CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- For 25 minutes and 9 seconds, Winfield made everything look easy against a young Wheeling Park team in their Hoops Classic game Friday at the Civic Center.
But as soon as Zach Fisher's free throw gave the Generals a 37-20 lead, they seemed to forget what got them to a 17-point lead, and forgot how much pride the young men wearing "The Park" jerseys usually have. The next thing the Generals knew, they were staggered by a 16-0 run and buried 61-57 by the Patriots.
Park (2-1) did much of its second-half damage with its reserves - Zach Phillips scored 10 of his 12 points and Trenton Smith scored all 10 of his in the final 12 minutes.
That just happens to be when the Patriots flipped a virtual switch and dominated. Starting with a Smith fast-break basket with just under 4 minutes left in the third quarter, the Patriots outscored the Generals 29-13, hit 12 of 21 from the floor and forced eight of Winfield's 20 turnovers.
"We did a wholesale change of subs there. Things weren't working for us," said Park coach Michael Jebbia. "Winfield played harder than we did in the first half, they had more energy. We went with subs, and it got things going."
For a stretch including the last minute of the third quarter and the first three-plus minutes of the fourth, everything was going right for the Patriots in their 16-point tear. Winfield (3-2) started the streak with two walking violations and Park's Andrew Kowalo hit a basket to cut the Generals' lead to 46-38 at the end of three quarters.
Jebbia wanted the margin a little closer at that point, but he didn't expect his players to make up those eight points almost instantly.
Luke Saseen, the team's only returning starter, hit a runner and Phillips banked in a basket while crossing into the lane. Smith hit two 3-pointers sandwiched around a Phillips runner and Saseen scored on the fast break, giving Park a 52-46 lead with just under 5 minutes left. After the Patriots hit their next two shots, completing a streak of nine made field goals in a row, the Generals couldn't recover.