ST. CLAIRSVILLE, Ohio -As the starting quarterback for the Parkersburg South football team for the past three seasons, Tyler Bolen has thrown a lot of passes.
Perhaps none had the impact on South athletics as the one he pulled off in Saturday night's Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Class 5A championship basketball game against University.
With the Patriots and Hawks tied at 47 and time running out, South's Logan Cox tipped a University pass to Bolen, who called timeout with 2.6 seconds to play.
South set up what it hoped would be the play that would give the Patriots their first OVAC basketball title. Bolen took the ball from the official and saw that Patriot sharpshooter Wes Mitchem was wide open. Bolen quickly fed him the ball and Mitchem drilled a three-pointer that went through the bottom of the basket as the buzzer sounded, setting off a wild celebration on the Patriot bench.
South's thrilling 50-47 victory was the 17th of the season for the fifth-ranked Patriots, and perhaps their biggest win of the campaign.
"We really didn't play all that well,'' said South coach Mike Fallon. "But we found a way to win. We were down by three with 90 seconds left, but these don't panic. We've played a stretch of pressure-packed games that have prepared them for these situations.''
Fallon said Bolen actually told the official before South stole the ball that if it picked off a University pass, it immediately wanted a timeout.
Ironically, South made just two 3-pointers in the game, both by Mitchem, the other coming in the third quarter. His last second heroics were compared on the South radio broadcast to the famous play Christian Laettner made for Duke in an NCAA tournament game against Kentucky. He had just enough time to catch the ball, square up at the basket, and fire off the game-winning shot.
Mitchem led all scorers in the game with 19 points. South also got eight from Bolen, seven from Cody Monroe and six from Cox.
University was led by Travis Tomer, who made four 3-point goals and finished with 14 points.
Coach Fallon said when the Patriots left Brooke after a season-opening loss, he and his assistant coaches wondered how they were going to fix things. As it turns out, Fallon said, that game was the best thing to happen to South, although it certainly didn't seem like it at the time. It woke up the Patriots, who have gone 17-3 since.
South, which closes out its regular season on Thursday night at the Rod Oldham Athletic Center against Belpre, will find out on Monday where it will be seeded in the sectional tournament.