Patriots pull away in the fourth for win

Photo by Josh Hughes Huntington’s Garrick Hopkins gets his shot off under Parkersburg South’s Jake Dennis’ block attempt during the Patriots’ 67-59 win Monday inside the ROAC.

PARKERSBURG — Malaki Sylvia sent the crowd at the Rod Oldham Athletic Center home happy, as he tallied 29 in a 67-59 victory over Huntington. He physically dominated, and went to the paint to record each one of his field goals.

“He’s unreal. He’s so quick, and when he misses his first shot, he’s right back after the second shot, coach Mike Fallon said of Sylvia. He’s still developing, and he’s starting to figure it out. Once he fully figures it out, he’s even going to go up another level.”

The Patriots (2-5) were additionally led by Seth Fallon’s 16-point night, and that includes nailing three free throws after being fouled behind the arc.

Those free throws came with just 3:52 remaining in the contest, and it helped stretch a shrinking South lead back up to 58-50. Before that, the Highlanders (2-6) went on a run that included timely shots from Dionn Sims, Tajan Blackwell and Tanner Stevens. They recorded 9 points, 5 points and 5 points respectively on the night.

Coach Fallon’s Patriots were close to giving up the lead on multiple occasions, but they held strong by never trailing in the game.

Garrick Hopkins led all Highlander scorers with a solid 16-point performance. Kris Brown followed closely behind him with 14.

Despite this 1-2 punch from Huntington, Parkersburg South held everyone else in check. As a team, coach Ty Holmes’s Highlanders were held to just 22/56 from the field (39%). That’s especially jarring when you consider that Hopkins and Brown had half of those baskets by themselves.

While turnovers continued to plague the Patriots, they faired better from the field at 21 of 38 (55.2 percent). The hot shooting performance couldn’t have come at a better time for the team, as they snapped a 3-game losing streak in the process.

The Patriots just came off a tough home loss to Morgantown by a final of 73-70. Coach Fallon knows that his team can start to piece winning efforts together with games like this, and he also knows that they had plenty of opportunities to close games out in the past.

“It feels good (to win). We’ve had a tough schedule. Not to blame it on our schedule, but there were two or three of those (games we should have won).We want to win those games, and they’ll get there, he said. This is one of those seasons where I think we’re going to have to look at our record to see how good we’re going to be at the end.”

In order to get back in the thick of things in the OVAC, South will have to reel off victories against a multitude of opponents. First, attention shifts to Wheeling Park for a 7:30 p.m. tip-off tomorrow night at the Rod Oldham Athletic Center.