PHS weathers the storm

PARKERSBURG -Parkersburg didn’t show any ill effects from arriving home at 2 a.m. from Thursday’s Mountain State Athletic Conference seventh-place game with Spring Valley.

Less than 24 hours later at Memorial Fieldhouse on Friday night, Parkersburg closed out its regular season with a 66-60 victory against Morgantown.

Jordan Colebank led Parkersburg with 17 points and eight rebounds, while Cole Day knocked down four 3-pointers as part of his 16-point effort. Also scoring in double figures for the Big Reds (8-14) was Ja’Darien Wade with 13 points.

“The last two weeks we have really rounded into form, and grown into a solid basketball team,” PHS coach Jeff Mennillo said. “If we get the opportunity to extend our life here in postseason, in a week or two we could really be good.

“We’ve shortened our bench and I would say that has a little bit to do with our success. We’re finding a good rotation. When you have fewer moving parts, it’s easier to coach it.”

With less than 30 seconds remaining in the game and PHS clinging to a 64-60 lead, Morgantown’s Scottie Core stole a pass off the press and appeared to have a good look for the layup when Wade stepped in his path and blocked the shot.

On the same possession, Core had a look from 3-point land but tried to shoot over two defenders and Colebank grabbed the defensive rebound. Colebank was fouled with seven seconds showing and made both attempts for the final six-point margin.

As a team, PHS converted 14-of-15 from the charity stripe, including 9-of-10 in the final 6 1/2 minutes.

The Big Reds trailed just once at 2-0 then overtook the Mohigans (12-10) for good by scoring 11 unanswered points. Day capped the run with a 3-pointer from the top of the arc and added two more treys as PHS established a 21-8 lead by the end of the first quarter.

The Big Reds’ pressure in the second quarter took a toll on Morgantown and forced the Mohigans into eight turnovers during the period. As a result, Morgantown was limited to two shot attempts in the first six minutes and fell further behind at 28-12.

The difference remained 16 at 32-16 as the two teams exited for intermission.

Morgantown was unable to make any headway for most of the third quarter and PHS extended the lead to 47-28 on a three-point play from Michael Ramsey with just under two minutes left on the clock.

The Mohigans, however, owned the final 120 seconds and outscored the Big Reds 10-2 to close out the quarter. Elvin McNally, who finished with a team-high 16 points, accounted for the final four points of the period.

The margin dipped into single digits to stay when Core’s 3-pointer at the 1:19 mark of the fourth quarter cut the deficit to 63-55. McNally and Kenzie Melko each made one free throw, but Big Reds’ Darius Basta added one of his own at the 36-second mark.

Moments later, McNally converted a three-point play to set the stage for Core’s steal and Wade’s ensuing block as PHS weathered the storm.

“It should not have been a storm,” Mennillo said. “Morgantown did a good job running their plan, and we had a couple of untimely turnovers. We need to do a better job closing out the game, but Morgantown is a really good team. They have a lot of athletic kids.”

The Big Reds open sectional play on Wednesday at Wheeling Park.