Late run pushes Park past Brooke

WHEELING – Trailing Brooke 50-43 with just under seven minutes remaining, Wheeling Park went on a 20-2 run, including scoring the final 12 points, to stun the visiting Bruins, 63-52, on Wednesday night.

Senior Andrew Kowalo scored nine of his career-high 17 points and pulled down five rebounds at crunch time to lead the Patriots (5-9). He was one of four Park players contributing double figures as senior Zach Snedeker added 12 points, while Luke Saseen and Chalmer Moffett tossed in 10 each.

The Bruins saw their record slip to 9-6 despite having led by as many as 14 points midway through the second quarter. They hit 50 percent of their shots (13 of 26) during the opening half but made only 6 of 21 the rest of the way.

Park also closed the first half on a roll with a 9-0 run that was sparked by sophomore Moffett’s three straight buckets to cut the deficit to 33-28.

The Bruins still enjoyed a 47-41 advantage heading into the final eight minutes and following the 6-4 Kowalo’s kiss off the glass, Russell Schwertgeger buried his third 3-pointer of the night to push the lead back out to seven points.

Stickbacks from Kowalo and Moffett pulled the Patriots to within three, and they received a huge assist when a personal foul and a technical were whistled against Austin Shambach after he was closely guarded and stripped of the basketball.

Although Snedecker misfired on the 1-and-1, Kowalo stepped to the free-throw line and swished both technical shots, narrowing the Brooke lead to 50-49.

Playing, the high post, Kowalo then spotted Saseen open underneath and got him the ball for easy layin that put the Patriots ahead for the first time since it was 11-10 midway through the first quarter.

Ryan Heaton’s runner gave the Bruins their last edge and what turned out to be their final points of the game with just under four minutes to play. Snedecker sailed in for another layup sending the Patriots back in front to stay at 53-52. Kowalo then yanked down the rebound after a Brooke miss, was fouled and went back to free-throw line where he knocked down both shots.

Despite his team having won just one of the previous six starts entering Wednesday night’s contest, Park coach Michael Jebbia still carried good thoughts about his team’s progress.

”Since the first Brooke game, we have played better,” Jebbia said. ”I told our assistant coaches after our loss to Steubenville not to write our obituary yet. We are going to keep plugging away. There’s still eight games left and five of them are at home.

”Chalmer Moffett gave us a huge lift. We were down 14 and his six points helped cut it to five. Then he hit another huge bucket in the fourth quarter.”

Moffett was on the court for 11 minutes and he provided 10 points and seven rebounds.”

Brooke came out out on fire, looking to sweep the season series from the Patriots for the first time in well over a decade. Schwertfeger, Eric Johnson, Jesse Gambellin and Hunter Wallace each drained 3-pointers in the first quarter to spark the Bruins into a 20-17 lead. The Patriots stayed close thanks to a couple of deep 3s by sophomore Trenton Smith.

Early in the second quarter, Schwertfeger’s pointer put Brooke up by double figures for the first time at 27-17. The lead ballooned to 33-19 after back-to-back hoops from Johnson and Wallace. Just when it looked like the Bruins were going to run away with it, Moffett came on the floor and three times was the recipient of passes from the wing for easy layins. Snedeker’s basket trimmed the deficit to 33-28 at the break.

”The ball has to go in the hole and it didn’t,” Bruins coach Dave Reitter said. ”I thought our kids played as hard as they could but Michael’s kids have been playing hard all year, too,

”It was just a matter of their shots went in at the end and ours didn’t. When they made that big run, we had to foul and they hit their free throws.”

Brooke, led by Schwetfeger’s 18 points and 16 from Johnson, was seven of just nine attempts from the charity line. Park finished 17-for-25, cashing 10 of 14 in the last quarter.

”It’s always tough to lose these kind of games, especially when you look at the implications of the OVAC standings and sectional pairings,” Reitter said. ”We’ll dwell on this one a little bit but then we have to get ready to play University on Friday night.”

Along with his dozen points, Snedeker also pulled down eight rebounds as Park won the battle underneath the glass, 36-32.

”Andrew (Kowalo) was solid tonight,” Jebbia said. ”Sned (Snedeker) is getting better every game. He has stepped into a leadership role as a senior. I know Luke (Saseen) struggled shooting the ball but we ask him to do so much. He played 32 minutes and hit some big free throws at the end.”

Wheeling Park 63, Brooke 52

Brooke 20 15 14 5 – 52

Wheeling Park 17 11 13 22 – 63

BROOKE: Schwertfeger 6-11 3-4 18; Johnson 5-11 4-4 16; Wallace 3-10 0-1 7; Heaton 3-6 0-0 6; Gambellin 1-3 0-0 3; Schambach 0-3 0-0 0; Dameron 0-1 0-0 0; DeStefano 0-0 0-0 0; TOTALS: 19-47 7-9 52. 3-pointers: Schwertfeger (3), Johnson (2), Gambellin, Wallace.

WHEELING PARK: Saseen 3-12 4-4 10; Thomas 1-4 0-0 2; Kowalo 5-7 7-8 17; Smith 3-8 0-0 8; Snedeker 4-8 4-7 12; Moffett 5-6 0-2 10; Phillips 0-0 1-2 1; Pugh 0-2 0-0 0; Blackston 0-4 1-2 1; Bledsoe 1-3 0-0 2; Totals: 22-54 17-25 63. 3-pointers: Smith (2).