Park Boys Come Up Short on Road
CHARLESTON — All in all, it was a positive end to the regular season for South Charleston.
E.J. Phillips shrugged off a bout of tonsillitis to produce yet another double-double Saturday afternoon as the Black Eagles outlasted Wheeling Park 68-64 at the SC Community Center. Each team finished the regular season 13-8.
The game was tied at 62-62 inside the two-minute mark, but SC went 6 of 12 at the foul line to close it out, three times grabbing its own missed free throws to maintain possession. The Patriots also went one and done on three of their final four possessions, with SC swallowing up the rebound.
Besides Phillips (16 points, 16 rebounds), the Black Eagles also got double-figure scoring efforts from Romeo Dunham (14 points), Shazaun Cunningham (11) and C.J. Allison (11).
“Multiple times there were missed shots, whether it was a free throw or a missed shot inside, and we just couldn’t corral the rebound,” Wheeling Park coach Michael Jebbia said. “They’re a physical team, and Phillips and Allison really rebound the ball well.”
The Patriots, without a senior on the roster, shot out to a 12-2 lead, but SC caught up at 30-all at halftime. The Black Eagles built advantages as large as nine points at 50-41, only to see Park’s duo of Alex Vargo (23 points) and Keondre’ King (22 points) spark a comeback.
The telling stats were a 39-32 edge in rebounds for SC, and 17 turnovers by Park compared to nine for SC. The Black Eagles had 14 steals, six of them by junior guard Corey Lanier, a surprise starter who played about half the game.
“That first four minutes, we couldn’t guard a kindergarten team,” SC coach Vic Herbert said. “Then after that, I was proud of them and the way they guarded. They really got after it. We rebounded the ball well, and were pretty patient on offense. We worked for what we got. Overall, it was a good effort, a good game.”
Herbert wasn’t even sure if the ailing Phillips — the team’s lone senior who averages 25 points and 14 rebounds — would be able to play until a couple of minutes before tipoff. Phillips is scheduled for surgery after the season ends.
“We stayed in a zone,” Jebbia said, “because I wasn’t sure if we’d be able to guard Phillips in man, so we tried to pay close attention to him in a zone. Give our guys credit — we got down nine there, and fought back.
“We had a pretty good start, but obviously we knew that wasn’t going to last. South Charleston’s going to come on strong, but we had a good start in terms of coming down here at 8 in the morning and getting off a bus and playing. It was a good game. Vargo and King have scored pretty well for us. I thought the difference was they got some loose balls, some offensive rebounds and that gave them more possessions late.”
Travis Zimmerman came off the bench to score eight points and collar 11 rebounds for Park.