MHS drops heartbreaker
S. Charleston escapes, 50-48

BY BOB HERTZEL The Dominion Post
CHARLESTON — Morgantown High’s dream died Friday night in the mausoleum known as the Charleston Civic Center.
It died, but it died hard.
Down 17-4 in the second quarter to second-seeded South Charleston, the brave Mohigans battled back to take the lead but could not contain the Eagles’ Aaron Dobson. The slender 6-2 sophomore scored 10 consecutive points for his team down the stretch to preserve a 50-48 victory.
That gave South Charleston the misfortune of having to face O.J. Mayo and high-flying Huntington High, which put on an entertaining show in winning, 98-59, over Bridgeport.
“Basically, we were unable to knock them down,” said MHS coach Tom Yester. “We were 1-for-11 from 3-point range. Generally, we’re better than that. We shoot 38 percent for the year. We’d take 38 percent tonight and be happy.”
It was Dobson who was nailing the 3s, making 4 of 9.
“That,” said Yester, “was the difference.”
Morgantown, which battled its way back in the game by cutting its turnovers from 11 in the first half to two in the second, had one final shot at winning the game.
Trailing by two, the Mohigans took possession of the ball with after Aaron Slusher missed his second of two free throws on a close foul call as Jay Fletcher tried to block his shot. Craig Carey rushed the ball down the court and was fouled with 4.8 seconds left, giving Morgantown the ball out of bounds just inside the half-court line.
“We got our best player the ball,” said Yester.
Yester set up a play where he screens on the box for Fletcher, and if that isn’t there a screen is set for J.T. Lewis to create. Lewis took the ball and fought to work his way free but as he went up to shoot, Matt Heyliger blocked his desperation attempt.
Fletcher led Morgantown with 14 points, Lewis scored 10 and Carey added nine while playing a spectacular floor game and contributing seven steals.
Huntington received all kinds of good news as it prepared for its game, which was hardly what Bridgeport wanted to hear. Mayo learned that USA Today had selected him as the national Player of the Year, and Patrick Patterson, the muscular 6-8 center, was released from a local hospital after running afoul of something he ate on Thursday.
Not that he was about to miss this game with Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski in attendance a day after his Duke Blue Devils lost to Virginia Commonwealth in the NCAA Tournament.
“I talked to him after he lost that game and he told me he was going to come to see this game,” Patterson said.
West Virginia’s John Beilein also was in attendance watching both Bryant Irwin of Bridgeport and Patterson, each of whom is being courted by WVU.
Mayo then went out and lived up to his billing with a spectacular display of dunks — completing four of his team’s 12 — as he scored 26 points and added 12 assists, three of them leading to teammates’ slams.
“I don’t know the dunk quotient, but they must have set a record,” said Bridgeport’s veteran coach Gene Randolph.
It became apparent early on that the night would belong to Huntington as the Highlanders turned up the pressure on defense and jumped off to a 16-0 start.
“They were intent on making a statement,” said Randolph. “They’re a great team and they wanted to lay the groundwork for the championship game tomorrow.”
Consider the foundation laid.
“Before we came out, while we were waiting for the national anthem, our coach said to us that this was our second to last game,” Mayo recalled. “He said we should try not to let the state down.”
In truth, this turned into an entertaining, if not competitive, game for each time Huntington would do a couple of things spectacular, Bridgeport would come up with a highlight of its own.
At one point Thomas Izzo, a Bridgeport guard, took Huntington’s quick, aggressive Michael Taylor one-on-one, going behind his back three different times as he worked his way free for a layup.
And then, moments later, the Indians’ star center, Bryant Irwin, skyed for an alley oop pass that he slammed home, a play that drew raves from Mayo.
“He surprised me with that,” said Mayo. “I didn’t think he had it in him. I guess we turned it up a little after that.”
Turned it up? Mayo immediately came down and set Patterson up with an alley oop.
But Irwin, who scored 23 points, earned so much respect from Mayo that when Irwin hit a free throw Mayo walked up to him and slapped his hand, something reserved normally for teammates.
The night’s top play, however, belonged to Jamal Williams of Huntington, hit a buzzer beater from five feet beyond the halfcourt line. And what did Mayo think of that?
“Dat a dun, dat a dun,” he said, singing the SportsCenter theme. “That was a Top 10 play.”

AP photo Morgantown High’s Jay Fletcher pulls down a rebound Friday night.