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Weir Tops Oak Glen in Opener

Red Riders earn win filled with first-game sloppiness

Oak Glen’s Blake Perez drives to the basket against the defense of Weir’s Sebastian Spencer on Tuesday in Weirton. Photo by Joe Catullo

WEIRTON — Rivals Weir and Oak Glen went at it Tuesday night in a fast-paced game that saw its share of nice and even great plays, but there also was a lot of sloppiness.

Weir came back from a two-point halftime deficit to take the mutual season opener for both teams, 52-47.

Both teams raced up and down the Carl Hamill Fieldhouse floor in front of a large crowd. Sometimes players on each team were out of control, but it was a close game all the way with seven points separating the teams twice in the game — once by each team.

“I was disappointed at how we shot the ball,” Red Riders coach Mike Granato, who began his 21st season, said. “We shot the ball much better in our two scrimmages. I have to give credit to Oak Glen. I thought they drove the ball to the basket well on us, and I think we were just trying to make too many big plays.”

Oak Glen kept its composure through most of the first half, gaining leads of 17-11 after one quarter and 25-23 at the half.

“Not hardly,” Oak Glen coach Jerry Everly said, replying when asked whether the fast pace was how his team wants to play. “You want to play fast, but you want to be under control while you’re doing it. There’s a balance there, and that takes time. We’re learning, and we’ll get better.

“Weir is a good team, and they threw a lot at us. But, I thought we handled it pretty well. We just made some nervous turnovers. We have guys that were playing their first game as varsity players. It’s a whole different ball game. I thought for the most part we battled. We just got beat on the boards in the second half.”

Weir, led by senior Tanner Mikula, held a decisive edge off the glass, grabbing 35 rebounds to 20 for Oak Glen. Mikula had a double-double, pulling down 12 off the glass and was one of four Red Riders scoring in double figures with 11 points. He made a huge 3-point shot from the top of the key early in the fourth period to spur an 11-4 run that gave the Red Riders control of the game.

Down by two points going into the third quarter, the Red Riders pulled ahead for only the second time in the game when one of the shortest players on the court, Brodie McUmar, grabbed an offensive rebound and put the ball back up through the hoop. Weir finished the third quarter with a slim 34-33 lead.

Both teams seemed to have some first-game jitters, and Granato said he felt his veteran club may have been more nervous than Oak Glen.

“All of a sudden there in the first half, we became impatient,” he said. “It was like guys weren’t making shots, and the next thing you know they (his players) started pressing a little bit. It wasn’t good. No. 1, we have to screen a little better to give our shooters a chance to knock them down. And, No. 2, we have to start driving to the hole better. We have to take advantage of our quickness and get to the basket.

“Dakota Nutter gave us a spark in the third quarter. We went to him two or three times. We made plays when we had to make plays, but we have to get a lot of more consistent.”

Nutter finished with 16 points to lead the Red Riders offense.

Neither team did very well from the foul line. The Red Riders were 6 of 15, while the Golden Bears could make only 5 of 12. The turnovers were nearly even, with Oak Glen gaining the advantage there by one, 16-15.

“We don’t have a lot of depth right now, especially with Gage Patterson out,” Everly said. “He injured an ankle playing football. We don’t know for sure when he’ll be able to play, but he is a starter for us.

“I thought Blake Perez, our point guard, did a great job for us handling the Weir pressure and got us into our offense. Zach Taylor is always hustling and battling, and I think Jacob Clark came around in the second half.”

Perez and Taylor led the Golden Bear scoring with 13 points each, and they each had five rebounds and two steals. Clark added eight points, three rebounds and a blocked shot.

The other Red Riders in double figures wer McUmar and Gillette with 10 points apiece.

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