MHS upsets Capital, 43-37
Will advance to AAA semifinals
BY BOB HERTZEL The Dominion Post

CHARLESTON — Fifty-five seconds.
Not much time, you say? Less than a minute. It’s such a short time you can probably hold your breath that long, right?
Well, there were a whole lot of Morgantown High fans holding their breath for the last 55 seconds of Thursday afternoon’s state quarterfinal matchup with Capital High -— and they couldn’t do it.
Those 55 seconds were stretched into an eternity. Always does when you are protecting a lead and that’s how it was for the sixth-seeded Mohigans, who teetered on a cliff but never fell over in scoring a 43-37 upset victory of No. 3 Capital. This was a game with more thrills than points, a game that defied a logical explanation. Consider just a few statistics, statistics that are supposed to go a long way toward determining the outcome of a basketball game. Morgantown took 29 shots, Capital 61. Morgantown gave up 21 offensive rebounds to a stronger, more athletic Capital team. Morgantown had seven assists and 19 turnovers, Capital had but six turnovers.
Impossible to win with those numbers, you basketball purists say.
Let’s put forward one other statistic:
Capital shot 21.3 percent for the game.
That is why with 55.7 seconds remaining, when Malik Witten hit a 3-point shot from somewhere near South Charleston, it only cut the Mohigans’ lead to 37-34 rather than padded a lead that the Cougars probably would have owned had they been able to score.
They couldn’t score, however, because of a beautiful game plan prepared by veteran coach Tom Yester and carried out by an MHS group led by J.T. Lewis.
When these two teams played early in the season, Capital dominated the boards and dominated the inside as it scored a 13-point victory. In that game Morgantown tried to match up with Capital.
This time Yester went to a 2-3 zone. Yes, that’s the same zone Syracuse plays.
“Our objective,” he explained, “was to rebound and be in front of the shooter. It worked out pretty well.”
You can say that. In fact, even though Morgantown gave up those 21 offensive rebounds, they were only outrebounded by two and the 21.3 shooting percentage speaks for itself. Capital couldn’t hit from the outside and couldn’t get the ball inside.
The Cougars found themselves in a gunfight without any ammunition.
“They were stronger and more athletic than us,” said Lewis, “so that’s why coach went to the 2-3 zone.”
“We didn’t get to run up and down the floor,” said Capital Coach Carl Clark. “It became a half-court game.”
And Morgantown owned half the court.
The Mohigans got off to a slow start, scoring only four points in a troubled first quarter.
Not that it mattered.
“We’ve been there before,” said Yester, referring to individual games in which his team trailed and to the season, which got off to a 1-3 start and seemed headed anywhere but to today’s 9 p.m. semifinal against South Charleston, a 67-55 winner over Woodrow Wilson.
“We evolved big time since then,” said Lewis. “We have a lot of hidden players.”
Some of those, like Zach Cooke, who came off the bench for nine strong minutes, helped in this one but it was Lewis with his 21 points and 11 rebounds who showed the way.
“I’m a senior and I didn’t want this to be my last game,” Lewis said.
And so it was he took over the game for Morgantown, leading it to a two-point halftime lead and into position to be ahead as those final 55.7 seconds began.
By then, Capital was fouling Morgantown every possession. Quick defensively, they also forced the Mohigans to inbound the ball from under their own basket four times in that last minute of play.
“We ran four different inbounds plays and every one of them worked,” said Yester. “That’s to the kids’ credit. That’s hard to do.”
Down the stretch Morgantown wasn’t perfect with its free throws, but it was good enough to keep the margin at two possessions, forcing Capital to keep fouling.
“I never felt good until there was 6.5 seconds to go,” said Yester, referring to two free throws made by senior Elliott Law to put the lead at six points.

AP photo Morgantown High’s Elliott Law fights to protect the ball against Capital’s Rio Berkley on Thursday during the quarterfinal round of the Class AAA boys’ state tournament in Charleston. MHS won, 43-37, to advance to tonight’s semifinals.