Central Boys Out To Impress
By KYLE LUTZ
WHEELING — Wheeling Central coach Mel Stephens knows that a player like Chase Harler comes around once in a blue moon. The former Maroon Knight sstandout has moved on to Morgantown at West Virginia University. However, that does not mean the cupboard is bare.
The Maroon Knights have four returning starters from last year’s squad that made it to the West Virginia Class A state championship game before losing to St. Joseph in overtime.
“We’re not going to replace Chase,” Stephens said. “I think a lot of times when you have that really good player, when they do leave, you have other guys that now are looking to step up and take the responsibility or be the guy to make the play. With a guy like Chase, we are going to defer to him probably more times than not because he was such a good player.
“With him gone, now these guys know they don’t have a Chase to go to, so they have to count on each other a little bit more.”
Harler is the leading scorer in Wheeling Central and Ohio County history with 2,386 points and was a three-time West Virginia all-state selection. He averaged 24.4 points and seven rebounds a game in 2015.
The Maroon Knights also lost Brian Campbell and Patrick Hurley, who were key contributors.
The four starters that will return for the Maroon Knights are seniors John Burkhalter and Gabe Rohmann and juniors Owen Gainer and Brent Price. Senior Adam Jarrett, also returns as he was the first guy off the bench in 2015 along with classmate Trey Mueller.
The remaining seniors are James Fillipovich, Michael Niggemyer, Brother Jackson and Jacob Pleva while Blake Peluchette and Ian Georges are the returning juniors. Jimmy Zecca and Cedric Williams add some depth to the Wheeling Central roster as Zecca transferred from Wheeling Park and Williams from St. John.
Bray Price rounds out the roster as the lone sophomore.
“We’re going to be pretty experienced,” Stephens said. “And we are going to be pretty deep. We’re going to look out and get after people a little bit, and try to play up tempo as much as we can. I think that’s going to lend more to us because we really don’t have that big post guy. We’re going to try to make it a little more up and down.”
With the Maroon Knights scheduled to start their season on Dec. 6 against Trinity at home, they have been practicing without some of their players. Burkhalter, Bray Price, Jackson, Niggemyer, Pleva and Peluchette were still strapping on the pads with the Maroon Knights football team on its playoff run. For Stephens, practicing without some of his players at the beginning of the year has become somewhat of a habit.
“That’s been kind of the way it’s been here,” Stephens said. “I get kinda of used to it. We very seldom have them when practice starts and more times then not, we don’t get them to the very end. That’s fine. I think that’s good. Those guys experience that success in football and most times that carries over to basketball, too. We got a pretty good nucleus and we are waiting for football to be done and hopefully it’s not until the first part of December.”
Success has always been in the genes of Wheeling Central athletics and expectations are always high. With a strong core of athletes returning to the hardwood, the 2016-17 season will be no different.
“Our goals every year is to get to the OVAC Tournament and play for a championship there and get to the state tournament and play for a championship,” Stephens said. “It’s not that if we don’t do that, it’s a failure, but that’s always our goals going in and we’re just looking to try and get better every and try to go out and compete every night.”
Stephens is assisted by Tyler Morando and Chip Calissie.
Dec. 6: Trinity Christian 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 8: Notre Dame 7:30 p.m.
*Dec. 13: St. Marys 6:40 p.m.
*Dec. 15/17: Tucker County/Gilmer County TBA
Dec. 20: at Shadyside 7:30 p.m.
**Dec. 27: Magnolia 8:30 p.m.
**Dec. 28: Bishop Donahue/Madonna TBA
Dec. 30: at St. Clairsville 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 3: at Steubenville Catholic 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 5: at Madonna 7:30 p.m.
***Jan. 7: North Allegeheny 10 a.m.
Jan. 11: at Notre Dame 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 13: at Linsly 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 20: at Charleston Catholic 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 21: at Parkersburg Catholic 2:30 p.m.
Jan. 26: Linsly 7:30 p.m.
Jan 28: at Magnolia 8 p.m.
**Jan. 31: Bishop Donahue 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 7: Shadyside 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 10: St. Clairsville 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 14: OVAC TBA
Feb. 18: OVAC Championship 12:15 p.m.
Feb. 25: Sectional 7 p.m.
Feb. 28: Sectional 7 p.m.
March 3: Sectional 7 p.m.
March 9: Regional TBA
March 15-18: State Tournament TBA
*Glenville State Tournament
**at Wheeling Jesuit University
***Cancer Research Classic at Wheeling Jesuit University