CHARLESTON - Wheeling Park couldn't solve Winfield's relentless pressure, but when the Patriots had the opportunity to steal a victory from the jaws of defeat, they fell just short.
Trenton Smith's 3-pointer at the buzzer came off the front of the rim and Wheeling Park dropped its first game of the season, 64-63, to the Generals in the Hoops Classic on Friday night at the Charleston Civic Center.
Coach Michael Jebbia's team didn't get the shot it wanted, but the Patriots (2-1) got a wide-open look for Smith.
Winfield's Zach Fisher (24) puts up a shot against Wheeling Park’s Elijah Bell (4) during their game Friday in the Hoops Classic.
Photo by Rich Stevens, Charleston Daily Mail
''We got an open look,'' said Jebbia, whose team was playing its third game in four days after victories against Preston and University. ''I don't want to call timeout, because we would have to run a side out-of-bounds play and we had it in Luke's (Saseen) hands. We didn't play well enough to win.''
Winfield led 59-56 before a Smith 3-pointer tied the score with 2:16 remaining. Following a steal from Linsly transfer Toddy Goodwin-Rowe and a turnover, Toby Show hit a 3 to give Winfield another lead.
The Generals held a 62-61 lead with 32.4 seconds left following a Wheeling Park timeout. However, Winfield's Zach Fisher got loose on the inbound and scored a layup for another three-point General lead.
Wheeling Park received two free throws from Saseen with 16.9 seconds remaining for a one-point deficit. Winfield reserve Brandon Wright had two free throws with 14 seconds left, but missed both, setting up Wheeling Park's final chance.
On the possession, Saseen drove the lane into traffic, kicked the ball outside to Smith on the perimeter, but his 3-pointer skimmed off the front of the rim.
''Luke was getting a drive to the basket; we could've called timeout and gone to a set, but we had some of the things we wanted there,'' Jebbia said. ''Luke was getting some drives. He played a good game.''
The Winfield victory avenged a loss to Wheeling Park last year at the Civic Center during a game in which the Generals squandered a 17-point lead.
''I'm real proud of their effort and hustle,'' Winfield Coach Pat McGinnis said. ''This is a nice start for us.''
The Patriots led this one 42-38 and had opportunities to extend the advantage, but finished the game with 19 turnovers - about seven above their early season average.
''We're usually at 12,'' said Jebbia, who admitted he was somewhat surprised by the effectiveness of Winfield's pressure. ''We only have nine guys but we're not going to use that as an excuse. The guys who came off the bench did a nice job and the football guys were still coming along.''
Wheeling Park doesn't have the services of Zach Phillips and Theo Blackston, who decided not to play basketball this season. The Patriots weren't ready to move any junior varsity players to varsity, opting to stick with nine varsity players.
Saseen had 17 points, six rebounds and four blocked shots for the Patriots, while Philip Bledsoe added 14 points and 17 boards for Wheeling Park, which outrebounded Winfield 34-18. Goodwin-Rowe had 10 points for the Patriots.
John ''Bear'' Bellomy's 25 points led all scorers for Winfield, with Zach Fisher scoring 14 and Show 13.
Winfield was 20 of 27 from the foul line, and Wheeling Park was 16 of 18.