Sports in The Dominion Post

This article appeared in the Dominion Post Newspaper on March 19, 2003.
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Benson finds range after size change

MHS sharpshooter grows 3 inches since last season

Ian Benson/The Dominion Post

Tyler Benson


The Dominion Post

There came a time this past summer when Morgantown High boys' basketball player Tyler Benson just couldn't figure out what was going on.

Normally, his outside shooting touch was flawless, but for a couple of months Benson couldn't buy a basket.

"All my shots were either short or too long," Benson said. "Something just didn't feel right."

The shooting drought coincided with a growth spurt. Last season, Benson was a very guard-sized 6-foot-1.

All of a sudden he was 6-foot-4, and still growing.

"My release point was all messed up," Benson said. "I was shooting the ball the same way I always did, except now I was at a little different angle to the basket, because I was taller."

It took some time in the gym, but Benson eventually got used to his new body.

Boy, did he ever.

If there is one player who signifies the surprising run the Mohigans have made this year, it's Benson, who is second on the team in scoring, at 12.4 points per game. Not bad for a guy who spent all of last year on the junior varsity team.

But it's Benson's ability to nail 3-pointers that has been his trademark on the team. Benson enters the state tournament -- No. 4 MHS (20-4) plays No. 2 Woodrow Wilson (20-4) at 7:45 p.m. Thursday, at the Charleston Civic Center -- leading the area with 60 .

And not just your every-day, run-of-the-mill 20-foot 3-pointers, mind you. Usually, Benson takes them from an area where they should count as four points.

"Honestly, I don't look where I'm at on the floor when I shoot," Benson said. "I just spot up, catch the ball and shoot it. If you start looking down to the floor to see where you are, it will mess up your rhythm."

His best of the season, so far, might have been the one he hit late in the fourth quarter of the Region I title game victory, over Wheeling Park. That one came from 25 feet away if it was an inch.

"He becomes a better shooter the farther away he is from the basket," MHS coach Tom Yester said following the Wheeling Park game. "When he lights it up from that far away, it gives the rest of the guys a spark and it's fun to watch."

Like many of his teammates, Benson will be making his first start in a state tournament game.

"I went down last year to watch and my eyes lit up," Benson said. "I was in awe of the place. I went down to watch the girls play last week, but it just didn't seem as big. I think the experience the guys got last year playing there will help us this year."

With the lack of true centers in today's game, more and more players are focusing on the outside shot. Where at one time a high school coach would slap a kid upside the head if he shot from 26 feet, today more coaches encourage it.

"If you get some good looks at the basket, a shooter can really change the game," Benson said. "I mean, if you're down 10 points, two or three 3-pointers gets you right back into it, where if you kept pounding the ball inside, you're looking at taking more time."

Now, even good shooters know they have limits.

"For the home games, we have 'Mohigans' painted on the side of our floor," Benson said. "I know I've got to be inside of that before I shoot. Everywhere else is game, I guess."

Boys' state tourney

At Charleston Civic Center:




Parkersburg South (18-6) vs. North Marion (16-6), 11:45 a.m.

South Charleston (15-9) vs. Robert C. Byrd (14-7), 7:45 p.m.


Martinsburg (17-4) vs. Spring Valley (23-1), 11:45 a.m.

Woodrow Wilson (20-4) vs. Morgantown (20-4), 7:45 p.m.



Tug Valley (18-5) vs. Bridgeport (14-7), 10 a.m.

Independence (13-11) vs. Oak Hill (10-14), 1:30 p.m.

Keyser (16-5) vs. Westside (19-5), 6 p.m.

Ravenswood (17-6) vs. Magnolia (14-7), 9:30 p.m.



Mercer Christian (14-5) vs. Doddridge County (12-12), 10 a.m.

Guyan Valley (13-11) vs. Parkersburg Catholic (22-2), 1:30 p.m.

Tucker County (15-6) vs. Charleston Catholic (15-4), 6 p.m.

Valley Fayette (14-8) vs. Wheeling Central (18-7), 9:30 p.m.