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Park puts it in overdrive

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.

That had Winfield coach Pat McGinnis going overtime with a lengthy postgame speech that would have made Capital coach Carl Clark proud. (In fact, a Hoops Classic official gently nudged the Generals out of the locker so Clark and his Capital team could use it.)

"[Park] stepped up the intensity in the second half, and we warned them about that. The game was far from over," McGinnis said. "We addressed it, too - we've got some people playing as individuals, not executing and not going where we tell them to. I think we could be a pretty decent team, but we've got to get some things worked out."

Ryan Reinbarg led Park with 13 points, including two quick 3-pointers that set up the winning run. Saseen finished with 11 as the Patriots shot 45.1 percent.

Winfield's Fisher led all scorers with 17 points, followed by Chris Turner with 16. Turner's late 3-pointer with a second left set the final score.

The Generals shot 37.5 percent, dragged down by a 4-of-16 slump in the final 12 minutes.

Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130, dougsmock@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.

 


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