Big Reds upset No. 6: Parkersburg knocks off South Charleston, 64-63

Parkersburg’s Gavin Dudley sails past South Charles-ton’s CJ Allison on his way to the basket during the Big Reds’ 64-63 victory over the Golden Eagles Monday inside PHS Fieldhouse. Photo by Joe Albright

PARKERSBURG — Parker Miller’s hit on the front end of two free throws with 0.8 seconds left in regulation gave the Big Reds a 64-63 upset victory over Class AAA No. 6 South Charleston (7-3, 2-2 MSAC) Monday night inside PHS Fieldhouse.

Miller got to the charity stripe by going hard to the hoop and absorbing contact from the Black Eagles’ Romeo Dunham. He purposely missed the second free throw to set up a desperation heave from SC at the buzzer. Overall, the senior finished a rebound short of a double-double along with 20 points.

Teammate Brenton Strange did finish with a double-double after a 20-point, 13-board effort on the night.

“This team is starting to find its way,” said PHS head man Jeff Mennillo after the game. “I knew at the beginning of the year we would start a little slow, but this team is too good and has too much chemistry not to start hitting its stride a little bit. And I still think we can get a whole lot better.”

The Big Reds had to fight to keep the lead in the latter part of the second half.

They began the third period on a 10-4 run that extended their five-point halftime lead to 11 points after Miller drained a pair of free throws with 4:59 left in the stanza.

Yet, SC promptly answered back with a 7-2 streak started by a CJ Allison bucket off a EJ Phillips assist at 4:19 to get within six points.

Vic Herbert’s team could only slice the margin down to five before the clock hit zeros in the third period. Five Big Red turnover helped fuel his team’s comeback.

SC then got the lead down to one twice before the Mountain State Athletic Conference’s top-scorer Phillips knotted things at 56-all with under three minutes left to play.

PHS defenders did a great job on the Black Eagles’ center, holding him to ten points below his season average of 25.5 points per game.

There would be one more tie after PHS pushed the lead back up to seven only to see SC respond one more time. However, Mennillo did a great job of managing his timeouts down the stretch. He was able to burn the last forty seconds off the clcok to set up Miller’s drive after Phillips tied the game at 63-all with 1:06 down the stretch.

It also could have been out of fear his team would turn the ball over and not get the last shot. PHS had two huge turnovers that let SC stay in the game late.

“I feel like we could have played a lot better down the stretch,” said Mennillo. “Once you get into those 2 minutes to go and 3- or 4-point game-type situations you just have to manage each possession. We made some mistakes but we did some things right so hopefully this is one to grow on.

The Big Reds had a quick advantage before a minute even ticked off the clock.

Strange’s connection on a pair of technical free throw shots gave the Big Reds a 2-0 lead and the ball to start the game.

Dunham was penalized for dunking during warm-ups, before an SC coach was teed up for arguing.

The Golden Eagle player may have tried to make up for his pre-game gaff during the contest. He paced his team in scoring with 27 markers and had several key steals late.

The win was definitely a great way to kick off a three-game week for the Big Reds (7-5, 2-2 MSAC). Mennillo and company travel to Cabell Midland for a 7:30 p.m. tip Wednesday, before playing host to No. 2 Woodrow Wilson at the same time Friday.