Maroon Knights wear down Tigers

WHEELING — Wellsville coach David Thompson was looking to give Wheeling Central some different looks during Tuesday’s OVAC 2A semifinal contest on “Skip” Prosser Court.

The game plan was working well early on but the Maroon Knights’ athleticism and depth began to wear on the Tigers.

After a 3-point buzzer-beater off the glass from Ryan Reasbeck before halftime and a 64-footer as time ran out in the third by Jalen Creighton, Central was on its way to another OVAC title game by way of an 83-60 victory over Wellsville.

“We tried to give them different looks on defense,” Thompson said. “Plus, we couldn’t match up with them man-to-man and I figured if we went man the whole second half they would have beaten us by 50.

“They are athletic, big and they shoot the ball well. With our numbers, their numbers and their size, they just wore us down. Coach Stephens does a helluva job.”

Eleven of Central’s 12 players on the roster found the scoring column, while only four Tigers managed to find the bucket.

Five Knights reached double figures, led by Reasbeck’s 18 and Anthony Robbins’ 12, while Avery Lee, J.C. Maxwell and Creighton each poured in 11.

Bray Price followed with eight.

“They played really well,” Central coach Mel Stephens said of the opposition. “Offensively, we knew what we wanted to do against their zone. In the first half we were a little bit tentative. We moved the ball around really well but didn’t look to score it that much.

“In the second half we did a much better job of looking to score.”

Reasbeck’s big shot to end the second gave Central a 39-32 advantage but early in the third, the Knights reeled off a 9-0 run to expand the cushion to 48-34.

The spurt was capped by a pair of Maxwell buckets, which were set up by two offensive rebounds from Robbins.

Once Stephens and company grabbed the reins, they turned to the defensive side of the ball to finish the job.

“We don’t like to play zone but once we got the lead, I thought our zone slowed them down some,” Stephens said. “It made them work a little more and it took away their driving ability a little more.

“We had to know where (Garrett) Scott all the time and (Lucas) Green made shots in the first half, too. We kind of had to shade to where those guys were and we did that in the second half.”

Scott — a 1,000-point scorer — led all scorers with 21 points and Green turned in 19, with 24 of those 40 points coming in the first half.

The Knights outscored the Tigers 22-12 in the third as Creighton delivered the finishing touches with a heave at the buzzer.

“Jalen hit another big shot that gave us momentum,” Stephens said. “I thought we were more aggressive going to the basket in the third quarter and I thought Anthony turned it up a little bit and really looked to attack.

“We were able to get some buckets that way.”

Robbins garnered 10 of his 12 points in the second half. He also finished with nine rebounds.

“We watched film and we were worried about 40 (Clayton Abate),” Thompson said. “But we had no answer for 24 (Robbins). He did all the damage. He crashed the boards and that’s how you’ve got to play the game.”

Wellsville started the game on a 6-0 run and held a 21-19 edge after the first quarter.

“Our guys are always ready to play,” Thompson said. “We stuck to our game plan and played really great ball in the first quarter.”

Green netted 11 points in the frame but was held scoreless in the second quarter.

Lee started the second with back-to-back 3s to give Central the lead for good.

The Knights will face off with top-seed Toronto in the championship at 6 p.m. at Ohio University Eastern on Saturday, where they will look to secure their OVAC-leading seventh straight title and 27th in school history.

“Every year it’s a different crew,” Stephens said. “We had enough guys go through it last year to know what it takes. We’ll focus on Magnolia (tonight) and then we will get ready for (Toronto).”

Before the game, Stephens was honored for collecting his 300th career victory, three weeks ago over Madonna.

WELLSVILLE: 21-11-12-16–60

WHEELING CENTRAL: 19-20-22-22–83

WELLSVILLE SCORING: Green 9-0-19; Scott 8-1-21; Dieringer 0-0-0; Suggs 4-2-12; Ramsey 0-0-0; Wright 4-0-8; Talbert 0-0-0; Boley 0-0-0; Thirtyacre 0-0-0; Campbell 0-0-0. Totals 25, 3-4: 60.

WHEELING CENTRAL SCORING: Price 3-0-8; Toepfer 1-0-2; Reasbeck 6-2-18; Lee 4-0-11; Saunders 0-0-0; Maxwell 5-1-11; Creighton 4-1-11; Rohmann 0-2-2; Robbins 6-0-12; Custer 1-0-2; Abate 2-0-4; Mills 1-0-2. Totals 33, 6-9: 83.

3-Point Goals: Wheeling Central 11 (Price 2, Reasbeck 4, Lee 3, Creighton 2) Wellsville 7 (Green, Scott 4, Suggs 2)