South shrugs off slow start for OVAC win

PARKERSBURG – Overcoming a quick 9-0 start by visiting Indian Creek, Parkersburg South took the lead for keeps to open the second quarter and never relinquished it the rest of the way to record a 57-54 OVAC boys basketball semifinal-playoff triumph over the Redskins Tuesday night at the Rod Oldham Athletic Center.

The win in a high-intensity, physical game propelled the now 16-3 Patriots, ranked No. 5 in Class AAA in West Virginia, into Saturday’s OVAC Class 5A championship finals at 5:30 p.m. at OU-Eastern versus University, which defeated Morgantown, 52-40 in double-overtime on Tuesday.

”Our offense had to get us going tonight, not our defense,” said South head coach Mike Fallon. ”We needed buckets to stay in the lead to make them chase us.”

But until that happened, the Patriots, the playoff second seed, had to weather a first-period offensive assault by third-seeded Indian Creek (14-6), which jumped out to a 9-0 lead, necessitating a Fallon timeout. ‘We got shell-shocked early, but once we got focused again, we were OK,” said Fallon.

By the close of the first quarter, South had cut the gap down to just one at 17-16. Then Wes Mitchem hit a basket 38 seconds into the second stanza, followed by a Cody Monroe field goal and a Logan Cox free throw to push the Patriots ahead 21-17. South led by as much as seven in the period, but needed a pass from Monroe to Doug Dennis streaking downcourt for a layup at the halftime horn to take a 30-24 advantage to the locker room at intermission.

The Redskins, though, gained ties at 32 and 35 in the third quarter, but both times, Mitchem canned treys to give South back a three-point edge.

Then the Patriots had to stave off a late Indian Creek threat that narrowed the gap to three with just 2:04 to play. But Mitchem backed in for a basket at 1:17 and in the final 18 seconds, the Redskins had to foul, only to see Monroe sink five of six free throws and then steal a midcourt inbounds pass with two seconds left as time ran out on the Redskins.

Mitchem led South with 22 points that was matched by Indian Creek’s Alex Young. Monroe added 17 points for the Patriots as did Frank Kamarec for the Redskins.