Winfield's Chris Turner (center) puts up a shot between Wheeling Central's Brian Felton (left) and Alonzo Manns.
WINFIELD - There have been a lot of what-ifs, close calls and late-game collapses this season that have prevented a solid Winfield team from being one of the area's best.But thanks to a couple of big performances from big men, some swarming defense and ample free-throw shooting, the Generals had enough to notch their second victory in a row on Saturday.The Generals forced 18 turnovers and hit 21 of 28 foul shots in dispatching Wheeling Central 67-56 on a snowy Saturday in front of an understandably sparse crowd at Winfield.Big men Chris Turner (18 points, eight rebounds, three blocks) and Brock Pence (12 points, eight rebounds) took control early and guided Winfield.
"It's one of those games on a Saturday, it's snowy, there's nobody in the stands - the intensity level wasn't there," Winfield coach Pat McGinnis said. "It's a win and we'll take it. We've had a lot of close games this year so it was good to have a little bit of space. But give them credit, they kept coming."The Generals (9-7) made an 11-0 run early in the second quarter to extend their lead to 12. And while the Maroon Knights (8-11) battled mostly behind Chase Harler's 23 points, the lead was never lower than six the rest of the way.Credit Turner especially, who consistently made his presence felt on both ends of the floor all night long."We just run what the coaches tell us to and hope everything works out," Turner said. "We try to feed the post as much as we can and if they double team, we try to kick it back out."We played Winfield basketball. We did what we do in practice everyday, which is try to keep the intensity up and trap as much as we can and try to force turnovers."The loss for Central was its second in consecutive nights in the Kanawha Valley after dropping a game to Class A No. 1 Charleston Catholic on Friday.Maroon Knights coach Mel Stephens said it just wasn't his team's day . . . again."The first half I didn't think we played very well," Stephens said. "They came out and played much better the second half. [Winfield] is a good team and sometimes you've got to make your own breaks and right now we're not doing that. We've got to keep working, keep plugging away and get ready for the tournament."Speaking of postseason play, the Generals could wind up being one of the most dangerous teams in the state if they're finally able to put together full games and performances.Consider some of Winfield's losses - Princeton by six points, Wheeling Park by four, Capital, Parkersburg and Huntington by 3 and Hurricane by 2.The Generals were an eyelash from winning some if not all of these games and had a few gone the other way, Winfield's program would certainly be getting a lot more buzz, especially locally.
"This team has underachieved, there's no question," McGinnis said. "This team has to pull together as a team. We've had some attitude problems. Once they get that corrected, I think they can be pretty good but as long as we have that undercurrent it's not going to happen. You can't have 'I' guys, you've got to have guys that want the team to do well."It's kind of like all year it seems we're getting there, but then something else would flare up. Once we get that straightened out, and I think it's gradually getting there - you hope you pull it together at the right time." That right time would certainly be in a couple of weeks when sectionals start but as Saturday's win showed, maybe the Generals are starting to jell early."We've been so close," McGinnis said. "We've had opportunities, missed free throws at crucial times and things like that. We're in every game with a chance to win - we've just got to learn how to finish."Zach Fisher added 14 points for Winfield, which made just 2-of-15 3-point attempts. David Park chipped in with 15 points for the Maroon Knights and Brandon Wallace added 10.Reach Ryan Pritt at 304-348-7948, email@example.com, or follow him at twitter.com/RPritt.