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Boys' Basketball: Big Red Slows It Down

By JOSH STROPE, Staff Writer

January 25, 2012
The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

WHEELING - Steubenville coach Mike Haney wanted to slow it down and not run up and down the floor against Wheeling Park, a high-scoring offense that averages 73.8 points per game.

Turns out the Patriots are pretty good at playing a low-scoring game as well.

Wheeling Park used solid defense (forcing 20 turnovers), outrebounded Steubenville by 13, and rolled to a 55-32 victory Tuesday at Wheeling Park High School.

Article Photos

Steubenville’s John Linn, right, looks to pass as Wheeling Park’s Michael Thomas defends during action of their game Tuesday in Wheeling.

''We have to be able to play both styles and dance to the different tunes,'' Wheeling Park coach Michael Jebbia said. ''There are going to be games that are in the 40s and 50s that we are going to have to settle down and make extra passes in the half court and run our sets. Then there are going to be games where we have to run up and down.

''Once you get into late February, early March, everything kinda turns into being able to function in the half court a little better. Everybody knows everybody so sometimes it gets into a game like that. We still want to push the basketball but Steubenville did a good job of pinching us.''

Steubenville (7-4) played defense well on Park, limiting it to its second-lowest total of the season. Unfortunately for Haney's club, it responded by shooting 12 of 41 (29 percent) and producing its lowest output of the season.

''It didn't work out the way we wanted it to,'' Haney said. ''We played a little bit of zone but they have good shooters. On offense we wanted to take the air out of the ball and work in and get good shots.

''It's hard to change in a 48-hour period of the mindset of pushing up-tempo to try and slow it down. They play a fast pace and it's hard to press them. Everybody can take care of the ball and they get up court quick so we figured we could slow it up and make them work on 'D' a little bit more. We just took some bad shots and shots didn't fall, but Park is a really good team.''

With starters Vondel Bell and Luke Saseen, as well as reserve Lee Peluchette sidelined with injuries, Jebbia has had to rely on his bench more and more.

Those guys stepped up in a big way Tuesday as the Patriots (8-4) had one of the more balanced efforts you will see on a stat sheet. All nine players that dressed played and all but one scored.

Wheeling Park had just two players score in double figures - Boo Lathon and Na'Kwaun Phillips - and they both finished with 10 points. Lathon completed the double-double with 11 points.

Lathon's basket at the end of the first half pushed the lead to 20 points to put the game out of reach.

The teams started sluggish in the third quarter with both only scoring one basket in the first 5 minutes. Errin Baynes intercepted a pass at the top of the 3-point line and raced to the other end and the state high jump champ finished the play with a thunderous dunk to put Park up 35-13.

Reserves played most of the fourth quarter, although the shorthanded Patriots were forced to play with at least one starter in at all times.

''For the most part, our defense was solid,'' Jebbia said. ''They got loose for a couple shots late. We can't fault the effort; those guys did a super job. We have some guys banged up and that gives the other guys to get more minutes.

''Steubenville came in playing really well, but I think we just had them outmatched in a couple areas.''

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