Boys basketball: No post, no problems for Winfield
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Winfield High School boys basketball coach isn't averse to adjusting for his team's talent.
And lack of size.
The Generals are 4-0 following their Fellowship of Christian Athletes Hoops Classic victory over Wheeling Park on Friday, marking their third-best beginning to the season since Coach Pat McGinnis took over in 2001.
Their tallest player is 6-foot-3 1/2 Toby Show, who is listed as a forward but - like every member of Winfield's 12-player varsity roster - plays like a guard.
The rest of the early season rotation features John "Bear" Bellomy, who is listed at 6-3, as well as 5-11 senior Zach Fisher, 6-1 senior point guard Cole Schoolcraft, 5-8 senior Taylor Hearn, 5-8 junior Heath Diehl and 5-10 senior Brandon "Goob" Wright.
Fisher leads the team, averaging 21.5 points, while Fisher is at 20.8 and Show at 15.3.
"We don't really have a post game," said McGinnis, who is in his 13th season at Winfield, earning his 200th victory with the win over Wheeling Park. "We're five out. These guys have pulled together. Man, do they get after it."
There is no secret to slowing down the Generals. Handle their pressure, get to the basket and let size dictate the pace of the game.
It's not so easy put into practice.
On Saturday, the Patriots countered with 6-5 Phil Bledsoe, 6-4 forward Chalmer Moffett and 6-4 guard Ryan Reinbeau. Bledsoe had 17 rebounds, but scored just 14 points on 5-of-12 shooting. Wheeling Park made only 19-of-48 shots, most of which were contested
McGinnis was able to implement this philosophy as coach at Winfield Middle School in the 1990s.
"I think (Wheeling Park) might have been a little gassed, but you're bound to be playing that pace for four quarters," McGinnis said. "It's about your personnel. A lot of times you don't get a trap or a steal, but a lot of times you speed up the other team."
Wheeling Park Coach Michael Jebbia admitted surprise at how successful Winfield's pressure was against his Patriots, forcing them into a season-high 19 turnovers.
Winfield also is playing without two integral pieces of last year's 14-9 team. Senior Chris Turner, a 6-3, 215-pound forward, is concentrating on football and Jake Lemmerman, who would've added to Winfield's overflowing stable of guards, transferred to Hurricane.
Their departure might impact Winfield's depth down the road. The Generals played just seven against Wheeling Park, getting points from six of them. They were 6-of-21 from 3-point range three games after hitting 17 against Ripley, showing their versatility. They also had just 11 turnovers, benefiting from the chemistry of a small player rotation.
Another issue is rebounding, where Winfield lost the battle against Wheeling Park 40-25. Wheeling Park had 18 offensive boards compared to only seven for Winfield, but the Generals were able to get by when a buzzer-beating 3-point attempt by the Patriots' Trenton Smith came off the front of the rim.
That miss allowed McGinnis to earn, arguably, his best victory ever away from Winfield High School, where he owns a 2012-13 victory over Woodrow Wilson, last year's state runner-up.
This time the Generals were using their full-court press on a 94-foot floor, leaving the deeper and more athletic Patriots room to exploit it, which Wheeling Park failed to do.
The Patriots are No. 7 in the Associated Press Preseason Class AAA Poll, while Winfield wasn't among the 16 teams to receive votes by the state's sportswriters.
"We're just playing hard, playing together and playing good defense," said Fisher, a three-year starter. "All of us are little quick guys, playing hard and this is our first time playing defense like that."
The Generals opened with a 9-0 record in 2011-12 before stumbling to a 15-10 final mark. They also were 8-0 to start the 2004-05 campaign as a Class AA team.
They reached the State Tournament their first year as a triple-A program in 2008-09 before losing to South Charleston.
Winfield hosts Point Pleasant tonight, giving the Big Blacks a first-hand look at the new-look Generals, who wasted little time in coming together.
"(Transitioning) to uptempo was pretty easy, actually," said Fisher, who was a two-year starter in a more deliberate Winfield offense as a sophomore and junior. "I like this a lot better. It's working a lot better. We don't slow it down as much as we have in the past and we score a lot more now. All of us, everybody is scoring. Everybody has the green light to shoot 3s."
THE RIVERSIDE boys basketball team began a new chapter with a new face.
The Warriors started the 2013-14 season with their sixth coach in as many seasons when Ryan Carter coached the first game of his tenure during the Hoops Classic on Saturday.
The result was a 76-70 Riverside victory over Magnolia behind 32 points from Tyus Wood and 22 from Tamar Lawson.
It was the first career victory for Carter, a 25-year-old from Columbus, Ohio, who found his way to the Kanawha Valley via the University of Charleston.
Carter played offensive line for Coach Tony DeMeo and served as assistant football coach at Riverside the last three seasons before being named basketball coach to replace Dusty Herscher.
He said Riverside has a lot of work to do, but already has some philosophies in place.
"Our motto is family ... F.A.M.I.L.Y.," he said. "Forget About Me, I Love You. I stole that from Rutgers. We went more one-on-one (against Magnolia). Again, it's a young team and there's still a lot of chemistry we have to build. We need to forget about 'me,' and think about the greater good of the team."
WHEELING PARK lost for the first time in three games, but is watching the development of a potential star.
Sophomore Phil Bledsoe had 14 points and 17 rebounds in the Patriots' 64-63 loss to the Generals, going 5-for-12 from the floor, hitting all four of his free throw attempts and adding two steals.
Bledsoe is the son of former Wheeling Park star Phil Bledsoe, whose Patriots lost to Gay Elmore and South Charleston in the 1982 State Tournament. Bledsoe spent one season with former Sissonville Coach David Daniel at the University of Charleston with Coach Tex Williams before transferring to North Adams State (Mass.) - now the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts - where he once held the career scoring record and was inducted into the school's hall of fame.
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Rich Stevens at email@example.com or 304-348-4837.