Ripley Rallies Past Park, 48-43

Photo by Cody Tomer Wheeling Park’s De’Vaughn McWhorter, left, guards Ripley’s Tobias Scholl during Saturday’s game at the Palace on the Hill.

WHEELING — Wheeling Park coach Michael Jebbia and his Patriots were left in disbelief following Saturday’s game at the Palace on the Hill.

Park saw a 16-0 lead go-by-the-wayside as Ripley roared back to steal a 48-43 upset win over the Patriots.

“To jump out 16-0 and then allow them back in the game, just give Ripley and their kids credit,” Jebbia said. “Their kids just continued to fight. Congrats to them. They are a much improved team from a year ago.”

The Vikings suffered 10 turnovers in the first quarter but managed to trim that number down to four during the next three quarters.

“That’s what won it for us,” Ripley coach Luke Parsons said of his team’s ball control in the final three quarters. “Turnovers is what we win or lose by.

“We just started getting after it. We got every loose ball, we took care of the ball on the offensive end and made sure we boxed out. Of course Park missed some shots but overall we played great defense.”

Park (11-5) was sparked by three 3s in the first from De’Vaughn McWhorter and didn’t allow the Vikings to score until 23 seconds remained in the opening stanza.

Aside from McWhorter’s sharp-shooting from beyond the arc, Wheeling Park only managed five 2-point field goals all night and is on a three-game slide, after falling in overtime to Morgantown on Friday.

“Our offense is out of whack,” Jebbia said. “We’re worried about too many other things.

“It’s been a tough 24 hours. We played extremely hard on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday and I thought we had a good effort (Saturday).

“We had a good start to the game but for whatever reason, our offense went-by-the-wayside. We didn’t continue to do the things that we did to get a 16-0 lead.”

With the scoreboard reading 16-3 entering the second, Ripley came alive.

The Vikings used a 13-3 run in the second to slice the deficit to 24-18 by halftime. The spurt was led by Ty Johnson and Isaac Putman, who each tallied six points in the quarter.

The teams continued to go back-and-forth in the second half but it was Trevor “Tubes” Thomas coming off the bench for a buzzer-beater to end the third, giving Park a 34-30 edge.

“Tubes hasn’t played a lot this year as a senior but I was really proud of him coming in there,” Jebbia said. “He does everything you ask and he is really starting to improve and I wanted to give him a chance (Saturday).”

Ripley’s rally continued in the fourth and it secured its first lead with more than five minutes to play at 37-36.

With the score deadlocked at 39-39 with 3:08 to play, Johnson and Isaiah Riffe each drained three free throws down the stretch to help Ripley pull ahead and stay there.

A McWhorter 3 with 53 seconds to go cut the margin to three but that was as close as it got.

Johnson recorded a double-double with 19 points and 11 rebounds to pace Ripley and Putman added 14 points.

“Last year we won two games and now we have nine (9-8),” Parsons said. “We had a tough one (Friday) against Parkersburg South and we didn’t play well. I let them know that and they responded.”

Alex Vargo led Wheeling Park with 18 points and McWhorter delivered 15.

“There are still six games left in the season and then the postseason,” Jebbia said. “So, we’ll move forward. We have to get better shot selection and move the ball better.”

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