA, I just wish we could have played a little bit better of a game.”

The Hawks got the first 20-point lead with 6:40 left in the fourth quarter on another Ridgeway bucket. After a Vargo hoop to make it 60-42, University went on a 20-0 run to ice the game.

Vargo had a team-high 15 points for the Patriots while Keondre’ King netted 10, eight of which came in the third.

“They’re a hard team to put away,” Schmidle said. “And they’re a very young team. They’re a very good team. That team as the season progresses, they’re just going to get better and better. I knew that at the beginning of the year. They have one senior on the team and they’re going to be a force to be reckoned with here in the next two years.”

Wheeling Park will make the trip to Morgantown again this week as the Hawks and Patriots will face off in a makeup game.

“I was just upset it got away late there in the third, not that the result was going to be any different. Hopefully we come down here and play a little harder and make more of a game Thursday.”