Incredible turnaround for MHS boys
THREE MONTHS AGO, the furthest thing from Tom Yester’s mind was winning a conference title.
In fact, at that point the veteran Morgantown High boys’ basketball coach was likely hoping he could just make it through a tough season.
His Mohigans, who had lost four starters from a season ago, were off to a 1-3 start and didn’t appear to be heading anywhere quickly.
They couldn’t shoot, couldn’t defend very well and Yester admits there were even bigger problems.
“Oh yeah, we were looking to play a little better after that start,” Yester said in a complete understatement.
But he didn’t panic like many coaches would have, instead he just focused on what he could control.
What he couldn’t control was the early schedule the Mohigans had played.
They played at Preston, at Parkersburg South, at Martinsburg and also faced one of the best teams in the state in Capital.
“We knew we were going to struggle a little bit with our early schedule,” Yester said.
“But we also hadn’t played very well. We were just trying to find the right mix.”
Whatever mixture Yester found in the chemistry lab seemed to work because after the 1-3 start the Mohigans finished 15-3 over the final weeks of the season.
Then, as Preston and University suffered conference losses, it was MHS left with a chance to capture a share of the conference title.
With a win over Fairmont Senior, the Mohigans grabbed the improbable share of the NCAC crown and made Yester a very happy coach.
“We thought we were a better team than what we played like early on,” Yester said. “What I like now is that we understand our roles.”
And Yester is a big reason for that.
While he doesn’t have O.J. Mayo on his team, or even University’s Jedd Gyorko, what Yester does have is a bunch of tough players who have bought into his system.
They believe in their coach and in return their coach believes in them.
“Our 3-point shooting has really improved and guys like (Anthony) Schifano, Jay Fletcher, (Taylor) Dunn and (Craig) Carey have all stepped up,” Yester said. “Then there is J.T. Lewis. He’s been consistent all year long, and he has to guard the toughest guy and be a leader for us.”
There is no real superstar on this MHS team, instead it’s an entire team working together for one common goal of winning.
“We don’t have anybody that we don’t think can’t play,” Yester said of his roster.
“Part of the reason for that is we mixed up so many lineups through out the year until we found one that worked for us.”
Now, the Mohigans enter next week and the sectionals, where they face rival University, whom they have already lost to twice this season.
The Hawks are one of the top Class AAA teams in the state, and Yester admits a sectional win would be amazing.
“You play the season just to get ready for this,” Yester said. “Obviously we are playing a team that we have had trouble with and they are pretty impressive. I think about where we started at and it’s amazing to even think we could be in a game with them. But we certainly should be able to give them a pretty good game.”
ERIC HERTER is sports editor of The Dominion Post. You can reach him at