Someone must have forgot to tell the Ohio All-Star team that it didn't have a chance Sunday afternoon.
The Buckeyes had actually plenty of chances to seize control of the annual Samuel A. Mumley OVAC All-Star Classic inside the Health and Physical Education Center on the campus of Ohio University Eastern.
While the Buckeyes had chances, the West Virginia team had Wheeling Park's duo of Bubby Goodwin and Marqez O'Neal along with a solid dose of Linsly's Jarred Smith and that proved to be too much for the Ohioans, who were dealt a 96-91 setback during an entertaining contest.
OHIO’S Josh Tolliver goes up for a shot over Weir High’s Freddie Jones, while St. John’s Matt VanDorn looks on during Sunday’s OVAC All-Star Basketball Game. Additional images may be found at cu.timesleaderonline.com
HARRISON CENTRAL’S Kyle Blanchard goes up for a shot against a West Virginia defender during the first half of Sunday’s OVAC?All-Star Game at Ohio University Eastern.
"I'm glad no one told me we were supposed to win (big)," said West Virginia head coach George Vargo, who guided Madonna to a state title last month. "That would have put a lot more pressure on me. We shot the ball well and had some kids make some big plays."
The Buckeyes shot out of the gate early behind the hot shooting of Zanesville's Tanner Gibson, who's recruiting is open since he de-committed to Columbia University late last month.
He scored 12, including a highlight reel dunk off a lob, during the first half, but the Mountain State's depth and equal groups allowed it to crawl back into the contest.
"All 14 of our guys played well," Vargo continued. "I didn't think we had a letdown from anyone today, and good things happened for West Virginia."
Shenandoah's Brett Farnsworth - who will play in next weekend's prestigious Ohio North-South Game in Columbus - scored nine of his 12 points during the opening half.
West Virginia turned to O'Neal early. He scored 10 of his 17 in the first half.
Smith, who didn't miss a shot during the opening 20 minutes, scored 14 in the first half.
When the first half dust settled the game was knotted at 49.
West Virginia took the lead early in the second half thanks to more work on the interior by O'Neal.
Gibson, who will be the final Zanesville player to compete the game since the Blue Devils have opted to drop out of the OVAC effective in 2011-12, put on an exhibition early in the second half, including a time when he picked Goodwin's pocket and went in for a two-handed flush.
However, it was Goodwin, who got the last laugh.
After scoring eight in the first half, he scored 16 in the second half, including a stretch of 11 in a row, which helped the Mountaineers fend off the late Ohio rally.
Ohio got as close as two at 86-84 after Frontier's Cory Fickiesen had a conventional three-point play and Gibson meshed a pair at the line.
Goodwin always seemed to have the answer.
"I thought we got everyone pretty balanced playing time," Vargo said. "Bubby probably played a few more minutes than the others, but he earned it."
All told, Goodwin finished with 24 to lead the Mountain State. Smith and O'Neal went for 19 and 17, respectively.
The West Virginia squad - despite its lack of size on the interior - controlled the glass and got plenty of second-chance opportunities.
However, those second chances weren't always on the interior. The Mountain State was deadly from the perimeter, knocking down 13 triples.
"Coach (Mark) Romick told the kids again today you win all-star games by playing defense and doing the little things," said Ohio head coach Joe Dunlevy of Indian Creek. "We knew they were going to score, but we couldn't afford to give up any second shots when they did miss because that's how you lose these types of games. They got loose balls and hit threes."
Gibson's 32 paced the Ohio squad. Farnsworth was the only other Buckeye State player to reach double figures (12). St. Clairsville's Allen Derosa scored eight and Harrison Central's Kyle Blanchard scored seven.
"This was an enjoyable game again for me, but like I tell my players, if you want to win you've got to do the little things," Dunlevy said. "This was a great bunch of kids and some pretty good kids. You can tell these kids come from good families and good programs, so that part was great. Obviously, we wish we could have come out on top."
WEST VIRGINIA (96) - Perna 2, 2-2 8; Jones 1, 0-0 2; Sapp 1, 0-0 3; Paesano 2, 0-2 5; Mazezka 0, 0-0 0; Arlia 2, 2-2 7; Martin 0, 0-0 0; O'Neal 8, 1-3 17; Whitfield 2, 0-0 4; Greskevitch 0, 1-2 1; Smith 5, 5-6 19; Cottrella 2, 1-1 5; Lowe 0, 0-0 0; Goodwin 10, 0-0 24; Totals: 35, 12-18 96. OHIO (91) - Ramsier 0, 0-0 0; Evancho 1, 0-0 2; Blanchard 2, 3-4 7; Gibson 12, 4-6 32; Schumacher 1, 0-0 2; Brown 2, 1-2 5; Jellison 1, 0-0 2; VanDorn 2, 0-0 4; Derosa 3, 0-0 8; Lindsey 1, 0-0 2; Farnsworth 5, 2-4 12; Fickieson 3, 1-1 7; Tolliver 3, 0-1 6; Totals: 36, 11-18 91.
Three-Point Goals: WV - Perna (2), Sapp, Paesano, Arlia, Goodwin (4), Smith (4). OH - Gibson (4), Derosa (2).
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