Wheeling Central hands Red Riders first home defeat, 62-49
WEIRTON — Wheeling Central coach Mel Stephens challenged his team going into Friday night’s match up at Weir High.
Playing on the road without junior standout Ryan Reasbeck, he knew his team needed someone to step up – and Michael Toepfer did, netting a game-high 24 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Maroon Knights to a 62-49 victory over the Red Riders.
“Michael Toepfer shot the ball real well,” Stephens said. “Without Ryan Reasbeck playing — he’s our leading scorer — we challenged the guys to step up a little bit, not do too much, but make a play here or there that could make a difference.
“We’re a pretty good group. There are going to be times when you have injuries and guys in foul trouble and things like that, and you’re going to need guys to step up — and (Friday) we got that.”
The Red Riders, who fall to 3-5 on the season, were able to make several runs at the Wheeling Central (5-2) advantage, but each time, Stephens’ group had a quick answer to thwart the comeback bids.
“They made quite a few runs at us, but we were able to answer back and never let them get real close,” Stephens said. “Anthony Cross played really well for them, we had a tough time containing him, but overall I’m pretty pleased.”
For Weir High head coach Anthony Santangelo, his team just couldn’t come up with the stops it needed at key times.
“They would make runs, and we would come back, but we would just end up trading baskets,” Santangelo said. “We can’t just trade baskets. We have to get stops at the end of the day.
“We did really well defensively, but we have to hit the boards harder. We have to work on when screens come. Communication wise, we still have got to work on. I feel like that dug us in a hole. We didn’t know where our other players were, and we just couldn’t make stops at the end.”
If it wasn’t Toepfer doing the damage from long range (five triples) or from the foul line (5 of 6) for the Maroon Knights, it was J.C. Maxwell in the paint, who netted seven baskets from short range and got to the line 10 times, sinking seven.
“Michael has been shooting the ball really well, and J.C. probably is our second-best scorer behind Ryan,” Stephens said. “Both of the those guys we needed to be able to score some points, and they were able to do that. Leyton Toepfer made a couple of big shots when they were making run, too.”
The Red Riders’ efforts were led by Cross, who matched Maxwell’s 21 points and dished out a game-high six assists.
“He’s starting to listen and playing really good team ball right now,” Santangelo said of Cross. “If we get him to keep on leading, I think we can really progress and get better.”
No other Weir player reached double figures, though Max Maley stepped into the varsity starting lineup and pulled down six boards, leading the Red Riders and second to only Michael Toepfer in the game overall.
“Max Maley really stepped up for us, he didn’t play last time we played Wheeling Central,” Santangelo said. “Max just played his heart out. He grinds and works hard each and every day and he deserved his opportunity. He took advantage on the boards.”
All-in-all, the Maroon Knights finished with a 27-15 advantage on the glass, though just a 5-4 edge on the offensive boards, which was an improvement for Santangelo’s club over their trip to the Friendly City earlier this season.
“They had the advantage just like they did down there, but we did a lot better in this game,” Santangelo said. “Last time, they punished us on the offensive glass.”
The Maroon Knights opened up a 9-2 lead early, a run capped by an old-fashion three-point play by Maxwell, eventually going on to lead by five after one quarter at 19-14.
Wheeling Central netted the first four points of the second quarter to open up a nine-point lead, but Weir High answered with a 6-0 run by the Red Riders closed the margin to three.
The run abruptly ended and turned into a a Maroon Central onslaught, however, as Layton and Michael Toepfer netted back-to-back triples to cap a 10-0 scoring run and push the lead to double figures for the first time with a little more than three minutes before halftime.
Weir went on another run with back-to-back triples by Tyler Kelly, but a Micheal Toepfer bomb immediately followed and eventually the Maroon Knights led 36-29 at the break.
“That was a problem,” Santangelo said. “They are missing Reasbeck, and every time we made a run, Michael Toepfer would come down and hit a three, or Maxwell come down, get it in the post, make an up and under move and make it more of a run.
“It’s tough as a coach, it’s tough as player, too. You’re scoring points, but you’re giving up another two or three or four on the other side.”
Wheeling Central again started the third quarter fast as it had the previous two, with a Maxwell bucket and one pushing the lead to 12, and the Knights went to the fourth ahead by double digits at 48-38.
Early in the fourth, a Cross triple swished the net to make it a seven-point game, but Wheeling Central again pulled ahead by double figures.
Cross again nailed a triple with 2:01 to play to cut the deficit down to seven once again, but that would be as close as it would get as another Maxwell bucket and a freebie pushed the lead to 10 once again, and eventually the Maroon Knights prevailed by 13 making foul shots down the stretch.
“I told our guys (the schedule) doesn’t get any softer, it only gets harder and harder,” Santangelo said. “As I tell them, that’s how life goes, too. It progressively gets harder.”
Wheeling Central also took a win in the jayvee contest, 44-35. The Maroon Knights were led by Parker Watkins’ 15 points, while Damarr Turner paced the Red Riders with 11 points.
Wheeling Central: Tentatively returns home to face Linsly on Tuesday.
Weir High: Tentatively set to host rival Oak Glen on Tuesday.
Wheeling Central 62, Weir High 49
Central 19 17 12 14 — 62
Weir High 14 15 9 11 — 49
WHEELING CENTRAL (5-2): M. Toepfer 7 5-6 24; Maxwell 7 7-10 21; L. Toepfer 2 3-4 9; High 1 0-0 2; Yocum 0 0-0 0; Gray 2 0-0 4; Ratcliffe 0 2-2 2; Conestraro 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 19, 17-22: 62.
WEIR HIGH (3-5): A. Cross 7 4-5 21; Scopel 1 0-0 2; Kelly 2 0-0 6; Morgan 1 0-2 2; Maley 3 0-0 6; Taflan 2 1-1 6; Fierro 0 0-0 0; Smith 2 0-0 6; C. Cross 0 0-0 0; McCardel 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 18, 5-8: 49.
3-POINT GOALS: Wheeling Central 7 (M. Toepfer 5, L Toepfer 2); Weir High 8 (A. Cross 3, Kelly 2, Smith 2, Taflan). ASSISTS: Wheeling Central 13 (Maxwell 3, L. Toepfer 3, High 3); Weir High 16 (A. Cross 6). REBOUNDS: Wheeling Central 27 (M. Toepfer 10); Weir High 15 (Maley 6). TURNOVERS: Wheeling Central 12; Weir High 12.