PARKERSBURG-After watching his team suffer only its second loss of the season-79-52 last Friday at Morgantown-Parkersburg South head coach Mike Fallon wanted to see how his Patriots would respond.
If Friday night’s 90-77 victory over Two Rivers Athletic Conference rival Wheeling Park is any indication, Fallon’s concerns were lifted.
“I thought we bounced back really well,” said Fallon. “They (Wheeling Park) made a run at us in the third quarter, but our kids didn’t panic and that was something we (the coaching staff) have been looking to see.”
Not only did the host Patriots not panic when a pair of free throws by Chalmer Moffett sliced the visitors’ deficit to only two points, 58-56, they outscored their guests by a 16-6 margin over the next three minutes to push the margin back to 12, 74-62, with 5:43 left to play in the game.
“We did a good job of attacking the basket,” continued the South coach. “We watched the Morgantown film and the one thing we noticed is that we didn’t do a good job of attacking the basket.
“Wes (Mitchem) and Logan (Cox) did a much better job of doing that tonight.”
Mitchem, who finished with a double-double, tallied game highs of 30 points and 12 rebounds as the Patriots improved to 8-2 on the season with a home encounter with crosstown rival Parkersburg slated for Monday night at the Rod Oldham Athletic Center.
“Wes is a player,” said Fallon. “When he wants to play and is focused, he is as good as any player in the state.”
And, the senior displayed that against the Northern Panhandle Patriots.
Mitchem tallied eight of his points in the first quarter of action as Parkersburg South shot out to a 22-18 advantage. The 6-foot, 4-inch post player came back with eight more points before the intermission as the hosts took a 42-28 lead to the locker rooms.
Joining Mitchem in double figures was fellow senior Doug Dennis (23) as well as junior Dylan Rippeto (13) while Wheeling Park (3-5) received 23 points from Trenton Smith. Ryan Reinbeau and Luke Saseen broke double digits as well with 18 and 11 points, respectively.
Trailing by 14 as the second half got under way, Wheeling Park opened the eight minute period with a 16-5 run. Reinbeau got things rolling with a three-point play at the 7:23 mark and ended the spurt with a triple that pulled the visitors to within three, 47-44, with just over five minutes remaining in the period.
Park continued to chip away at the Patriots’ lead over the next three minutes and pulled to within one point, 55-54, on a layin by Saseen with 2:01 showing on the clock. A three-point play by Mitchem with 1:30 remaining stopped the bleeding while a Tyler Berry layin with 44 ticks showing on the clock gave the hosts a four-point, 60-56, lead heading into the final quarter of action.
An eight minute period dominated by the local Patriots.
“It was important to see how we would respond,” added Fallon. “And, I thought we responded very well. The kids understood what happened at Morgantown and they were determined not to let it happen again tonight.”