This time, Generals finish job
A year ago at the FCA Hoops Classic, Winfield felt like it gave away a game against Wheeling Park, frittering away a 17-point lead before losing.
The Generals didn't make the same mistake Friday night.
Toby Show hit a tiebreaking 3-pointer from the left corner with 1:11 remaining and Winfield held on for a 64-63 victory over the Patriots in one of the featured games of the weekend hoopfest at the Civic Center.
The Generals (4-0) withstood Park's final possession, in which Trenton Smith missed a clean look at a 3 from the top of the key in the waning seconds.
"We had a couple of kids hit big shots at the right time,'' said Winfield coach Pat McGinnis. "They kept their poise. Maybe in the past we didn't keep our poise. I thought last year when we played [Park], some guys quit. We didn't quit tonight. It's just good win against real good program.''
Bear Bellomy, despite a rough night shooting, led the Generals with 23 points, including a 13-of-14 effort at the foul line. Zach Fisher added 14 points and Show 13.
For Park (2-1), Luke Saseen led with 17 points and seven assists, and low post Phil Bledsoe turned in a double-double (14 points, 17 rebounds).
"We didn't call a timeout at the end because we had it in Luke's hands,'' said Park coach Michael Jebbia. "I didn't want to take it on a side out and maybe take a chance on throwing it away. We got a good look.''
After Winfield's Brandon Wright missed a pair of free throws with 14 seconds left and the Generals up a point, Park got the ball to Saseen — the team's only senior — and he backed down his defender at the foul lane. Running out of time and with the defense collapsing, Saseen spotted Smith alone at the top of the key and fed him the ball. Smith's shot skipped off the rim and out to Wright, who dribbled off the final few seconds.
McGinnis realized Friday's game was going to be a good barometer for his team, which had streaked out to a 3-0 start by simply outscoring opponents, averaging 83-plus points per game.
"During the three-week [summer] practice, we played Park,'' McGinnis said, "and they didn't have everybody and we didn't have everybody, but they waxed us pretty good. They're bigger than us and we withstood some foul problems tonight.
"But our kids played hard. We're so pleased with how hard they've played. Over the years, we've had teams who played pretty hard, but nobody's played harder than this team. That's key for us. We know it's early and we've got to get better in a lot of areas.''
Bellomy, who poured in 35 points in his last game, missed his first nine shots on Friday and didn't make a field goal until a 3 at the end of the third period that gave the Generals a 45-42 lead in a game that had eight ties and nine lead changes.
The lead bounced back and forth. Park was up by six midway into the third quarter before Winfield rebounded for a 49-42 lead at the outset of the final period. Just as suddenly, the Patriots tore off on a 12-0 run to go up 54-49.
"I think everybody had their opportunities,'' Jebbia said. "There was a time stuck in my head, we were up 42-38 it seemed for about three, four minutes and we just weren't able to score and widen the lead.
"Give them credit. I think they wanted it a little bit more. It's the first adversity we've seen. Our first two games, we were sort of in control from beginning to end.''
Park had 19 turnovers and Winfield 16. The Patriots led 43-26 in rebounds.
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or firstname.lastname@example.org.