2017-'18 Season Coverage
updated: 1/30/2018 10:34 PM

Niles West denies Wheeling

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By Greg Swiderski
Daily Herald Correspondent

Wheeling's boys basketball team was hoping a win over visiting Niles West on Tuesday night would help spur a turnaround and break the Wildcats' six-game losing streak.

It was not to be, as the Wolves came away with a 50-43 nonconference win over Wheeling.

The loss dropped Wheeling to 5-15 while Niles West improved to 7-11.

Wildcats senior forward Michael Best did his part with a 20-point performance that came close to turning the tide.

"Michael has been our best overall player this year," said Wheeling coach Michael O'Keeffe. "He does a lot of good things for us. He scores, rebounds, plays good defense and sets good screens."

Best scored his team's last 9 points to help shrink a 44-33 deficit to 48-43 with 2:02 left. But the Wildcats could score no more, and the Wolves could only manage 2 free throws Richie Noparstak (10 points, 5 rebounds) down the stretch, but it was enough for the win.

The Wildcats led 12-7 in the early stages of the second quarter following a 3 from Jeremy Kim (11 points)

The game turned quickly as the Wolves used a 14-2 run over a four-minute span to build a 21-14 lead with 1:40 left in the first half.

Clyde Singleton, who scored 12 points and had 11 rebounds, finished the run with a 3-point play.

Niles West led at halftime 24-19 and opened up a 32-23 lead with 4:08 left in the third quarter.

Joe Jordan coutered with a putback for Wheeling and then scored off of his steal to get the Cats as close as 32-27.

Singleton helped the Wolves close the quarter by scoring 4 points in a 6-1 spurt, giving Niles West a 38-28 lead.

"After the first quarter, coach (Mike Wasielewski) said we had to start rebounding better and tighten up our inner defense," said Singleton. "We had to limit them to one shot. Our good defense helped us turn the offense around."

"The biggest difference after the first quarter is that we stopped giving Wheeling the ball," said Wasielewski. "We gave them 6 points in the first quarter on turnovers. It wasn't a pretty win but I was glad to see our players fight back and win it."

Kevin Guillaume also scored 12 points for the Wolves, who out-rebounded Wheeling 27-20.

"We played well in some stretches," said O'Keeffe. "We've talked about making winning plays, not only in games but in practice. We don't know how to win at times. It's frustrating. We have a good group of players and they just need to learn how to win.

"I think we played some of our better ball at the holiday tournament even though we went 1-3. Since then we seem to have taken a small step backward. What we have to do now his have two good back to back practices before we host Elk Grove on our senior night Friday."

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