Weir Downs JM In Final Seconds
Smith Drains 3 as Buzzer Sounds to Capture Victory
WEIRTON — Junior Liam Smith officially became a Weir High Red Rider Friday night.
During the season opener, Weir High trailed John Marshall by one point with 10.8 seconds remaining.
Following a timeout, Anthony Cross received the pass just beyond half court, drove and kicked it to Jacob Morgan in the right corner in front of the Red Riders’ bench.
His shot was a little strong, hitting the rim with roughly five seconds left. The ball trickled its way into the hands of Smith at the left corner right in front of the student section. He heaved one final attempt, and everybody held their breath.
“I was focused on making the shot. I didn’t know if it was going in. I just knew time was running out, and we had to get a shot up,” he said.
A transfer from Raleigh, N.C., Smith finally found acceptance if he had not done so already in Weirton. His shot hit nothing but the bottom of the net, lifting the Red Riders to a come-from-behind 58-56 victory.
“Man, the need to make that shot was at 100,” Smith said. “Coming to a new state, a new school and meeting new people, I have to create a name for myself. As a team, we all played together and all played great. I couldn’t have done it without them.
“That was the best time to be welcomed into a new school. Having that excitement is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It truly was amazing, and I’m happy to be a part of the Weir family.”
It also was a proper welcoming for first-year head coach Anthony Santangelo.
“I did not expect all of that, but I’ll take it,” he said with a huge smile. “I definitely was uncomfortable coming in all day long with jitters.
“Emotions are flying everywhere. I told the guys after the game that that’s what we’re teaching them to do — fight and battle. That’s what I want out of everyone. They really stuck with it and didn’t panic.”
The Red Riders entered the fourth quarter down by eight points, then 51-39. That was when they sprinted on a 14-2 scoring run to tie it at 53-53 with 2:57 remaining.
“Towards the end of the third, we got out of the press. I think it saved some legs at that point,” Santangelo said. “Then, in that final stretch, we just kept those guys in and kept flowing. Jack Scopel hit a big 3. Anthony Cross drove to the lane and hit some big shots. Guys were just locked in and ready to attack.”
Cross later nailed a close-range shot to give Weir High a 55-53 advantage, before the Monarchs’ Derrick Derrow sprinted full court for a layup of his own to tie it once again.
The Red Riders went to the charity stripe with 56 seconds remaining but missed both. John Marshall then ran the clock down to 19.7 seconds still showing. Derrow hit the first free-throw attempt but missed the second, giving Weir High one more chance.
“We just called a basic floor screen for Tyler Kelly to free up Anthony Cross. At that point, they were in a 1-3-1, so we just had to go,” Santangelo said. “Anthony attacked and made a great pass. (The shot) missed but fell into Liam’s hands, and that’s history right there.”
Following an early 11-4 John Marshall advantage in the first quarter, the two squads traded mini runs until the final stanza. Weir High would cut it to three or four points, then the Monarchs would increase it anywhere from nine to 12 points.
Then, there seemingly was nothing John Marshall could do to stop the bleeding in the fourth, being outscored 19-9.
“I keep on saying team, team, team,” Santangelo said. “The bench was great; they were locked in. Guys were just saying, ‘What do you need me to do?’ There was no complaining. We have different guys who can fill in different spots. Everyone is about the same size, so they can play anywhere.”
Santangelo received a total team effort, as all eight Red Riders who stepped on the floor scored at least two points. Cross led with 15 points, six rebounds and two assists. Kelly had nine points, four boards and three dimes. Scopel, off the bench, contributed eight points, three rebounds and a pair of assists. Smith also ended up with eight points.
“I told him to keep shooting. At first, he kept missing them short. I just told him to stay confident,” Santangelo said regarding Smith. “After the game, I told him I thought that shot was short again, but he drilled it. It’s a great feeling.”
For the Monarchs, Derrow dropped a game-high 32 points, five rebounds and two assists. Cole Gilbert had nine points and six boards. The rest of the team combined for 13 points.
“I want to give a shoutout to (Derrow). I mean, 32 points, he played his heart out. That was a heckuva game,” Smith said.
John Marshall head coach Chad Clutter was not available for comment.
Brooke 73, Oak Glen 55
WELLSBURG — Four Brooke players scored in double figures as Brooke secured a victory in coach Adam Shinsky’s debut. Cole Sperlazza had a game-high 19 points while Alex Isinghood had 17. Andrew Coursin netted 14 points and Ryan Knox had 12.
Gage Patterson flirted with a triple double, leading the Golden Bears with 18 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists. Jered Hissam had 16 points.
Trinity Christian 61, Madonna 51
WEIRTON — Matt Amaismeier, tallied a team-high 13 points, but Madonna fell to Trinity Christian.
Evan Bone ended up with 12 and Lennon Dietrich collected 11.
Mary O’ Crusaderette Classic
Parkersburg Catholic 74
Mady Winters supplied a double-double with 25 points and 18 rebounds, but Magnolia fell to Parkersburg Catholic.
Holland Estep tallied 10 points for the Blue Eagles.