Sylvia, Mooney combine for 36 points in victory
PARKERSBURG –Behind the strength of 22 points from Malaki Sylvia, the Parkersburg South Patriots came away with a much-needed 69-54 win over the Ripley Vikings on Friday night. The Rod Oldham Athletic Center crowd knew this game meant a lot to the sectional playoff picture, and they were rowdy all night long.
Of course, it can be easy to be excited with a 10-0 run to start the game, as that’s exactly what the Patriots did, courtesy of two 3-balls from Brayden Mooney and a couple Sylvia layups, respectively. Despite the hot start, some bad shot selections helped Ripley get back into the contest.
“That (10-0 run) helped,” head coach Mike Fallon said. “You know–and I was really disappointed because we were up 13 before the half there and took three quick 3s, instead of setting it up inside and getting that thing up to 17 or 18. We felt they wouldn’t have been able to claw back in (with a better shot selection).”
The Vikings did claw back in to trim the lead down to 19-13 at the end of the first. The two teams kept trading baskets, until Seth Fallon took over. Fallon drained the next two South baskets to grow the lead to 28-21.
Following a Ty Johnson basket on the other end, Fallon found Sylvia inside for an and-1 layup. An energized Sylvia hit the free throw to further extend the lead. On the next Patriot possesion, Fallon dumped another pass off to Sylvia for another hoop and harm. Before the Vikings knew it, they were down by double digits. The ROAC crowd errupted in cheers after a Nathan Currey 3-ball gave South a 13-point lead, their largest of the half.
Cayden Keeler came off the bench for Ripley and cut into the lead with a basket and some free throws, as Ripley trailed at the half by a score of 36-27.
The Patriots got into a defensive rythm in the second half and held Ripley to just ten points due to steals and good on-ball defense on shot attempts (the Vikings were 4-10 shooting in the third quarter). Thanks to that, and a buzzer-beating layup from Sylvia, South flexed its muscle and led 51-37 heading into the last eight minutes of action.
At this point, the last Viking basket came from Tobias Scholl with 1:35 in the third, and the Ripley scoring drought continued well into the final frame. Following baskets from Currey, Sylvia and Fallon, Ripley finally got something to fall. A Johnson basket assisted by Jacob Fouty got the Vikes on the board, but it was too little, too late. An all-around quality win was punctuated with a feel-good moment. Noah Barker entered the game to sink a buzzer-beating triple to end the contest, and that helped send the crowd home happy. Coach Fallon hopes that this can be his team’s turning point, as the postseason looms large.
“I think the biggest thing was that we came in focused on us,” Fallon said. “We knew that this is sectional time, and we wanted to make sure we took care of business. We didn’t want to have to go down there or go somewhere else down the road (with a loss tonight). This was one of the next few that we had to take care of to kind of get us where we want to be. That was the biggest thing we talked about the other day. The goal was sectional time, we want to play here. Regional time, we want to play here, and that’s not out of the realm.
This setback for the Vikings drop them to 8-8, as they must look ahead to a road challenge against Wheeling Park at 6:15 p.m. For South (6-12), this win was a big one, and they’ll look to maintain momentum in a Tuesday night contest at Warren local.