It nearly worked to perfection, but the Patriots got caught down a point at the end, and point guard DJ Saunders’ last-second shot clanked off the back iron at the Hawks held on for a 36-35 win.
“They played a good game and coach Jebbia had a great game plan, which I had a feeling that was going to happen, ” UHS coach Joe Schmidle said. “They held the ball and they’ve tried to do that to us before when we had the guards who could defend a little bit better. The guys I have now … we couldn’t take it from them.
“It made for a difficult game.”
Outside of the first quarter — in which Wheeling Park (3-3) held a 13-10 lead—both teams scored in single digits every quarter the rest of the way.
Down 35-34 late in the fourth, Ryan Niceler finally put the Hawks (4-0) up for the final time. On the Patriots’ next possession, Blake Barkley got a critical block with 13 seconds left. Wheeling Park only had four team fouls at the time, so it was forced to foul three times before it sent UHS to the line.
The Hawks missed the 1-and-1 free throw, but the Patriots were not able to score as the final horn sounded.
Between both teams, there were only eight free throws attempted (two makes).
UHS is still trying to figure out its offensive identity, needing to replace most of it from last year, “We weren’t patient and I wasn’t happy with our shot selection toward the end of the game, ” Schmidle said. “I felt like we needed to do a better job of reversing the ball and getting the ball inside to our bigs. When we did, they couldn’t stop Barkley. He’s just too good. We’ll learn from this and obviously we’ve got to get better.”
Barkley was the only double-digit scorer for the Hawks, finishing with 11 points. Beau Heller made three 3-pointers in the first quarter and ended up leading all scorers with 16 points.
UHS will have a quick turnaround, traveling to John Marshall to play the Monarchs at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
WHEELING PARK (3-3)
Jackson 1 0-0 2 ; Heller 5 2-3 16 ; Saunders 2 0-0 4 ; Lee 1 0-0 3 ; Phillips 4 0-2 8 ; Francis 1 0-0 2. Totals: 13 2-5 35.
Brooks 2 0-1 4 ; Barkley 5 0-0 11 ; Niceler 4 0-0 8 ; Kisner 2 0-0 4 ; Forbes 4 0-0 8 ; Hammack 0 0-0 0 ; Jackson 0 0-2 0. Totals: 17 0-3 36.
WPHS 13 9 6 8 — 35 UHS 10 9 8 9 — 36 3-pointers: WPHS 5 (Heller 4, Lee); UHS 1 (Barkley).