Wheeling Central slips by Shadyside

Shadyside and Wheeling Central had the feeling of a tournament game Tuesday night in Tiger Town.

Battling for positioning in next week’s Wheeling Hospital OVAC Basketball Championship in a possible defacto play-in game, the Knights locked up their berth by fighting off the Tigers, who got within two twice in the second half, for a hard-earned 61-53 victory before a large turnout in the Tiger Den on senior night.

“With Donahue and Cameron not playing, I think it might come down to bonus points,” said Wheeling Central head coach Mel Stephens. “I guess we’ll see what happens, but I told the kids we controlled our own destiny, which was kind of our focus coming in.”

As for the Tigers, who were sitting in fourth in the OVAC standings released on Monday, they’ll have to wait and see how the bonus points fall.

The official pairings for the OVAC Tournament will be finalized this morning.

The Knights surged out to a 16-point lead in the first half, taking advantage of a chilly shooting performance by Shadyside. The Tigers meshed just 5-of-25 from the field during the first 16 minutes of action

“We told our kids at halftime that Shadyside was going to shoot the ball better than they did in the first half,” said Stephens. “That was by no means a normal Shadyside shooting performance. They made a run, but each time we were able to stretch it back out.”

Shadyside (9-10) was within nine at halftime and were as close as two at 33-31 and 36-34 in the third, but the Knights closed the period with eight in a row, including back-to-back triples from junior ace David Park.

“You have to be able to score the ball and we really struggled with that, especially, early in the game,” said Shadyside head coach Ed Andes. “We had good looks, but we just couldn’t put them in. We were lucky to be only down by what we were down.”

The Knights got out to a 12-point lead early in the fourth on a Justin Hammers’ run-out bucket.

Shadyside fought back within six with 4:30 to go when sophomore Austin Dorris converted a pair from the line. Central answered once again with seven of the next nine points, including a conventional 3-point play from Hammers.

The Tigers, however, just wouldn’t go away. With senior Adam Stupak leading the charge, Shadyside scored seven straight to get within 55-51.

However, impressive freshman Chase Harler, who scored a team-high 20 points, kept the Tigers at bay by meshing four foul shots down the stretch.

“When you play a good team, you have to be able to make shots,” Andes continued. “(Harler and Parks) are good offensive players. When they’re open, they’re going to score.”

Park complemented Harler’s effort with 14 points and 15 rebounds. Hammers added nine points.

Stupak led the Tigers with 20 points. Dorris, who was held primarily in check on the interior, finsihed with 10 points. Skyler Gibson added eight points.

Central, which controlled the glass, finished with 33 rebounds and only 10 turnovers. Shadyside collected 22 rebounds and was guilty of only eight turnovers.

The Tigers prevailed in the reserve tilt by a 53-39 score.

Shadyside closes the non-tournament portion of its schedule Friday at Martins Ferry.

WHEELING CENTRAL (61) – Hammers 3, 3-3 9; Park 6, 0-1 14; Harler 5, 9-10 20; Felton 1, 3-4 6; Pleva 1, 0-0 2; Manns 3, 0-0 6; Wallace 0, 0-0 0; Siebeda 2, 0-0 4; Totals: 21, 15-18 61. SHADYSIDE (53) – Nardo 0, 0-0 0; Stupak 5, 9-12 20; Brooks 2, 0-0 4; Frizzi 2, 0-0 6; Richardson 1, 3-4 5; Dorris 2, 6-6 10; Gibson 3, 0-0 8; Totals: 15, 18-22 53.

Three-Point Goals: WC – Park (2), Harler, Felton. S – Stupak (2), Frizzi (2), Gibson (2).

Staskey can be reached at sstaskey@timesleaderonline.com