No. 1 means nothing now

Yester: Time for MHS to prove it on the court

Jason DeProspero/The Dominion Post

Morgantown High's Nick Hedges (55) splits the defense of R.J. Coleman (54) and Noah Pettrey (30) to score a basket against Robert C. Byrd in the Mohigans' 73-63 victory on Dec. 27. The two teams will meet at 7:45 p.m. today in the first round of the state boys' basketball tournament.


The Dominion Post

Morgantown High enters the boys' state basketball tournament tonight as the top-ranked AAA team in the MetroNews Power Index and with a 21-3 record.

Yet, MHS coach Tom Yester knows one slipup and all of the accolades will go right down the drain.

"All of those things are nice," Yester said. "But, what do they really mean? What have they really gotten us? We still have to play the games and the kids know that. Nothing is going to be handed to us."

The Mohigans' first opponent in the state tournament is a familiar one -- Robert C. Byrd (19-5).

The two teams met Dec. 27 in a Christmas tournament, with MHS coming out on top, 73-63. The rematch is at 7:45 tonight.

"It's kind of nice going up against a team that you're familiar with," third-year Robert C. Byrd coach Chris Springer said. "When we were in the tournament last year, we went up against Martinsburg. We saw film on them, but didn't know much about them. It's a little better this way."

Both coaches remember that first meeting well.

"It was way back in December. I think both teams have improved greatly since then," Springer said. "I think (the Mohigans') athleticism really stood out in that first game. They really have some guys who can get out and run."

Yester said the coaches have watched more film of the first game than the players, who "just want to go out there and play. They know that Byrd is a good team. They know who their players are and what they need to do. They're not really interested in sitting around and watching it on film for hours at a time."

The key in the first encounter was Robert C. Byrd's 6-foot-6 center R.J. Coleman getting in early foul trouble and eventually fouling out. Coleman is the Eagles' second-leading scorer at 12.1 points.

"They may try something different and put him on another guy to keep him out of foul trouble," Yester said. "Or they could go into a zone. That's not really their style of play, though. They like to play a lot of man defense and get after you. It will be interesting to see what they'll do."

Don't expect anything different, Springer said. "Keeping R.J. in the game will be a big concern for us. But, we've focused mainly on perfecting the things we do well instead of worrying what the other team might do."

The Mohigans sport four players in double figures. On defense, their main concern will be Byrd's Michael Defazio, who averages 15.9 points.

"He can really do it all," Yester said. "He's an exciting player. He can shoot the 3 and then he'll penetrate. He'll go coast-to-coast on a rebound. Their team has so many good shooters and then they kick it inside to Coleman. They're a fun team to watch."

Springer added that his team will have to do a better job of rebounding and that its size advantage inside may not be a big factor.

"I think their athletes make up for lack of size," he said. "Every team they play is bigger than they are and they've been blowing people out all year. What's that say for a size advantage?"

The winner advances to the state's version of the Class AAA Final Four and will play the Greenbrier East-Cabell Midland winner at 9:30 p.m. Friday.