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‘Silver’ Loses Out In Quarterfinal Battle of the Knights

By Staff | Mar 21, 2018

Tyler Consolidated’s Dylan Roberts dribbles around the defense of a Wheeling Central player during their W.Va. Class A?Quarterfinal matchup last Thursday at the Charleston Civic Center.

CHARLESTON – Wheeling Central is used to shooting in the spacious Charleston Civic Center.

Tyler Consolidated is not.

So despite a game Silver Knights effort, they just couldn’t get their shots to fall. Tyler was able to hang around for a little more than a half, but then Wheeling Central finally found its groove.

A 15-0 run to end the third quarter put the Maroon Knights up 22 and they cruised to a 71-52 victory Thursday in a Class A quarterfinal of the West Virginia Boys Basketball State Tournament.

“I thought in the first half, Tyler really took the game to us,” Wheeling Central coach Mel Stephens said. “They outhustled us, outplayed us. We were fortunate to get to the foul line a little more than they did in the first half and got some points there. We didn’t play really well.”

The Silver Knights’ Mark Rucker looks to pass during game action. Tyler hung close till a 15-0 third-quarter run for Central allowed the eventual state champs to pull away.

Wheeling Central advances to play Trinity at 7:15 p.m. tonight. Wheeling Central swept the season series with Trinity.

The foul line differential was a big one.

Wheeling Central (23-2) went 12 of 18 from the line in the first half, while Tyler went 4-for-6. For the game it was 17 of 25 for the Maroon Knights and 5-for-9 for the Silver Knights.

Tyler (17-9) was forced to take uncomfortable shots, going 20 of 54 from the field (37 percent). It has been since 2002 since the Silver Knights had been in the state tournament and the difficult shooting arena claimed another victim.

“Our game plan was to make them beat us from the outside and they made their shots,” Tyler Consolidated coach Rick Leach said. “Offensively, we thought we could penetrate a little better, but their defense put a stop to that. They are a good basketball team and they are ranked No. 1 for a reason.

“This was a tough shooting atmosphere and these guys have never played on that floor.

“We practiced at West Virginia State but it was different.

“You try to emulate it but it is not the same.

“We hope we gained some respect for our school.”

Added Dylan Roberts: “It was pretty hard. It is different seeing people behind the background, especially where we come from. That was tough, it made it hard to focus on the rim.”Wheeling Central held a 32-25 lead at halftime and Tyler made it 38-31 on a Griffin Phillips 3-pointer at the halfway mark of the third quarter.Then it was all Central.

A layup by Bray Price, followed by a conventional three-point play by Anthony Robbins pushed the lead back to double digits.

The points kept coming, mostly from Robbins, making his state tournament debut after coming over from Bishop Donahue.

Robbins scored seven points during a 15-0 run that closed the third quarter and gave Central a 53-31 leading heading into the final eight minutes. He also had the first basket of the fourth to make it a 17-0 spurt before the Silver Knights’ Tyler West stopped the bleeding with a 3-pointer.

“We challenged them a little bit at halftime, both defensively and offensively,” Stephens said.

“Maybe we needed to get the ball inside a little bit more. We got the ball to Anthony to where he was able to score.

“Once you start to extend that lead out a little bit more, that puts that pressure on the other team if they are behind, making them force things.”

Added Robbins: “Coach Chip (Calisse) was yelling at us at halftime because we weren’t playing hard enough. I was nervous because this was my first time being here and that kind of helped. Then I was able to calm down and do what I usually do.”

Owen Gainer paced the Maroon Knights with 22 points, followed by Brent Price with 13 points and Robbins with 13.

West led Tyler Consolidated with 22 points, followed by Phillips (12) and Roberts (11).

“The fans showed their support and they backed us,” Leach said.

“They gave us a send off when we left town and it was amazing.

“We are hoping we brought Tyler Consolidated back and we are hoping to stay back.”

Added West: “We want to be recognized. At the beginning of the year, nobody said our name. We proved some people wrong.

“We are losing Dylan (one of eight seniors), but me and Griffin will do our best to get this team back here.”