WEIRTON - Oak Glen raced to a 30-11 lead in the first half, held off a Weir High rally in the third quarter and won going away, 53-30, Tuesday night at the Carl Hamill Fieldhouse in the mutual season opener for both teams.
The young and inexperienced Red Riders managed to score just two points in the first period, but with a minute left in the third quarter Weir High clawed back to within 12.
Plagued with a whopping 28 turnovers, the Riders had eight straight scoreless possessions at the end of the third period and into the fourth. During that time they were outscored 12-3.
SEASON OPENER — Oak Glen’s Dave McGraw takes a jumper over Weir High’s Kamarri Washington and in front of the Red Riders’ student section during Tuesday’s season opener for both teams. The Golden Bears left the Carl Hamill Fieldhouse with a 53-30 victory. McGraw finished with 11 points and six rebounds. - Mike Mathison
"I felt like our composure was better tonight as compared to last year's team," said victorious coach, Dave Smith. "Not that we didn't commit some silly mistakes. We had our share of turnovers, too (14). I felt like when we had to we took control and got our composure back.
"When they cut it to 12, we called a time out to get our thoughts back in order and we got something out of it. That's what better teams will do. Good teams do it all the time, better teams do it every once in awhile. We're trying to get to where we are one of those good teams."
Smith had eight players in the scoring column, but his two big starters, Brennan Smith (6-3 and the coach's son), and Dave McGraw (6-4) led the way with 15 and 11 points, respectively. They also were the leaders in rebounds with eight and six, respectively. Smith also had four steals a blocked shot and a couple of assists.
Coach Smith credited the return of his son Brennan and Bub Haddox to the team as a big part of the improvement in the Golden Bears. Both players sat out most of last season with injuries. Smith and Haddox combined to score 24 points.
"When you look at it, I think we were 11-of-40 from the floor and had 28 turnovers," said veteran Red Rider coach Mike Granato. "That's a lot of opportunities for Oak Glen. And I thought we squandered a lot of our opportunities.
"We started to make a comeback in the third quarter and cut it back to 12 points, but we had eight straight possessions without a point. The big thing was, though, I liked our effort. We got off to that slow start in the first quarter and all of a sudden guys were trying to make plays they weren't capable of making. I haven't seen that many bad passes in a long time.
"We had some first game jitters and we had a lot of players getting their first meaningful playing time at the varsity level. You don't know how kids are going to react until they're put in the position where they have to play. You can practice the situational basketball until the cows come home, but the reality of it is that until they get out there and get their feet wet you really don't know how they will react."
Granato was happy with the play of 6-1 senior Kamarri Washington, who, in his varsity debute and first competitive basketball since eighth grade, led the Riders in scoring with seven points and led everyone in rebounding with 15.
"He did a great job on the boards, but we need to do a better job of finding him on the inside at the offensive end." Granato said.
Oak Glen 53, Weir High 30
Oak Glen 17 13 6 17 - 53
Weir High 2 9 11 8 - 30
OAK GLEN (1-0): Click 3 0-0 8, Woodruff 2 0-0 4, Haddox 3 2-4 9, Ford 0 2-2 2, Perez 1 0-0 2, Congo 1 0-0 2, Smith 6 1-1 15, McGraw 4 3-7 11. Totals: 20 8-14 53. 3-pointers Click, 2, Haddox, 1, Smith, 2; Rebounds: 30 (Smith, 8; Turnovers: 14.
WEIR HIGH (0-1): West 2 2-2 6, Knight 0 0-0 0, Viakley 2 0-0 5, Gaudio 1 0-0 3, Wood 2 0-0 4, Washington 2 3-7 7, Smith 2 0-0 5. Totals: 11 5-9 30. 3-pointers Viakley, Gaudio, Smith; Rebounds: 32 (Washington, 15); Turnovers, 28.