Wheeling Park Escapes Rival John Marshall

Patriots complete regular-season sweep of Monarchs

Photo by Kyle Lutz The Patriots’ Travis Zimmerman lets out a roar after throwing down a dunk.

WHEELING — A renewed rivalry seems to be on the horizon for the Wheeling Park and John Marshall boys’ basketball programs. With the first matchup this season coming down to the wire, the second one looked to be follow suit.

After the Patriots let a 10-point lead slip to one, they hit seven free throws down the stretch to secure a regular-season sweep of the Monarchs, 63-58, at the Palace on the Hill on Tuesday night.

“They’re a team that doesn’t take many 3s and you have to give them credit,” Wheeling Park coach Michael Jebbia said of John Marshall. “We try to convey it to our guys all the time, John Marshall is going to play so hard against you. And they are not going to give up. Gunner Thompson is a senior, he’s going to give it everything he has. Give him credit, he’s more of a driver, and he hits two 3s. He got hot.”

Alex Vargo gave the Patriots a 56-46 lead with 2:11 left in the fourth quarter on a putback, but the Monarchs gave their final push. Dustin Hall hit a 3-pointer for his first points and gave John Marshall a spark.

However, three straight missed free throws and a turnover by the Patriots kept the door open for the Monarchs.

Thompson, hit his first 3-pointer with 1:07 left to make it 56-52. The senior came up clutch again on his next long-range shot attempt as he saw the ball go through the rim and the scoreboard read 56-55 in favor of Wheeling Park.

The Patriots, however, came through this time with some clutch free throws as they made seven straight to put the game out of reach.

“They had 26 points from the foul line,” John Marshall coach Chad Clutter said. “That’s on the entire team. That goes throughout the entire game whether it’s rebounds, putbacks or not moving our feet, getting them to the 1-and-1 and two-shot fouls. They are a good free-throw shooting team and you cannot do that. I think they won it at the foul line.”

Kenodre’ King and Vargo both tallied 14 points for Wheeling Park as King went 5 of 6 from the foul line while Vargo hit 4-for-6. Jack Stakem, who netted four free throws in the final minute, tallied eight points — all coming from the foul line (8 of 9).

“This should be a good, healthy rivalry,” Jebbia said. “There was a good crowd. A couple of things I thought could be overshadowed, a couple guys off our bench, Dustin VanSickle and Donovan Goddard. Just a lot of energy and hustle minutes. That was the key. (Bryce) Yoho is tough to handle and Thompson is tough to handle. We fouled some and it put us in a tough spot, so I thought those guys came in and gave us solid minutes.”

Thompson had a game-high 26 points with 13 coming in the final quarter, while Yoho netted a solid 16. Justin Frohnapfel rounded out the double-digit scorers as he contributed with 13 points.

John Marshall was battling foul trouble in the first half a Yoho and Devin Norris picked up three fouls while Hall was called for two.

“There were a few quick ones in there that got us a little concerned about our rotation,” Clutter said. “But overall, yet we still had two guys foul out, but we played intense and didn’t give up. We’re at Wheeling Park, which is a hard place to play. They’re at 10, 11 wins now and being in the ball game, we’ll take it. Hopefully we see them one more time.”

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