ST. CLAIRSVILLE - Tied at 61-61 with 1:27 remaining, the Wheeling Central Maroon Knights scored eight of the game's final 12 points to defeat the Wellsville Tigers 69-65 and capture the Class 2A Ohio Valley Athletic Confernce championship Saturday night on the campus of Ohio University Eastern.
This was only Wellsville's second loss of the season against 18 triumphs. Central improves to 16-3.
David Park netted four of Central's final eight points on his way to sharing team-high honors with teammate Chase Harler with 24 points each. Alonzo Manns posted 15.
Wellsville's Nate Scott topped all scorers with 25, including 15 in the third quarter. Scott was supported by Jordan Sloan with 16, Seth Bradford 12 and Camden Douglas 11. Bradford pulled down seven missed shots, followed by Douglas with six. Douglas passed out 11 assists, with Bradford and Tyeshaun Franklin handing out three each.
Wellsville found themselves quickly down 5-0 in the early-going, which resulted in Thompson calling a timeout with just 2:08 elapsed in the contest. His directives resulted in the Tigers connecting on their next three shots to take an 8-7 on a Scott hoop from a Douglas feed. The lead stretched to three, 14-11 on a Bradford trey with 3:05 remaining in the first quarter. Coming up empty on five consecutive possessions, the Tigers were down 15-14 before Sloan drained two charity tosses for a 16-15 lead after one quarter.
"We started out like we were in slow motion," said Wellsville head coach Dave "Bug" Thompson. "We weren't running our offense at full-speed and weren't setting good picks."
Central snagged a 20-18 before two consecutive three-pointers boosted Wellsille back in front, 24-20. Two free throws by Bradford followed offset a Manns hoop to keep Wellsville in front, 26-22. Franklin's free throw, followed by Scott and Douglas hoops incresed the Tigers' lead to five, 31-26. Central closed half strongly on a three-point play by Park, followed by Manns and Harler buckets, giving the Knights 33-31 halftime lead.
The Tigers found themselves seven, 43-36, early in the third quarter. Douglas and Sloan answered with hoops and then Scott went on a sizzling rampage, tallying 12 consecutive Tiger points, enabling them to take a 52-46 lead. Central's Boyd Bibey drilled a deep three-pointer from the right corner, to trim Wellsville's lead to three, 52-49, after three quarters.
"I was trying to lead our team and get us going," said the sharp-shooting Scott. "Usually, if one guy gets hot, the others will too."
With his team in foul trouble (Sloan had four personals, and three others had three), Thompson had his charges spread the floor in the fourth quarter, looking to run time off the clock and take advantage of mismatches.
"We needed to spread the floor and eat up some time," said Thompson. "Tyeshaun Franklin came off the bench and played great defense, especially considering, that he hasn't played that much with the full varsity."
A Douglas trey, a spinner by Scott and two Douglas free throws enabled the Tigers to lead 59-56 with 2:28 showing on the fourth quarter clock. Harler and Park answerd with hoops, giving Central a 61-59 lead. Douglas knotted the score at 61-all with two charity tosses at the 1:27 mark.
"I am proud of the way our guys played," said the Wellsville mentor. "Our guys didn't give up."
Wellsville connected on 11 of 22 two-point tries and 11 of 23 three-point attempts for a combined shooting percentage of 49 percent.
Wellsville returns to action Tuesday when they travel to Jackson-Milton.
Wellsville starter Antonio Fultz is still sidelined with an ankle injury as is Nigel Spann.
As usual, there was a large, boisterous group of Tiger supporters in attendance.
Wellsville has won six OVAC boys basketball championships.
WHEELING CENTRAL: 15-18-16-20-69
WHEELING CENTRAL SCORING: C.J. Burch 0-0-0, David Park 9-6-24, Thomas Stanley 1-0-2, Jonathan Droginske 0-0-0, Chase Harler 9-5-24, Joey John 0-0-0, Boyd Bibey 1-1-4, Alonzo Manns 6-3-15, Brian Campbell 0-0-0.TEAM TOTALS: 26, 15-19: 69.
WELLSVILLE SCORING: Camden Douglas 3-4-11, Tyeshaun Franklin 0-1-1, Nate Scott 10-1-25, Seth Bradford 4-2-12, Brendon Carr 0-0-0, Jordan Sloan 5-2-16, Jansen Stoakes 0-0-0, Sam McIntosh 0-0-0. TEAM TOTALS: 22, 10-16: 65 .
Three-point goals: Wheeling Central 2 (Harler, Bibey), Wellsville 11 (Sloan 4, Scott 4, Bradford 2, Douglas 1).