South punches state ticket

PARKERSBURG – Motivation took on several forms as Parkersburg South attempted to not only defeat the same team four times in the same season but also secure a berth for the state tournament.

Behind a 28-point effort from Doug Dennis along with Wes Mitchem’s double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds, the Patriots manufactured a 78-68 win against University Tuesday night in a Class AAA, Region I contest at the Rod Oldham Athletic Center.

In three previous meetings this season with the Hawks, the Patriots had never won by double digits.

“We had beaten them three times – I wasn’t getting tired of them,” Dennis said. “I was glad for a fourth game.”

It was Dennis who turned the tide in the opening stages of the second half. After Travis Tomer’s 3-pointer put University in front 43-40 on the opening possession, Dennis showed his range from beyond the arc and knocked down four bombs as part of a 14-4 run run which left South leading 54-47.

The Hawks would pull no closer than five points the rest of the way as South iced the victory with 11-of-17 free throws in the fourth quarter.

“I’m so happy for these kids,” South coach Mike Fallon said after his Patriots improved to 21-4. “We have come a long ways in two years. They believed in what we were doing.”

Tomer led University with 25 points, but converted just 3-of-11 attempts from the field following his 3-pointer to open the third quarter. Providing the defensive coverage on Tomer was South senior Tyler Bolen, who is more accustomed to the offensive side of the ball as the Patriots’ starting quarterback.

And yes, Bolen did have a one-handed slam which left University trailing 71-61 with three minutes remaining in the game.

“In the second half, Tyler absolutely shut down Tomer,” Fallon said. “We challenged him at halftime. Normally we switch on all of our screens, and we told everybody to switch except Tyler. And Tyler stayed glued to Tomer.”

The Patriots didn’t waste any time finding a rhythm in the first quarter. A pair of 3-pointers from Mitchem were followed by two more by Dennis as part of a 14-0 outburst.

University slowly pecked away at the deficit and by the 7:05 mark of the second quarter took its first lead at 23-21 on consecutive buckets by Tevin Dixon, who finished the game with 11 points.

“I told my guys in the huddle at one point, that we don’t do things easy,” Fallon said.

The Hawks didn’t get the opportunity to enjoy the lead for long as Logan Cox and Cody Monroe scored back-to-back buckets. With South nursing a 27-25 advantage, reserve Logan Lawrentz provided some much-needed scoring relief and accounted for 10 of his club’s final 13 points to close the first half even at 40.

Lawrentz ended the night with a season-high 14 points.

“Logan played unbelievable for us,” Fallon said. “He hasn’t played a lot lately, but he came in and did everything we asked -and made big buckets. It was his night to step up.

“I told my coaches before the game, there’s somebody that we don’t know who is going to make a difference. And Logan Lawrentz made the biggest difference.”

Bolen and Monroe pitched in eight points apiece. In addition to recording four steals, Monroe dished out four assists – the same amount of assists provided by Mitchem.

“This is a huge step,” Dennis said. “This feels a lot better than when we were sophomores. We took a beating back then, but a night like tonight makes up for it a lot.”