PHS pulls through against scrappy Warren squad, 65-59

Warren's Troy Huck plays tough defense as Parkersburg's Dylan Shaver looks for someone to pass to during the Big Reds’ 65-59 non-conference victory Thursday night at PHS Memorial Fieldhouse. Photo by Tom Perry.

PARKERSBURG — As he chatted with his assistant coaches, Jeff Mennillo relaxed in a chair in the Parkersburg’s coaches office and just exhaled.

The veteran coach was relieved the Big Reds found a way to hold on for a 65-59 victory over a scrappy Warren squad Thursday night at Memorial Fieldhouse.

“That’s a good, quality team that we just beat, and they are going to win a lot of games this year,” said Mennillo after PHS improved to 3-3. “We were confident when we came in and I think it showed. I will take that win every day, especially because we shot the ball better tonight than we have been.”

There’s no question the Big Reds were the more inspired team as they jumped out to a 15-2 lead, which forced Warren coach Blane Maddox to take three quick timeouts. But the Warriors finally found their mojo and went on a 13-0 run to tie the game at 15 after the first quarter.

“I’m proud with how hard we played, especially coming back against a strong team like Parkersburg,” Maddox said. “We almost came across the river and stole one tonight.”

The Warriors, who dropped to 6-2, did manage to get a two-point lead in the second quarter and an early three-point lead in the third quarter. But after PHS took a 32-30 lead on a Jacob McKnight basket the Big Reds never trailed again.

“We had our chances tonight, but we turned the ball over a few too many times and we missed some late foul shots,” Maddox said.

The biggest reason why Parkersburg never trailed again was the play of senior Parker Miller and junior Brenton Strange.

“I’m so glad we have Brenton and Parker,” Mennillo said. “They played extremely well tonight and they’re the reason we got this win.”

Miller had a calming effect on the Big Reds for most of the game, and it showed in his balanced offensive production. He finished with a game-high 25 points and added five rebounds, as he scored 13 points in the first half and 12 in the second half.

Strange played solid defense on Warren’s top player — Josh Huffman — and scored 16 of his 20 points in the second half. He also had two dunks, including one in the final quarter that put PHS up 54-50. Later in the quarter with the Big Reds leading by five, Strange picked off an errant pass and made an easy layup to give Parkersburg a 63-56 lead with less than a minute to play.

“We have some veteran guys, but were not a veteran team,” Mennillo said. “It’s like a switch flipped after we got that early lead and this game became a grind. This was a good experience for our younger kids, and hopefully they’ll believe what we are trying to teach them.”

PHS shot an impressive 54.5 percent from the field, including an 8-for-11 performance by Strange. Miller was 9-of-16.

Huffman led the Warriors with 21 points and seven rebounds, while Troy Huck added eight points and six rebounds before fouling out in the final quarter. Jared Hall and Seth Dennis each had seven points in the loss.

“I was wondering what was going on at the start of this game,” Maddox said. “We had seven turnovers and I had to call three timeouts, but we came back from that and made it a game. We’ll bounce back, but it’s not going to get any easier for us.”

The Warriors face New Philadelphia at 8 p.m. Saturday in the Ohio River Challenge at Marietta College’s Fenton Court, followed by a home game with undefeated Meadowbrook (7-0) at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. PHS is back in action at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at home against Capital.