WHEELING, W.Va. — When you are playing the top-ranked team in the state you have got to find the ability to take advantage of situations and get things done when the opportunities arise.
On Friday night, Wheeling Park had a huge opportunity against unbeaten Morgantown with the Mohigans watching two of their senior starters, including 6-foot-8 standout Carson Poffenberger, sitting on bench in foul trouble for most of the first half. However, after forcing a 22-22 deadlock in the second period the Patriots were never able to take control.
Senior Cam Rice and freshman Sha-Ron Young both came off the bench to combine for 19 points and 10 rebounds and No. 1 Morgantown grabbed a five-point halftime lead before steadily pulling away in the second half to capture a 64-47 victory over No. 6 Wheeling Park in a battle of big school state-ranked teams at the Palace on the Hill.
“This is always a tough place to play, but our kids battled adversity (Friday), stayed level-headed and got the job done,” head coach Dave Tallman said. “It was a good test for us, especially with everybody telling us how great we are. I’m proud of the kids and very happy about the contributions from our bench. Cam Rice was definitely our MVP out there.”
Playing extremely patient, the Patriots managed to stay close in the first quarter, down just 6-4 when Poffenberger went to the bench with two fouls at the 4:43 mark and only down 8-7 when classmate Luke Bechtel joined him with his second personal just over two minutes later. But the visitors were able to close on a 7-2 run and push their advantage to 15-9 after one.
With Wheeling Park struggling to get any second-chance opportunities, both early and for the entire contest, that lead moved to 20-13 before an Avery Lee triple a few minutes later knotted the count at 22-22. An Alec Poland triple and Rice put-back before the end of the first half sent Morgantown (4-0) to the locker room with a 27-22 edge.
More opportunities came about for the Patriots in the third quarter with Poffenberger and Bechtel both picking up their respective third fouls early on and the hosts only trailing 34-28 midway through the chapter. However, Rice continued his strong play inside and when the dust had settled the Mohigans closed the frame on a game-deciding 14-6 run that made it 48-34 after three.
The margin grew to as many as 20 late in the contest.
Morgantown had balanced scoring with six players each scoring at least eight points in the contest. Senior Xavier Pryor paced the Mohigans with 11, Rice added 10, Young nine and Poland and Poffenberger evenly divided 16 markers.
The Mohigans will host Robert C. Byrd at 4 p.m. Saturday.
Clay-Battelle 49, Paden City 25
Liv Ammons continues to shine for the Cee-Bees (3-1), scoring 21 points, including five 3-pointers, to lead her team to a blowout win.
Ammons, like many of her teammates, was limited in the second half in an attempt to get rest with a grueling shortened schedule.
“We are taking advantage of some opportunities to rest our starters late in the game since we have a four-game stretch with no days off or practices,” head coach Dave Joyce said. “Our younger girls are putting in some good minutes of game time experience.”
C-B’s next game is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday at Doddridge County.
Middle school girls’ basketball
Suncrest 7s 43, St. Francis 11: St. Francis was led by Adalyn Brown with 4 points. For Suncrest, Madi Stone had 13 points and Leyton Balderson had 11.
Suncrest 8s 39, St. Francis 27: The top scorer for St. Francis was Hannah Stemple with 16 points. For Suncrest, Sadaya Pryor led with 18 points and Liz Alsop with 9.
Trinity 8s 28, Clay-Battelle 12: Elyse Kisner led the way for Trinity with 13 points.
Middle school boys’ basketball
Suncrest 7s 42, St. Francis 37: Carson Street led Suncrest (1-1) with 11 points, while Sunny Gump and Kelton Blunt each added 10. St. Francis’ leading scorer was Luke Braham with 17 and W. Biddington chipped in 14.
Suncrest 8s 57, St. Francis 35: Suncrest (2-0) was led by Marty Johnson with 15 points, Owen Williams with 12, Akir Johnson with 10 and Brady Savage with 9. St Francis’ leading scorer was A. Shapiro with 8.