South squares off with PHS tonight

PARKERSBURG – Host Parkersburg and head boys basketball coach Jeff Mennillo will be looking to snap a five-game slide against crosstown rival Parkersburg South tonight inside Memorial Fieldhouse.

During the first meeting of the campaign, the Big Reds couldn’t get anything going offensively and managed just 13 first-half points. The Patriots of head man Mike Fallon cruised to a 19-point lead at intermission and then posted a 23-12 advantage in the third stanza en route to an easy 71-46 triumph on Dec. 30.

The Big Reds (3-7) and the currently fourth-ranked Patriots (10-1) are both coming off losses entering their Class AAA showdown that begins with junior varsity action at 5:45 p.m. Coach Fallon’s club failed to capture its 11th consecutive victory Thursday night when Morgantown knocked off the Patriots, 59-56, inside the Rod Oldham Athletic Center. PHS played well early Wednesday at Winfield and led 21-19 before the Generals dominated in a 64-43 triumph.

“We still haven’t gotten quite over the hump,” Mennillo said of his squad, which got 16 points from Ja’Darien Wade and 10 markers from Levi Hays at Winfield. “We’re fighting with some inconsistency and decision making and that’s a problem.

“We’ve made a lot of progress in other areas and I feel like we’re still getting better and we’ve shown flashes of being able to be mentally focused and good decision makers. We just haven’t been able to do it for 32 minutes and that’s the problem right now.”

Parkersburg South is anxious to get back on the hardwood after suffering its first defeat.

Last time out against the red and white, PSHS had five players score in double figures – Garrett Gilkeson (15), JR Kerr (13), Ty Dobson (12), Cody Monroe (11) and Logan Lawrentz (10).

“We didn’t play well and we were kind of disappointed,” Fallon admitted of Thursday night’s performance. “These guys, we know we’ll bounce back. The good thing about it was knowing (even though we played bad) that we still had a chance to win.”

Even though the storied PHS/South rivalry is just that, Fallon is trying to change that way of thinking.

“We don’t count it as a rivalry game anymore. We count that for sectional seeding to get us ready instead of us versus them,” Fallon added. “To me we want to be one of the best teams in the state, not just the best team in Wood County.

“From out kids’ standpoint, everybody will be pumped up and psyched up. Anytime you play that game you never know what can happen. I’m confident our kids will come in and be focused.”

Mennillo, whose squad still has a very challenging upcoming schedule after tonight, only had one double figure scorer against the Patriots earlier this season and that came via Wade’s 13 points. Hays was limited to five points while Jordan Colebank, Mike Ramsey and Jeremy Stewart combined for 23.

“I think this is a good game for us to be playing now,” Mennillo stated. “I like the fact this is our next opponent. We need our guys to be really focused.

“Hopefully, this game will bring the best out of us. Sometimes it brings the worst out of you and that’s what you fear as a coach.”