MHS makes the most of late-season success

CHARLESTON — The way Morgantown’s boys’ basketball team started its season, there were those who may have written off coach Tom Yester’s squad.
Behind a trio of seniors in J.T. Lewis, Elliott Law and Cameron Taylor, however, the Mohigans overcame a 1-3 start and losses in four of their first seven games to make it a memorable season.
And Morgantown nearly landed a spot in the Class AAA state championship game against Huntington, which completed its third consecutive state championship with an emphatic 103-61 win over South Charleston Saturday night.
“Yeah, we did come a long way. Everyone just came together as a team, especially late in the

year,” Lewis said after Morgantown’s 50-48 semifinal loss to SC. “Different players made names for themselves. Anybody could lead us in scoring each game. We just came up a little short in the end.”
Morgantown dropped its first two games of the season on the road against Preston and Capital before picking up its initial win over East Fairmont. Losses to Martinsburg and Parkersburg South were sandwiched around wins over the Patriots and North Marion, which had the Mohigans off to a disappointing 3-4 start.
“We started out 1-3 on the season, and we lost to good teams,” Yester said. “But never the less, we lost.”
From that point on, Morgantown ended the season with an impressive 16-3 record — two losses coming against city rival University High. The Mohigans had a nine-game winning streak after upending UHS in the sectional, getting past Wheeling Park in the regional, and upsetting third-seeded Capital in the state quarterfinals.
“We have a whole season worth of play (under us now), and these guys really came together,” Yester said after the Capital win. “We played a good Martinsburg team for the second time (earlier in the season). We were able to come back down 13 going into the fourth quarter and win. At that point, the team really jelled. I think they started to understand their roles better and started doing what they’re supposed to do. “From that point on, they’ve been pretty doggone good. I think we’ve won nine in a row or something like that, and we’ve played some pretty good teams along the way as well.”
That all came to an end when SC’s Matt Heyliger blocked Lewis’ game-tying field goal attempt in Morgantown’s two-point loss Friday night, which halted the winning streak and also ended the Mohigans’ late-season surge.
“We had a screen on the box for Jay (Fletcher), and we either enter the box for Jay or let J.T. create off the dribble,” Yester said. “He did create off the dribble, and the guy got a shot block. That’s the way it goes. You either get that or you don’t.
“We got our best player the ball. I guess they made a nice play. Unfortunately, this time of the year, that’s it. And I’ve got no problems with it because I would do it again.
Super SC Sophs
With its leading scorer Ricky Dunham not even in attendance after breaking team rules and being suspended for the state semifinals and championship, South Charleston head coach Robert Dawson had to rely on two sophomores to carry the load against Morgantown.
Aaron Dobson, a 6-2, 170 pound guard, and Aaron Slusher, a 5-10, 190-pound forward, delivered in a big way, combining for 35 points, 11 rebounds, five steals and three assists.
“These two young men here stepped up. That was super,” Dawson said. “They’re both sophomores, which is a great


thing. I have them back for another two years, and I’m really pleased with that. But I thought the whole team did a good job tonight. I thought we were a little bit stale, and I had a feeling we might be tonight by losing another guard who dribbles against a zone.
“We played hard and survived. I’m super happy for my two seniors Jimmy Boardman and Frankie Mullens. Their careers have been great the last four years. We won a heck of a lot of games with those guys, and hopefully these (younger) guys can continue that.
Lost Highlander?
When you think of Huntington’s nationally ranked team, Bruce Senior may not be the first guy who pops into your head. But that doesn’t mean he’s not an important piece of the puzzle.
Senior is the ultimate hustler on the inside, doing all of the little things to get himself in position to score, rebound and provide stickbacks on missed shots.
“Bruce does a really good job of following the offense,” head coach Lloyd McGuffin said after beating West Fairmont in the quarterfinals. “He can predict where the ball is going to come off, and he also does a good job on the offensive boards. He knows where to step to get open” As some coaches call it, Senior is the “garbage man.” The 6-6, 195-pound senior forward combined for 38 points and 23 rebounds in Huntington’s three tournament wins.
All-Tournament Teams
Huntington (25-2) became the first Class AAA squad to win three consecutive state championships and had four players named to the all-tournament team — O.J. Mayo, Patrick Patterson, Chris Early and Jamal Williams. South Charleston’s Aaron Dobson and Aaron Slusher, Morgantown’s J.T. Lewis and Bridgeport’s Bryant Irwin also were selected for the squad.
Wyoming East (26-1) captured its second Class AA title and first since 2002 as it landed Justin Caldwell and Jason Shrewsburg on the all-tournament team. Joining them were Logan’s Jonathan Bevins and Brett Sorrell, Winfield’s Caleb Ashley and Todd Hutchinson, Magnolia’s Jonas McEldowney, and Lincoln’s Eli Cottrill.
After Charleston Catholic (24-2) repeated as the Class A champion with a resounding 83-40 win over fifth-seeded Bishop Donahue, three Irish players were selected to the all-tournament team — Bo King, Joe Sassler and Graham Warren. Bishop Don! ahue’s Kenneth Barrows and L.A. Hampton, Gilbert’s Josh Birchfield and Brad Rawls, and Williamstown’s Zac Baggley also received that honor.
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