MORGANTOWN — A lopsided second quarter and a triple-double by Quinton Burlenski led Wheeling Central to a 68-56 win over homesteading Trinity Christian in a matinee matchup Wednesday afternoon.
The Maroon Knights (2-3) have not started their season on the right foot but righted the ship a bit Wednesday as Burlenski, their junior standout, scored a game-high 26 points while pulling down 14 rebounds and dishing out 11 assists for the triple-double.
“(Burlenski) just spread the court really nicely, he’s really tough to guard off the dribble, and really just controlled the whole game,” Trinity coach Codey Horton said. “That’s what we wanted to take them out of, but he did that and that’s why they won.”
After leading by just three, 15-12, after the first quarter, Burlenski helped fuel a 24-10 Knight advantage in the second frame that jetted them past the Warriors (4-2).
“Every single game we’ve been struggling in the second quarter,” Horton said. “We decided we want to throw something new at them and my team wasn’t paying attention the first three possessions.”
Wheeling Central went on a 17-0 scoring run from the end of the first quarter to midway through the second that put the Knights up 27-12 at one point. In that stretch, Burlenski hit from range twice while Jeremy Ratcliffe added another trey.
“That’s how it goes really quickly,” Horton said. “We’ve got to figure something out for the second quarter.”
Wheeling Central thrived from range Wednesday, hitting eight triples, three from Burlenski and four from Ratcliffe. Trinity, meanwhile, watched several shots from deep come up short and bounce off the front of the rim. The Warriors’ first three-pointer came from Chayce Adams with less than five minutes to play in the second quarter. It ended Central’s 17-0 run.
Despite trailing 39-22 at halftime, Trinity came out with renewed energy to start the third, outsourcing their opponents 15-6 partway through, cutting Central’s lead to just eight at one point. Knights scored nine of the final 12 points of the frame, however, to regain their advantage.
“We definitely don’t give up, we were down 18 a couple of times,” Horton said. “I thought we should’ve played a lot better, we just didn’t execute as well as I expected.”
Trinity again outscored Central 16-14 in the fourth quarter, but it was too little, too late as the Knights hung on to win by 12.
Central was led by Burlenski’s 26 while Ratcliffe supported him with 15 and Troy Anthony finished with 11.
Carter Hartsock led Trinity with 20 points while Adams and Levi Teets each had 10.
As both teams are newcomers to Class AA this season, Horton saw Wednesday as a chance to make a statement against Wheeling Central, a program with a long track record of success.
“Everyone knows who Wheeling Central is and we wanted to kind of kick them off today,” Horton said. “There was a statement we wanted to make, but we lost by 12 even though I think we all know it should’ve been a little bit closer.”
The Warriors will have a full week off before returning to action on the road at Frankfort next Wednesday.
“We need to go back to the drawing board and figure out what we want to do, what our identity is,” Horton said. “We can shoot, we know that, but it’s just a lot of little things. The little runs Wheeling Central had that we didn’t is why they got us.”
Wheeling Central 68, Trinity 56
WCC 15 24 15 14 — 68
TC 12 10 18 16 — 56
Wheeling Central — Burlenski 10 3-5 26; Olejasz 3 0-0 6; Schmitt 1 0-0 2; Anthony 4 2-2 11; Ratcliffe 5 1-2 15; E. Dean 2 0-0 4; T. Dean 1 0-0 2; Crall 1 0-0 2.
Trinity — Teets 3 3-3 10; Lohman 2 0-0 4; Knuska 3 0-0 7; Adams 4 0-1 10; Hartsock 7 6-13 20; White 1 0-0 2; Hancox 1 0-0 3.
3 Pt. Goals — Wheeling Central 8 (Ratcliffe 4, Burlenski 3, Anthony 1). Trinity 5 (Adams 2, Teets 1, Kniska 1, Hancox 1).