Harler, Routt shine in Spain hoop trip

WHEELING — The start of football’s regular season is on our doorstep. The Ohio Valley prep campaign kicks off in less than two weeks.

With that said, let’s talk WVU basketball. Mountaineer hoops are always in vogue with Bob Huggins at the helm.

It’s safe to say, last winter was not one that WVU hoop partisans will fondly remember. The Mountaineers finished with a 15-21 record, ending with a 109-91 home loss to Coastal Carolina in the second round of the College Basketball Invitational.

A few disgruntled players have since left the program. That is a positive.

Huggins is the best coach not yet in the Basketball Hall of Fame. It’s a sure bet his Mountaineers will be a much-improved team this winter.

The former Conotton Valley and Indian Valley South star began righting the Blue & Gold ship earlier this month. He took his Mountaineers to Spain for a three-game exhibition tour.

The European junket proved a positive experience for the team as well as our two local products on the roster.

“It’s totally different watching this group,” Huggins said via teleconference Wednesday. “One, their togetherness and having the ability to rely on each other, and it wasn’t easy to play hard because those gyms were hot.”

WVU rolled to three lopsided wins with Wheeling Central’s Chase Harler and Cameron’s Logan Routt turning in impressive performances in all three contests.

WVU blasted the Madrid All-Stars, 97-69, in their opener. Harler pumped in 14 points while Routt came up big inside, tallying 16 points to go with eight rebounds.

The Mountaineers rolled the CC Basketball Academy of Valencia, 115-50, in their second game. Harler delivered 11 points while Routt netted 15.

The finale saw WVU rout the Barcelona All-Stars by a 98-67 count. Harler recorded 14 points and three steals while Routt enjoyed a 20-point, 10-rebound explosion.

Routt, a 6-11 senior, led the team in scoring with 51 points while pulling down 23 rebounds, good for a 7.7 average. He also shot a team-best 65.6 percent from the floor.

Rising 6-10 sophomore Derek Culver was also superb, averaging a double-double (16 points and 10 rebounds).

“He (Logan) played really well,” Huggins said during the teleconference. “He played hard, and he really ran the floor, which we were really pleased about. Derek is running the floor better and Logan has kind of labored running the floor and he was great.”

“We’ve got a lot of guys that can make shots,” he added. “Emmitt (Matthews Jr.) started out making them, but then he struggled a little bit. Chase shot it pretty consistent.”

Harler is a 6-3 senior and one of the leaders of the team. He was an occasional starter last winter.

Routt, meanwhile, is a former walk-on. He eventually earned a scholarship and his blue-collar work earned him a few starts last season.

Both OVAC products should be key pieces for what looms as a big bounce-back season for WVU.

The Mountaineers will debut Nov. 8, hosting Akron. Huggins was a former head coach of the Zips. WVU visits backyard rival Pitt on Nov. 15.

BUBBA’S BITS

COLE LAROCHE is state champion shot putter. The recent Bellaire High grad is also a character young man. At Monday’s Bellaire BOE meeting the Ashland University track recruit established the Paisley LaRoche Memorial Scholarship in memory of his daughter who died last year after being born with multiple heart defects.

BRILLIANT HIGH held its second Hall of Fame ceremonies last Saturday. Kevin Barr did another masterful job of organizing the massive event. Kudos go out to Buckeye Local head football coach Roger Herbert. He had his football team in attendance to provide assistance in any way needed.

WHEELING POST 1 will be having tryouts for JV (17U) and varsity (19U) teams for the 2020 season on Sunday, Sept. 8 at Wheeling Park High School. Registration is set for 12:15 p.m. with tryouts commencing at 1 p.m. The tryouts are open to any player, 15-19 years old, who attend Wheeling Park, Wheeling Central or Linsly. Those players who were on the roster for the 2019 season need not be present. Please send questions/RSVP to wheelingpost1@gmail.com

IT WAS disturbing to see Cindy Archer step down as Shadyside High’s head volleyball coach last week. It was disturbing because of what led to her decision — that being meddling parents. Archer guided the Tigers to a sparkling 23-3 season last fall en route to the OVAC 2A regular-season title.

A FEW weeks back I penned a column on schools switching to 8-man football due to a lack of numbers. So it is refreshing to see local programs like Bellaire and St. Clairsville boasting rosters of close to 70 gridders and Wheeling Park topping the charts with some 105 players. At the other end of the spectrum, however, Clarskburg Notre Dame shuttered its program Wednesday due to a manpower shortage.

FORT FRYE’S Barb Sleek has been named OVAC athletic director of the year. Shadyside’s John Triveri was runnerup.

MEADOWBROOK HIGH grad Josh Sills is now seeing some time at center for WVU. Sills is a two-year starter at guard for the Mountaineers.

MY THOUGHTS and prayers go out to the family of OVAC heavyweight Ron Mauck on the death of his wife, Mary Lou, Wednesday. Mary Lou, a retired teacher, was a huge help to the OVAC volunteering her time and expertise to assist the conference at countless events and activities. She was a classy lady and a people person. Ron, meanwhile, is one of the backbones of the OVAC.

LINSLY SCHOOL valedictorian and Wheeling Post 1 baseball player Jon Milton is one of nine finalists nationwide for the National American Legion Scholarship.

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