PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — With Parkersburg South playing its fifth game in nine days, Patriots’ head coach Mike Fallon was eager to see his team’s energy level Friday night as it welcomed Wheeling Park.
While Parkersburg South was sluggish at times, it put together three solid quarters and was efficient down the stretch in holding off Wheeling Park for a 68-53 victory.
“We didn’t play too well and give them credit,” Fallon said. “They executed what they had to do. The five games in nine days takes its toll. We were really flat offensively and couldn’t get going. It was like the harder we dug, the worse it got. But I really give our kids credit for fighting through adversity.”
The win allowed PSHS to improve to 10-2, including 4-1 in the busy recent stretch. With its third straight setback, WPHS fell to 7-3 while playing for the first time since January 11.
Outside of a 2-0 lead, Wheeling Park was never in front. Parkersburg South got early 3-pointers from Jackson Smith and Aiden Blake to go on top 12-4, and Fallon’s team settled for a 14-8 advantage through one quarter.
Parkersburg South continued to control the contest in the second frame.
After Brett Phillips split two free throws to cut Wheeling Park’s deficit to five at the 6:20 mark of the period, Fallon’s team ran off six consecutive points as part of an 11-2 spurt that enabled them to lead 27-13. That stretch began with two Smith free throws and also featured Austin Reeves’ driving layup and Nathan Plotter’s follow-up basket. An Aiden Davis leaner provided WPHS with its only points and was answered by Blake’s triple from the corner along with Smith’s stickback.
“We have really good team chemistry,” Smith said.
Davis scored seven of his team’s final points in the opening half, including a 3 that sent Park into the intermission trailing 33-20.
Wheeling Park then put together its best stretch of the night over the first half of the third quarter, which it began with an 11-2 spurt of its own. Cole Wilkinson and Phillips each scored from close range to start the run, and Wilkinson added two more buckets inside moments later with Davis drilling a triple in between them.
Leading 35-31 nearing the midway point of the third, PSHS got a spark from Smith, who made a short jumper and followed it with a 3 that allowed his team to up its advantage to nine.
“They cut it to four and we didn’t want to call a timeout,” Fallon said. “We wanted our kids to fight through and see how they’d handle that and they did a great job handling adversity.”
The teams traded baskets over the remainder of the third, though Davis hit two more treys and Phillips sank two free throws for the final points of the quarter to keep WPHS within striking distance as it trailed 48-41 entering the fourth.
“He got loose against our press a couple times,” Fallon said. “We told our kids to kind of stay at home on him, but we didn’t and it was too tempted to go and trap. He got loose and hit a couple 3s in transition and it seemed like that got him going. Once a kid like that gets going, it’s tough to slow him down.”
Phillips continued to assert himself and made a corner 3 early in the fourth, which along with his layup shortly after, cut Parkersburg South’s lead to 52-48.
Yet from that point forward, WPHS’ only other field goal was a Mykel Davis trey, and it came late in the contest with the outcome no longer in doubt.
Plotner’s jump hook with 4:56 remaining was part of a 6-0 run that allowed PSHS to regain a double-digit lead at 58-48. After two Mykel Davis free throws, PSHS ran off seven unanswered points to wrap up the win baskets from Miciah Jones, Plotner and Cyrus Trough during that time.
Smith scored 20 points and added five rebounds.
Reeves scored 11, Blake had 10 and Plotner and Trough contributed nine apiece. Plotner was also a major factor on the glass with a game-high nine boards to key a 36-21 rebounding advantage for PSHS.
“Jackson Smith scored 20, but his rebounding and defense were key, and Plotner taking care of the paint was huge for us,” Fallon said.
Aiden Davis hit four of his team’s six 3s and scored a team-high 18 points in defeat. Phillips added 16 and Wilkinson’s six boards were a team-high.
WPHS shot 42 percent (21 for 50) and had 10 turnovers. PSHS, which also had 10 turnovers, shot 46 percent (24 for 52) and had a significant advantage at the free-throw line, scoring 10 more points on 14 more attempts.