Patriots prevail

PARKERSBURG – Regional bound – and the best thing about it for Parkersburg South’s boys basketball team is it gets to play another tournament game at home Tuesday night with a trip to the state on the line.

That scenario came about as a result of top sectional seed South handling visiting third seed Wheeling Park 60-46 in the Class AAA Region I, Section 1 championship game Friday night at the Rod Oldham Athletic Center.

South’s inside duo of seniors Wes Mitchem and Logan Cox led the way for the victors with 22 and 18 points, respectively, as well as corraling 17 of their team’s 28 rebounds, 10 by Mitchem and seven from Cox. Doug Dennis added 12 points and Cody Monroe eight for No. 5-ranked South, now 20-4, which will play University at home in a Region I contest at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

For Park, now 11-13, it’s also on to 7 p.m. regional play Tuesday, but on the road again at Morgantown. Park was paced versus South Friday by Andrew Kowalo with 12 points, Ryan Reinbeau with 11 and Luke Saseen with 10.

South took control in the second stanza against Park, outpointing the visitors 20-9 in the period, after a close opening quarter that ended 9-8 in Park’s favor.

A Mitchem trey gave South its first lead of the game at 8-6 with 2:49 left in the first quarter, but Saseen sank a basket in the lane at 4.3 seconds to lift Park into its one-point edge at the quarter break.

South, though, started out the second period with steals by Mitchem and Cox for buckets to go ahead for good at 13-8 as Mitchem’s was a three-point play.

Then an 11-4 South spurt to finish the first half – keyed by Mitchem throwing a long scoring pass to Dennis on a break, a nifty spin move in the lane for a basket by Monroe and Cox’s 3-ball from out front on the left with five seconds remaining – propelled the hosts out to a 10-point advantage, 28-18, at halftime.

The margin increased to 35-18 after just 2:15 of the third quarter before an 8-0 Park run narrowed the gap to 37-28. Mitchem halted the Park tide with a trey and South led 44-34 going to the fourth quarter.

And an 8-0 South burst to begin the final period expanded the lead to 52-34 with 6:14 to play, and Park never got any closer than nine again as South claimed its first sectional title in five years.

”It’s a great feeling to win the sectional tonight,” said Cox, who added both he and Mitchem ”were banging down there inside. We love getting physical. The refs let us play some tonight, so it was a great night.”

South head coach Mike Fallon thought ”our defense stepped up really well tonight, and taking pride in that is a huge step for our guys. Wes and Logan were men inside tonight; they were so strong in there.”

South is 3-0 versus University, the last win coming just two weeks ago in the OVAC 5A championship game by a 50-47 score. But it a took a Mitchem 3-point basket at the final buzzer to notch the victory.