South, PHS collide in sectional tonight

PARKERSBURG -The Parkersburg South boys basketball team just needed a little seasoning.

That’s how Patriots coach Mike Fallon explains when referring to last year’s loss in their sectional opener. This season, South is on a mission and it all starts tonight against its crosstown rival Parkersburg High.

The two schools meet tonight at the Rod Oldham Athletic Center with tipoff set for 7 p.m.

“We did some good things down the stretch last season, but we weren’t ready to go on,” South coach Mike Fallon said. “We lost our first game at sectionals and it was one of those things that we didn’t finish two or three games at the end of the year which cost us homecourt advantage.

“We really haven’t focused on the two games this season against Parkersburg- we know this is a whole new season. It’s not us vs. them. We want to get to the next level and we want to go on to Charleston.”

In terms of point differential, South owned the upper hand against this Big Reds in both meetings after winning by an average margin of 32.5 points.

At Memorial Fieldhouse, PHS trailed 14-12 after one quarter before South outscored the Big Reds 50-17 in the next 16 minutes. The end result was a Patriot 75-45 win. The outcome was eerily similar at the ROAC as South increased a 16-10 first-quarter lead to 42-15 by intermission. The Big Reds eventually suffered an 85-52 defeat.

“Emotion plays such a huge part in this game,” PHS coach Jeff Mennillo said. “In the first two games, when things started going bad it just snowballed and there were no way to reel it in. We need to handle the environment.”

PHS enters tonight’s contest with an 8-14 record. Coach Mennillo is looking for a collection of individuals to raise their game another level.

“One of our biggest hurdles is to overcome the atmosphere,” Mennillo said. “Our guys need to play loose. They need to get energized by the environment and not polarized.

“They can’t feel like every mistake is do or die. They need to understand it’s a 32-minute game.”

In addition to its 18-4 record, South has delivered in the clutch. In an OVAC Class 5A championship game earlier this month at OU-Eastern, the Patriots trailed University by three points with 90 seconds remaining in regulation but managed to pull off a 50-47 victory when Tyler Bolen’s pass to Wes Mitchem resulted in a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

Mitchem finished with a game-high 19 points.

“Wes Mitchem is a really good high school basketball player,” Mennillo said. “South has good depth and good perimeter shooting.”

South has suffered just one loss (against Morgantown) in eight games played at the ROAC. Coach Fallon figures PHS will throw a few change-ups from the first two meetings.

“We don’t know what (Mennillo) will throw at us defensively,” Fallon said. “The past two weeks of the season, we’ve seen everything from some pretty good teams. We feel like we are as prepared as ever. But when you are playing Parkersburg, expect the unexpected.”