WHEELING - The first quarter of Wednesday's battle between city rivals Wheeling Park and Wheeling Central was a like a broken record.
Wheeling Central turnover, Wheeling Park layup. Wheeling Central turnover, Wheeling Park jumper. Wheeling Central turnover, Wheeling Park dunk.
The Maroon Knights committed eight of their 26 miscues in the opening eight minutes. And the Patriots took advantage, building a 14-4 lead en route to a 76-42 triumph at WesBanco Arena.
Wheeling Park’s Boo Lathon goes up for a dunk during the first quarter of Wednesday’s victory against Wheeling Central at WesBanco Arena.
Photo by Josh Strope
''We did a better job, especially on defense,'' Central coach Mel Stephens said. ''But man, they make you pay for every mistake.''
Park's defensive prowess was on full display in the game's early moments and Vondel Bell was the main beneficiary.
The senior scored seven points in the first five minutes, including five in the early 11-2 run that gave Park control for good.
The Patriots were never threatened. The Maroon Knights (1-15) closed the gap to nine at 24-15 on a Raquan Ingram jumper early in the second quarter, but never got the deficit below double digits again.
Ingram and David Park paced Central with nine points each.
''They're a good team,'' Stephens said. ''We played much better this time (against them), but we're still making some of the same mistakes.
''I told (the team) we're reaching the stretch run and this is when you need to start playing your best.''
After dropping three straight earlier this month, Park (10-4) has won four in a row. The Patriots travel to John Marshall on Saturday before playing host to Morgantown, Parkersburg South and Logan - three of Park's four losses - next week.
''We played well and, as a whole, we played well as team,'' Patriots coach Michael Jebbia said. ''We're committed to the defensive end like we always are.''
The Patriots played without Errin Baynes, who is still nursing tendinitis in his knee. Jebbia said Baynes will probably miss Saturday's game against the Monarchs, too.
The Maroon Knights were without leading scorer Braxton Nolte, who sat out the first of two games because of disciplinary action.
Following Ingram's bucket, Park went on a 14-5 spurt to widen its lead to 16. During the run, five players scored, which was par for the course for Park.
''You never want to see injuries or bad things happen,'' Jebbia said. ''But the situation has brought our team closer together.
''The other guys have gotten more minutes. We're just getting a lot out of everyone.
''(Wednesday) was a great example. Everyone scored.''
Park's Boo Lathon paced all scorers with 17 points. Lee Peluchette and Bell each finished with nine. Cody Geisel and Na'Kawaun Phillips each had eight off the bench.
Bell left the game after hitting a jumper midway through the third. He sat on the bench for the remainder of the game with ice on his left knee.
''He just kind of landed on it kind of funny and I think he got a little nervous,'' Jebbia explained, ''so we took him out.''
Bell has a sprained ACL and a sprained MCL in his knee and was cleared to return last week. He played about 18 minutes in a victory at Zanesville last Saturday.
The Maroon Knights won the rebounding battle 34-30, the second team to do that to Park this season (Morgantown).
That was good news to Stephens, who has watched his team struggle. But through it all, he said the squad has stayed positive.
''They're a good group,'' he said. ''They've stayed upbeat this whole time and its' been tough.
''We're showing some signs of getting there but we just haven't been able to put a whole game together like we need to.''