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Weir Wins on Kelly’s Last-Second Shot

Photo by Andrew Grimm Oak Glen’s Danny Bridges looks to pass the ball during a game against Weir Tuesday evening.

WEIRTON — A tough kid.

That is how Weir High head coach Anthony Santangelo described Red Riders senior Tyler Kelly following his team’s dramatic, 54-53 win over Hancock County rival Oak Glen in what was both teams’ season opener.

Kelly showed the toughness his coach knew was there all along, finding just enough space in the paint after taking an inbound pass to let the game-winning shot go with 3.5 seconds remaining. It dropped through the hoop, sending the packed student section behind him into a frenzy.

“Tyler Kelly led us the whole second half,” Santangelo said. “He was making big-time shots and he made that one right there at the end. That is a tough kid right there. Hopefully these guys learn from what he brings to the table every single day.

“For sure, that’s the guy we want with the ball.”

The points gave Kelly 12 in the game, while he also led the team with 11 boards.

“It’s great to start the season like that with an exciting win in the Hancock County battle,” Santangelo said. “The stands were packed, we were up and you could hear our fans, at the end you could hear the Oak Glen fans screaming.

“It was a great battle, that is the way it should be every year.”

The clutch bucket came after the Red Riders had surrendered what had been a 13-point lead early in the third quarter, finding themselves trailing for the first time since the first quarter when the Golden Bears Jontae Howard pulled down a rebound and fired a long pass ahead to Danny Bridges for a layup, making it a 53-52 game with 46.6 seconds left.

Weir had a shot for a 3-pointer miss, and sent the Golden Bears to the line for a one-and-one. The free throw missed, and the Red Riders grabbed the rebound, brining play back the other way with 13.5 seconds left.

After Kelly’s shot dropped, the Golden Bears’ Chaise Clark had one final shot from halfcourt, but it bounced off the backboard and to the floor.

“Our kids stuck it out,” Santangelo said. “They went a big run against us and our guys kept fighting. That is all I can ask from them right now. It was a huge gut check and teaches these guys to keep their composure.”

Despite the tough defeat, the resilience shown the by Oak Glen had its veteran coach excited about what the season may have in store.

“The guys showed a lot of heart,” Golden Bears head coach Jerry Everly said. “They didn’t quit, they battled and almost pulled it out. We did a heckuva job, I’m so proud of them. This shows the heart they have. There are a lot of guys who haven’t been in that situation before.

“We showed we can play some basketball. It is a long season. We’ve had our share of tough losses in the past, this is one, but we will learn from it and get better from here.

“That is a pretty good team we just played and almost beat. I think a lot of people though we would get blown out by them, and we proved we can play.”

Clark led all scorers with 17 points, four assists and seven rebounds, while Howard pulled down eight boards and netted 11 points for the Bears. Jared Hissam nailed three triples and had 15 points to go with four assists. Danny Bridges had eight points.

Oak Glen showed it came to play early, scoring the game’s first seven points. Weir woke up, however, as back-to-back-to-back treys by Charlie Zegula (15 points) quickly put the Riders on top, and they led 15-14 after one.

Weir scored the first nine points of the second quarter and pushed the lead to 10 at halftime, before an early triple in the third made it a 13-point advantage.

After that, the Golden Bears came charging back.

Clark made back-to-back buckets to get the deficit back to single digits, where it was after three at a 40-32 Red Rider lead.

Clark again netted back-to-back buckets to make it a four-point game, before back-to-back Kelly triples pushed the lead back to eight points with 4:05 to go.

The Golden Bears kept chipping away, though, until they eventually took the lead, but the magical comeback was not to be.

Josh Boffman nailed three triples for the Red Riders to finish with nine points, while had six points and dished four assists.

“Our guys played team basketball, and that is what we talked about,” Santangelo said. “We don’t care who score the most, the important thing is winning.

“(Oak Glen) is a fantastic team. Coach Everly does a fantastic job every year. They should keep their heads up.”

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