Photo by Cody Tomer
Wheeling Central’s Braxton Anderson and the Maroon Knights will look to repeat as state champs on Saturday in opposition to Spring Mills in Morgantown.



WHEELING — Wait no extra.

Wheeling Central’s lacrosse crew will lastly get the chance to defend its state title on Saturday when the Maroon Knights tackle unbeaten Spring Mills (13-0) at 7 p.m. at Morgantown High School.

It can be a rematch of the 2019 state last in which the Maroon Knights defeated the Cardinals 11-8.

After final 12 months was referred to as off because of COVID, the 2 groups confronted off once more on May 7 this 12 months and Spring Mills earned a 12-3 triumph.

“It’s going to be a tough task,” Central coach Kevin Maloney mentioned. “They have a great program and they are extremely well coached. They are on the border of Maryland so it’s not a foreign sport to them. Their team is made up of phenomenal players. They are skilled, fast and they know where to attack to be successful.”

Following this 12 months’s loss to Spring Mills, Central misplaced to Martinsburg 13-8 in its subsequent recreation earlier than ending on a seven-game profitable streak.

During the final seven video games, the Knights have outscored opponents 101-43.

Central (13-2) punched their second straight ticket to state final week with a triple time beyond regulation 11-10 victory over George Washington.

The profitable purpose got here when senior J.D. LaHood discovered classmate Caleb Karnell to wrap it up.

Karnell has a team-high 71 factors this season with 42 targets and 29 assists. He was additionally the MVP of the state title recreation in 2019.

LaHood is the crew’s main scorer with 45 targets. He additionally has 14 assists, whereas Mason Smith leads the squad with 35 assists to associate with his 22 targets.

John Emmerth has accrued 31 targets and 14 assists, whereas Braxton Anderson (29 factors), Andrew Komorowski (16 factors), Parker Watkins (15 factors) and Austin Nestor (12 factors) have additionally been key contributors on offense for the Knights.

Komorowski additionally leads the crew in floor balls with 75, adopted by Smith (63), Trey Helms (55) and Andrew Johnson (50).

Senior Hayden Berickman leads the protection with 25 takeaways, whereas Johnson has 24 and Lorenzo Ferrera has amassed 21.

“It’s been a great year,” Maloney mentioned. “We’ve been able to put together a season after the pandemic and it really put sports into perspective. It put a sense of enjoyment in sports and we’re not taking it for granted.”

At goalie, following the state semifinal win, senior John Johnson left for army boot camp and won’t be with the crew for the state title matchup.

Johnson has accounted for 126 saves and an 11-2 file this season.

Sophomore Deant Suggs will fill that function and he has been patiently ready for his probability to shine.

Suggs has a 2-0 mark this 12 months with 13 saves.

“We’re leaning on Suggs,” Maloney mentioned. “He has some expertise in purpose and he’s very able to stepping up. He is a little bit youthful however he has the expertise and might run with what John has been doing.

“Suggs was an understudy last season before it was canceled and he worked with the goalie we had in the past. He knew that Johnson brought a different energy and he just stood by. He is a very smart player willing to sacrifice and work hard to put us in a good position.”

Along with expert scorers, gifted defensemen and exhausting working goalies, Maloney at all times has excessive reward for his teaching employees.

“I lean heavily on guys like Mike Fahey, Travis Luft, Ryan Gossett and Brennen Maloney,” Coach Maloney mentioned. “They are my mind belief. They work with me to develop a recreation plan that can associate with our gamers’ tenacity and talent — one thing that can work.

“I’ve told our guys all week that it’s not going to be a cake walk. You have to hunt for what you want to eat.”

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