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PARKERSBURG — Defending Class AAA state champion University never trailed after the first quarter here Tuesday night inside the Rod Oldham Athletic Center as the third-ranked Hawks dispatched No. 8 Parkersburg South, 77-65.
Malaki Sylvia had a game-high 27 points and added six rebounds for the 6-4 Patriots of first-year head coach Brett Rector, who play Saturday night at rival Parkersburg.
John Mazza (21 points) and Aaron Forbes (10 points) made the most of their first starts of the season for Hawk head coach Joe Schmidle, who watched Bowling Green-bound Kaden Metheny go for 21 points, seven assists and two steals along with K.J. McClurg putting up 18 points and a game-high nine boards while surpassing 1,000 career counters.
A Forbes deuce with 2:29 left in the first gave UHS a 16-11 lead, but Cam Marks hit consecutive 3s and Sylvia had an alley-oop lay-in from Dylan Day for a quick 8-0 spurt. However, McClurg answered with a 3 of his own thanks to a Mike Maumbe dime at the 1:19 mark and the game was stopped to honor the Niagara-bound senior.
“It kind of motivated us,” McClurg said of last week’s loss to rival Morgantown, which knocked the Hawks from the top spot in the Associated Press poll. “It really put us in a place where we needed to work harder. I really think it kind of helped us, just putting us in our place and it really helped us focus on the things you may not see, but the little things that really play out during the game.
“I had a little idea, but my dad never told me exactly how far. I was kind of just playing trying to get the win and if it happened, it happened.”
Jake Hogsett’s coast-to-coast lay-in just 11 seconds after McClurg’s triple put PSHS (6-4) back ahead, but Mazza answered with a trifecta. Nathan Currey then scored the first of his 14 points on a lay-in for a 23-22 cushion, but a pair of Metheny free throws and another Mazza deuce gave the Hawks the lead for good at 26-23 after one.
Zach Seese tallied two of his 10 points to open the second, but then Metheny scored three straight field goals, which included a lay-in where he beat a pair of Patriot defenders. Metheny had 13 of his points in the second quarter as UHS held a 40-33 halftime advantage.
PSHS made it a two-possession game thrice in the third quarter, but still trailed 62-52 entering the fourth after a pair of made charity stripe tosses by Ashton Mooney to close the stanza.
T.T. Brooks started the fourth with a hoop after an offensive rebound and McClurg followed with another 3. South, which was 3 of 10 from the line in the fourth, didn’t score a field goal until 3:30 was left in the affair. University had its largest lead at 18 points, 75-57, with 2:23 to go thanks to a pair of Mazza free throws.
“Two areas stood out to me,” said coach Rector, who got seven assists from Marks and a quartet of steals by Currey. “We gave up way too many offensive rebounds. They had a bunch of stickbacks. Every time I felt like we were starting to claw back we’d give one up. It didn’t matter what defense we were in. We didn’t rebound very well and we missed some free throws.
“If you clean up those two areas we’re right there in a 12-point game. We did a lot of good things. We did. We attacked their pressure pretty well and we got some good looks, shot decent from the field, but again, they’ve got two Division I guards.”
Parkersburg South shot 50.9% (26 of 51) while the Hawks made 29 of 58. UHS lost the turnover battle, 13-10, but held a commanding 37-23 edge on the glass. That included 15 offensive rebounds by the Hawks compared to South’s half dozen.
“I was pleased with our effort on defense,” coach Schmidle admitted while noting he was more than happy with getting 31 combined points from Mazza and Forbes. “Mazza had five 3s. He’s one of those guys when he’s on he’s on. He was filling it up and I’m really happy with him. K.J. McClurg had another great game.
“He got his stroke back tonight and scored his 1,000th point and I’m really proud of him. I’ve got two 1,000-point scorers on the same team and a player of the year candidate with Kaden Metheny. I had three guys right there around 20 tonight and that’s hard to stop.”
UHS (10-3) also returns to action on Saturday night when John Marshall invades.
Contact Jay Bennett at email@example.com