MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Morgantown used its trademark pressure defense to put away Wheeling Park, limiting the Patriots to one fourth-quarter field goal to pull away for a 59-45 win Friday night.
The Patriots (10-3) outscored MHS 18-9 to close to within 46-40 at the end of the third quarter. But the Mohigans (11-2) got three timely three-pointers and several critical stops to regain their double-digit advantage.
The first triple came from Antonio Rollo make it 49-40. After Park’s Travis Zimmerman made 1-of-2 free throws, Morgantown reeled off eight consecutive points to put the game out of reach.
Alec Poland and Alex Rudy made back-to-back threes before two free throws from Mac McMillen allowed the Mohigans to lead 57-41.
“In the fourth, we strapped back up and they had one point most of the quarter,” Morgantown head coach Dave Tallman said. “I’m proud of that effort. We’re still not clicking or jelling all the way and I don’t want to yet.”
Not until Alex Vargo’s layup with 21 seconds left did the Patriots put home a basket during their five-point period.
“Morgantown is deep. They may not have a bonafide first-team all-state player, but they have solid balance and nine guys that are really good,” Park head coach Michael Jebbia said. “Their quickness and depth wears on you.”
The Mohigans put together a strong opening half to hold a 37-22 lead at the break.
Morgantown carried a 21-12 lead into the second quarter, before Vargo scored six points in a span of 2:56 to cut the Patriots’ deficit to 26-18.
A key stretch followed, during which Morgantown outscored Park 11-4 over the remainder of the half to hold the 15-point lead at intermission. Rollo and McMillen had consecutive triples during the surge, the latter of which made it 35-20.
Morgantown, which finished with a 40-22 rebounding advantage, controlled the boards in the opening half to the tune of a 20-8 edge.
“They were up in passing lanes and it was really difficult for us early,” Jebbia said. “We were able to settle down, but we were in such a deep hole.”
But Vargo scored nine points over the first five minutes of the third quarter, helping Park pull to within 43-35 after he converted a layup off a steal. Zimmerman’s dunk later in the quarter trimmed the Mohigans’ lead to 44-39, but Park went the next 9:27 without a field goal.
“They’re a good team. They’re going to make a run,” Tallman said. “That’s not a team you’re probably going to blow out. We let Vargo get loose a couple times and we didn’t play as hard.”
McMillen led the Mohigans’ balanced scoring attack with 12 points. Poland, Rudy and Troy Battle followed with nine points apiece.
“Troy was coming off an injury and was kind of flat the last three games, but he was old Troy tonight,” Tallman said. “It was fun to see him. I think Troy was probably our MVP.”
Vargo had a game-high 24 points, while Zimmerman finished with 13 points and 12 rebounds. The rest of Wheeling Park’s team scored only eight points on 2-of-11 shooting.
The Mohigans outscored the Patriots 18-6 from behind the arc.