Sports in The Dominion Post

This article appeared in the Dominion Post Newspaper on December 28, 2002.
Wild, wild Westland rally stuns Morgantown, 54-52

Ohio opponent scores last 11 points of game

Ian Benson/The Dominion Post

Westland's Justin Patrick tries to avoid the double-team defense of MHS's Kameron Law (left) and Geremy Rodamer.


The Dominion Post

As his players gathered around him in the game's final minute Friday, Westland coach Reggie Wagstaff delivered a pointed message.

Wagstaff's Cougars trailed host Morgantown High, 52-47, in the first round of the West Virginia Coaches Against Cancer Holiday Tournament, at MHS gym.

Westland, of Columbus, Ohio, had already sliced a nine-point lead to five points, and Wagstaff didn't want his players to stop now.

"This is us," he pleaded. "We can win this. All we have to do is want it."

Turns out the Cougars wanted it.

Oh, how they wanted it.

Westland completed an amazing comeback with seven unanswered points in the last 1:05. Matt Rains' backdoor layup with eight seconds left capped the Cougars' 54-52 comeback victory.

"We fell apart like a cheap suit at the end," a somber MHS coach Tom Yester said afterward.

Wagstaff was almost at a loss for words after the incredible turnaround that saw Westland (3-3) score the final 11 points of the contest.

"You ask me how we did this, and I'll say I have no idea," said Wagstaff, whose team plays South Charleston in today's championship game, at 5 p.m. "I feel for (Yester). I feel like I robbed the man in his house. They had the game in hand. I think their kids were confident it was over."

The game could have been history had the Mohigans, who led by 13 points at intermission, taken better care of the ball. MHS finished with 22 turnovers and only 11 assists. The Mohigans turned the ball over three times in the final minute as Westland staged one of the more remarkable comebacks of this or any other season.

"Last year we were making 10-12 turnovers a game," Yester said. "We're making 20 a game now. That's pathetic. We can't beat anybody making 20 turnovers. That's 20 shots we don't get. You can't win if you don't get shots. You're not giving yourself a chance."

Leading, 52-47, the Mohigans turned the ball over at midcourt, and Westland's Justin Patrick hit a short jumper to make it 52-49. Another quick MHS turnover led to Chris Cuccio's 3-point bomb from deep in the left corner to tie the score at 52 with 31 seconds remaining.

Just when it seemed as if MHS couldn't possibly commit a third straight turnover, the Mohigans did. Geremy Rodamer was forced out of bounds near midcourt, and Westland regained possession with 27.2 seconds to play.

The Cougars ran the clock down, and MHS almost forced a five-second call on Josh Bostic. But Bostic eventually found Rains on a backdoor cut, and he laid the ball in for a 54-52 Westland lead with eight seconds remaining.

"We didn't do anything right at the end," Yester said.

MHS (1-2) still had a chance to force overtime, as the ball came into the hands of point guard Rodamer, who dribbled furiously down court and tried to set up the tying basket. The Mohigans did not get a good shot off, time ran out and the Westland players celebrated.

"I thought they were playing not to lose it, and I thought that made the difference," Wagstaff said. "We were playing to win it. We had nothing to lose. We just let it all hang out."

Cuccio was the shooting star of the game, hitting five 3-pointers and finishing with a game-high 22 points. Bostic scored 13 points. Kameron Law led MHS with 14 points and Tyler Benson contributed 10.

The Mohigans meet Laurel Highlands (Uniontown, Pa.) in today's 1:30 p.m. consolation game. Laurel Highlands lost to South Charleston, 88-70, in the other boys' game Friday.



Cuccio 8 1-1 22, Tucker 2 0-0 5, Rains 2 0-0 4, Bostic 4 4-5 13, Patrick 3 1-3 7, Litman 1 1-2 3, Childress 0 0-0 0, Cheese 0 0-0 0. Totals 20 7-11 54.


Rodamer 1 2-3 4, Benson 4 0-0 10, Fogarty 3 3-7 9, Law 5 2-2 14, Simpson 1 0-0 2, Murray 3 0-0 8, Torsney 1 1-2 3, Williams 1 0-0 2, Minutelli 0 0-0 0. Totals 19 8-14 52.

Westland10 8 19 17 -- 54

Morgantown11 20 14 7 -- 52

3-point goals--Westland 7 (Cuccio 5, Tucker, Bostic), Morgantown 6 (Benson 2, Law 2, Murray 2).