Yester took roller coaster ride to state’s Final Four


    Many would think a 20-6 season and a trip to the state’s Final Four would bring nothing but good times and great memories.
    That’s the season the Morgantown High boys’ basketball team had in 2004-’05. An even closer look shows it was the Mohigans’ fourth consecutive 20-win season and their fourth straight trip to the state tournament.
    It was far from easy, though, and may have ended up as the best coaching job by Tom Yester, who was named The Dominion Post’s boys’ basketball Coach of the Year. It’s the third time Yester has earned the honor; he also won in 2002 and 2003.
    “When you look back on it all, there were times the season seemed to be long and grinding,” Yester said. “Then, you get to the state tournament and the season wasn’t long enough. There were definitely some ups and downs.”
    The ups saw the Mohigans ranked No. 3 in preseason and pulling off an exciting 82-74 victory against South Charleston in the first round of the Coaches Against Cancer Holiday Classic.
    The Mohigans won their third consecutive North Central Athletic Conference championship and earned a three-game sweep of crosstown rival University High.
    Along the way, Yester was able to build some depth from a team that was considered to have a weak bench when the season started.
    “That was actually a huge key for us as the season went on,” Yester said. “We were able to get some good contributions from players like Andrew Dunn and John Hatfield and Jeff Lindsay. Dunn could come in and give us minutes down low and Hatfield played great defense and Lindsay proved to be an asset with his shooting. Our bench became a strength for us.”
    There were some downs, as well.
    Early in the season, MHS guard and all-stater Migel Lockett quit the team, leaving the Mohigans without a true defensive stopper in the backcourt. Lockett was also leading the team in assists and was averaging nearly 13 points per game.
    A month later, senior point guard Dusty Kerns injured his shoulder and missed four games, and leading scorer Chris Carey had to be suspended for a game because of a violation of team rules.
    “There were some setbacks, sure,” Yester said. “There were times I didn’t know where the season was going to go. It was a bumpy road we traveled, that’s for sure.
    “It didn’t kill us, though, and in the end, I think it just made this team closer and stronger and made them work even harder.”
    The Mohigans seemed to turn each setback into a positive. After Lockett left, the Mohigans went on to win eight of their next nine games.
    When Kerns went out with an injury, in came Lindsay, who promptly averaged 12.3 points per game as a starter. In his first start, Lindsay scored 14 in a victory against UHS.
    And Carey went on a shooting spree that raised his scoring average nearly two points following his suspension.
    “Things came together at the right time for us,” Yester said. “The boys were faced with adversity, but they overcame it and became a solid team. That’s probably what I will always remember about this group.”

Jonah Myers/The Dominion Post
Despite losing three starters for all or for parts of the season, Morgantown boys’ basketball coach Tom Yester guided MHS to its fourth consecutive 20-win season.