Sports in The Dominion Post

This article appeared in the Dominion Post Newspaper on March 16, 2004.
Torsney's turnaround

Jason DeProspero/The Dominion Post

Morgantown High's Ben Torsney goes to work against John Marshall in the regional final.


The Dominion Post

As a middle school student, Ben Torsney was pretty much the norm, which is to say he was still growing, and a tad awkward and clumsy.

Normal, yes, but not really the best combination to have when you're a basketball player.

"When I was in seventh through ninth grade, I rarely saw playing time on the basketball court," Torsney said. "I hardly even knew where the court was."

He described himself as scrawny, skinny and weak, even though he was 6-foot-4 as a freshman at Morgantown High.

"I knew there was a lot of work to be done," he said.

How much? When asked how many post moves Torsney had as a freshman, MHS coach Tom Yester responded: "Maybe none."

Indeed, it was a frustrating time for Torsney.

"Back in like the eighth grade, I thought about not playing anymore," Torsney said. "That seems like such a long time ago. I think the thought crossed my mind once."

It was an easy decision to stay, though.

"I kept asking myself, 'Well, what will I do if I don't play basketball?'" Torsney said. "Basketball was what I was devoted to. If I didn't play basketball, then there would be nothing else to do, so I kept playing."

And he kept growing, kept getting stronger ... kept getting better.

As the top-ranked Mohigans (23-1) prepare for their third consecutive state tournament, Torsney is a testament to what hard work and dedication can do.

The Mohigans will play No. 4 Huntington (21-3), at 7:15 p.m. Wednesday, in the first round of the state tournament, at the Charleston Civic Center.

Once a clumsy boy, Torsney has developed into a 6-foot-6, 200-pound man on the court. After a slow individual start to the season, Torsney began to really pick up his game in the middle and never let up.

His biggest games came at the best times, usually when other teammates were having off nights. He enters the state tournament tied with Kameron Law for the team lead in field goals with 114 and averages 11.8 points. In the sectional tournament victory against crosstown rival University High, Torsney scored 21 points and grabbed 15 rebounds.

"Nothing comes without a price," Torsney said. "For me, I knew I had to get better. I started to work really hard in the weight room to get stronger and I worked to develop an inside game."

Torsney looks at himself now and knows he's come a long way.

"When I was a freshman, I could only dream about where I am right now," Torsney said. "I had no clue back then. I didn't know it was going to work out the way it has."

Torsney earned the starting center position last year, and helped guide the Mohigans to the state semifinals, but Yester said his game has improved 100 percent from last year.

"The first thing I noticed about Ben is how much stronger he is," Yester said. "Certainly he is the architect of his own making. Nothing has been given to him, he's earned it all.

"He's worked a lot on his footwork and his jumpshot. Ben can step out a little and hit that 15-foot jumper now. That was something he really couldn't do last year."

Something the Mohigans have never done is win a state title. Torsney and his teammates are trying to change that.

"The last two years we've lost in the semifinals," Torsney said. "We're looking to go two steps further this year. It's all I've thought about. It's all this team has thought about."