CUMBERLAND — Darquel Jessie was just about unstoppable Friday night, and so were all his teammates.
Top-ranked Allegany pulled away from fourth-ranked Southern late in the first half, then blitzed the Rams with a 38-point third quarter in cruising to a 95-61 victory at Campobello.
Jessie, a 6-foot-3 junior, scored a career-high 38 points, hitting 17 of 21 field goals and 4 of 5 free throws as the Campers (13-1) clinched at least a share of the Appalachian Mountain Athletic Conference championship. At 9-0, they can win it outright with a victory over Keyser tonight.
Jessie’s 38 points came on a night in which the Campers dominated the inside against the smaller Rams. Nearly all of his baskets came in the lane or the transition game. Two were dunks, one on a lob pass from Mario D’Atri in the third quarter and the other after a steal in the fourth.
“Darquel is very instinctive in knowing where to go, and getting into the passing lanes,’’ said Allegany coach Tedd Eirich. “He did a very good job of that tonight, and just had an outstanding game.”
Trenton Eirich added 19 points and five assists, Colton Sivic had a double-double with 15 points and 13 rebounds, Bryce Nightengale had 10 points, seven blocked shots and six rebounds, and D’Atri nine points and nine assists.
Lucas Ritchie had team highs with 23 points and seven rebounds for Southern (8-5, 3-3). Clay Todd had 16 points and Josh Adams 13.
The Rams led 11-9 in the first quarter and were down by only five, 38-33, with 1:30 left in the first half. But shots in the lane by Sivic and Jessie started an Allegany snowball that Southern simply could not stop.
The Campers outscored the Rams 38-11 in the third quarter, with Jessie scoring 15 points, and 53-28 in the second half. Allegany was 18 for 28 from the field, outrebounded Southern 16-5 and had only one turnover in the quarter.
“When we are unselfish we can be really good, because we have five guys who can score and they don’t care who’s shooting it,’’ said Eirich. “We gave up 81 points at Southern (a 100-81 win) earlier this year. It was a horrible defensive night, and we talked about that at length to make sure that wouldn’t happen again.”
It was defense that helped form the third-quarter snowball that buried the Rams. Southern, which had only five turnovers in the first half, had four in the first two minutes of the second. That helped start a 20-2 run that moved the 42-33 halftime lead to 62-35 at the four-minute mark.
“Allegany’s got a very good offense and they kept attacking, and our turnovers led to a lot of layups for them,’’ said Southern coach Jon Hegeman. “In the second half we gave them a ton of easy ones. We turned the ball over way too much. We missed some easy ones, but Allegany’s defense caused us to have some issues.
“We can’t be shooting contested shots, and we were doing that instead of getting dribble penetration and then a kickout for an open shot. We weren’t able to get many. We were forced to shoot a lot of contested shots.”
Allegany led in rebounds, 52-31, and shot 59 percent (34 for 59) through three quarters. The five-point game with 90 seconds left in the second quarter was 80-44 heading into the fourth.
Southern shot 35 percent (24 for 68) from the field.
The Campers also won the jayvee game 61-46 with Jason Copman getting 26 points and 19 rebounds. Carson Imes had 11 points and Tyler Eirich eight. Tyler Fazenbaker scored 19, Brent Gebhardt 11 and Camden Nichols 10 for Southern.
Allegany hosts Keyser today, with the jayvees playing at 5 and the varsity at 6:30. Southern will host Mountain Ridge on Tuesday.
Mike Mathews is a Cumberland Times-News sportswriter. Write to him at email@example.com