The Dominion Post  

Wheeling Park eliminates Morgantown girls

Created on:   Wed, Feb 28, 2018   12:06 AM

Last modified:   Wed, Feb 28, 2018   12:06 AM

Wheeling Newspapers

WHEELING — Wheeling Park is headed back to the state tournament. And while that isn’t a surprise to anyone who watched the Patriots play this season, how they did it was the impressive part.

Wheeling Park shut down the Morgantown offense — which came in averaging 53 points per game — to 27 percent shooting and 32 points.

At the end of the third quarter Feb. 27, the Patriots led, 34-17 — so if Morgantown were to win, it was going to have to score more points in the final eight minutes than it did during the first three quarters combined.

The Patriots forced 18 turnovers on their way to a 46-32 victory in a Class AAA Region 1 co-final. They earned their second straight trip to Charleston for next week’s state tournament.

“These kids deserve a lot of credit because when we lost Josie (Daugherty) after last year, some people thought we were going to take a step back,” Wheeling Park coach Ryan Young said. “I knew we had some young kids coming in that were going to help us out and I knew that our seniors have played a lot of basketball for us. We have a nice combination of youth and experience.

“We played defense (Tuesday) the way we know how and when we do that, we win a lot of games. ... We battled a team that was bigger than us and it was just an effort thing for our kids and them sticking to the game plan.”

To get to state, the Patriots had to win the rubber match against the Mohigans — the teams split their regular-season meetings.

From the beginning, it was the Patriots who looked to have the momentum. Morgantown wasn’t as bothered by Wheeling Park’s press as most teams, but turnovers in the front court, as well as missed shots, didn’t allow the Mohigans to get their offense on track.

Wheeling Park led throughout, holding Morgantown (18-7) to two points in the first quarter and going on an 11-0 run that put the Patriots in front firmly in control the remainder of the game.

The second half was much of the same. Wheeling Park started the third on a 9-2 run, the big basket coming on a steal and lay-up by senior Kylie McKennen.

Emily Pavlic and Brionna Gray paced a balanced Wheeling Park effort, scoring 11 points each. Bella Abernathy, who had a big bucket in the fourth quarter off a rebound of a missed Patriots free throw, finished with 11 boards. Not bad considering the 5-foot-10 freshman had to battle underneath with Morgantown’s 6-3 Kaitlyn Ammons.

Aleena McDaniel paced MHS with 11 points.

“We got off to a rough start and we were really struggling offensively,” Morgantown coach Jason White said. “We did a lot better with their press than we have in the past, so I was happy with that, but at the same time, we couldn’t get anything going. I felt we were really stagnant and standing around, but that is a credit to coach Young. He did a great job scouting us. He got us in that 2-3 (zone defense) and really dared us to shoot it.

“I think early on we were tentative to do that, and it was kids trying not to make a mistake and doubting themselves a little too much. We got better as the game went along, but we could never mount a run that was significant. That is a good basketball team and I wish them the best of luck in Charleston.”