Wes Mitchem made a stand.
And even though it involved keeping Parkersburg South's leading scorer on the bench for the crucial moments of the game during Thursday's Class AAA quarterfinal loss to Washington, the 6-foot-4 senior stuck to his decision for the benefit of the team.
With 4:53 remaining in the fourth quarter and South trailing 48-46, time was called by the officials as Mitchem rolled his ankle following a Washington bucket. The Charleston Civic Center grew silent as the team trainer and South coach Mike Fallon attended to Mitchem, who was on his backside a few feet from the Washington bench.
Mitchem had to be helped off the court and spent the next 10 minutes (actual time) receiving treatment. He tested the injured ankle by putting pressure on it and walked behind the South bench before re-entering the game at the 3:08 mark.
But shortly after, Mitchem was right back on the sidelines watching his teammates, who eventually fell victim to Washington, 60-56.
"Wes came to us and said, 'I'll hurt us if I go back in because I can't jump' that tells what kind of young man he is to be able to do that," Fallon said. "A lot of kids would try to go out there and do it. Wes knew Logan Lawrentz was playing pretty well for us, so he told us to put him back in.
"That meant a lot. It really did."
Of the four South seniors, only Logan Cox was absent from the post-game press conference. But if hearing the sniffles, along with the disappointment, from Mitchem, Tyler Bolen and Doug Dennis was any indication -this loss stung throughout the entire team.
The sting hurt that much more for Mitchem, who couldn't join his teammates on the floor as they nearly rallied from a five-point deficit in the final minute.
"When you are in a situation where there is nothing you can really do I really wanted to play, but I didn't want to cost my team a chance to move on to the next round," Mitchem said. "During those 10 minutes of treatment, I was just trying to feed off the adrenaline. But it hurt.
"I knew I didn't belong in the game, but it was my last game and I wanted to give it a shot."
Mitchem actually made one more appearance after Washington called timeout with 5.7 seconds and South trailing by four points. The inbounds pass landed in Mitchem's hands, but his 3-point attempt didn't come close and Washington dribbled off the remaining time after pulling down the defensive rebound.
As the players filed into the tunnel, the South student section more commonly known as the South Psychos expressed their appreciation and began chanting "Thank You Seniors!"
"This senior class is unbelievable," Fallon said. "I remember my first year we played Wheeling Park opening game and we got beat by 46 points. These guys kept digging and digging. They started since they were sophomores and kept believing in what we were doing."
Contact Kerry Patrick at email@example.com