Bruins Fall Short
To no one's surprise, the Brooke kids left all they had out on the court at Wheeling Jesuit University's McDonough Center in Tuesday night's West Virginia Class AAA, Region One championship boys' basketball game.
But in the end, it was Morgantown High School's talent that prevailed by a 74-65 score as the Mohigans earned a berth in the state tournament for the fourth time in the last six seasons.
Morgantown's bloodlines might have had a lot to do with outcome. Leading the way for Coach Tom Yester's club were senior guard Chris Carey, son of West Virginia University women's hoop coach Mike Carey, and Marlan Robinson, whose daddy Maurice "Mo'' Robinson was a Mountaineer standout.
"Mo'' Robinson was seated in the front row at last night's game, cheering along with the Mohigan fans.
Carey fired in 29 points, shooting over 50 percent from the field (8 of 15) and nailing 11 of 13 free throws. In the fourth quarter while the Mohigans were holding off the determined Bruins, Carey cashed seven of eight foul shots.
The silky-smooth Robinson, a 6-4 junior, tossed in 24 points. He had nine field goals, many of which came on stickbacks or turnaround shots. Robinson also stepped behind the three-point arc and drained a couple of trifectas.
"We thought it would be a hard game. Brooke is a good team,'' said Yester, despite two one-sided victories the Mohigans collected over the Bruins during the regular season. "They just beat one of the better teams in the state in Wheeling Park, and tonight they gave us a heck of a game.
"I'm just happy we were able to make our foul shots and take care of the ball toward the end,'' Yester added.
Brooke, finishing off the campaign with a 12-13 record, had four double-figure scorers, led by senior Chris Baldauf's 18 points. Baldauf also collected 11 rebounds and swatted away a couple of Morgantown shots. Juniors Garey Wallace, Jay Lyonett and Brenton Scheetz followed with 17, 11 and 10 points, respectively.
The game was competitive most of the way.
Brooke made some early noise with a 9-0 spurt to take an 11-6 lead and force a Morgantown timeout just 3:05 into the opening period. At the outset, the Mohigans sandwiched 3-point baskets from John Oliver and Robinson around a rebound goal by the Bruins' Scheetz.
Clever Bruin guard Ryan Santangelo drove to the hoop for a two-pointer and Scheetz found Lyonett open underneath the basket for a two-pointer that tied the score at 6. Lyonett then fired in a long-range 3-pointer followed by Wallace's jumper from just inside the foul line that gave Brooke its five-point advantage.
Carey's baseline basket ended the dry spell for the Mohigans, who eventually regained the lead at 14-13 on a John Hatfield swisher.
Brooke went ahead 19-16 entering the final minute of the first quarter after Baldauf had scored from in the lane. But Morgantown countered with a turnaround jumper by Robinson and Carey closed out an eight-point first quarter for himself with another nice baseline move after a Bruin turnover.
The late run pushed Morgantown (19-5) into a 20-19 lead and the Mohigans would never trail again.
Jeff Lindsay opened the second quarter with another Morgantown trey, only to see Brooke bounce back to tie the score for the last time at 23-all. At that point, the Mohigans went on a 10-0 run to gain the game's first double-digit lead. Treys from Carey and Lindsey sparked the spurt, while Robinson had a tip-in basket and Oliver connected on two free throws.
The Bruins clawed back to within six, only to have Carey close the half with another long-distance trifecta, dispatching both teams to their locker rooms with Morgantown enjoying a 40-31 advantage.
Brooke geared up early in the third quarter and pulled within 42-40. Santangelo led the rally with a sweet drive to the hoop and then he pulled up behind the circle to gun in a 3-pointer. Morgantown misfired at the other end and the Bruins came down the court and committed a costly turnover that denied them an opportunity to tie the game or even go ahead.
The Mohigans responded with five quick points on a Lindsay goal and conventional 3-point play from Robinson. By the end of the third quarter the margin was six at 52-46 after Wallace netted a layup and added the free throw as he was fouled on his way to the basket.
Brooke got no closer than a half-dozen points in the fourth quarter. Forced to foul to try and stop the clock, the Bruins put the Mohigans on the line 14 times and they converted 12 during the last eight minutes. For the game, Morgantown canned 21 of 28 foul shots, while Brooke hit 11 of its 12 attempts.
"It wasn't good enough because we didn't win, but we were definitely in the game,'' sighed Brook coach Kevin McCormick. "The final margin wasn't any indication of what went on out there."
"We had it down to to in the third quarter and did not execute on the offensive end. I certainly can't fault the effort. The kids played very hard. It was right there, we just had to be a little smarter on the floor,'' McCormick said.

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