Central slips by Ferry

WHEELING – One of these days, maybe Wheeling Central will get a snoozer.

If the results stay the same though, Mel Stephens won’t mind the nail biters.

Sophomore Chase Harler scored 23 points and David Park added 16 as the Maroon Knights knocked off Martins Ferry 65-62 Monday at Wheeling Central.

“We don’t make anything easy,” a relieved Stephens said. “It’s funny. We spent a month playing against each other, just waiting for a chance to play somebody else. Now we’ve played three games in four days. I think we’ll enjoy coming in tomorrow and just going against each other for a change. It’s been a tough stretch.”

The Maroon Knights (4-0) went down the stretch to beat Bishop Donahue Friday, went to overtime to beat Steubenville Central Saturday and win the Undo’s Tournament championship, and then there was Monday.

Despite trailing by 11 midway through the fourth quarter, the Purple Riders (3-4) weren’t going to go away without a fight, led by senior big man Robert Vargo, a 6-foot-7 physical presence in the paint.

Down 56-45, Vargo started a 7-0 run with a three-point play, his fourth of the game, and Arjay Burress had back-to-back baskets, the second off a steal, to make it 56-52.

From there, the race to the finish was on.

Martins Ferry, relentless in its pressure late in the game, forced another turnover and Vargo got a putback off a missed three to cut the lead to 63-62 with 6.4 seconds left.

Park, who had a quiet game based on his first three games, was fouled with 5.6 seconds left. He calmly made both free throws to stretch the lead to three again.

Jake Barritt had a good look at a three from 23 feet at the buzzer but it bounced harmlessly off the backboard to allow the Knights to escape with another win.

Vargo finished with 30 points and 15 rebounds, but he had to work for it.

Harler came alive in the second half, scoring 18 of his 23 points.

Burress added 10 points for Martins Ferry, which dropped to 3-4 with the loss.

Wheeling Central 65, Martins Ferry 62

MARTINS FERRY (62) – Barritt 3 3-3 9, Burress 5 0-1 10, Edwards 2 0-0 6, Agnew 2 0-0 4, Vargo 12 6-6 30, Appolloni 1 1-2 3. Totals: 25 10-12. WHEELING CENTRAL (65) – Park 6 3-3 16, Draginske 0 0-0 0, Harler 9 3-4 23, John 1 1-1 3, Bibey 2 0-0 6, Burkhalter 2 2-4 6, Merrick 1 0-0 3, Manns 4 0-0 8. Totals: 25 9-12.

Three-Point Goals: Martins Ferry 2 (Edwards 2); Wheeling Central 6 (Park, Harler 2, Bibey 2, Merrick).