Round 1: University Hawks finish off MHS, comeback in overtime
The Dominion Post
University High guard Jedd Gyorko felt that adrenaline rush as he stared out at the crowd packing the stands at the Morgantown High gymnasium before Thursday night’s contest with city-rival MHS.
Truth be told, Gyorko wouldn’t have wanted to be any other place on earth.
“This is the best time to play in front of a big crowd,” he said later. “Anyone who’s a big-time player would love to play in the big spotlight and that’s what this was tonight.”
Gyorko’s Hawks overcame a seven-point deficit early in the fourth quarter. They held their breath as a potential game-winning MHS 3-pointer bounced off the rim at the end of regulation before outlasting the Mohigans in overtime for a 58-52 North Central Athletic Conference victory.
“A win against Morgantown at any time is a good win, regardless of where it is and when it is,” said the senior guard, who finished with 12 points. “Every time we play it’s going to be a close game, so getting a win is huge.”
Gyorko helped seal the victory in the final minute of overtime, drawing a critical charge and intercepting a pass and calling timeout in the air with 22 seconds left and UHS leading, 56-52.
He then inbounded the ball to Ryan Nehlen, who was fouled as he drove the lane and laid the ball in with 20.1 seconds left. He missed the free throw, but the Hawks had wrapped up their six-point win.
Nehlen led UHS (13-1, 9-1 NCAC) with a game-high 22 points. Ben Hewitt and Grant Meadows joined Gyorko in the 10-point club. Dan Romain and Robbie Johnson scored just two points apiece but contributed in the defensive and rebounding departments.
“Overall, it was a great team effort,” UHS coach Bruce Clinton said. “You can’t say it was any one person because of the points. As a team, we dug down. We didn’t want to lose, so we didn’t lose. Jedd made a great pass on that last inbounds play. Ryan made a great finish. Grant got great rebounds. Hewitt made some nice plays. As a team, I thought we all stepped up.”
UHS’s victory snapped the Mohigans’ five-game winning streak, but MHS coach Tom Yester couldn’t offer many complaints about his team’s performance.
Taylor Dunn scored 15 points to pace MHS (8-5, 6-2). J.T. Lewis, who made critical shots throughout the evening, finished with 14 points. Jay Fletcher turned in a second straight strong performance off the bench, hitting three 3-pointers on his way to 12 points.
“It was a good ball game,” Yester said. “I’m pleased with our guys mostly. We did a few things wrong, but we’re still young. We had a lot of juniors out there and just two or three seniors. Defensively, we were pretty good.”
The Mohigans nearly pulled off a dramatic last-second victory. After Fletcher hit one of two free throws to tie the score at 48 with 52.6 seconds left, UHS attempted to work the clock down and go for the final shot.
MHS junior guard Craig Carey hounded Gyorko as he maneuvered with the ball, and Gyorko was eventually called on the 5-second rule. The Mohigans regained possession with 10.5 seconds left.
After a timeout, MHS quickly worked the ball around. It ended up in the hands of Anthony Schifano, who had a good look at a 3-pointer from the top of the key. It bounced off the rim as time expired.
The Mohigans endured a difficult shooting night, hitting only 37 percent (19-of-51) of their shots from the field.
“We’d be pretty happy if we made that last shot,” Yester said. “We had a wide-open look and missed it.”
Hewitt was among the Hawks counting his blessings when Schifano’s shot bounced off the rim.
“I was happy to get into overtime,” the junior forward said. “I was worried at the end of the fourth quarter things weren’t going to go our way. Once we got into overtime, I had a great feeling.”
UHS never trailed in overtime. After ties at 50 and 52, Nehlen’s basket with 50 seconds remaining put the Hawks ahead to stay, 54-52. Gyorko’s layup with 29 seconds left extended the lead. His interception and inbounds pass to Nehlen gave UHS the win on the court where these two teams will meet again in the sectionals in March.
“Since we play the sectionals here, quite naturally this should do a lot for our confidence,” Clinton said. “But other than that, it’s just win No. 13 for us, which we were trying to get when the game started. Nothing more, nothing less.
“Everybody says it was an ugly win. I’ll take it. Sometimes you have to win ugly. Morgantown did a lot of things well tonight. They played better than I’ve seen them play this year. My hat’s off to them because they played a heck of a game.”

Jason DeProspero/The Dominion Post University’s Ben Hewitt (right) blocks a layup attempt by Morgantown’s Elliott Law during Thursday night’s game. Hewitt finished with 10 points as the Hawks prevailed in overtime, 58-52.