Red Riders bounce back to down rival Oak Glen

WEIRTON — Two Hancock County rivals opened their boys basketball seasons Wednesday night with what has become an annual hardwood battle. This time, it was Weir High finishing strong and coming from behind to win a 58-54 thriller against Oak Glen inside the Carl R. Hamill Fieldhouse.

The Red Riders had 10-point leads twice in the game, but the Golden Bears kept working hard and came back both times before finally taking the lead for the first time since the first quarter with 4:03 left in the game. Junior Wyatt Wiley drained two consecutive three balls to put Oak Glen ahead 49-47.

The lead didn’t last long, though, as the Red Riders took charge and finished with an 11-5 run.

“Wyatt has been a good spotup shooter since he was in the seventh grade,” veteran Red Rider coach Mike Granato said. “But actually, them taking the lead, I think, lit a fire under our guys, and we were able to get the right guys at the foul line down the stretch.”

Weir won the game at the foul line, shooting 19-of-27 from the charity stripe. The Golden Bears were on fire from the free throw line, too, making 13-of-14, but coach Jerry Everly was disappointed that his team didn’t get to the line more often.

Even though his team canned seven 3s, he was disappointed in that part of the Golden Bear game.

“I thought we would shoot a little better,” he said. “Seven-of-25 from 3, we have to do a little better than that. And Weir High got to the foul line twice as many times as we did.

“Overall, though, I was happy with the performance we had. That’s a good Weir High team. They throw a lot at you, and I thought we adjusted to it and battled back in the second half.”

The Red Riders got off to a slow start, but Frank Hudacheck’s 3-ball (Weir only 3-pointer) at the end of the first quarter tied the game at 14. That sparked the Red Riders to outscore the Bears 18-9 in the second period for a 32-23 lead at the break.

After Weir opened a 10-point lead at 39-29 midway through the third period, the Golden Bears went on a 20-8 run through the remainder of the third quarter and the first half of the fourth to grab that 49-47 advantage.

“After we got that early lead in the first quarter, Weir High made some adjustments,” Everly said. “I think we were a little nervous, too, with the big crowd. We had some first-game jitters. I thought we battled back in the second half real well. It just came down to a couple of plays we didn’t make and a couple of shots we didn’t hit.”

Weir senior Keyshawn Faulks, one of only four Red Rider lettermen returning, hit some big shots, was 6-of-6 from the free throw line in the final seconds of the game and led all scorers with 24 points. He got a lot of his baskets in transition with three steals, seven rebounds, a couple of assists and a blocked shot.

Nick Krutilla backed him up with nine points. Cam Pierce, back after missing his entire junior year recovering from a severe knee injury, and Reed Reitter each scored eight points. Reitter, a 6-4 junior, finished with nine rebounds, a couple of assists and blocked three shots.

Reitter and Oak Glen’s 6-4 junior, Ethan Travis, battled in the paint the whole game. Travis finished with a double-double, scoring 11 points and pulling down 13 boards.

Senior point guard Chris Kokoski, a three-year starter for the Golden Bears, led his team with 15 points. Junior Sean Smith also scored 11.

“We wanted to pressure them on defense, and I think we did well with our offense because of our defense,” Granato said. “I thought our delay game at the end was pretty good, and we ended up getting the right guys at the line down the stretch. But I wasn’t happy with our half-court offense throughout the game, and that’s where the emphasis will be in practice tomorrow.

“With all that depth, I think it helped us tonight going down the stretch. The players were fresher. Our game plan was to press and I want to give Oak Glen credit because they handled our pressure.”

It will be 10 days before the Red Riders return to the Hamill Fieldhouse as they play next on Saturday afternoon after a long bus ride to Petersburg then go to John Marshall next Tuesday and the Sam Andy Classic in Wheeling on Dec. 15.

The Golden Bears will be playing in the South Side Tournament this weekend. They take on the host team Friday night and play either Western Beaver or Rochester on Saturday.

Game notes:

¯ Wednesday night’s contest was originally scheduled for Tuesday. However, water line problems postponed the game one day.

Weir High 58, Oak Glen 54

Oak Glen 14-9-16-15 — 54

Weir High 14-18-12-14 — 58

OAK GLEN (0-1): Kokoski 6 1-1 15; Poling 1 1-2 3; Travis 2 7-7 11; Smith 3 4-4 11; Wiley 3 0-0 9; Gittings 2 0-0 5. TOTALS: 17 13-14 54. Three-pointers: Kokoski 2, Smith, Wiley 3, Gittings; Rebounds: 30 (Travis 13); Turnovers 18.

WEIR HIGH (1-0): Pierce 2 4-5 8; Faulks 7 10-11 24; Hudacheck 1 0-0 3; Reitter 3 2-4 8; Buffington 1 2-3 4; McCoy 1 0-1 2; Krutilla 4 1-3 9. TOTALS: 19 19-27 58. Three-pointers: Hudacheck; Rebounds 29 (Reitter 9); Turnovers: 14.