With sophomore guard Jeremy Stephani still on the bench nursing a ankle injury someone had to step up for Wheeling on Tuesday night as the Wildcats hosted Fenton.
Junior guard Chris Pierro picked up the slack, scoring a career-high 29 points in Wheeling's 57-47 nonconference win over the Bison.
The win gave Wheeling a 3-4 record, which means the Wildcats have already surpassed last year's win total.
"For a young team like this, this was a big win," said Wheeling coach Tony Como. "Jeremy is still about a week away from playing. Chris is a good player and he is capable of having a game like this. He's a warrior out there for us, a coach on the floor."
Pierro was 10-for-18 from the floor and had four 3s.
But his biggest contribution was a steal with three minutes left in the game and Wheeling leading 48-45. After the steal, Pierro was fouled and hit 1 of 2 free throws. On the inbounds play, sophomore Bobby Webber came up with another steal that led to 2 free throws by Jake Jordan for a 51-45 lead with 2:28 left.
Webber put in a offensive rebound and Nick Riccardi finished the 9-0 run with 2 free throws for a 55-45 lead with 1:03 left.
"We executed on defense in the fourth quarter," said Pierro. "We showed that without Jeremy that we can still win. We're a young team and we're learning more with expierence."
Jordan came off the bench to score 10 points and also had 4 rebounds for the Wildcats.
Nate Majkowski contributed 7 rebounds and 5 assists for Wheeling.
After Fenton led 4-0, the Wildcats led most of the way until Bison took a 42-41 lead early in the fourth quarter.
Nate Laude's basket on a assist from Majkowski put the Wildcats ahead for good at 46-44 with 3:55 left.
"Give some credit to Fenton," said Como. "They put a lot of pressure on us most of the game, but we responded. When we needed to execute defense down the stretch we did."
The Bison fell to 1-6 and were led by Tyler Troly with 9 points. Will Harris scored 7 points and had 7 rebounds.