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Park Girls Hold Off Morgantown

Woods goes for 26 points

Photo by Josh Strope Wheeling Park’s Kieran Johnson (21) goes up for a shot against the defense of Morgantown’s Catherine Wassick (13) during Thursday’s game at the Palace on the Hill. The Patriots won, 47-39.

WHEELING — Wheeling Park is nearing the end of a long stretch — five games in eight days. And after tasting defeat Monday for the first time this season, the Patriots have bounced back nicely.

A 17-0 run to close out the first quarter proved to be just the cushion Wheeling Park needed in holding off Morgantown, 47-39, on Thursday in a battle between regional foes at the Palace on the Hill.

“Monday was a great game for us experience-wise with a great atmosphere at Indian Creek,” Wheeling Park coach Ryan Young said. “To come back the last two games and get back on track, that has been good for us. We still have a lot to clean up and we understand. It is not going to be perfect this time of year, but it should be progressing.

“Some areas we are getting better and some areas we just have to work on.”

Morgantown (4-7) scored the first five points, but it was all Wheeling Park (12-1) the rest of the first quarter.

After two Bella Abernathy free throws and a 3-pointer by Asia Roby tied it, Wheeling Park took its first lead off a Shanley Woods free throw at 6-5.

The Patriots never trailed again.

Wheeling Park ended the first quarter on a 17-0 run, limiting Morgantown to 2 of 10 shooting and forcing six turnovers.

“Defensively we did a little bit better job than we have the last couple games,” Young said. “Zariah Marling came off the bench and was very active. She got some steals early and kind of jumpstarted things for us defensively. Then Shanley kind of carried the load offensively.

“Some kids who have been scoring for us didn’t (Thursday) and that is going to happen. That is why we preach that defensively, you can control that end of the floor a lot more. If we can limit teams like we did (Thursday), you are going to give your team a chance to win even if it is not your best shooting or scoring night.”

Despite the 12-point deficit after one quarter, a young Morgantown team didn’t go away.

The Mohigans won Quarters 2 and 4, and tied the third quarter, 14-14.

But the first-quarter hole was almost too much to dig out of against a team such as the top-ranked Patriots.

“I am proud of our kids and proud of our effort,” Morgantown coach Jason White said. “We could have given in, but we didn’t. We did a nice job opening the third quarter and closed the gap. I told the kids I thought we went on a minute, minute and a half freak out there after we closed the gap where we had some turnovers and gave up some layups on the other end.

“We can’t do that and expect to stay in the game. I thought our defense got better as the game went on. Our help side defense got better. But you also can’t give up 26 (points) to Woods. We know how good of a shooter she is. We had a good game plan at home and we tried to stick to that game plan, but she made us pay (Thursday).”

And the Patriots needed Woods to step up and the senior did impressively.

With the rest of the team struggling, Woods took it upon herself to provide the offense. She took half of the Patriots’ shots (22 of 44), including draining four 3-pointers. She missed her first foul shot, but connected on her final six.

She was the only Patriot in double figures.

Her final two free throws came with 27 seconds left, sealing a victory after Morgantown had closed it to five points at 44-39 thanks to six straight points from 6-foot-3 standout Kaitlyn Ammons.

The Patriots held Ammons to 10 points. Catherine Wassick paced the Mohigans with 11.

“We know (Shanley) can do that, kids like Lindsey Garrison and Bella can do that,” Young said. “It is OK if one or two are off that the other kids can pick up the scoring.

“(Ammons) is always going to be a focus for us when we play Morgantown. She is a great player that can score inside and outside. She missed some shots she would probably typically make. I think a little bit of defensive pressure helped with that. The defense did a good job of knowing where she was and crashing on her.”

The Patriots conclude this gauntlet of a week Saturday against Parkersburg South. Wheeling Park won an early season matchup between the two teams, 61-52.

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